Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inside Vs River

அகம் means inside or internal. In old thamizh speak, the familial relationship between man and woman, joy, between them, the home they create, personal indoor happenings was called அகத்திணை. The poem அகநானூறு deals with such internal related things. அகத்திணை has several facets such as 1.கைக்கிளைத் திணை 2.குறிஞ்சித் திணை 3.பாலைத் திணை 4.முல்லைத் திணை 5.மருதத் திணை 6.நெய்தல் திணை 7.பெருந்திணை. all these facets typically happened at home. அகம் was also used in contexts such as தாய + அகம் = தாயகம் (Motherland) or தமிழ் + அகம்.

Since all of this happens inside a house or home. Thamizhs referred to their house as அகம். Over time வீடு replaced அகம் as the word thamizhs used in order to refer to their "home". So usage of "என் அகம்" and "என் அகத்திற்கு" became "என் வீடு".Obviously I obtained this knowledge by asking a few thamizh literature enthusiasts. None of them really knew the origins of வீடு. Some thought that houses in the olden days came from ஓடு and so வீடு was derivative of that. But no one was sure. However, even though வீடு became popular over time, many continued using அகம் . But over time அகம் narrowed down in usage to members of specific caste. Also, over time வீடு became architected by madras thamizh as ஊடு. And brahmins began to shorten and mangle அகம் to ஆம் and அகத்திற்கு to ஆத்திற்கு. There is a small minority theory that अहम् from अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि fame was the origin of ஆம். Because in the context of अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि few do argue that the phrase means "ब्रह्म resides inside of 'me'" as opposed to "'I' am ब्रह्म". But except for 1 or 2 people who gave this as the reason the brahminical usage of ஆம் to refer to 'house' seems to originate from அகம்.

Coincidentally, ஆம் has competition in terms of bad usage. ஆறு means river. ஆற்றிர்கு is usage of ஆறு as in ஆற்றிர்கு செல்கிறேன். All thamizhs regardless of caste have consistently murdered this word to pronounce it as ஆத்திற்கு செல்கிறேன். While many often makes fun of people who use ஆத்திற்கு instead of அகத்திற்கு (as in 'enge thamarai Bharani'ya? Kaveri'a? )the reality is there no such word called ஆத்திற்கு. There is आम though. And its very tasty. But its a வட மொழி சொல்.

Disclaimer: All this is kelvi gnaanam. The purpose of posting it is to see if someone has a better explanation

P.S: Inspired by origin of 'summa'


Dilip Muralidaran said...

Makes much sense.

Srikanth said...

I am pretty sure the brahminical "aam" is a simplification of the tamil "aham". The "aham brahmasmi" thing is totally pop etymology.

Murali said...

Staying on the subject of language, how about writing something on usage of "pa" vs "ba", .. "ka" vs "ga" etc in Tamizh. Of late the mix-up is reaching a point of absurdity. Saying "Baal" for "Paal" (milk).

Just because Tamizh script doesn't differentiate these two, we end up reading everything with the softer syllable.

Anonymous said...

Have nothing much to enlighten you..But nevertheless this is a very interesting post...Would love to know the real explanation for this. But on Tamizh observations whats the deal with tamizh people who cannot pronounce the word 'zh'...they say palam or malai..gets on my nerves totally!! Ivangalukku ellam yarana tamizh tution edukkanum...

@Murali - LOL...People actually say Baal for Paal a?? Wow!

Anonymous said...


Hate it when people think its a great joke by using 'aaru' for 'agam/aam'... such a lame joke.. Not sure if there is any origin for 'Saadham' vs 'Soru'.. In the tambram household, saadham eventually became 'saam'


Alan Smithee said...

Can you transliterate hindi to english? I can't read it (or is it sanskrit?)

MaySan said...

Blackaccord: Saadam is from prasaadham, and shortened to saadham, I am not sure if all prasaadham back then was only rice, or how it came abt to be used only for rice.

Hawkeye: Doesnt veedu means Mokshalokam according to Nammazhwar, so may be it was marufied for ppl to use it as "heaven" and home is some kind of heaven?? I am just not sure, just throwing stones here and there...will try to find out.

Kokki Kumarru said...

Ya. The vice versa is common too. Many places use ஆத்திற்கு more than ஆற்றிர்கு when going to the river. Athoda pochan. Is Athu when used for river correct? I learn t written tamil from a tution the way people learn hindi.

Arjun said...

Saying aathirku instead of aatrirku is hardly murder,rather it is the colloquial usage of the word. Don't we say kaathu instead of kaatru, nethi instead of nettri (as in nettrik kaN) etc. It is simply evolution of the spoken language. And Veedu comes from viduppadauvathu (Moksham)..not sure how it came to mean house though.
@Murali..ka and pa are pronounced when the word begins with it, like kaaviyam,kalai, paal, puram. When the 'ka' alphabet occurs in the middle of the word,contrary to popular belief, according to thamizh phonetics it is pronounced as 'ha' not 'ga'!So strictly speaking, it is 'aham'and not 'agam', suham and not sugam. The ga sound is only used when it occurs after an 'ng' sound such as 'sengamalam', angam etc. When there is an 'ottru' then again it is the ka sound that should be pronounces as in 'sakkarai' or 'pakkam'. Likewise with the usage of pa and tha.

asanandan said...

i am tamilian .. nice explain


Anonymous said...

adhi medhavi!!!

Ashank said...

breezy post. not too heady. one of my reasons for frequenting this blog.
my obvious addendum is the etymology of 'aamudaya' or even 'aambudaya' :). Agam + Udayal => agamudyal ~=> aamudaya :) (One who takes care of the house and the family in it)

The word sounds oxymoronic in reference to indraiya aamudayas since they pracise udhaichufication only in the agam. So 'udayal' (doesn't kick) doesn't apply :)

Nice to see some discussion on veedu origin also.
Also, what of vidudhi?

Anonymous said...

WHat about the other synonym "Illam" which is tilldate retained in telugu as "illu"? :)