Know the Etymology: 222
Place Name of the Day: Saturday, 28 October 2017

Taṉip-paṉai, Paṉai-muṉai, Paṉai-niṉṟāṉ

தனிப்பனை, பனைமுனை, பனைநின்றான்
Taṉip-paṉai, Paṉai-muṉai, Paṉai-niṉṟāṉ


(The locality of) the single or lonely palmyra palm

The point or promontory found with palmyra palms/ Point Palmyra

The place where palmyra palms stand

Paṉai palmyra palm, Borassus flabellifer (Tamil, DED 4037, Kuṟuntokai, 248: 5-6, Tamil Brahmi inscription, ETE, 2003, 50); Pana: a palm tree, especially palmyra (Malayalam, DED 4037); Pane: the bastard sago tree, Caryota urens (Kannada, DED 4037, this is called Kūntal-paṉai in Tamil); Pane-mara: toddy palm (Kodagu, DED 4037); Paṇe-kāyi: the fruit of palmyra (Tulu, DED 4037); Paṇoli: a kind of palmyra (Tulu, DED 4037); probably related to, Paṇai: (verb) to grow thick; (noun) thickness, bigness (Tamil, DED 3894); bamboo (Tamil, DED); Paṇē: upper part of the stem of a tree (Kannada, DED 3894); Paṇi: stout stick (Kannada, DED 3894); Pan: (verb) to grow big or tall (Pengo, DED 3894)
Taṉi (adjective) single, lonely; (noun) singleness, seclusion, solitude; (verb) to be alone, single, be separate, detached from company (Tamil, DED 3196, Kuṟuntokai, 166: 4; 246: 3-4); Tani: alone, single, individual (Sinhala, Clough); Tāṉ, Taṉ: oneself (Tamil, DED 3196); cognates in 18 Dravidian languages including Brahui. See column 330
Niṉṟāṉ Niṉṟa+āṉ; Āṉ: in this context, attributive suffix like Aṉ (Tamil, see column 66); Niṉṟa: (verb) literally means where something stands (Tamil, DED 3675, Kuṟuntokai, 236: 3-4); Nil: (verb) to stand, stay, remain (Tamil, DED 3675, cognates in 20 Dravidian languages). See column 78

Paṉai is a common Tamil word of Dravidian etymology (DED 4037), meaning a palmyra palm. Cognates are found in Malayalam, Kodagu, Kannada and Tulu. The etymology seems to be related to Paṇai as verb in old Tamil meaning to grow thick or stout and Pan as verb in Pengo meaning to grow big or tall (DED 3894).

The other words for palmyra palm found in old Tamil lexicons are Pul, Puṟpati, Peṇṇai, Tāḷi and Tālam (Cūṭāmaṇi, 4: 10). All of them are terms of Dravidian etymology: Pul (DED 4300) meaning all plants of the grass family in which the interior is softer than the exterior; Puṟ-pati from palmyra being the chief in the grass family; Peṇṇai (DED 4395) from the female species of palmyra yielding fruits and Tāḷi/ Tālam from Tāḻai (DED 3180, 3181, 3183) meaning all plants of the palm variety in which the leaf-stalks droop (Tāḻ: to droop, DED 3178). See columns 158 and 204.

The global distribution of the Palmyra palm is confined to Africa, Madagascar, coastal South Asia and Southeast Asia.

In the island of Ilaṅkai, the natural concentration of the palm is found in the Jaffna Peninsula, coastal regions of the North, Northwest and East, and in some pockets in the southern coast.

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Usage examples of the term Paṉai:

“மணற் கோடு ஊர நெடும் பனை குறிய ஆகும்” (குறுந்தொகை, 248: 5-6)

“Maṇaṟ kōṭu ūra neṭum paṉai kuṟiya ākum” (Kuṟuntokai, 248: 5-6)

When the high sand dunes shift and cover, the tall palmyra would become shorter

“பனை துறை வெஸன் அதிட்-அனம்” (Tamil, Brahmi inscription, c. 1st century BCE, ETE, 2003, 50)

“Paṉai tuṟai vesaṉ atiṭ-aṉam” (Tamil, Brahmi inscription, c. 1st century BCE, ETE, 2003, 50)

The seat (is the gift of) Vessaṉ of Paṉai-tuṟai (a place name coming from palmyra palm)

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As adjective, Taṉi in Tamil/ Dravidian (DED 3196) and Tani is Sinhala mean single, lonely or secluded. See box above and also column 330.

