Roman transliteration of Tamil n's

Bh. Krishnamurti bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN
Sat Nov 15 04:54:04 UTC 1997

At 09:51 14/11/97 -0500, you wrote:
>In a message dated 97-11-14 08:44:24 EST, bhk at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN writes:
><<  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'. >>
>Sri Lankan Tamil dialect maintains the distinction between "r" and "R". So
>does Malayalam. Malayalam also maintains alveolar stop "R" in geminate ("RR"
>pronounced like English "tt") and in post-nasal ("n2R" pronounced as English
>"nd") contexts. I believe this also applies to some dialects in parts of
>Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts.
>S. Palaniappan

Yes, I did not go into other details. It is true that Jaffna Tamil,
Malayalam and Toda preserve the distinctiion of the two r's.I was addressing
the limited question of how to phonetically define and transliterate the
different n's, l's and r's that Ganesan was interested in. In modern spoken
Tamil, word initial n is also an alveolar and not a dental as it is in
Modern Malayalam. In Old Tamil word initial n was described as a dental, as
also the n preceding dental stops; elsewhere it was an alveolar (except for
three words werin, porun, etc.). In spoken Telugu and Kannada also word
initial n is a post-dental/alveolar. Dental n occurs only before dental
stops. For Modern Malayalam we need seperate symbols for dental  n and
alveolar _n/n'.Malayalam is one of the few languages in the world with six
phonemic nasals which may be transliterated in text mode as: bilabial m,
dental n, alveolar _n or n', palatal ~n, retroflex N, velar ,n.
Bh. Krishnamurti.

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