Sounds of Tamil, the writing system and dialect variations. Part I : The Vowels.

Introduction

It is convenient to organise the description of the sounds used in Tamil in the traditional order that is used in the ancient descriptions of the writing system of the language. This is the approach that is usually followed in the recent descriptive grammars of Tamil, and indeed with Indian languages in general.

The writing system of Tamil comprises a set of ‘letters’ (graphemes) which provide for the representation of the entire phoneme inventory of the language. They cover the full range of underlying phonological representations, without any redundancy. There are many context-dependent allophonic variants, both vowels and consonants, which are not phonemically significant and so are not seperately represented in the writing system. The allophone that finds representation in the writing system has traditionally been regarded as the ‘underlying representation’.

In contrast to the alphabetic writing systems used in Western scripts, the system used for writing Tamil (and many other Eastern languages) is a syllabary, ie each ‘letter’ represents a complete syllable rather than an individual ‘sound segment’. Even though it is a syllabary, it is based on an accurate phonetic identification of individual sounds and provides written  representation for all of the individual sound segments which are used in the language to convey contrastive word meaning (phonemes). This may seem to be a rather sweeping claim, particularly with regard to the ‘pulli’ letters which many would regard as ‘pure’  single consonants. I have argued elsewhere that the ‘pulli’ letters represent a special kind of syllable, a ‘dull’ syllable, in which the onset consonant of the syllable is sounded but the vowel nucleus may be silent (Please see this page).

The graphemes (letters) of Tamil can be grouped into three classes:

(1) Graphemes representing Syllables composed  of vowel sounds (V) only (உயிரெழுத்து): single vowel, long vowel or diphthongs (i.e. V, VV or V 1V2)

(2) Graphemes representing Syllables of consonant-vowel compounds (உயிர்மெய்யெழுத்து)i.e. CV, CVV or CV1V2). Graphemes in this category form by far the bulk of the ‘letters’ in the Tamil script.

(3) Graphemes representing Dull syllables apparently of a single consonant segment (மெய்யெழுத்து) where the inherent vowel  sound is cancelled by the ‘pulli’ diacritic mark in the form of a dot or small circle on top of the letter. Only the consonant sound may be pronounced. These graphemes are therefore often said to representing ‘pure’ consonants. [ Eg. Tholkaappiyam  chap 1, verse 15 : மெய்யின்  இயற்கை புள்ளியொடு  நிலயல் (The natural quality of the consonant is as when it stands with the pulli)].

Description and discussion of the ‘Pulli’ graphemes (class 3) is presented in separate post on Consonant sounds.

Vowel sounds

We will now look at the vowel sounds of Tamil in some detail, including their variations in actual speech in the main dialects of Tamil. Consonant sounds will be  dealt with in detail in a separate post.

Qualitatively, there is a five-way vowel contrast corresponding to the cardinal vowels          ɑ,  i ,  u,  e,  o. These are therefore the only segmental vowel sounds in Tamil which are phonemically significant.

Standard Tamil Vowels

Vowel space diagram showing the five phonemic vowel segmental sounds of Tamil circled in red.

 

 

 

However, each of the vowels have a two-way quantitative contrast ie the short and the long forms of each vowel is phonemically significant. In addition, there are two diphthongs. This allows for twelve phonemic vowel formations. When the vowels occur word initially (i.e. in onset-less syllables) each of these twelve vowel formations is represented in the writing system by its own grapheme (Class 1 above).

அ [ɑ ]    ஆ  [ɑː]      இ [i]     ஈ [iː]   உ  [u]   ஊ  [uː]      எ   [e]     ஏ  [eː]      ஜ [ai]       ஒ [o]    ஓ [oː]   ஔ [au]

The script never uses these vowel-only graphemes at word-medial or word-final positions.