Usage example of Taṉi:

“குவவு மணல் அடை கரை நின்ற புன்னை” (குறுந்தொகை, 236: 3-4)

“Kuvavu maṇal aṭai karai niṉṟa puṉṉai” (Kuṟuntokai, 236: 3-4)

The Puṉṉai (Calophyllum inophyllum) tree that stands alone in the seashore where dune sands are deposited

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Taṉip-paṉai is a locality name found in Puṅkuṭutīvu, in Kayts division of Jaffna district (Delft OIS).

Paṉai-muṉai is the name of the northernmost tip of the island, located in Alvāy North of Vadamaradchi Southwest division of Jaffna district (noted as Point Palmyra in Point Pedro OIS, see column 111).

Paṉai-niṉṟāṉ is a place in Oddusuddan division of Mullaiththeevu district.

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Some related place names:


Taṉip-paṉaik-kuḷam: Vaṭṭakkacci, Kandavalai, Kilinochchi (Elephant Pass OIS)

Iraṭṭaip-paṉaik-kuḷam: Vaṭṭakkacci, Kandavalai, Kilinochchi (Elephant Pass OIS). Iraṭṭai: twin

Añcām-paṉai: Uṭuttuṟai, Vadamaradchi East, Jaffna (V. Almanac, 2013-14, p. 100). Añcu, Aintu: five (Tamil, DED 2826)

Añcu-paṉaip-piṭṭi: near Māṭṭuḻuṅkai, Āṉaikkōṭṭai, Valikamam Southwest, Jaffna

Paṉaiyaṭi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu

Paṉaiyaṭik-kuḷam: Madu, Mannar

Paṉaṅ-kāṭu: Koralaippattu, Batticaloa; Poratheevuppattu, Batticaloa

Ciṉṉap-paṉaṅ-kāṭu: Alayadivempu, Amparai

Paṇaṅkaṭṭik-koṭṭu: Mannar Town, Mannar. Paṉaṅkaṭṭi: palmyra jiggery; Koṭṭu: shed

Tuṟaṭṭip-paṉai: Vaṭṭukkōṭṭai East, Valikamm West, Jaffna (HAM temple records). Probably, from a palmyra of forked branches, which is very rarely seen. Tuṟaṭṭi: iron crook (Tamil, DED 3366)

Karukam-paṉai: Valikamam North, Jaffna. Karuku+am (empty morpheme)+ paṉai; or Karukku+am+paṉai; 1. probably the same as Karuṅkāyp-paṉai: Karum+kāy+paṉai: the variety of palmyra palm in which the fruits are completely black in colour, compared to another variety in which the fruits are partly reddish yellow (Tamil, MTL citing Madurai Lexicon); 2. Karukku: jugged edge of palmyra leaf-stalk (Tamil, DED 1265); such leaf-stalks are found attached for a long time, if the palm is young or if it is used for cutting leaves, indicating that the palm has not been climbed so far, to tap toddy

Karukkup-paṉai: north of Cilāpam, Arachchikkatuwa, Puttalam (Chilaw MS). See Karukam-paṉai

* * *


Taṉi-vaḷai: Varaṇi, Thenmaradchi, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 376). Vaḷai: circuit, surroundings, environs, locality; see column 108

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Tani: (Sinhala)

Tani-polgaha-ḷaňka: Ambalangoda, Galle

Tani-vẹlla-gama: Madampe, Puttalam

Tani-kannāva: Arachchikkattuwa, Puttalam (Battaluoya MS)

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The pattern of distribution of Palmyra palms in the island of Ilaṅkai [Image courtesy: Murugesu Pakianathan, Panaiyiyal, p. 22]

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Revised: Saturday, 28 October 2017, 18:30

First published: Tuesday, 28 August 2012, 19:28

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