Sumerian si-in and Old Tamil cin: A study in the Historical Evolution of the Tamil Verbal System
By Dr K.Loganathan

(From the Journal  of Tamil Studies, Dec 1988).

With the availability of some Sumerian(Su.) texts  for  the general public, it has become possible for non-Sumeriologists to examine the language and culture of those remarkable people, the Sumerians, who have left their indelible mark upon the history of human civilization. Those who are acquinted with the Dravidian Languages, in particular Old Tamil, (O.Ta) could  not  but be impressed with the remarkable Dravidian character of Sumerian. Even on a casual basis deep affinities between Sumerian and Old Tamil are clearly noticeable. Fane H.  (1979) has even postulated, on a mass of archeological  and other evidences, the possibilty of a common origin of Sumerians and Dravidians somewhere in the Zagros mountain region. More interesting are the studies of J.V. Kinnier Wilson (1974) who has even postulated  the possibility of a common language and culture between Sumerians and the Indus people along these lines. Maloney C. (1970) has seen reason to infer the drift of Dravidians from the North. The origins of Dravidian civilization in the South are traced to trading settlements established along the costal regions of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu by people from Northwest India. He even connects the Pandian Kings with the Pandavas of MahAbharata, a view that has been expressed by many others even earlier.

In this study , I am  concerned mainly with the linguistic affinities that exist between Sumerian and the Dravidian languages of India and in particular O.Ta. as represented by the Sangam classics. Though the present study began with the intention of listing lexical and morphological similarities, important insights were gained regarding the origin and development of OLd tamil verbal system which in turn has helped to understand the Sumerian language itself with greater clarity.

The morphological similarity between Su. si-in (=sin?) and O.Ta. cin is obvious. Both are morphological elements in the verbal complexes with a remarkable similarity in grammatical functions. But there are also important differences in the distribution of the term. The search for an explantion of these similarities and dfifferences has led to the presnt theory of the origin and development of Tamil verbal system. The following are some occurences of sin (written syllabically as si-in? ) and si occuring alone or with other formants. Below each  sentence I have also given a Tamil equivalent, in a Tamil that is postulated as slightly anterior to the historical O.ta. These reconstructions will be discussed later on. Of particular importance to note is the  DIIFERENCE in the order in which the various formants are placed in the verbal complexes. Tha situation in Sumerian is unsystematic and confusing and there are reasons to believe that the order in which they are placed in the Tamil reconstructions was probably the real order, a matter that needs to further investigated.

Abbreviations: ILU (Lamentations over the Destruction of Ur), KTH (The Kes Temple Hymns), D.D (Dumuzi's Dream). SH(B): Sulgi's Hymn B, SH(C): Sulgi's hymn C; EI (The Exaltations of Inanna)

Utu a-igi-na su ba-si-in-ti

(Utu received his tears)

Ta. utu aal-akkinna cey  vaticin

(a>Ta. aal, aam: water;  ba-si-in-ti> ba-ti-si-in >vaticin;Ta. til, ti, va-ti: to exist:  utu> Ta. uti: to arise, that which arises. su>sey> key> kai: hand, or su> suur> karam: hands)

2. D.D. 235

utu a-igi-na su ba-si-in-in-ti

(utu received his tears)

Ta. utu aal-akkina cey  vaticinin

3. D.D. 178-179

gal-la gal-la-ene ba-da-an -ze-er
KU-bi-re-es dil-da-ra-es zi-ni ba-si-in-tum

(He escaped all his demons and saved his life )fleeing) to KU-bi-re-es dil-da-ra-es)

Ta. kaLLa kaLLayinE cEyirpaddaan, Ku-bi-re-es Dil-dar-r-es  jivanin ba tOmmucin

(gal-la: Ta. kaLLa: thieves; ene> Ta. inam: a multitude zi> Ta. jIvan: life)

4. ILU  101

U-TUR-bi-se ki-na-ma mu-us-la-bi

ki-na-ma GIS-la-bi nu-si-in-ga-ma-ni-ib-tum

(Nor, verily because of its affliction, has the quiet of my sleeping place, the quiet of my sleeping place has been allowed me)

Ta. U-TUR-bi-sey kiiz aNaima oosai ilaabi
kiizaNaima GIS-ilaabi tOm  nA  ma ipicinka

(ki: Ta. kIz: place. na> Ta. aNai: to sleep mu-us> Osai: noise na. la: Ta. iala, ala: particle of negation ib-> Ta. ib, vi, vai :causative particle?)

The examples given above are all in the indicative mood. The complex sin also occurs in the optative, interogative and hortative.

The following are examples of the interrogative sentences.

5. KTH 41
kes-gin rib-ba lu si-in-ga tum-mu

(One as great as Kes has any born (this worthy)?)

kEsi-yin iribba uLu tOmmucinka?

(-gin> -in: case marker or a particle of comparision. rib-ba> Ta. irubba, iribba; iru: great. tum-mu> Ta. thOnRu: to show up)

6. KTH 42
ur-sag-bi as-sir-gin  rib-ba ama si-in-ga utu?

(One as great as its hero Assir -- has any mother ever borne him?)

sanROn-bi assIrngin iribba ammA utu cinka?

(ursag> Ta. saanROn: great man; ama> Ta. ammA: mother, utu.Ta. utir: to drop; utu: to give rise to)

si-in may also occur as si-ni (sin-i?)

7. SH(C)10
KA-bi u?  ki he-im si-ni-sub

(Its head and neck did I throw to the ground)

KA-bi um kavuna kiiz  kupicin-i

(gu: neck; Ta. kavuL: armpit; u> Ta. um: a particle of conjunction; sub> Ta. kubi, kuvi: to pile up)

There are also occurences of si- with particles other than -in that may be grammatically significant. The following are some examples.