 

Graphemes representing Consonant-vowel sequences, Class 2 above, represent syllables with consonant onsets and vowel nuclei i.e. CV, CVV or CV1V2). These account for the vast bulk of the graphemes in the script. They consist of a basic set and a larger derived set. The basic set consists of 18 graphemes for consonant-vowel (CV) syllables incorporating the default or ‘inherent’ vowel |ɑ|

க         ங        ச         ஞ       ட        ண      த        ந         ப        ம        ய        ர

kɑ    ɲɑ    cɑ    ŋɑ    ʈɑ    ɳɑ    t̪ ɑ   n̪ ɑ     pɑ      mɑ      yɑ      ʀɑ

 

ல        வ        ழ        ள        ற        ன

lɑ     vɑ    ʎɑ    ɭɑ    rɑ    nɑ

The derived set is made up by combining the individual graphemes of the above set with linear diacritics specific for each of the eleven vowels (leaving out the | ɑ| or அ, which is inherent in the basic set). To illustrate:

கி        ஙி       சி        ஞி      டி        ணி     தி       நி        பி       மி        யி       ரி

ki    ɲi    ci    ŋi    ʈi    ɳi    t̪ i    n̪ i      pi       mi       yi       ʀi

 

லி       வி       ழி        ளி       றி        னி

li    vi    ʎi    ɭi    ri    ni

 

 

கா      ஙா     சா       ஞா     டா      ணா   தா     நா       பா     மா      யா      ரா

kɑ:   ɲɑ:   cɑ:   ŋɑ:   ʈɑ:   ɳɑ:   t̪ ɑ:  n̪ ɑː  pɑː   mɑː  yɑː   ʀɑː

 

லா     வா     ழா      ளா     றா      னா

lɑː  vɑː  ʎɑː  ɭɑː  rɑː  nɑː

and so on ……… The complete set of these graphemes is given in the Appendix at this web page.

This class of graphemes may appear at any position in the written word, though there are certain restrictions at the word initial and word final positions (see later posts on consonants).

Though Graphemes in this class represent combined consonant and vowel segments, the qualitative properties of the individual vowel segment and consonant segments represented within each grapheme remain distinct and unchanged. Tolka:piyam chap 1, verse 10 :   மெய்யோ  டியையினும்  உயிரியல்  திரியா  [Even when it joins with a consonant, the nature of the vowel itself does not change.]

Allophones of Tamil vowels

There are only five qualitatively contrastive vowel sound contrasts in Tamil (i.e those which make a difference to the meaning of the words in which they are used i.e. phonemic. These are circled in red in the chart below.). But there are two other commonly heard vowel sounds which are noticeably distinct in quality from these five standard sounds but are not phonemic. These sounds are allophones of அ [ɑ]  and உ  [u] and are indicated in blue in the chart below:

Tamil Vowels allophones

 

 

The open front vowel which comes before apical consonants such as /n, ன /,  /l, ல/, and /ɾ, ர/ in words such as அன்பு (ænbu),   அலரி  (ælæɾi)  அரம் (æɾam) are pronounced with a less open and more fronted sound /æ/,  as occurs for example in ‘anvil’. Though phonetically distinct, the two sounds /a/ and / æ/ carry the same significance in terms of word meaning in Tamil ( i.e. are allophones). The Tamil script does not distinguish between these two allophones. In fact most of the world’s languages do not distinguish between this allophonic pair in their writing systems. To my knowledge Sinhala is the unique exemption.

The other very common allophonic vowel in Tamil which is not reflected in the Tamil writing system is the close central unrounded vowel represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) by the symbol /ɨ/.  This is the sound which is actually pronounced as the word-end  vowel in many words where the writing system implies an /உ/ sound. However, the close back rounded vowel /u/ is not the sound usually pronounced as a word-end vowel in common speech. You can listen to the sound /ɨ/ (and other IPA sounds) at their web page here. Consider carefully how the endings are actually sounded in words such as   கல்லு (/kallɨ/, stone),  பட்டு (/paʈʈɨ/ silk),  வீடு (viiʈɨ), பங்கு (/paɳɡɨ/ share), சிவப்பு (/civappɨ/, red) தடு(/̯taʈɨ, block, verb) அடுப்பு (aʈɨppɨ). In the last example, the penultimate vowel as well as the word final vowel are both pronounced /ɨ/, and not /u/as one would expect from the spelling.

In the ancient Grammatical texts of classical Tamil, the sound /ɨ/  is alluded to as குற்றியல் உகரம்  ( ‘short or half-length /u/).  The Tholkaapiyam suggests that older Tamil scripts did indeed include a grapheme for the sound referred to as குற்றியல் உகரம் , but this grapheme seems to have fallen out of use by the Sangam period.

