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Query Details


Query Subject:   ETYMOLOGY OF THE GREEK WORD 'PALEO'
Author:   A.S. Sundar
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Query:   The word "paleo-" used in English is a learned borrowing from Greek
"palaio" meaning "old". The following words in English are compound
words formed with the above word. The list is not exhaustive.
Paleethnology, paleobiology, paleobotany, paleocene, paleography,
paleogene, paleogeography, paleography, paleology etc.
This word " paleo" is seen in a no of words belonging to Tamil
language, considered to be one of the oldest languages of the
world. The Tamil words relating to the word "paleo" and their meanings
are furnished below.
" Palaia" means " old"
"Palaia choru" means "old rice"
"Palaiaaroo" means "old river"
The similarity between the two words is striking. To find ou
whether this word was borrowed by Tamil from Greek or vice-versa, we
may scrutinise the root of this word in both the languages. In Tamil
"palu" is a verb which means to "ripe". A ripe fruit is called "palam"
in Tamil.From the word "palam" the word "palutha" is derived. This
word "palutha" means ripe old,thus denoting old age. "Palaia" is a
extended form of "palutha". The opposite of "palaia" is "puthia" which
means "new".This pattern of "opposites words" formation is the
characteristic of Tamil language. In spoken Tamil "old" is refered as
"palasu". The absence of such comparable words in Greek leads one to
safely conclude that the word "paleo" used widely in English, has
Tamil roots.The word might have reached Greek language from Tamil
during their trade contacts with the Tamil nations circa 4 century
B.C. Evidence of trade between the two peoples is available in early
Tamil literature.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

A.S.Sundar
Etymologis

Subject-Language: Greek; Code: GRK


LL Issue: 14.1554
Date posted: 02-Jun-2003



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