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Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Loan Words in Tamil Language

 


Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Loan Words in Tamil Language

 

Dr. Mandana Kolahdouz Mohamadi

 PhD, Lecturer in Linguistics and Translation Studies

PNU University, Iran

Abstract:

 

Tamil is a Dravidian language primarily spoken in Tamil Nadu, India, and parts of Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia. It has a rich literary history and is one of the oldest classical languages used today. Tamil, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic languages belong to different language families and are not directly related. While these languages have distinct linguistic roots, they have had some historical and cultural interactions due to trade, travel, and historical events. So, the present study, through web-based analysis and the help of a Tamil native speaker, aims to investigate Arabic, Persian, and Turkish loan words in the Tamil language. The findings indicated that Persian had the highest frequency of loan words among 56 loan words from these three languages, primarily related to daily issues. The second highest frequency was related to Arabic loan words, predominantly associated with religious matters.

 

Keywords: Loan words, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Tamil

 

Introduction

 

Tamilis an old language with a rich grammar and literary past (Muru, 2010). More than 80 million people worldwide speak Tamil as their first language. The government of India has classified it as a classical language since it has a continuous and unbroken literary heritage dating back more than 2,000 years (Sarveswaran, Dias & Butt, 2021). It is the official language of Srilanka and Singapore and has regional official status in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, India. It is also taught as a second language in Malaysia, Mauritius, and South Africa, where it is classified as a minority or indigenous language. The spoken forms of Tamil differ by location, owing to linguistic interaction and politics (Schiffman 2008). According to Selvan (2022), Languages continuously evolve and improve, like living things. However, they cannot maintain their original identity over time, and cultural differences in a multi-racial society are the primary reason for borrowing, particularly among Malaysia's Tamil population. However, several loanwords entered this language due to historical events that led to the foreign conquest of the Tamil nation, India.

 

According to Yule (1996), loan words adapt linguistic elements from another language by one language. Loan includes direct loanwords and a term's modification into the other language's phonetic, phonological, and grammatical systems. Borrowing may also refer to the borrowed term. Both borrowing and loan words have the same primary meaning, which means a term or phrase borrowed from another language. Loanwords are often morphophonologically altered to the destination language's patterns, while they may preserve phonemes that are also accepted into the language. Also, they are employed by monolingual speakers and bilinguals (Walters, 2023). According to Jendra (2010), Haugen classifies borrowing words into three types: loan word, loan blend, and loan shift.

 

Loanwords are constantly available in our colloquial discourse, even though we are not always aware of their existence. In the first stage, a term is used by a small group of people. In the second stage, this term gains widespread acceptance and usage, where it is referred to as a borrowed word. When a term becomes widespread and is used even by ordinary individuals, it is referred to as a loanword, which is practically identical to the frequency of any native word used by natives (Al Btoush, 2014).The main idea that triggered the present study was that due to the vicinity of India and Iran, there should be some loan words in the Tamil language. Studying these loan words can give insights into the history of human migration, linguistic interaction, and language change.

 

Review of literature

 

Various studies have been conducted on loanwords in Tamil. In this paragraph, we will review some of these studies.

 

Schiffman (2002) investigated Tamil as an ethnic minority language in Malaysia and offered some predictions concerning Tamil's survival in the twenty-first century. Based on his findings, due to socioeconomic history and current realities, the Tamil language in Malaysia may only persist in isolated rural regions or as a language of a marginalized urban underclass.

Muru (2010) focuses on the first missionaries' grammar and text in the Tamil language written between the 16th and 18th centuries. In the second section of her work, she focuses on the contact between Portuguese and Indians, showing how the missionaries adapted their religious vocabulary to the Tamil language through calques, loanwords, and neologisms. Inthe third section, she provided evidence of spoken Tamil in Christian religious manuscripts.

 

Khansir and Mozafari (2014) investigated the influence of the Persian language on other Indian languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Telugu, Hindi, etc. According to them, as one of the branches of Indo-European languages, Persian has had a significant linguistic and literary effect on Indian languages. It was around 1000-1800AD when the Persian language was used throughout the Middle East and Asia countries and utilized as the lingua franca of many countries worldwide. During Mughal authority in India, the Persian language affected Indian culture and education. The interaction between the two nations in literature and science was at its zenith, and the Persian language was the official language of India.

