Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/15

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imaginary ancient races on the map of the world, as easily as pawns are moved on a chess-board, without regard for physiographic difficulties.[1] Moreover, they were ignorant of the fact that the extensive and well-developed Stone Age culture of ancient South India, enshrined in the earliest stratum of Tamil is ample proof that the Tamils inhabited South India from time immemorial.

Method of Investigation

It is the case with Tamil, as with most other languages, that there are two stages in the formation of words, an unconscious and a conscious one. When the science of comparative philology was born, about a hundred years ago, it was imagined that at first men invented and spoke only roots and, later, some of the roots became worn out into prefixes and suffixes, prepositions and postpositions, and a German philologist had the hardihood to write Aesop's Fables in an imaginary Indo-Germanic root-language, a kind of ghostly Ursprache, which never existed. The science of linguistics has got over this crude supposition. All students of language now recognize that it is as absurd to think that primitive man met in a solemn dumb conclave and invented a series of roots, as it is to assume with Rousseau, that the savage started gregarious life with a 'social contract'. The process of language-formation and language-growth is mostly unconscious; and if a number of words of allied meaning are also etymologically allied, if primitive man used the same stem for expressing ideas which were fundamentally identical, the process was more or less unconscious. Thus in Tamil, var is the common element of a series of words: varappu[2] meaning limit, border, wall, dike or ridge round a ploughed field to retain water; varambu,[3] dam, way, limit, rule; vari,[4] line, row; variśai,[5] order, regularity, row; varichchal,[6] dart, surgeon's probe, varivaḍiveḻuttu,[7] written-letter, eḻutiu,[8] letter, the ultimate unit of language, being conceived as existing in two forms, the spoken form and the written form,[9] varivari[10] (taṇṇīrviṭṭān),[11] Asparagus racemosus, a linear-leave shrub, varuḍal,[12] stroking, thrumming a stringed (musical) instrument, varai,[13] measure, limit, shore, ridge, hill, the straight bamboo, write, draw, varaivu,[14] measure, limit, bound, separation. The implication of these facts is not that the

  1. As Mr. G. Elliot Smith has remarked (vide Nature January 1, 1927, p. 21) 'in ethnology emotion still counts for more than reason. The dominating principle is still to force the evidence into conformity with certain catch-phrases from which a long line of philosophers have been striving to rescue the study of mankind and make a real science of it.'
  2. வாப்பு.
  3. வரம்பு.
  4. வரி.
  5. வரிசை.
  6. வரிச்சல்.
  7. வரிவடிவெழுத்து.
  8. எழுத்து
  9. In this connection may be remembered Pavanandi's definition:

    மொழி முதற்காரண மாமணுத் திரளொலி யெழுத்து.

    eḷuttu, the sound, formed by a group of atoms, which is the first cause of words Nannūl, 58. Eḻuttu has two manifest forms, the spoken and the written.

  10. வரிவரி.
  11. தண்ணீர்விட்டான்
  12. வருடல்.
  13. The word varai, வரை. appears in Telugu as vrāyi, by a process of oscillation of accent from the first syllable to the second syllable, of the consequent degeneration of the vowel of the first syllable, and the return of the accent to the new first syllable. This oscillation explains the formation from Tamil avan of vān, vȧṇḍu, vāḍu, from Tamil maram of mrānu, and hundreds of other similar formations.
  14. வரைவு.