Fortunatov's Law and tolkAppiyar's rules

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Mon Jul 6 20:47:39 UTC 1998

In a message dated 98-07-06 12:50:43 EDT, vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU writes:

<< I would disagree with this.

 First of all, change of l occurs in other contexts as well:
 kal vs ka_tka (_t = _r, the alveolar two-tap of modern school Tamil),
 nuul vs nuu_tpaa, nuu_tpu (spinning) etc. This can be seen in Tamil
 borrowings from Sanskrit: kalpanaa => ka_tpa_nai, alpa => a_tpam etc.

 Secondly, in Tamil, l+t => _t_t, but Fortunatov's law says that
 lt => .t, without compensatory lengthening of the previous vowel
 (palta => pa.ta etc). It is this aspect that I find most mysterious
 about this law. Most other changes seems to preserve heavyness of vowels. >>

These objections are easily answered.

To answer the second objection first:

There is no need for doubling of _t or T all the time. In fact, I had shown
examples where the doubling does not occur. They were:

iyal + tEr > iya_tEr

nAL + tO_tum > nATO_tum

Moreover, from the point of view of pronunciation, Sanskrit intervocalic -T-
is closer to Tamil -TT- than Tamil intervocalic -T- which is closer to
Sanskrit -D-.

As for the first objection, certainly l at the end of the first word
(nilaimozi) may change into _t  (and L may change into T) when the second word
(varumozi) begins with k, c, or p also. But there is an important difference
between these consonants and t. k, c, and p remain as they are. But t changes
either into _t or T. That is why tolkAppiyar gave special rules 1.150 and
1.151 to deal with the dentals. So, there is a qualitative difference between
other hard consonants and t in the beginning of the second word.

S. Palaniappan

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list