Indo-Aryan Invasion (focussed discussion)

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Thu Mar 5 21:54:38 UTC 1998

> 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.

I was being a bit hasty. I should have said ``phonology of
late19th-early 20th c. Tamil''. I sometimes get tired of being precise :-)

> is there sound phonological ;-)
> fieldwork that confirms this without the trace of a doubt ???

I think that Zvelebil's fieldwork, published in Acta orientalia
(the one from Hungary) in the laste 50's does. I will have to
check to make sure.

> 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.

There seems to be an issue of familiarity. I seldom hear/heard people
voice the t of siitaa, but it is often d/tasaradar. It also seems
that voicing of intervocalic stops is much more common than unvoicing
of word initials.

I also suspect that the ubiquity of TV has changed things quite
a bit in the last 15 years. There is also a generational gap here.

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

Only for the nasal. Of course, you can claim that r is alveolar
too :-)

> 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 !!!

But you still need a seperate letter since people pronounce it
many different ways, and using any other letter will confuse

> -Srini.

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