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    From amma-appa to a princess, Koreans and Tamils have loads in common

    From amma-appa to a princess, Koreans and Tamils have loads in common

    From amma-appa to a princess, Koreans and Tamils have loads in common
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)


    Koreans and Tamils share a prodigious number of similar words. Not just that, they have the same penchant for rice cakes, rice puffs and spicy food. Then there's the dramatic case of the ancient Korean princess from Kanyakumari. And so much more.

    Tamils and Koreans seem to have more things in common than anyone may have ever imagined. In fact, the seemingly odd couple shares so many cross-cultural similarities — words, grammar, traditions, cuisines, among others — that the link cannot be dismissed as just a coincidence. So we decided to dig deeper.

    Words and beyond

    Take the words for mother and father in both languages — amma and appa. While it is true that scientists think that the babies first words are those with the ‘m’ and b/p’ sound, which is the reason that most languages have words for mother and father beginning with those syllables, there are other words that are too similar to be a coincidence.

    Other words like naal (day), uraam (manure), pull (grass), pudhu (new), sourru (rice) and yerru (plough) are almost the exact same in both languages. These words are not the only ones that are similar in the two languages. Linguists have identified hundreds, if not possibly thousands, of similar words in Tamil and Korean. Apart from the words, the structure of the languages is also similar. Both use the subject-order-verb form and both are agglutive languages.

    Agglutive langagues are those which have "a grammatical process in which words are composed of a sequence of morphemes (meaningful word elements)," explains Britannica.

    The similarity was extensive enough for a linguistic theory that either proto-Dravidian Tamil and Korean had common linguistic roots or that Tamil had somehow influenced the Korean language.

    There are other similarities between the two cultures as well. From the love for spicy food to similar dishes like rice cakes, rice puff and lentil cakes being found in both cuisines.

    The princess connection

    Finally, there’s the case of Heo Hwang-ok or Princess Sembavalam as she is sometimes called, the first queen of Geumgwan Gayam, a historic kingdom in Korea that existed between 43-532 CE. Princess Sembavalam was thought to have come from India, from Kanyakumari, according to the legends in the Korean collection of tales called Samguk Yusa.

    "There must have been an exchange of cultural habits and cuisines when people from both cultures migrated to each others' country,” Kyugsoo Kim, the Consul General of Korea to India had said in 2016.

    Whatever may be the reason behind this association, it once again underscores the bigger picture that we are all united in our diversities, whatever politicians say.

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