Tamil Studies

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sun Nov 7 09:49:13 UTC 1999

In a message dated 11/6/99 6:19:55 PM Central Standard Time,

> Just one more enquiry.  Does anybody know of a Tamil-Sanskrit or
>  (better) Sanskrit-Tamil dictionary.  My assumption is that if any such
>  work exists it would be pre-modern.

The Madras University Tamil Lexicon might be of use to you. The lexicon was
prepared when Tamil scholarly establishment was highly Sanskritic in its
outlook (1930s) . As a result, for any Tamil word, if a Sanskrit word could
be thought of as even remotely similar phonologically, they made sure they
listed it at least with a question mark. Since the lexicon has English
transliterations for all Tamil entries and their assumed source words,  it
should be convenient for you to use with the standard transliteration key. As
a preliminary guide to go from Sanskrit to Tamil, one has to remember that in
Tamil k stands for Sanskrit k, kh, g, and gh. Similarly for c, T, t, and p.
Letters such as r, l will not occur in the word-initial positions. Their
Tamil equivalents will begin with a prothetic vowel -- a, i, or u. S- > c- .
-j- or -s- or -S- > -c- or -y-.  There are other transformation rules also.
Often, there is no one-to-one mapping. For instance, b- > v- or sometimes p-.
(Others may be able to suggest references on loan phonology.) You may be
familiar with many consonant cluster simplification rules to go from Sanskrit
to Prakrit and you can use them to generate possible Tamil forms and see if
they can be located in the Tamil lexicon. Parpola has noted in his 1983
article, "The Pre-Vedic Background of the Zrauta Rituals" in "Agni", "The
most characteristic feature of the Prakrit languages in comparison with
Sanskrit is the simplification of the consonant clusters through
assimilation, anaptyxis, and  similar processes. This seems to be mainly due
to the adaptation of Indo-Aryan to the Dravidian pattern of their mother
tongue by the first bilingual generations who initiated the Aryanization of
Dravidian North India. Dravidian has originally no initial consonant clusters
and in the middle of the word only double consonants and clusters of
homorgonic nasal+voiceless stop (Zvelebil 1970, 76f.) The phenomenon is
paralleled by the changes of Sanskrit loanwords in Tamil, which has preserved
the proto-Dravidian phonology very faithfully (e.g. Tamil tottiram<sic>:
Sanskrit stotram)." Actually Ta. tOttiram < Skt. stotra. You can find this in
the Tamil lexicon entry for tOttiram.

The following may also be of interest to you.

Yaska's Nirukta and Nighantu with transliteration and translation into Tamil.
Preface in English.

by Ramanujatatacarya, Agnihotram.

S. Palaniappan

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