Few weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook that was meant for promoting usage of Kannada in daily life by telling us Kannada names for vegetables and fruits that we use on a daily basis like Tomato, Beets, Carrot and so on. When I learned from the video that the common Tomato is called Goodhe hannu (ಗೂಧೆ ಹಣ್ಣು) in Kannada, I was super elated, I was proud of the fact that while present day scientists were debating till recently whether to qualify Tomato as a fruit or a vegetable, we kannadigas had already done the classification long long time ago and called it a fruit.
Then came the hard hitting realization, in the language of Kannada, no fruit or vegetable has just names in 1 part (barring a few exceptions), they always have 2 part names. The first part is what we in other languages call their names and second part determines status of the fruit of vegetable like its ripeness (ಹಣ್ಣು , ಕಾಯಿ ) or whether it grows above of below ground (ಗೆಡ್ಡೆ , ಗೆಣಸು ) or its status of lentil (ಕಾಳು ) and so on. Examples are numerous to name a few ಬಾಳೆ ಹಣ್ಣು (banana), ಬದನೆ ಕಾಯಿ (eggplant or brinjal), ಆಲೂ ಗೆಡ್ಡೆ (potato),
Why is such a big deal, it is some what because other languages like English or for that matter our own Indian language Hindi doesn’t follow this rule.
Let me demonstrate with an example, take the fruit Banana
English: banana it usually means a ripe banana
Hindi: kela, still means a ripe banana
Kannada: if you want ripe banana you will have to say bale hannu (ಬಾಳೆ ಹಣ್ಣು)
Unripe bale kayi (ಬಾಳೆ ಕಾಯಿ)
Leaf bale yele (ಬಾಳೆ ಎಲೆ)
Simply saying bale (ಬಾಳೆ) doesn’t mean a thing for a true Kannadiga.
I am sure the closely related languages of Telugu and Tamil probably follow the same rules. Wonder if there are other languages which follow same rules.