8.SH(B) 160
si-ag-NE-da nu-mu-e-si-ib-gaz-e

(And in their preparation I did not bungle anything )

cI  Akkidam ila mo E kaziyicippE

(si> Ta. cI: to fill up; ag>Ta. Akku: to make ; gaz> Ta. kazi : to let go)

9. KTH (in notes to line 110)

kus-ub kus-a-la-e ara si-im-ma-gi-gi

(He has the drums and tympana sounded)

kOs-uppu kucci alaiyE aRai simma mImI(L)

(kus> ta, kOsam: covering skin, kus> Ta. kucci ; a-la> Ta. alai:  wavering. a-ra> Ta. aRai: to beat; gi-gi> Ta. mImi(L): repeatedly)

In the following examples we have -si- occuring alone, independent of grammatical particles as the above.

10 ILU 432

lu-lu-bi sa-hul-a-bi he-im-ma-si-kug-gi

(may every evil heart of its people be pure before thee)

ALuLu-bi sAn -ollabi  kongkkamma- ci

(hul>Ta.ol- mean, kug->Ta. kong-: high)

11.  ILU 433

sa-kalam-ma gal-la-ke he-im-ma si-dug-e

(may the hearts of those who dwell in the land be good before thee)

sAn kaLmma kAllakkE tungkimma ci

(kalam.Ta. kaLam: country; gal> Ta. kaL: to stand firm, to get rooted )

12. DD 173

KU-bi-re-es Dil-da-ra-es zi-mu ga-ba-si-tum

(Let me save my life (fleeing) to KU-bi-re-es Dil0da-ra-es)

KU-bi-re-es Dil-dara-es cIvanmO kAval tOmi-cI

(ga-ba> Ta. kAval: to protect

13. DD 249

ga nam-ma-an-ze-en amas-tur-se ga-ba-si-gin

(come! let us go to the sheepfold and stall)

vA!  nammAn cEyen  mAdu thoRusE ngAn avva nILci

(nan-ma-an> Ta. nAm,  namma; tur> Ta. toRu: cattle fold; gin>Ta. nIl: to extend, to go)

14. EI

ezinu  la-ba-si-gal

(No vegatation stands up)

ezinu ila av kAlci

 We can derive the positive form of the above by deleting the particle of negation: la-

15 EI

ezini ba-si-gal

(vegetation stands up)

ezinu av kAlci

(ezinu . Tam ezuni: that which rises up, grows up)

16. ILU 106/107

musen-an-na-GIM a-dub he-en-si-ag-en, me-e uru-mu-se he-en-si-dal-dal-en

(I like a bird of heaven flap (my) wings (and) to my city I fly)

musen vAnnangin aa-aadupu  yaan aaksiyen, meyyE UrumOsEy  yaan taL-taL-si-en

(musen, Ta. musal, muyel: creatures with protruding faces; an .Ta. vAn , An: sky: me . Ta. mey: truely, really etc. dal-dal >ta. taL-taL: to push forward.)

17. ILU 431

lu SISKUR-SISKUR-ra-ke  mu-gub-ba-bi igi-zi u-mu-e-si-bar

(Upon its man of offerings, who is standing, gaze with steadfast eyes.)

ULu SISKUR-SISKUR-ra-kE mO kuppuaabi akkisI U  mO E pAruci

(bar> Ta. pAr: to see)

18. SH (B) 83

gis-kak u-tag-ga la-ba-si-gid-en

(I did not reach (wound) it with a javelin)

 kucci kakam U  tAkkal  kidciyenba ila

(kak> Ta.. kakam: arrow, tag-ga> Ta, tAkku: to attack, gid> Ta. kiddu: to reach)

19 SH(B) 112

edin-ta du-a-mu-de nig mu-un-si-la-la

(Coming back from the steppe I would hang everything there)

Etintu viduvamutE nika  mun-alai-alai-ci

(edin> Ta. Etin, Etil: city outskirts; la-la> Ta. alai-alai: to wave about )

20. SH(B) 131

SAL-mu di-nig-gi-na-ka dudu mu-e-si-gal

(my meekness (or openmindedness) prompted words that were pronouncements of justice

cAlmO viti niRkinnaka  tUttu mO E kAl-ci

(du(g)du(g)> Ta. tUtu, tUttu etc : pronouncements di-nig-gi-na> Ta. viti wikkina: judgements that are long lasting)

21. SH(B) 325

a.-na gin-nam nar-e en-du-a mu-e-si-ga-ga-a

(What can ever a singer place in songs as I (have done))

yAnna angnginam nArE Entuva mU E kal-kal-siya?

(a-na> Ta. yAn; nar-e> Ta. nAr: stringed instruments)

22. SH(B)

lugal-me-en a-ga lama-bi-im, kalag-ga-ga sir-bi-im, ki-kir-gin-na-mu nare-e mu-si-gal

(I, the King, my arm is the protecting genius (and)  This is the song of may valour, Which I palced in my "library" for the (the use of) the singer

uLukaLman  AL - ka  rAmAbiyam, kALaikka sIrbiyam, kIz kIrkaNNa mO  nArE mO kAl-ci

(sir> ta. ciR: song; kir> Ta.kIr: to scrach, to write?)

Clearly when we look at the Tamil correspondences of the above Sumerian sentences, our  very simplistic assumption that sin and si correspond respectively to O.Ta. cin, ci do not produce satisfying results. Except possibliy with  vaticin(1), vaticini(2) and kuvikkcin(7) , the correspondences of  sin and sini are not that satisfactory. The situation is slightly better  with si. Such forms as niil-ci, kAl-ci kid-si alai-ci and so forth seem to be similar in form to such verbal nouns as ArAy-c-ci, nikaz-c-ci pukaR-ci val-ci and so forth. The occurences of such forms  in O.Ta. have been collected together by Rev, Fr. H.S. David (1973, JTS). To this  perhaps we should also  add the rather rare occurence of ci as in the following case

NaR.13  vEngkai vIyukum Ongku malaikatci mayil aRibu....

where we have malai-kaN-ci> malaikatci, meaning the thing that live in hill tract

We have in  CilappatikAram  some sentences that closely parallel the Sumerian construction with  si.  The sentence  is:

kangkul kanaicudar kAl-ci-yA mun.

