Roman transliteration of Tamil n's

Bh. Krishnamurti bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN
Fri Nov 14 13:43:55 UTC 1997

Dental n alveolar n are members of the same phoneme. Only in a few cases of
contrast within Old Tamil they need to be marked separately as n and _n/n'.
For Proto-Dravidian reconstruction we need only one n. Then we have
retrroflex N and palatal ~n which must be marked separately.
Ganesan's postscript is confusing:
"PS: Of course, Tamil has three l's: l (dental), L (alveolar), z (retroflex)
     and two r's: r (alveolar) and R (retroflex)".
There are only two laterals l (alveolar) and L (retroflex); Z witten
differently  as _l  in Tamil Lexicon, r with two dots below by DEDR and as z
with subdot by many including me is a retoflex frictionless continuant
(similar to Midwestern American r). The two r's are: r= alveolar flap or
single tap; R/_r is an alveolar trill which developed from Proto-Dravidian
alveolar stop in the intervocalic position. Like Old Tamil,Old Telugu and
Old Kannada also had two r's but in modern languages there is only one; the
trill R merged with the flap r. Only Tamil scholars try to distinguish the
two in reading. In some cases older n_t became n_r in Old Tamil, Old Telugu,
and the other South-Central Dravidian languages,e.g. Old Tamil muunRu (mdn.
muuNN.u), Old Telugu muunRu, later muuNDu/muuDu, KonDa muunRi 'three'.

At 10:32 13/11/97 -0600, you wrote:
>       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
>     OR
>     2) n, n2, N
>     OR
>     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.
> Algorithom:
> IF {
>     n occurs in the beginning of words
>      .OR.
>     n is followed by t
>       .OR.
>     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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