 

Selvan (2022) examined the phonetic adaptation of English loanwords in Tamil, focusing on vowel epenthesis. It finds that the place features of the epenthetic vowel overcome illegal consonant clusters and that language-specific phonological phenomena are central to this process. The research was conducted using Tamil short stories from 2000-2016, and the findings raise questions about the symbolic versus phonetic underpinnings of loanword adaptation in Tamil.

 

Based on the abovementioned studies, the authors have focused on Persian and English loan words in Tamil rather than Turkish and Arabic. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate these loan words in the colloquial discourse of Tamil native speakers.

 

Methodology

 

This article selected around 56 loanwords from Turkish, Arabic, and Persian languages through an Internet search. Then, data were shared with an educated Tamil native speaker to see whether these words are still used in this language. Then, the data were shared with a knowledgeable, multilingual native Turkish, Persian, and Arabic speaker to see whether the meanings had changed.

 

Data Analysis

 

In this section, we are going to analyze the data. Regarding the entrance of Persian, Arabic, and Turkish loan words into south India, it is written that when Islam became the Arabs' religion in the seventh century A.D., they attempted to consolidate their dominance by overthrowing the Persians in the east and the Romans in the west. Muslims naturally began to move from the north to the Deccan. The Muslim monarchs' development of religious institutions in the Deccan brought the inhabitants of the South into close contact with Muslim language and literature (Vaidyanathan, 1958).

 

Although Persian and Tamil have different linguistic origins, they have interacted historically and culturally because of commerce, travel, and historical events—Persian impacts Tamil terminology, especially from ancient literature, trade, and administrative domains. Persian loanwords are present in Tamil, particularly in business, government, and religion.

 

On the other hand, it should be noted that when a native speaker encounters a new class of sounds or vocables, he pronounces them in the pattern of his mother tongue (Vaidyanathan, 1958); for instance, according to Table (1), the Persian word golgand has changed into the loan word kulkant. Table (1) shows the Persian loan words used in Tamil and their meaning in contemporary Persian.

 

Table (1) Persian loan words in Tamil

 

Persian word

Tamil word

Meaning

Tamil Native speaker

Persian Transcription

Badam

Badam

Almond

Correct

بادام

Bazaar

Bazaar

Market

Correct

بازار

ragam

rakam

Number

Correct

رقم

Biriyani

Biriyani

Rice Dish

Correct

بریانی

Dil

Dil

Heart

Courage

دل

Faluda

Faluda

Sweet milk

Correct

فالوده

Halwa

Halwa

A sweet

Correct

حلوا

Kabab

Kabab

grilled meat

Correct

کباب

Khush

Khushi

Happiness

Correct

خوشی

Madarsa

Madrasa

Islamic school

Correct

مدرسه

Mazaar

Mazaar

Tomb

Correct

مزار

kolah

kulla

hat

Correct

کلاه

Pistah

Pistah

Pistachio

dry fruit- Meaning

پسته

Qalam

Kalam

Pen

Correct

قلم

Qurbani

kurbani

Sacrifice

Correct

قربانی

Saheb

Saheb

Master

Correct

صاحب

Shaadi

Shaadi

Wedding

Correct

شادی - خوشی

Shami Kebab

Shami Kebab

A type of kebab

Correct

شامی کباب

Shawl

Shawl

A long scarf

Correct

شال

Sheer Khurma

Sheer Khurma

A pudding

Correct

شیر خرما

Subha

Subha

Morning

Correct

صبح

Tabaq

Thaali

Large metal plate

Correct

سینی یا طبق

Turban

Turban

Headwear

Correct

توربان

Yaar

Yaar

Friend

Who- Meaning

یار

Golgand

Kulkaṇṭ

Jam made by rose

குல்கந்து

گلقند

sual

caval

Challenge, question

சவால்

سوال

čand

canta

subscription

சந்தா

چند

Kagoz

Kākitam

Paper

Correct

کاغذ

Atr

Attar

perfume

அத்தர்

عطر

Samuse

Camōcā

Samosa

சமோசா- A type of dish

سمبوسه

 

Table 2shows the Arabic loan words used in Tamil and their meaning in contemporary Arabic. As seen in the table, some phonological changes can be seen regarding the consonants, for instance, dunya has been changed to tunya. The consonant /b/ has been changed to /p/ in words like napi, kipla.

