Excerpt from “Semantic Universals in Indian Languages” – 1

I was fascinated by the idea of the book … Semantic Universals and hence picked it up in the library. Hopefully, I will write a few blog posts jotting down my notes and some interesting tidbits.

(The book: Semantic Universals in Indian Languages by Anvita Abbi)

While reading about expressive words, I saw the Telugu story – “puTukku jara jara Dubukku mE” in a new light, thanks to the paragraph by Prof. Peri Bhaskararao that was quoted in this book.

“There is an interesting folk puzzle in Telugu which exposes the general contention that the knowledge of expressives and their semantic correlates are considered a pre-requisite to man’s intelligence. Once a king used an expressive “puTukku jara jara Dubukku mE” as a puzzle to be solved by one of his court poets. The king apparently saw something while taking a round of his kingdom. The poet, having pondered over it for sometime, solves the mystery of the expressives in the following way:

“There was a small hut with a thatched roof. A bottlegourd creeper had spread all over the roof of the hut. The creeper bore many bottle gourds. One day one of the fruits got disconnected from the twig (producing the noise puTukku) and quickly rolled down (producing the noise jara jara). There was a goat resting underneath the edge of the roof. The bottle gourd fell on the goat (producing the sound Dubukku). When the gourd fell on the goat, the goat cried mE.”
-Peri Bhaskararao, 1977

(The book has innumerable number of typos and perhaps needed some editing. But I enjoyed reading parts of it, learnt a lot through it and closed it with a lot of questions)


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Now, that is interesting. Thanks!
    I knew there was more to this story, but couldn’t remember what it was. My grandmother used to tell me this story and I loved it for the way seemingly disconnected sounds make a connection in the story.
    I made a video for Telugu4kids (http://youtu.be/lGEl8r9y1xM) too.

    • You don’t know how much enthusiastic you make me about blogging on these sort of readings Lalitha! …(with your regular comments) 🙂

      Yes, I never realized that sound-connection either. I just thought the story is very funny until now 🙂

  2. Sowmya, that makes me happy 🙂 In turn, your reactions like this help remove my hesitation to comment 🙂

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