Tamil Sound and Writing

AppuArchie AppuArchie at AOL.COM
Sat Mar 7 01:30:42 UTC 1998

Greetings List Members,
        Does all this verbosity about Tamil sounding differently as written in a
foreign language necessary? As I understand 30 Tamil letters represent 30
phonemes that have 216 dependencies. With the �velar fricative� or �Ajtam�
there are only 247 �letters� in Tamil alphabet. Dialects in Tamil may adopt
different sounds for the letters but can only be represented by the 247 single
or double or combination characters. Of course writing foreign languages with
Tamil script is another �kettle of fish.�
        �Tamil is a language which illustrates particularly well the grouping of
several quite distinct sounds into single phonemes. It is noteworthy that
Tamil orthography does not show any difference between all these sounds. Those
who originally invented this orthography must have had a clear conception of
the phoneme idea, though the theory had never been formulated.� -- Daniel
Jones, The Phoneme its Nature and Use. p. 22.
        I think all this confusion is because we are writing Tamil in English script
using symbols such as dots, dashes etc. Tamil Alphabet or �nedungkanhakku� can
be written with English script for the 247 letters and thus eliminate
confusion. The �Yarzhan Tamil Alphabet Chart� tabulates the 247 Tamil letters
with English script. Anyone interested may obtain the edited version by
sending a self addressed stamped envelope to:
        R. Shanmugalingam
        36, Farrell Court
        Marblehead. MA 01945.

        Thank you.

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