It occurs twice in the kaNattiram uraitta kAtai towards the end.  The commentator (P.V. Somasundaranar) interpretes this to mean" before the sun annihilates/removes the darkness". A more literal rendering of the meaning would be, " before the sun becomes the one that removes the darkness". Here the -A after -ci is interpreted to mean "become : ie. Aku. The term kAl-si relatated  to modern kaLai, kulai, kaLai  and is  obviously an archaic form that has survived  somehow.

(to continue)3


Our assumption that  sin(si) is phonologically transformed to cin (ci) then has to be viewed as rather too simplistic. Considering the remarkable correspondences in the stems themselves, we have to assume that sin(si) has undergone more complex kind of phonological grammatical  transformations. A study of the correspondences between lexical items containing "s" and their equivalent in O.Ta. may furnish an idea of the complexity involved. The following are some illustrative examples.

musen > Ta. musel, muyel, muukku, muunjci  etc.; creatures with protruding features

sir > Ta. cIr: song

isi-is, isi-si> Ta. icai, Ocai: noise

sub- >Ta. cup, cump-: to duck down

tus> Ta. tucc- tunjcu: to stay, sleep etc

su-sub-bu > Ta. kubu-kubu: to gush forth

sag, sang >Ta. cenni, cEnai, tAn, tAnai etc: head, person

gestu> T. kAtu : ears

kas-bur-ra-am .Ta. kaRpUram: libations

mus> Ta. mutal: foundations

mas> Ta. mAn: dear etc, Ta.mA: animals. Ta. mAdu: cow

pi-es, pi-is. pes- >Ta. patti, pakkam, pAkkam: sea town, sides

munus> Ta. manuci: woman

    While more extensive investigations will be necessary to determine the phonological environment that determines the phonological transformation of  -s- under the rule that it be deleted from the  surface form, I shall assume for the purpose of this study  such transformations as below on the basis of illustrative examples given above.

si(n) ----> i(n)/  (t)ti(n) / (c)ci(n) / (k)ki(n)/  (d)di)n) / (R)Ri(n)

With these assumptions we are able to see a more satisfactory evolutionary relationship  between O. Ta. and Su. as the  transformational constructions below would show.

e : to go out etc            Ta. E                    e-si(n) -----> Eki)n), Etti(n), ERRi(n). Eyyi)n)

si: to fill up                    Ta. cI                    si-si(n) -----> cItti(n)

si: to give                       Ta. I                      si-si(n) -----> Itti(n), Ini)n), Iyyi(n)

ilu: to cry                        Ta. azu                 ilu-si(n) ----> azuti(n), azuki(n)

gar : to do                       Ta. kaR, kar          gar-si(n) ---> kArtti(n)

ug: to die                         Ta. ukku                ug-si(n)---> ukki(n),

gu : to call                       Ta. kU                    gu-si(n) ---> kUkki(n), kuyiRRi(n), kUtti(n)

 na:    to sleep                    Ta. aNai                 na-si(n) ----> aNiti(n), aNaitti(n)

zu : to inform                   Ta. co,-                 zu-si(n)----> conRi(n), colli(n)

bu-uh: to get frightened   Ta. pE                   bu-uhsi(n)--> payatti(n), peytti(n), pEtti(n)

gur: to scratch                  Ta. ur                    gur-si(n)---> uraikki(n), uraitti(n)

gur: to cut                          Ta. kuR                gur-si(n)---> kuRRi(n) koyt(n)

tum: to bring                      Ta. tOnR-             tum-si(n)---> tOnRici(n), tORRi(n)

bur : to relate                     Ta. paRai               bur-si(n)---> paRayi(n), paRaytti(n)

mu: to grow                       Ta muL                  mu-si(n)--> muRRi(n), mutti(n)
                                                                         muL-si(n)--> muLaitti(n)

ti: to live                               Ta. vati                   ti-si(n)---> vatiki(n), vatiti(n)

gid: to reach                         Ta. kid-                  gid-si(n)---> kiddi(n)

si-ig : to tear down                Ta. cIkku                si-ig-si(n)---> cIkkin, cIRRi(n)

hur: to rub                              Ta. ur-                   hur-si(n)---> uraci(n), uraici(n)

dur: to scatter                        Ta. turat-              dur-si(n) ----> turatti(n)

gal: to establish                      Ta. kAl nAl              gal-si(n)----> natti(n), nARRi(n)

si-re: to joi etc                         Ta. cEr                   si-re-si(n)----> cErtti(n), cErkki(n)

kin: to search, see                   Ta. kaN, kAn            kin-si(n)--> kaNti(n), kAtci(n), kAtti(n)

Many more such constructions can be given but the above are sufficient to reveal the connections between O.Ta. verbs and Su. We can state the connections as follows (in a broad sort of manner)

i) Except for some phonemes such as /z/  which may be absent from O.Ta. the structure of the verb stems in both languages are of the sort (C)V~(C) with a similar range of phonemic repertoire.

ii) The secondary verb stems of O.Ta. which may serve as bases for the formation of finite verbs, verbal and relative participles and so forth are transformations of the Sumerian verbal complexes of the sort X-si(n) where X is a verbal stem of the  type (C)V~(C).

This certainly is a very useful insight into the origins of the  O.Ta verbal system.  We can push our investigations further along these lines and obtain additional insights that are enormously satisfying. For such forms as kaNdi-, cErtti-, conRi- , kiddi- and so forth are the bases (and which can be considered as the phonological transformations of Sumerian X-si sort of verbal complexes) to which cin is suffixed and further transformed. It may then be possible to consdider O.Ta verbal complexes with cin as phonological transformations of ( x-si)-sin sort of complexes with the rule that

           ( X-si)-sin ------>   (x'-Y'-i)-cin

where X' is a transorm of X (which depends on the structure of X) while Y' is the form of "s" in "si-" takes, specified roughly as above. Some examples  may serve to clarify the suggestion here.