Dialect variation and Vowel shift

In the colloquial spoken dialects of Tamil in South India (ST), there is a strong tendency for the lowering of the high short vowels /i/ and /u/ in word initial positions. See examples(5) and (9) below. This does not occur in Jaffna Tamil (JT) or in classical (literary) Tamil (LT). This vowel lowering in the word initial position does not occur with  low or mid vowels (examples 1, 2 and 12), or with long vowels (examples 3, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 13) or with diphthongs (example 11).  Note, also in ST only, the tendency for the insertion of a word initial onset glide before mid vowels (/y/ before /e/ as in example 12 and 13). Example (13) shows that this word initial glide insertion also occurs before long mid-vowels (/y/ before /e:/).

Interestingly, example (6) shows that the tendency for word initial vowel lowering is overridden by vowel harmonisation of the initial vowel with the same vowel in the succeeding syllable.

—————-LT              ST              T
1. அம்மா      ɑmmɑ       ɑmmɑ      ɑmmɑ         mother
2. அடிமை    ɑʈimai       ɑʈime       ɑʈimai          slave
3. ஆடு          ɑːʈu            ɑːʈɨ            ɑːʈɨ               goat
4. ஆலயம்    ɑːlɑyɑm    ɑːlɑyõ       ɑːlɑyɑm       temple
5. இலை       ilɑi             ele             ilai               leaf
6. இனிப்பு    inippu       inippɨ       inippɨ          sweet
7. ஈனம்         iːnam        iːnõ           iːnam          disrespect
8. ஈ                iː                iː                iː                 fly (insect)
9. உடம்பு      uʈɑmbu     oʈɑmbɨ     uʈɑmbɨ       body
10. ஊளன்     uːɭɑn         uːʈæ̃           uːɭɑn           lame man
11. ஜந்து        aint̪u         aint̪ɨ           aint̪ɨ            five
12. எச்சம்      eccɑm        yeccõ         eccɑm         remainder
13. ஏலம்       eːlɑm          yeːlõ          eːlɑm          cardamom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Oppenheimer’, The Royal Shakespeare Company’s play about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima: a critical review.

Oppenheimer the play

This Royal Shakespeare Company production of the new Tom Morton-Smith play based on the story of Robert Oppenheimer and the building of the first atomic bomb received almost universal critical acclaim in the British Press. See for example Michael Billington’s review in the Guardian at

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/jan/23/oppenheimer-review-rsc-atomic-bomb-drama-tom-morton-smith

I saw the play recently during its London run at the Vaudeville theatre. As a play, ‘Oppenheimer’ was indeed very impressive. Yet, I left the theatre with a sense of unease and disappointment.

Over the years, I have read quite a bit about the science, the politics and the people associated with the Manhattan project and about the horror that the project has permanently unleashed on the world. No doubt, many others in the audience would also have been similarly familiar with the story.

There have been a number of recent biopics and plays based on the life and times of various well known scientists and artists. Some of these productions have garnered much acclaim and profit. ‘Oppenheimer’ is of this genre. It sets out to explore the moral character, motivations and the human flaws of the physicist Robert Oppenheimer, portrayed as a Shakespearean tragedy. And there is epic scope here for Shakespearian treatment of the man’s brilliance and flaws, his dilemmas and betrayals, his achievements and of the horrific historic context. The play was cleverly crafted with fine detail, and was brilliantly acted and staged. It was replete with clever and pithy allusions to the vast corpus of factoids, innuendo, insights, angst, guilt, foreboding etc which surround the story of the atomic bomb project and its protagonists. There was no glorification of the man or the project. Yet, there is no getting away from the fact that, essentially, the story of Oppenheimer and the Manhattan project is grist to the mill of yet another ambitious theatre production. And this does not feel right, given the incomparable magnitude and reach of the evil that this story is about. This story certainly is not just another fascinating biography ripe for theatrical exploitation.

There is further grounds for unease. The play was an impressive dramatisation, but only a dramatisation of the material that are by now encompassed within the conventional narrative that many are familiar with. The play provided very little fresh insight or enlightenment. It fails to question this western, essentially Anglo-American narrative and it certainly does not seek to go beyond it. But is that not, at least in part, what this play should seek to do? Is it not a cause for unease that the re-iteration of this conventional narrative in a powerfully theatrical form may only serve to reinforce it?

