Indo-Aryan Invasion (focussed discussion)

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at ENGIN.UMICH.EDU
Wed Mar 4 21:31:29 UTC 1998

        Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
        >[...] The distinction, at least
        > between k and g exists in Tamil speech,

        Not really. It just looks that way because so many urban middle class
        children are exposed to English and Hindi quite early. Those who aren't
        regularly follow Tamil rules on voicing. As my wife once complained,
        they will pronounce her name as `ladaa'. If you want to know original
        Tamil phonology, you should visit the villages in the heartland of TN,
        not talk to middleclass people in Madras, or totally wrongly, consult
        those who grew up outside TN.

        This phenomenon can also be observed aomng women of the previous
        generations. In the singing of bhajans in the group I have gone to
        the rarer names and Sanskrit words will get the same treatment.


I think Vidyasankar intended the same thing that you have
said above... i.e. that voicing does exist in Tamil under
certain conditions and hence there is the distinction
between k and g.

In any case, I have heard this assertion about "original
Tamil phonology" being preserved in the "villages", the
"heartland" etc way too often that, perversely, I have
begun to have my own doubts.

Yes, I have travelled quite a bit in various interior
parts of TN and have in general heard voiced sounds
whenever a stop occurs in the middle of a word etc etc...
but is it absolutely clear that voicing never ever occurs
at the beginning of a word... is there sound phonological ;-)
fieldwork that confirms this without the trace of a doubt ???
(Vaasu ?)

Or is it well determined that initial voicing, if it were
to occur at all, occurs only in "tatsama" words like kaNecan2.
I have heard people assert that the initial k in this word is
never voiced but my own "fieldwork" suggests that there is a
lot of fluidity without having to bring in issues of urban vs
rural, class, caste, etc.

How about the dental/alveolar differentiations... are they
preserved in the heartland... or has the heartland shifted
across the Palghat gap ;-)))

And then, what about that unique letter of the alphabet that
Tamil and S.Dravidian prides itself on - the letter that
mysteriously transliterated as "zh" by commoners and which
is enshrined in the very name of the language, Tamizh, and
the native word, ezhuttu, for the letter of the alphabet.
Maybe we should just toss that bloody thing after all since
nobody except a few of us pronounce it right !!!


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