(kin-si)-sin                      kaN-d-i-cin

(bar-si)-sin                     pAr-tt-i-cin

(gul-si)-sin                      kon-Ri-cin

(sire-si)-sin                     cEr-tt--cin

Clearly then this is a distinct possiblity.

There are numerous evidences from Sumerian itself (which will be discussed later) to indicate that it was in fact the case. In  Sumerian the transformational processes were not complete -- we still see the occurences of si and sin without any phonological change in a number of cases.   There are also occurences where the phonological transformations range from partial to complete.  For example the verbal complex "a-dub he-en-si-ag-an" can be considered  a transformation of "a-dub si-en-si-ag-an" where si---> he. There are numerous occurences of he (=si) to substantiate this possiblity. We shall return to this towards the end of the essay where a number of additional examples will be discussed.

Allowing for this possibility, we have to explicate the underlying generative processes that have resulted in such syntactic or morphological forms. This immediately takes us to an investigation of the grammatical and semantic functions of sin and si.

(t0 continue) 4


The Gramatical Functions of Sin and Si

Rev. H.S. David (1973?) has given an extensive list of the occurences of i-cin in Sangam literature and concludes , after examining all these occurences that i-cin is employed for a variety of purposes which he enumerates as follows:

a) to form verbal participle as Kur. 367 -

uvak kAN tOzi avvanticinE
(O friend! come and see (this))


The present perfect as in An.7:

pUNdicin: have worn

c) The past tense as in An. 77

cUznticin< ( you) have considered


The optative mood as in  AnRicin (Na. 1280; vatitticin (Pn 180P, ARRicin (Par. 8:79) kaNdicin (AN. 164:11)
terinticin (AN. 28:1) and nuvanRicin (Naer. 200:5)


The imperative is always singular e.g nORRicin (PN 202: 16). kEddicin (Nar. 78:7 ) and so forth.

But this multiple loading of linguistic functions upon a single morpheme especially when there are well established enclitics or particles specifically for that function does not seem to be satisfactory. It lacks the explanatory power that we are seeking. Furthermore the list of functions above seem to be of the implied or contextual type rather than something narrowly true of the morpheme in question. However, what this analysis does reveal is that whatever specific function we can assign to cin, it must consistent with the above possibilities.

P.S. Subramanian(1971, p.222) suggets that the "c" in this suffix -cin may be conected to the past tense *-c- that can be reconstructed for Dravidian languages. He also dismisses" -i-" that precedes cin simply as an anaptyctic vowel without any grammatical or semantic significance on the basis that it does not occur after past stems ending in  "-i-"
e.g munticinOr. He also analyses cin as c-in and contends that "-in" may also be a past suffix that occurs after verbs of the fifth conjugations. He rules out the possibilty of "-in" being a pronominal suffix since in the past nominals it is followed by the regular pronominal suffixes.

Such views as the above seem to be quite contrary to what Tolkappiyar himself  has  said. We should note that Tolkappiyar speaks of cin and not icin suggesting that we should in fact analyse icin as i-cin. Tolkappiyar mentions cin in two places.

To. Ez. 333

mannum cinnum anum inum
pinnum munnum vinaiyencu kiLaviyum
anna iyala enmanaar pulavar

Tol. Col. 274

miya ika mO mati ikum ennum
A vayin ARum munnilai acaiccol

What is pertinent here is the idea that cin is second person  marker. Since in the following sutra itself he adds that there are occasions where it can be used for the first person as well as the third person, Tolkappiyar's analysis seems to be that cin is a pronoun of a kind indicating interpersonal relationships.

    When we range over other Dravidian languages, we have somewhat a more complex situation. M.S Andronov (1970, p. 67), notes that -sin- , -jin- and -zin- occur as the formants of the present continuous tense in Konda.

e.g    kot-        "to cackle"               kot-sin

        sUr-        "to see"                    sUr-jin

        tila-            "to fear"                  tila-zin

    Since present continuous tense is a recent innovation in Dravidian languages, we can conclude that the function of /sin/ in Konda is something new -- a development from a past primordial function which we have not yet ascertained.

    P.S. Subramanian (1971) identifies  "isu" as a transitive-causative suffix in Kanada with variants -su (Old Ka.) -cu (Mid. Ka) and dialectical -asu. These different formants appear to be allomorphs of /isu/


ii (to give)                         ii-su/iiy-su (to cause to give)

en (to say)                         en-isu (to cause to say)

tir (to be finished)             tir-cu/tir-isu (to finish)

    Again the causative-transitive function of /isu/ in Kanada need not be Proto Dravidian as in early Ka. -ppu- and -pu, served this function in a manner similar to O.Ta. -pi-, -ppi- (and Sumerian -ib- ?) Neither can -si- be a Proto Dravidian transitive formant as in Sumerian -si- occurs with intransitives.  We have to conclude again that though Ka. /isu / may be related morphologically to Su. si(n) the function it serves is not the function that was available in the Proto Dravidian and O.Ta.

    P.S. Subramanian also notes a situaion in Telugu somewhat similar to Kanada. Here, there are transitive suffixes -cu, -pu and -incu where  -cu and -pu seem to be morphologically conditioned allomorphs of a single morphene.


cEru (to reach)        cEr(u)-cu (cause to reach)

kUlu (to fall down)     kUl(u)-cu (to cause to fall down)

Ugu (to swing)          U-cu/U-pu (to swing)

pA-yu (to be separated)   pA-cu (to separate)

udu gu (to end)            udu-pu (to cause to end)

cUcu (to see)             cU-pu (to show)

    The suffix  -incu  is more clearly a causative suffix, forms causative verbs from transitive verbs (both inherent and derived). The suffix is apparenty the most productive. Functionally it is in free variation with -cu and -pu and has allomorphs -pincu and -incu. Also it serves on some cases as transitive markers.

cEyu (to do )          cey-incu (to cause to do)

koddu (to beat )        koddu-incu (to cause to beat)

nada (to walk)         nada-pincu (to cause to walk)

icu (to give)            ip-pincu (to cause to give)

anu (to say)           an-pincu (to say to say)

kAlu (to burn, int.) kAlu-cu (to burn, tr.  kal(i)-p-incu (to cause to burn something)

caccu (to die) cam-pu (to kill) cam-p-incu (to cause to kill)

With regard to Proto Dravidian significance of -cu or -incu of Telugu, what we have said above for Kanada /isu/ applies here as well.

