An old question

Srini Pichumani srini_pichumani at MENTORG.COM
Wed Jul 15 17:01:16 UTC 1998

D.H. Killingley wrote:

> If a Tamil speaker uses voiced/voiceless and aspirated/unaspirated
> oppositions in pronouncing stops in Tamil, could they not be said to have
> a 'Sanskrit accent?'

But the voiced/voiceless distinction for stops does exist in Tamil... it is
only aspiration that is missing.  So,  even a "native" Tamil would voice
stops under certain well-defined conditions like if a stop appears after
a nasal ("k" would become "g" in this case) or if it occurs anywhere other
than a word-initial position etc etc.

For example,  a name like that of the present Chief Minister of TN (a
firebrand, native Tamil... known in the lingo as "maRattamizhan2"),
karuNaaniti,  even if written as such would be pronounced even by the
most native of Tamils with the last syllable voiced, i.e. like Sanskrit "d".

What would be lost would be the aspiration... in Sanskrit,  the same word
would be "karuNaanidhi"... pronouncing the last syllable with a clear
aspiration,  or overdoing it as it happens sometimes,  would be clearly a
"Sanskrit" accent.


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