It is not as if there is a dearth of serious, credible and sincere alternative histories and analyses of these events. These are easy enough to find if one takes the trouble to search. Try for instance searching the net for ‘was the atomic bombing of Japan necessary?’ Also, quite apart from the differing  academic histories and analyses, these events are charged with deep differences in perceptions, emotions and sensitivities for different peoples outside the Anglo- American world.

Just a few months ago, I visited Japan, including Hiroshima. It is impossible to contemplate a staging of this play for audiences in Japan. They have a profoundly different and much more universally humanist narrative of the deployment and effects of the bomb. But more importantly, this play which may come across to audiences in England as a worthy Shakespearean tragedy would be seen in Japan as grossly insensitive and as trivialising the single most massively evil deed in human history. And not just in Japan, but in Germany or Russia or even, say, in France, audiences may not receive this play with the same equanimity as Anglo-American audiences seem to be able to do. Why is there such a gulf? Is it because, for people in the Anglo-American world, the narrative that they have largely accepted has had the effect of normalising the collective and individual psychological impact of the actual historical and continuing calamity? And what of this play? Does it achieve anything more than powerfully re-iterating in theatrical form this received narrative?

And there is yet another source of unease: the perception and evaluation of this play by the English theatre critics. I have rarely seen such universal acclaim for a play. Hardly any criticism, no expressions of unease or misgivings. What are theatre critics for? Are they really anything more than mere appendages of the theatre industry?

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Echo Words in Tamil and other South Asian languages.

Echo words

Echo words are a characteristic feature of colloquial dialects of all languages spoken in the Indian sub continent and Sri Lanka.

In spoken colloquial dialects of Tamil, we often come across partial word repeats (reduplication) of the type contained in the following examples.   The first syllable of the oriɡinal (or ‘base’) word is replaced or prefixed by the syllable /கி, ki / or /கீ, ki:/ to form the second or “echo” word of the pair. Apart from this change the echo word is a copy of the base word.

1.  காசு கீசு இருந்தால் வாழ்க்கை சுகம்      [kaːcu  kiːcu  iruntaːl   vaːɭk:ai cuxam]

2.  கோப்பி  கீப்பி குடிக்கிறீங்களா ?  koːpːi   kiːpːi  kudikːiriːŋɡaɭaː ʔ

3. ஓடி கீடி விளையாட வேணும்            [o:di  kiːdi viɭaya:da ve:ɳum]

4. அடுப்பு  கிடுப்பு ப் பக்கம் போகக் கூடாது   [ adupːu  kidupːu  pakːam  poːxa  kuːdatɨ]

5.புட்டு கிட்டு  சாப்பிடலாமா?    [ pudːu  kidːu ca ːpːidalaːmaː ?]

6.புட்டை  கிட்டை சாப்பிடலாமா?”    [pud:ai  kidːai  caːpːidalaːmaː ?]

7. புட்டும்   சாப்பிட இல்லை, கிட்டும்  சாப்பிட இல்லை [ pudːum             caːpːida ilːai, kidːum  caːpːida ilːai]

8. சிவப்பு ச்  சீலையும் கூடாது கிவப்பு ச்  சீலையும் கூடாது; வெள்ளைச் சீலை தான்  வேணும்.

Literary Tamil (செந்தமிழ்)  uses other types of word reduplication, such as  the well-known இரட்டைக் கிழவி where short onomatopoeic (click here for definition) words are exactly reduplicated, as in சல சல, கட கட, சுறு சுறு etc. But it does not permit the use of Echo Words of the particular type seen in the previous numbered examples. These Echo Words are however used  in everyday speech in interesting ways to convey a range of subtle meanings. Nearly all everyday spoken languages in and around the Indian subcontinent, including colloquial sinhala, use Echo Words, though there are interesting differences in the actual replacement sounds used to form the echo word. There are also interesting differences between the various languages in the nuanced meanings associated with these echo words.