Clearly all the above analysis of the semantic significance of cin and related morphemes are analysis of later developments and as such are observations that have to be explained in terms of developments from  an earlier, a more primitive function. We can identify this earlier function as follows.

In view of what we have said earlier regarding the morphological relationship between Sumerian and O.Ta verbs, we have to distinguish between the primary and secondary occurences of sin(si). By primary  occurence we mean the suffixation of sin(si) to the verbal stem having thestructure  (C)V~(C) such as ti-sin, gal-sin and so forth. We  should note here that the verbal stems are nor verbs in the grammatical sense but rather action-names; they appear  verbal only because they name actionsand  proceses that allow the formation of grammatical verbs by a process of suffixation.

By secondary occurrence we mean the further suffixation of the verbal stems with sin(si) i.e. occurrences of the type gal-si-sin, ku-ra-sin-si and so forth.  With our contention that -kin(-ki), -tin(-ti),  -Rin(-Ri),  -cin(-ci)  and so forth are transformations of the underlying sin(si), it may be possible to assess more accurately the function of sin(si) at the more primitive stage of development. In connection with this, the following differences between sin and si should be noted.

    The primary occurence of " -si" , gives rise to nouns that are stative and most often in the second person.

en-si      ------> en-Ri   (you, who has said something)

kin-si     --------> kaN-ti (you who have seen)

kur-si      --------> kuR-Ri (you who have cut)

When pronominal suffixes are added to these items we get relative participle noun such as : en-Ri-eL, kaN-di-Or, kuR-Ri-en and so forth. This allows us to conclude that the second person significance is derivative and probably due to a dominant or more frequent use in that sense rather than in the first person or third person which are inherently possible as the possibility of forming relative participle nouns with them seem to show. This carries the implication that  "-si"  is a stative noun formant with a generalized personal notion rather than with any specific pronominal significance. The real meaning of, for e.g, kaNdi will be "one who sees" rather than he or she or you/I who sees.

Here we may note that "si" may be  a variant of "zi" meaning that "which lives, to live etc" and from which we have to this day cIvan, jIvan etc. It may be possible that the "cin" of Tolkaappiyar  is a nasalised form of  "si/zi"  which is distinct from

In Contrast to this , the primary of occurence of si-in however, gives rise to verbs rather than nouns, verbs that could have occurred as finite forms in themselves.

en-sin --->    en-Ri     (... said)

kin-sin -----> kaN-di     (...saw)

kur-sin -----> kuR-Rin    (...cut)

    When we add pronominal suffixes to these terms, we get terms that are clearly finite verbs e.g. enRinAL, kaNtinAn, kuRRinAL and so forth. Clearly then "sin," in the primary occurrence is a verb formant, a  morph which when suffixed to basic action-names of (C) V~(C) type, generates what are clearly finite verbs.

(to continue)5


At this juncture perhaps we should also discuss the imperative formant  "-u" in Sumerian which is probably a phonological transform of "su" . As we have already seen "su" in Sumerian means 'hand' and it seems to be related Ta. kai (su>sey>key.>kai? , or suur> kuur> karam?) which means simultaneously a noun meaning "hand" and a verb meaning "to do". We can identify then  the primary meaning of "su" to be "to do" and when suffixed to verbal stems, the complex acquires the imperative sense of "do that"

A typical occurrence of "-u" (< su) is as follows.

D.D 5/6

i-lu gar-u i-lu gar-u edin i-lu gar-u

(set up a lament, set up a lament, O Plain set up a lament.)

edin i-lu gar-u ambar gu gar-u

(O Plain , set up a lament, O Swamp, set up a cry)

[i-lu> Ta. azu, gu> Ta. kUv; edin> Ta. Etil; ambar> Ta. ambalam, Ambal]

When this imperative marker is suffixed to the above finite verbs, we get finite verbs in the nonpast tense with morphological features identical with those occuring in O.Ta.

en-Rin-su   > en-Rin-Ru/tu

kaN-din-su > kaN-din-Ru/tu

kuR-Rin-su > kuR-Rin-Ru/tu

It is instructive to compare such forms with the following finite verbs in the present tense taken from Sangam literature.

AN 340: 9/12

Otam mal-kin-Ru
pozutu manRa man-Rin-Ru

AN 340 13

yAm atu pENin-Ru

PN 24

uzavar .... veNkadaRRirai micaip pAyun-tu

paratavar ... taN kuravaic cIr tUkkun-tu

    The distinction in meaning between complexes with "si" and "sin" as suffixes is then clearly what Tolkappiyar has termed 'vinaikuRippu" and "vinaimuRRu".  Of crucial importance here is the concept of "muRRu" which has the meaning of 'attaining', 'reaching', 'effecting' and so forth. We can render these concepts into English as follows:

    Both "si" and "sin" are Being formants with"si" as a Stative-Being formant and "sin" Effector-Being formant. "X-si" will have the meaning of "one who does X" and "X-sin" will have the meaning "one who has effected X" "X" being a named action or process. The Stative-Being formant, being stative cannot conjugate with tense (without shift of meaning); it can conjugate only with terms that introduce agents such as pronouns and so forth. Such a restriction does not hold with Effector-Being formant as the effecting of an action, in addition to being a temporal event requires also an agent.

