Sumerian gal, gal-la and Ta. kaL and kaLLar
Very important insights into the etymology of Dravidian particularly Tamil words are to be had by bringing the Sumerian language into the picture. One of them is about the origin of Ta. plural marker 'kaL' and its connection with another word that exists now as Ta.kaN : great as in kaN-a-vaan, Ta. kaNam : great as well as weighty . The Sumerian words also disclose that while Ta. kaLLar as applied to the Pandyas and other ruling classes of the South is metathesis of "lugal" ( lugal=uLugaL> gaL-Lu> kaLLar), unfortunately in this evolution it came to be viewed the same as KaLLar meaning thieves which also occurs in Sumerian as gal-la
Gadd in his Sumerian reading book has the following entries:
gal, be great, as adj. great ( Ak.rabu) nam-gal, greatness; gal-bi or gal-li-es, adv. greatly
Below is an instance of it..
kal/ gal as Great.
11. lugal-e lugal-a-ri-a nin-e tu-d-me-en ( I, the king of royal descent, whom a princess bore)
* Ta. uLukaLLee uLukaL aariya ninee tudda maan
Here "lu" means simply a person and when united with "gal", it simply means a great person but derivatively applied to the king. This etymology also discloses that long before the kingship was deified and the word for God, koo ( Su. ku) was also applied to describe the kings, it applied only to a person of outstanding merits, a great one.
Another interesting occurrence is the following:
255. galam-ma na-an-ug-ge-en ( Do not kill an exalted one)
This injunction ( c. 2600 B.C) that one should not kill the great ones (galam-ma, Ta. kaLamma, kaNamma) might have become restricted to Brahmanah during CaGkam epoch.
There are many others words similar in nature : sag-kal ( the great lord), tu-gal ( the great priest of incantations) e-gal (palace ; il kaL : great house) and so forth.
Tamil still retains such uses as in taaGkaL, niiGkaL, avarkaL and so forth where the kaL serves as the honorific particle, a variant of which is kaN as in mahaa-kaNam , kaNavaan, kaNam poruntiya etc. Perhaps the word KaNNan as in the MutukaNNan Sattan of the CaGkam epoch is to be seen also as a variant of this.
However it appears that from the notion of 'large' 'great' 'huge" etc. the notion of ' large number ' has evolved. We see this in such uses as maan-kaNam , civakaNam etc. where it means simply a crowd a herd etc. From this use we have the development of kaL as a particle marking plurality and we see in CaGkam classics.
gal-la as Thieves
There is another word gal-la meaning thieves ( Dumuzi's Dream) and in many other texts and which also occurs as Ta. kaLLar. This unfortunate similarity has led to many misunderstandings and because of which the MEANING was rendered by such words as Teevar and so forth. This is also another phenomenon we see : the rendering of the ancient meanings but in new terminologies. However it is clear that in its original inception it was NOT a term for the description of caste but rather an INDIVIDUAL, an individual of outstanding bravery and leadership.