The names of Saraswathy are given in the Tamil thesaurus
Choodamani Nigandu (1925 edition).
The verse giving those names is from chapter 1- 35 in Deva-p-peyar thogudhi.
The verse is as follows:- (Spacing is done by me to show each name)
"Kalaimagal Panuvalaatti Gayathri Gyaanamurthy
Ulagamaatha Brahaami vOLLiyaVeLLai-meiyyaL
Ilagu veN-SalasamuttraaL Bharathi Isai-madandhai
Malarayan-manaivi VaakkaaL VaaNi NaamagaL pEraamE"
Of these two names
VaakkaaL and VaaNi are analyzed in this post
on the origin of these terms.
The Pada-p-poruL viLakkam (meanings of words) given by the compiler
Sri A. Kumara swami pulavar of Yaazhppaanam
is 'vaakkaaL - Vaakkil vuLLAvaL'
There are verses on 'vaakku' :-
"Vaakkundaam nalla manamundaam..."
"PaaNar mandai niraiya-p-peimaar vaakka.." (Pura nanuru - 115)
"Adarpor sigaratthaal vaakki..." (Kali-th-thogai 51 - Kurinji-k-kali)
"Vadiyuru theendEral vaakku" ( Pura veNbha -19)
The meaning deduced from the last 3 quotes is
The root word is 'vaarthal'.
This word is used in the context of picking up something
from a larger volume of that something and offering it.
Like 'neer vaartthal'.
In the Pura nanuru verse it is in the menaing of 'kaL vaartthal"
In the kali-th-thogai verse, it is in the meaning of "neer vaartthal"
In the Pura veNbha verse, it is in the menaing of "theendEral vaakku" (offering honey)
We can see that we don’t have the exact or specific term in English
for this 'vaartthal'.
When some part of a thing is drawn out from a larger volume of that
and is given out,
it is vaartthal.
Therefore 'Vaakku' is what is 'vaarkka-p-paduthal'.
That vaakku is what is drawn from the 'naa'.
Since she is naamagaL, she is signifactor or kaarak or dispositor of 'vaakku'.
Therefore 'VaakkaaL' - one who is in vaakku.
Coming to the next name VaaNi.
This is also found in the Nigandu.
Though I have not yet come across the exact word "vaaNi'
in the olden texts that I have read so far,
I can however give the connections,
from the nigandu (solla-p-paduvadhaal VaaNi) meaning.
A (dis)claimer in this context is that I always assume that
if a word like this or any thing that looks like an issue or as non-compliant,
is found in olden texts, thereby establishing their usage in those times,
then we can not doubt them.
There must be some rationale behind them.
In such cases, we have to explore the rationale and
understand them in the context.
In this way, I think VaaNi is very much a Tamil word.
We have the meaning given in Nigandu as 'solla-p-padubhavaL'.
This meaning is similar to Gayathri
which is also found as a synonym for Naamagal in the Nigandu.
But gayathri's root word is sanskrit (Chandokhya upanishad)
The root of VaaNi can perhaps be understood from
the expression "paaNi" in Silapapdhikaaram,
"maayOn paaNiyum, varuna bhoothar
naal vagai paaNiyum.."(kadalaadu kaadhai - line 35)
Here PaaNi means "isai vudaiyathu"
It means 'Paattu'
There is Deva paaNi - whcih means songs in praise of devas.
(Tol kaapiyam - PoruL- 350)
This has 2 versions - Perum deva paaNi and Siru Deva paaNi.
There are further sub divisions in these two and Kaanal vari of Silabhu
is one among the PaaNis.
This 'PaaNi' is the root of 'PaaNan'.
In my opinion this PaaNi has become VaaNi.
The proof I quote to substantiate this is
"vaaNan pErUr" in the same chapter in Silappadhikaaram (line 54)
The VaaNan here is BaaNaasuran.
The pa/ba (having no difference in Tamil) is interchangeable with
(Also refer the comments in the following blog article on castes to see
how Vaaniyar is a derivative of Bahni- Vahni
and many more on- the ba/pa -va interchange
The 'Veena pusthaka PaaNi' (Mahakavi Bharathiyaar)
is the root of the word VaaNi.
She is VaaNi as she is being spoken / sung by Veena and books
( for being the signifactor of these)
Another connection of Vaani with Paanar is the Lotus gifts (in gold)
that Paanars used to get (there are 6 verses in Puranauru saying this)
and the Paanar's habit of wearing White lotus on their head.
A kind of reminder of naamagal / VaaNi conenction.
(verses 12 & 141 in Pura nanuru
'paanan choodiya pasum potraamarai' 141
paanar thaamarai malayavum 12 )