    The effector-being sense of "sin" contrasts with the "be-the -effector-of-an-action" sense of "su" , the imperative marker. What is asserted by such complexes as "X-sin" can be said to be true or false while  such a truth functional evaluation is not possible with"X-su" . It should be noted that the evaluation of "x-sin" as true or false, presupposes the alleged effecting of an action by someone at some time in the past. From this , clearly, it is possible for complexes of the sort "X-sin" to have become gradually viewed as verbs in the past tense. Since complexes of the sort "X-su" contrasts with this (in the imperative sense initially), it is possible for such morphological structures to have become contrasted with the past tense, a state of affairs that seem to have prevailed during tha O.Ta. period as the examples from Sangam classics above would show.

(to continue)6


Our interpretation of the grammatical and semantic significance of the primary occurence of sin and si, seem to be appropriate for Sumerian as well. For example, (15) ba-si-gal (naal-si-pa . naattiba) : stand up-they/he  (16) -ba-si-gid-en (pa kidd-si-en> pa kiddiyen ) : one who has reached them , (17) -si ag-an( ak-al-si> aakkatti): one who makes or one who becomes .. (1) su ba-si-in-ti ( suur pa -sin-ti>  karam  vatittinpa): effected (it) staying in the hands ( 3) zi-ni ba-si-in-tum ( ciiv-anin pa sin-tum> aanin ciivan tOnRipa ): he saved his life and so forth.

Now the question arises whether the same kind of interpretation can also hold for the secondary occurence of sin and si. Let us consider the FOUR distinct possiblities one by one.

i) (X-si)-si

(gal-si) -si             (naaddi)-si                        naaddi-i

(ti-si)-si                   (vatitti)-si                        vatitti-i


                                (vati-i)-si                        vati-i-i

(gid-si)-si                (kiddi)-si                        kiddi-i

Clearly in such cases the stative-being formant function of si will be redundant for the secondary occurences. However, when such terms as naaddi, vati-i , kiddi and so forth are reinterpreted as indicating the successful effecting of the actions named by the verbal stems, then even the secondary  occurence of si can be viewed as having the same function as the primary occurrence.



In this case we shall have such forms as kiddi-kin/yin/cin, kaNdi-kin/yin/cin and so forth. When the pronominal suffixes (and they are also available in Su.)  we shall have, as we have already seen, such forms  as kiddi-cin-Or, kaNdi-cin-Or and so forth,  forms that are attested in O.Ta. While the grammatical/semantic function of sin, seems to remain the same, the difference in the meaning of the secondary stems seems to introduce a shift in meaning: the effecting the state of being one doing X.  The complex, kaNdicinOr, for example, will have the meaning: they who have effected the state of being one who sees viz. those who have accomplished the act of seeing. On the whole then, the secondary occurence of sin seem to have something akin to the perfective sense.

The sample of Su. constructions with sin cited in this study do not have any secondary occurence of sin of the form considered here. Perhaps it was a later innovation . It must also be pointed out that the perfective sense that is being attriubuted to cin in O.Ta. does not agree with what Tolkaappiyar has attributed to it. His interpretation, however, seems to apply to si.

(to continue) 7



The occurrence of  '-n ' as the terminal consonent of the stem would restrict the phonological transformations of -si to iother -i or  -Ri/di

naaddin-si                                                       > naaddi-i

vadin-si> vatin-i

kaNdin-si> kaNdin-i

Though functionally -si here is the same as where it  occurs as a primary suffix, the difference in the nature of the stem, seem to make a difference in the overall grammatical function. The sense of such complexes as "kaNdini-i" would have the meaning -- being one who has seen -- again stative-being who has accomp lished something. When pronominal suffixes are added to the terms, we get such forms as naaddin-i-en, vantin-i-en, kaNdin-i-en and so forth. If further to these we allow the deletion of -n- and -i or ii, we get forms such as naaddi-i-en vati-y-en  kaNdi-ii-en    -- forms that are attested in O. Ta.

From Sumerian we have a solitary example from the corpus cosulted viz.

(7) si-ni-sub ------> sub-sin-i (Ta. kubitten-i, kavittin-i  etc).

Perhaps we should also consider such forms as " i-in-si"  (which are numerous) as in the following sentence as transformations of such complexes.

NMS 49.

uru-ba ki-e-ne-di-be mir i-in-si

A tempest has filled the dancing of the city

i-in-si  ----> si-in-i  ------> ciiyin-i

( uru :  Ta. uuru, ki: Ta. kiiz ne-di Ta. nadi, naattiyam , nadanam etc, mir : Ta. maari:)

iv. (X-sin)-sin

Probably the phonological transformation of such deep structure forms will be something like  -- naaddin-in, vatin-in, kaNdin-in and so forth. The sense will be : effecting the state of being an effector of X i.e very closely the causative sense. In Sumerian we have the following occurrence that seems to be closely related to the above form in meaning:

(2) su ba-si-in-in-ti = su ba ti-sin-in > Ta.  suur vatittin-ba>Ta.  karam vatittin-pa

v. (X-su)-sin

Of particular interest   here is the phonological transformations of such forms as (X-su)--sin where "su", as  already mentioned , is the imperative marker or a verbalizer of a sort. From such forms we derive complexes such as naaddu-kin, vati-u-kin, kaaN-ku-kin and so forth and where pronominal suffiexes are added, we end up with verbal complexes of the sort: naaddu-kin-Raan, vati-u-kin-Raan, kaaNku-kin-Raan etc.

This may further contract and generate forms such as naduki-R-aan, vati-ki-R-aan, kaaN-ki-R-aan and so forth. These complexes , interestingly eough, are the present tense third person finite verbs of Modern Tamil. The secondary occurrence of sin as a suffix to a verbal stem that has -su as a verbaliser, seem to generate verbal complexes that has come to function as present tense finite verbs in post Cangkam Tamil.

