Roman transliteration of Tamil n's

Thu Nov 13 16:32:59 UTC 1997

       Roman transliteration of dental, alveolar and retroflex n's of Tamil

 There are three n's in Tamil consonants. In regular English typewriter
 keyboards, dental n is represented as n or n^, alveolar n is represented
 as n or n2 or n_,  retroflex n is represented by N. The actual choice
 depends on the user preference. For example, University of Koeln
 website of Tamil classical texts uses the n, n2, N scheme.

 The three usual schemes for dental, alveolar and retroflex n's are:
     1) n^, n, N
     2) n, n2, N
     3) n, n_, N

 Tamil transliterations with just a regular typewriter keyboard
 will be even more elegant without the use of eyesores, n^ or n2 or n_ .
 Tamil grammar specifically states where dental n will occur.
 The dental and alveolar n's are predictable 99% of the time.

    For Roman transliteration (and transcribing from Roman to
  Tamil script or vice versa in word processing)

   Instead of n^, n and N (for example),
     we can use just n and N most of the time
         with the understanding that
          a) 'n' in the beginning of words means dental n,
          b) 'n' followed by 't' means dental n.
          c) dental n can occur in a few more instances.
             Here, dental n will be written explicitly (like n^)
             Examples of nonstandard occurence of dental n:
               Sanskrit loans like an^uraakam, cin^Ekitan, an^ucitam,
               Tamil words like verin^, iyakkun^ar, paaTun^ar
        NOTE: (a) and (b) will determine the position of dental n
               more than 97% of the time.


 IF {
     n occurs in the beginning of words
     n is followed by t
     occasionally, dental n is explicitly needed
       in some places like sanskrit loans,}

   THEN { n = dental n}
      n = alveolar n

  What do you think of this? This way, n and N can be used in most situations.
 No need to distinguish between dental and alveolar n in Roman transliteration.
 Only occasionally in a Roman transliterated Tamil text, we will have to use a
 separate symbol for dental n.

  N. Ganesan
  nas_ng at

 PS: Of course, Tamil has three l's: l (dental), L (alveolar), z (retroflex)
     and two r's: r (alveolar) and R (retroflex).

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