Table (2) Arabic loan words in Tamil

 

Arabic word

Tamil word

Meaning

Tamil Native speaker

Arabic Transcription

Ahlan

Ahlan

Hello

Hello

اهلاً

Ameen

Ameen

So be it

Āmīṉ

آمین

Allah

Allah

God

Allāh

الله

Dunya

Tuṉyā

World

Tuṉyā

دنبا

Eid

Eid

Islamic festival

Eid

عید

Firdous

Paratis

Paradise

பரதீஸ்

پارادیس

Fitna

Piṭṉā

Temptation

Piṭṉāபிட்னா

فتنه

Hajj

Hajj

pilgrimage

Hajj

حج

Halal

Halal

Permissible

Halal

حلال

Haram

Haram

Forbidden

Haram

حرام

Inshallah

Inshallah

God willing

Inshallah

انشالله

Jaan

Jaan

Soul

Jaan

جان

Jannah

Jannah

Paradise

Jannah

جنّه

Mashaallah

Mashaallah

God has willed

Mashaallah

ماشالله

Nabi

Napi

Prophet

Napi

نبی

Qiblah

Kiplā

Direction of prayer

Kiplā

قبله

Quran

Quran

Islamic holy book

Quran

قرآن

Salaam

Salaam

Peace

Salaam

سلام

Subhanallah

Cup'hāṉallāh

Glory be to God

Cup'hāṉallāh

سبحان الله

Ummah

Um'mā

Muslim community

அம்மா

امّه

Zakat

Jakāt

Islamic tax

ஜகாத்

زکات

It's crucial to remember that because languages change over time and because borrowings can happen indirectly through other intermediate languages, it can occasionally be challenging to pinpoint the exact origins of loanwords. Table 3 shows the Turkish loan words used in Tamil and their meaning in the contemporary period. It is thought that these terms entered Tamil during the Ottoman era when trade and cultural exchange between the two empires increased. It's also likely that some of these expressions were carried by Turkish troops and businessmen who settled in Tamil-speaking regions.

 

Table (3) Turkish loan words in Tamil

 

Turkish word

Tamil word

Meaning

Tamil Native speaker

Dolma

Tolma

Dish stuffed vegetables

Dolma

Kebap

Kapap

Skewers of grilled meat

Kebap

Kofte

Kofta

Meatballs

Köfte

Pashā

Pāṣā

king

Paşa

Baklāvā

Paklāvā

Sweet

பக்லாவா

 

Conclusion

 

In this article, we collected some Arabic, Persian, and Turkish loan words available in Tamil. According to Table (1),most Persian loanwords had the same meaning as their original words except for the words dil and yar. Phonotical change was evident only in the case of consonants, for instance, /g/ to /k/. Regarding Arabic loan words, there was no change in the meaning as all words belonged to the religious category. Some consonants were changed, like /z/ to /j/, but the rest were the transcription of Arabic words. In the case of Turkish loan words, only the phonological change of /b/ to /p/ was evident, and meanings were the same. Yet, further research is warranted to examine and analyze written and spoken texts in Tamil regarding loanwords. 

 

Acknowledgment

 

The author would like to thank Johnny Rolando from Trinity College for reviewing the manuscript's data as a Tamil native speaker.

 

References

 

-        Al Btoush, M. A. (2014). English loanwords in colloquial Jordanian Arabic. International Journal of Linguistics, 6(2), 98.

-        Jendra, M I I. (2010). Sociolinguistics: The study of societies language. Yogyakarta: Grade Ilmu

-        Khansir, A. A., &Mozafari, N. (2014). The impact of Persian language on Indian languages. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(11), 2360.

-     Muru, C. (2010). Glimpses of the Tamil language.Adyar Students Xerox Pvt. Ltd

-     Sarveswaran, K., Dias, G., & Butt, M. (2021). Thamizhi Morph: A morphological parser for the Tamil language. Machine Translation, 35(1), 37-70.

-     Schiffman, H. F. (2008). The Ausbau issue in the Dravidian languages: the case of Tamil and the problem of purism,International Journal of the Sociology of Language.https://doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2008.024

-     Schiffman, H. H. F. (2002). Malaysian Tamils and Tamil linguistic culture. Language & Communication, 22(2), 159-169.

-     Selvan, P. R. S. (2022). English Loanwords in Tamil: Fix Illicit Consonant Clusters. Ilomata International Journal of Social Science, 3(2), 146-155.

-        Vaidyanathan, S. (1958). Loan-words of perso-arabic origin in modern tamil. Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute, 19(1/2), 152-154.

-        Yule,G. (1985). The study of language. New York: Cambridge University Press