Tamil pronunciation (was Re: Indo-Aryan Invasion (focussed discussion))

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Sat Mar 7 00:13:02 UTC 1998

I was thinking about phonemic distinctions, and not sounds.

Tamil has k and g in the sense that Japanese has both r and l sounds
and  English has aspirated and unaspirated
sounds. The p in pin is aspirated (though not as strongly as in IA),
but the p in spin is not. But English speakers are not conscious of the
difference. There is a difference between saying that Hindi has
aspirated stops and saying that English has aspirated stops.

When I was talkinga about the caste/class/urban vs rural etc,
I was talking about the pronunciation of >Sanskrit< words, not
Tamil words. There are definite differences in how far people go to
reproduce Sanskrit phonology. While very few pay any attention to
aspiration, there is a great deal of variation in voicing and in
the distinction of sibilants. It is possible to find people whose
regularly use unvoiced intervocalic stops in case of certain (but not
all) words of Sanskrit origin. The number of such words is definitely
related to various group identities.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list