Know the Etymology: 23
Place Name of the Day: Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Maṇṇit-talai, Talai-maṉṉār, Talai-villu, Māt-talaṉ, Talā-dūva

மண்ணித்தலை, தலைமன்னார், தலைவில்லு, மாத்தலன், தலாதூ₃வ
Maṇṇit-talai, Talai-maṉṉār, Talai-villu, Māt-talaṉ, Talā-dūva


The sandy projection or the sandy headland

The front part or tip part of Maṉṉār

The seafront pond

The big or long seafront

The seafront islet

Talai1 head, top, end, tip, (Tamil, DED 3103, cognates in 17 Dravidian languages); front place (Tamil, Kuṟuntokai, 202: 1-2); Talu: head, "Mukhayehi uḍuyaṭi koṭasa" (Sinhala, Sorata); Tala, Tala-kaṭṭu: top, "Muduna" (Sinhala, Sorata). See Talai 2 and also column 203
Talai2 a locative affix (Tamil, MTL, Kuṟuntokai, 285: 7; Tamil Brahmi inscription, ETE 21, related to DED 3103); place (Tamil, Kuṟuntokai, 6: 3); surface (Tamil, Naṟṟiṇai, 66: 2); side (Tamil, Akanāṉūṟu, 339: 9-10); Tala: head, top, end, front, place, side, quarter, (Telugu, DED 3103). Talai-i: verb form of commence, begin, etc., as of rain starting from the sky (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Naṟṟiṇai, 53: 5-6); verb form of spread, as of flood spreading (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Paripāṭal, 6: 3). See Talai 1 and also column 203
Tala seashore (Sinhala, Clough); Talā: seashore, " Verala" (Sinhala, Sorata). Talai: front, front place (Tamil, DED 3103, see Talai 1 and Talai 2). See column 203 for other meanings of Tala and related place names in Sinhala
Talaṉ also Talaṉai: terms noted in some coastal place names, seem to be meaning seashore (Eezham Tamil, only in place names). See Talai 1, Talai 2 and Tala
Maṇṇi (adjective) sandy, as in the usage, Maṇṇi, Maṇṇiyāṟu: sandy river (Tamil, Tēvāram, Campantar, 1: 62: 4); from Maṇ: soil (Tamil, DED 4666a); Maṇal: sand (Tamil, DED 4666b). See column 305
great, big, large, (DED 4786). See column 203
Villu natural pond, marsh. See column 10
Dūva island, islet, any small spot of ground or bank surrounded by water, (Sinhala, Clough). See columns 134, 145
Maṉṉār name of an island. See column 272

Talai, basically meaning the head in the body in Tamil/ Dravidian, comes in various shades of related meanings in the place names.

Talai is also a locative affix in Tamil/ Dravidian.

Talu, Tala, Talā and Talē are cognates noticed in Sinhala and in Sinhala place names.

See boxes above and related place names.

For Sinhala place names related to Talē and for further discussions, see column 203 on Mā-talē and Mihin-talē.

The word forms Talaṉ and Talaṉai, probably meaning a seafront, are seen only in a very few Eezham Tamil place names.

For the adjective form Maṇṇi meaning sandy, coming from the noun Maṇ/ Maṇal, examples could be seen in the usage Maṇṇi for the river Maṇṇiyāṟu in Campantar Tēvāram (1: 62: 4) and in Periya-purāṇam (1211).

See other columns for discussions on the components, Dūva, Mā, Villu and Maṉṉār

* * *

Maṇṇit-talai is a place name found in a long sandbar of sand dunes projecting from Pūnakari in the main island towards Jaffna Peninsula. The sandbar comes under Poonakari division of Kilinochchi district.

Talai-maṉṉār is the tip part of the Maṉṉār Island, coming under Mannar Town division of Mannar district.

Talai-villu is a place and Catholic pilgrim centre in the Kaṟpiṭṭi Peninsula, coming under Kalpitti division of Puttalam district.

Māttalaṉ is a sandy coastal stretch in Karaithuraippattu division of Mullaiththeevu district.

Talā-dūva is a water-surrounded bank located at the seashore near Muṉna-kara in Negombo division of Gampaha district

* * *

Some related place names:


Varuttalai-viḷāṉ: Varattut-talai-viḻāṉ: Valikamam North, Jaffna. The place, Viḷāṉ, which is the beginning or catchment of a stream or flood-outlet

Valan-talai: Karainagar, Jaffna. This is a headland part of the Kārai-tīvu Island, located by the lagoon channel between Kārai-tīvu Island and Jaffna Peninsula. The prefix could be interpreted in many ways. One possible meaning is jungle, as the form Vallaṉ is seen in the neighbouring islands (Vallai, DED 5289)

Taṭṭān-talai: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Taṭṭāṉ: from Taṭṭai: flat, flatness (Tamil, DED 3035)

Pēttālai: Koralaippattu, Batticaloa. Pētālai: a place name noticed in Tamil Brahmi inscriptions (ETE 21); it is taken as Pēttalai and Tālai/ Talai comes here as a locative suffix (Mahadevan, p. 347)

* * *

Tala, Talā coming in coastal Sinhala place names:

Talalla: Devinuwara, Matara

Talunna: Tangalle, Hambantota

Talā-piṭiya: Galle Four Gravets, Galle

Talā-hēna: Negombo, Gampaha. This is located in a narrow sandbar

* * *


Upput-talaṉai: a coastal place near Vīramalai, Puṅkuṭu-tīvu, Delft OIS. Probably meaning an alkaline coastal place

Talaṉai-villu: south of Karampaṉ in Kayts Island, Jaffna OIS. This is an open coastal place having a pond
* * *
Ma'n'niththalai and Jaffna peninsula
Ma'n'niththalai and Jaffna peninsula [Image courtesy: NASA, Visible Earth]
Ma'n'niththidal sandbar
Satellite image of Ma'n'niththalai sandbar. Note the sand dunes, shifting in the southwest to northeast direction, which is also the direction of the wind called Choazhakam. (The southwest monsoon which blows as a dry wind in Jaffna). [courtesy: Google Earth]

Revised: Tuesday, 18 April 2017, 20:10

First published: Thursday, 05 July 2007, 01:00

Previous columns:


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