Fathers are ever inspirational for their children. The following discussion focuses on the wonderful manner how fathers in different languages have descended from common roots and how they have shared common phonemic components. I am really grateful to Pra Jay, the master of linguistics in the Sri Lankan blogosphere for inspiring me to discuss the etymologies of ever inspiring fathers. Thank you Pra Jay!
Let me have your attention to a few salient points regarding the word තාත්තා (tāttā). The etymology of tāttā is related to the Dravidian Family, which is a very smaller family of languages than the Indo-European family. The relevant Proto-Dravidian root, which is shared by many Dravidian languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam etc. is tāt- (තාත්-). Now, let us see how the Proto-Dravidian root tāt- is used to derive the words in several Dravidian languages:
1. Tamil – tāt- (තාත්-) > tāttā (තාත්තා) > tâtā (තාතා) > tantai (~තන්තෛ)
2. Telugu – tāt- (තාත්-) > tâta (තාත) > taṃḍri (~තංඩ්රි)
3. Malayalam – tāt- (තාත්-) > tātan (තාතන්) > taṃḍa (~තංඩ)
Remember that Sinhala is not a Dravidian language but an Indo-European language. The Indo-European family consists of many sub-families such as Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit, Pāli, Sinhala, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati etc.), Germanic (English, German, Dutch etc.), Hellenic (Greek), Italic (Latin, Romance – including Spanish, Portuguese) etc.
Let me show you how the relevant words for father are derived in some of the Indo-European languages that we have mentioned above.
The relevant Proto-Indo-European root, which is shared by Indo-Aryan, Germanic and Italic subfamilies is pətēr-. It changes its form slightly as it enters each subfamily viz. Indo-Aryan: pi- (පි-), Germanic: fadḗr- (~~ෆදිර්-) and Italic: pater- (~පාතර්-).
Indo-Aryan – pətēr > pi- (පි-)
1. Sanskrit – pi- (පි-) > pitṛ (පිතෘ)/pitar (පිතර්) – tā is stressed and r is shortened
2. Pāli- pi- (පි-) > pitar/pitā (පිතර්/පිතා) – tā is stressed and r is shortened
3. Sinhala – pi- (පි-) > piyā (පියා)
4. Hindi – pi- (පි-) > pitā (පිතා)
5. Bengali – pi- (පි-) > pita (~පිත) – ta is stressed more than ta (ත) but less than tā (තා)
6. Gujarati – pi- (පි-) > pita (~පිත) – ta is stressed more than ta (ත) but less than tā (තා)
Germanic – pətēr > fadḗr-
1. English – fadḗr- > father (~ෆාද) – fa is very stressed and r is almost silent (RP)
2. German – fadḗr- > Vater (~ෆාටර්) – Va is stressed and r is shortened
3. Dutch – fadḗr- > vader (~ෆාදර්) – va is stressed and r is lengthened
Italic – pətēr > pater- (~පාතර්-)
1. Latin – pater- > pater (~පාතර්) – pa and te are stressed and r is lengthened
2. Spanish – pater- > padre (~පද්රි) – dre is stressed and pa is shortened
3. Portuguese – pater- > pai (~පායි) – pa is stressed more than pa (ප) but less than pā (පා)
Some linguists believe that the Indo-European root pətēr changed to pā- (පා-) in addition to pi- (පි-) as it found its place in the Indo-Aryan languages particularly Sanskrit.
The origin of the words Dada, Papa, Dad and Pa are considered universal as they are the earliest bi-syllable and mono-syllable words that a child starts to voice in the development of speech (apart from ma and mama). One or more of those words can be found in Latin, French, Greek as well for the same meanings.
We should also remember that different languages belonging to different families can share some words as they are used in common communities; for an instance the word tāta (තාත), which belongs to the Dravidian family is also used in the Middle Indo-Ayran language Pāli (Pāli-English Dictionary by Rhys Davids) and in the Old Indo-Aryan language Vedic Sanskrit (Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Sir Monier Monier-Williams) for the same meaning.
I hope this discussion will resolve some of the obscurities regarding the etymology of certain words related to father. If that is the case, I shall be pleased.