Our interpretation of perfective sense for cin in O.Ta. can be further substantiated from another angle. If it is the case that cin is a phonological transformation of the underlying sin, then under  a new set of rules regulating these phonological transformations, it is possible for sin  to be transformed  into- d(din). If we allow for this and add pronominal suffixes we shall generate such verbal complexes as kaNdi-din-een nuvanRi-d-din-een, cenRi-d-tin-een and so forth. If we now assume the deltion of  -n-, then we  get  such forms as , kaNdi-ddeen, nuvanRi-d-deen cenRid-d-deen and so forth, forms that have  the perfective sense in Modern Tamil

(to continue) 8


There are evidences to suggest that in Sumerian times itself there were already the onset of the phonological transformations of si ,  sin and su though they were not as widespread and complete as in O.Ta. and Modern Tamil. The rules that can  be tentatively formulated for Sumerian are as follows:


When there is only the primary occurrence of si or sin, then it may be optinally transformed in the generation of the surface structure.


If there is  a secondary occurrence of si or sin, then only either the primary or the secondary occurrence will be phonologically transformed.

The following sentences, in addition to those already given, may serve to substantiate the above rules

23. ILU 199

u amaru-gin  uru i-gul-gul-e

Like a storm of the flood it destroys the cities

(u Ta. uu, uutu: to blow, uutai: winds; amaru Ta. amuri: waters;  -gin> Ta. ngin>- in: a   aparticle of comparison; gul Ta. kol: to destroy)

si-gul-gul-e> i-gul-gul-e> ii kolkolee> kolkol-ii-ee : give destruction

24. ILU 65

uru mu-zu i-gal za-e mu-da-gul-en

Oh thou city of name, thou hast been destroyed

si-gal> i-gal >  Ta. ii kaal> kaal-ii:  give firm standing

25. ILU 82.

ene-ra nam-uru-na mu-un-na-te ir-gig i-se-se

Unto him for the sake of his city approached, bitterly she weeps

si-se-se> i-se-se> Ta. ii sey sey> seysey-ii

26. ILU  145. an-ra a-i-bi-ma me-e heim-ma-na-de

To Anu the water of my eye verily I poured

(an: Ta. aaN;   a ; Ta. am,  aal: water; i-bi> Ta. imai: eyes;  de> Ta. idu: to do)

sin-ma-na-du-e> sim-mana-de> heim-ma-na-de?

27.  ILU

uru-mu nam-ba-gul-lu   he-me-ne-dug

( dug> Ta. tuukku: to say, sing)

sin-mana-dug> sim-mene-dug> he-me-ne-dug

gul-su> gul-u> gul-lu ?

The Causative Infix: -b-

There are some complex verbal constructions  involving the causative  infix -b-  that corresponds to the Ta. -ip- and which we have not dicussed. However the structure of stems to which this infix  is inserted can be expalined in terms of the principles we have discussed so far.

29.  ILU76. nin-lu-e-hul-a-ta uru-ni ir-ri ba-an-di-ni-ib-kar

Because of the  Lord whose house has been attacked, his city was given over to tears.

 ir-ri ba-an-di-ni--ib-kar>  ir-ri  ba-an- sin-ib-kar> iirree  kaar-t-tin-ip-paan :   he will cause  the  (city)  to be placed in tears? (ir Ta. iir, irram: wet,  moist; kar Ta. kaal: to place)

 (to continue) 9


Some Theoretical Considerations.

This study, however limited it may be , does reveal an unusual intimacy between Sumerian and O.Ta.  The relatedness seems to be such that we have to consider Sumerian as an  EARLIER form of Tamil and genetically related to O. Ta. just as O. Ta. is related to Modern Tamil. This study is in the nature of  an EVOLUTIONARY Model rather than the reconstructive  and hence inventing protoforms In some sense , O.Ta. and Modern Tamil can be considered as the historical and evolutionary unfolding of patterns of development already inherent in Sumerian times or even earlier. It is interesting also to note that even the exhaustive study of P.S. Subramanian (1971) of the verbal morphology of Dravidian languages did not list such forms as X-si X-sin X-su  and  their secondary occcurences  as protoforms of the Dravidian verbs. The tagmemic analysis of Zvelebil- K et (1967) and Andronov M.S. (1970) also have  failed to identity such pre-structures for Dravidian verbs. These studies reveal, I think, certain inherent limitation in the structuralist approach for the diachronic study of languages stretching across millenniums

Such transformational processes as:

si(n) ----------> -(k)ki(n), -t(ti(n), -c(c)ci(n) , -d (di)n , -R(Ri(n), -i(n)

and so forth also not processes that have ceased. And since they are on going phonological processes, we have to postulate si(n), su and so forth as elements of verbal complexes in the deep structure that are operated upon to generate surface structures with -s- deleted and substituted with the above alternatives the specific choice of which can be stated in terms of certain phonological environment.

Each historical epoch could  then be seen as characterised by different sets of phonological rules (some of which will overlap) operating upon identical deep structures.  For example "si-ni-sub ( sub-sin-i)" and "kuvittin-i" would  be seen as the surface structures of the same underlying  deep structure "sub-sin-si", the difference in the phonological characteristics of the surface structures being attributed to different sets of rules of phonological transformations characteristic of each epoch

It must be emphasized here that though the concept of linguistic tranformation is being mentioned here, it is NOT in the sense in which its is used in the Generative Tranformational Grammar of Chomsky. I have shown elsewhere ( K. Loganathan Mutharay, 1982) that the TG-Grammar cannot accomodate specch acts and  in order  to do that we need a different of kind generative grammar, aspects of which have been developed and published (K. Loganathan Mutharayan, 1979, 1981)

In connection with the present study, it is impossible to capture adequately the structural differences  between stative-being and effector-being type of constructions .i.e roughly the vinaikuRippu and vinaimuRRu kind of constructions. The stative constructions lead to stringing together a number of independent clauses with the juxtaposition of the clauses itself indicating identity of the subject. Such constructions are in other words , equative-enumerative  , a pure listing without any hierchical co-ordination. Such constructions are numerous in Sumerian and O.Ta.; in fact, one could say that such constructions are the characteristic feature of Sumerian and O.Ta.

