Buffalo Vocabulary

Last month, a friend asked me to get some information for him from a book that was not accessible where he lived. The book is:

Toda Vocabulary: A Preliminary List
Tsuyoshi Nara and Peri Bhaskara Rao
(more info on WorldCat)

Not having heard of the language, and not knowing anything about it, I was just doing the job of an information provider, updating my friend with the information he asked (even if I cannot understand it). However, this morning, as I started skimming through, I was intrigued by the number of words referring to Buffaloes in Toda vocabulary. They should have some kind of cultural significance in the Toda people’s lives! (Wikipedia article on the Toda People gives a context)

I am listing down some of the English meanings (49 words!!!) – not listing the original Toda words for them as it was in phonetic alphabet, print book, and it is difficult to type 🙂

Note: The book is organized in three ways: words sorted by Toda word, by Toda word endings, by English meanings. I browsed through English meanings (in which Buffalo, a buffalo, male buffalo, wild buffalo all come in entries around b, a, m, w and not together. So, what I am writing is not exhaustive. This is just what I found by skimming through the pages quickly.

**********
1. a buffalo allows calf to suck
2. a buffalo gives a side glance before charging
3. a buffalo that goes dry
4. a buffalo ready for milking
5. a buffalo let out to graze early in the morning before being milked
6. barren buffalo
7. buffalo calf (between one and two years of age)
8. buffalo calf (between two and three years of age till it becomes pregnant)
9. buffalo of Kurpoly temple of the kas clan
10. buffalo pen (2 words)
11. buffalo that has given birth to a calf
12. buffalo with beautiful horns
13. buffalo with divine power
14. buffaloes contributed by Poyol
15. buffalo given as a gift to ones daughter or as a share to one’s sons
16. buffaloes that accompany another buffalo that is being driven
17. buffaloes that have gone astray for the night without returning to their pen
18. buffaloes given as gift by the father of a bride to the father of a bridegroom
19. buy and bring a buffalo
20. when a buffalo scratches itself
21. when a buffalo suspends the flow of milk while being milked
22. buffalo that brings luck
23. a person who bought the buffalo
24. a stick traditionally used to drive buffaloes
25. adolescent male buffalo
26. afterbirth of buffaloes
27. callus formed on the thumb due to milking buffaloes
28. ceremony of first milking of temple buffaloes
29. ceremony of giving salt to buffaloes in the season when kor grass grows
30. drive buffaloes on migration
31. drive calf away from udder
32. dry buffalo
33. female buffalo calf
34. female buffalo heifer between 2–3 years of age
35. milch buffalo
36. buffalo that is not pregnant
37. offering buffalo calf in Ti: temple
38. own buffaloes
39. one generation of buffaloes
40. pregnant buffalo
41. relationship between buffaloes and men
42. sacred buffalo/temple buffalo
43. smear buffalo dung on (ritual cleaning)
44. stone or post at which buffalo is killed at funeral
45. two buffaloes that give milk to the same calf
46. vulva of a buffalo
47. wild male buffalo
48. wild female buffalo
49. wild buffalo

********
In the process, also noticed a few other interesting, specialized words:
words for stone:
* an arrangement of three stones (in front of a temple) in the shape of the Greek letter Pi
* a stone kept at some temples on which some milk is sprinkled by the preist before he takes the milk into the temple (milk-pour-stone)
* a stone placed near a buffalo pen
* stones put on top of a temple
* a stone which marks the place where women receive buttermilk
* stone or post at which buffalo is killed at funeral
* stone used in weight lifting competitions
(all have same word ending as far as I remember)
* large rock standing by itself

Quite a fascinating experience! May be more on this later if I get to read something about Toda people and their culture.

Published in: on September 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] When I saw a Toda dictionary earlier this week, I wondered at the number of words referring to Buffaloes in their vocabulary, and thought it should have some […]


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