Q: old Tamil materials

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 16 13:38:24 UTC 2000

>1. Iravatham Mahadevan mentioned in an interview given in January 1998,
>that he is working on a book on the earliest Tamil inscriptions. Has the
>book appeared yet? Where?

Thiru. Iravatham Mahadevan is telling me that he has completed the
mss. The book will be published by the Institute of Asian studies,
Chennai. Iravatham is in its board of directors for years. May be
worthwhile to check with the Inst.'s director, Dr. G. John Samuel.
His email: ias at xlweb.com. Meanwhile, important new discoveries of
Tamil brahmi and transitional era inscriptions defining the period of
change from Tamil brahmi to Pallava grantha continue to show up.
Iravatham is the first to show how to read the earliest Tamil

>2. What are the standard materials (esp. grammar, but also dictionary and
>texts) to study old Tamil?
>Any information is most welcome.

Incidentally, the situation is changing for the better for CT texts;
The inst. of Asian studies (Chennai) has published complete
translations of certain sangam texts. ParipaaTal, a first on
Thirumaal(Vishnu) and Murukan (Skanda/Subrahmanya) among Indic texts,
is one of them. Pl. check again with ias at xlweb.com for a full list.

See the book by Schiffman who taught Tamil to so many Americans for
decades. But this is on today's tamil. CT is different with the least
amt. of influence from  either Sanskrit or English!
      Schiffman, Harold F.
      A reference grammar of spoken Tamil
      New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
      xxii, 232 p. ; 23 cm.

A recent translation, of the puRam tiNai ('exterior landscape' - AKR),
of an entire CT text (puRanAn2URu) is recommended:

    The four hundred songs of war and wisdom : an anthology of poems
from classical Tamil : the pu_ran_an_u_ru / translated and edited by
George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz. New York : Columbia University
Press, 1999. xxxvii, 397 p. ; 21 cm.

N. Ganesan, PhD

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