Know the Etymology: 122
Place Name of the Day: Tuesday, 03 February 2009




The locality of the lake / waterhole

Tha'l'laa Toponymical usage found in Mannaar and cognate of Thallaa: Tank, lake, reservoir (Tamil toponymical usage found in Madurai, Tamil Nadu); Thallam: Waterhole, pond, pit (Kathiraiver Pi'l'la's Tamil Dictionary); Talla (Thalla): Reservoir, large tank, pond (Sinhala, Clough's Dictionary); Thadam: Pond, tank, lake, reservoir (Changkam Tamil Diction and Old Tamil Lexicons); Thada (adjective): large, broad, full, curved (Changkam Tamil Diction); Thadaa: Water storing jar, pot etc (Old Tamil Lexicons. The word is also found in the Tamil Brahmi potsherd inscriptions.); Thadaakam (Thada-akam): Large tank, reservoir, lake (Old Tamil Lexicons. The word is widely found used in the inscriptions from the Pallava times onwards); Ta'laaka: Lake (Pali/ Prakrit. Note that D and 'L interchange in South Asian languages, especially between Prakrit and Tamil)
Adi Locality, surroundings (See previous columns for etymology)

Thallaa or Tha'l'laa is an obscure word used for a lake or in some instances for a waterhole in Tamil and in Sinhala.

A significant example is the place name Thallaa-ku'lam, which is part of Madurai city in Tamil Nadu.

When it went out of the language memory of the people of Madurai that the word Thallaa itself stood for a lake, the suffix Ku'lam, also of the same meaning, was added to the place name.

Not all Tamil Dictionaries have an entry for this word Thallaa.

Kathiraiver Pillai's Tamil dictionary, which is of Jaffna origin, notes Thallam, means waterhole or pit (Neerk-ku'ndu, Kuzhi).

Clough's Sinhala dictionary give the meanings, reservoir, large tank and pond for the word Thalla, but the word is not of popular usage in Sinhala.

The etymology of the word seems to be connected to the old Tamil word Thadam of Changkam diction for pond, tank, lake or reservoir. In later Tamil, the word Thadaakam (Thada-akam) stood for a large tank, reservoir or lake. Ta'laaka in Pali / Prakrit is a lake (English - Pali Dictionary).

D and 'L /L are interchangeable phonemes in Tamil and Prakrit.

There are two lakes (called Ka'lappus today) in the location of Ta'l'laadi, which is the causeway point in the mainland, linking the Mannaar Island and is a base of the Sri Lanka Army today. There is also a waterhole on the exact location of Tha'l'laadi. It is difficult to say whether the place name meant the lakes or the waterhole.

Tha'l'laadi comes under the Mannaar Town division of Mannaar district.

Some related place names:

Thallaak-ku'lam: The lake or reservoir. This is a locality in the Mudurai city in Tamil Nadu.

Thallattewa: (Probably, Thallatte-wewa): The tank, lake or reservoir (equivalent to Thallaak-ku'lam). This is a GS area in the Kahatagasdigiliya division of Anuradhapura district.

First published: Tuesday, 03 February 2009, 00:06

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