Some examples would be pertinent here. All sentences with verbs having si as the  generatingf element are stative. We have already given a number of examples of this sort. Some sentences with relative participles also belong to this category. The following sentences are interesting examples of such constructions.

31. KTH 14-16

e kes mus-kalam-ma gu-hus-aratta

Temple of Kes, foundation of the country, firce ox of Aratta

( e Ta. il; mus Ta. mutal: kalam Ta. kalam: gu Ta. koo hus Ta. ushNa. ukkira)

kur-da-mu-a kur-ra sag-il-bi

Growing up like Ekur when it lifts its head in the land

( kur Ta. kunRu, kuuRu, mu Ta. muu, sag Ta. senni; il Ta. ezu)

From Sangam classics we can cite the following as an example of such equative-enumerative type of constructions

32. PN:  22

tuungku kaiyaal Ongku nadaiya-a
ular maNiyaal uyar maruppin-a
pirai  nutalaar ceRa nookkin-a
pavadiyaal paaNai yeruttin-a

In constrast to these  are the  active or effective-being sort of the constructions. Here even  the simplest are ascriptive - the effecting of something is acribed to an agent. Such ascriptions are furthermore  truth-functional in the sense that, ascription proceeds subsequent to presupposing the effecting of actions. And such clauses when co-ordinated , are hierarchically   ordered again, with respect to the presupposition of the truths of clauses that are subordinated. In other words the presupposition of the truth of what is stated by the clauses is the essential ingredient in the generation of complex structures from simple ones. For example the complex sentence:

33. PN 24:

nel ariyum iruntozuvar
cennyayiRRu veyin munaiyin
veN kadaRRirai micaip paayuntu

is generated from three independent clauses

a) iruntozular nel ariyum
b) cennyaayiRu veyin munai-i
c) iruntozuvar venkadaRRiriai micaip paayuntu

by ordering them as  ((a,b)) o (b-->c) where D= (Ao(B--->C) means A is presupposed and B is construed as  the cause of C in the generation of D from A , B and C.

(to continue) 10


Such Sumerian sentences as (3) , (4) can be considered complex sentences generated from simpler ones through truth-relational cognitive operations of various sorts. The following sentences also belong to this category though the operational co-ordination is different.

34. KTH 8,9

kes kur-kur-ra sag-ga il-bi
en-lil-le kes za-mi am-ma-ab-be

When Kes lifted its head among all the lands
Enlil spoke the praises of Kes

(kes Ta. kaasi?; kur Ta. kunRu, kuuRu; sag Ta. saan, senni ; il Ta. ezu;  za-mi Ta. saami, suvaami ;ab-be  Ta. avai)

Such cognitive operations and in particular the central cognitive act of presupposing the truth of a non-empty set of elementary propositions are  NOT  stated  as the central generating principles of complex sentences (such as the above) in the TG-grammar of Chomsky. In fact the notion of presupposition is taken to be an element of the  information structure and hence  a contribution from the surface structure of the sentences ( N. Chomsky, 1971)

It is clear then that we require the theoretical framework of Process Grammar to adequately describe the historical development of the Tamil Verbal System and the intimate genetic relationship that exists between Sumerian and O. Ta.

In Process Grammar we have distinguished clearly between muulauru (Cognitive Matrix), eeraNauru (Semantic Matrix) and puRauru (Surface Structure). Within puRauru, we have postulated an adip puRauru (Initial Surface Structure, ISS)   and mudip puRauru ( Terminal Surface Structure, TSS)

The muulauru provides the framework of cognitive operations and hence, the deepseated golbal constraints that regulate the  formation of semantic structures that are formed by inserting appropriate concepts. When the semantic structures are lexicalised, we  have the ISS upon which various kinds of transformations are effected producing the TSS that is uttered (or written)

From the point of view of Process Grammar then, we can view Sumerian and O.Ta. to have identical ISS but sightly different TSS at least for the kinds of sentences that were discussed in thius study.

A simple example may serve to illustrate the above view.

Consider the structurally simple sentence reproduced below.


(a.) utu a-igi-na su ba-si-in-ti

        Utu recived his tears.

(b) utu aal akkina suur vatittinpa

The ISS can be as below

   S<=====[NP{(utu)agent , <==su (locative)<====a-igin-na)(objective)}<===VC{ ti (action, with Karaka cases)) sin(effect), (*) Time  , (*) pronoun, ba (agent)}]

The double lines indicate the cognitive operations of presupposing the truth of what it dominates,  (*) represent the slots for tense and pronominal specifications ( that are optional).  The action that is effected is specified in terms of the Karaka cases as otherwise the agreement between the VC      and NP or the rest of the sentences cannot be established.

It is this deep structure which during the Sumerian time was transformed into (!a) and during Sangam period  would have been probably into (1b) .And if this view is acceptable then we must view the differences in TSS as due to differences in the phonological transformations that are operative along with syntactic transformations.

Two important implications of this point of view must be noted:

i) There appears to be a need to postulate TWO distinct phonological bases viz. one for ISS and another for TSS. Though in principle they are to be taken as distinct, in reality there will be a a considerable number of common elements. However , if such a possiblity is allowed then, we could say  /g/, /d/ , /b/ . /s/ /sh/ , /j/  are phoenems of O.Ta.  that are elements of ISS but  NOT  elements of the basis for the generation of TSS, at least from the days of Tolkaappiyam. For Sumerian these two basis can be taken to be identical.

ii) In the historical development of a language , the earlier it is, the closer is the TSS to the ISS. In other words, the historically earlier syntactic and phonological sructures of sentnences are not subjected to that many transformations (both syntactic and phonological), compared to the later structures.

These are relatively new theoretical perspectives that has surfaced by the application of the principles of Process Gramamr to describe the interesting structural similarities and differences that exist between Sumerian and O.Ta.; perspectives that seem to be well worth investigating further.

(Notes and references omitted but will be included when uploaded later in to the SumeroTamil Campus)