Phonology and grammar

In Tamil, the way the echo word system works is fairly straight forward.  To form the echo word, the first syllable, represented in the writing system of Tamil by the first complete letter in the word, is changed to the syllable ki (கி) for short syllables and Ki: (கீ) for long syllables. If the first syllable of the base word is a vowel only syllable [V(V) or உயிரெழுத்து] , as in examples 3 and 4, Ki or Ki: is prefixed to the base word to form the echo word.

[Note: I take the view that the writing system of Tamil is entirely syllabic. This will be the subject of another post in the near furture but see this link  if you want to read a formal theoretical account].

In words which begin with Ki or Ki:, such as கிளங்கு (root vegetable), echo word formation cannot occur in Tamil dialects where the word is pronounced as kiɭaŋɡu.  As an aside, it is interesting to note that in most South Indian spoken dialects, the word is usually pronounced keɭaŋɡu, and echo word formation is actually possible, as keɭaŋɡu kiɭaŋɡu.

The process is mostly applied to simple nouns, but may also apply to words of any other grammatical category such as verbs (example 3), adjectives (example 8) and also to words with grammatical suffixes as in the accusative case inflected புட்டை, pudːai  in example 6. The echo word may be separated from the original word in sentences where negative clauses are joined together using the   /-um, (உம்/ clitic, as seen in examples 7 and 8.

Semantics and sociolinguistics

What meanings do these echo words convey?  The echo word itself, taken separately on its own, does not have any semantic content. As a pair, the most obvious semantic function is to ‘spread’ or widen the semantic or lexical field of the original word so as to include all the other words of closely similar meaning in the context of the conversation i.e. ” X and other similar things/activities/qualities”. To go back to the examples above, ‘ puddu and other similar non-staple milled-cereal based  foods’,  ‘running or other similar playful exertions’, ‘hearth or other sources of fire’, ‘money or other forms of wealth’, ‘red or other coloured sarees’ ‘coffee, tea, coke, juice, water or another beverage’.  Their usage therefore may contribute to economy of expression in everyday speech.

It could also be said that the base word-echo word pair conveys a sense of increased ‘indefiniteness’, ‘generalisation’ or ‘de-centering’ of the meaning associated with the base word alone. Consider example 8. It would seem somewhat inappropriate to just answer ‘ஏனக்கு  கோப்பி வேண்டாம்’ to the question containing the echo word pair. One would be expected to choose a preferred/available beverage or decline to have any.

In addition to widening lexical field, echo words may be used, as in examples 6 and 7 , to convey, without being overtly confrontational, the speakers disapointment/ disapproval/ disdain/ disgust.

In addition to the linguistic purposes discussed above, echo words may serve important social purposes: to create a casual, non-threatening and relaxed tone to facilitate informal dialogue or negotiation. They are usually avoided in conversations with social superiors or in formal situations.

Echo words in other South Asian languages

Nearly all the spoken colloquial dialects in and around the the Indian subcontinent make use of Echo words. Most of the South Indian languages use a system similar to Tamil. The tribal language Toda as well as Malayalam use Ki or Ki: exactly as in Tamil, but most of the dialects of Andra Pradesh and Kannada use gi or gi: as the replacement syllable. Both /k/ and /g/ are ‘velar’ stop consonants i.e. formed by bringing the body of the tongue up against the soft palate (velum) at the roof of the mouth. They differ only in the fact that vocal cord vibration occurs when the /g/ sound is produced, a process called ‘voicing’. whereas /k/ is not accompanied by vocal cord activity i.e ‘unvoiced’. Occasionally, the actual sound may be a velar fricative rather than a stop (i.e. some air is allowed to pass between the tongue and the soft palate). This sound is represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) by the symbol /x/ and sounds more like the /ha/ sound that is actually produceed in the middle of the word when saying /மேகம் , meːxam (cloud)/. The phonetics of velar sounds are explained at this link

Sinhala

Echo words are commonly used in colloquial Sinhala, but the system in Sinhala has some significant differences when compared to the South Indian languages. Firstly, the sound involved is not velar, but labial i.e. formed at the lips, most often /p/ or /b/. Less commonly other sounds may be used. Secondly, the change does not involve the whole of the first syllable, but only the initial consonant of the echo word. And thirdly,  a wider range of sounds are used, in contrast to the single velar sound that is used in Tamil and other South Indian languages.

Some examples in Sinhala:  daŋɡa paŋɡa (mischief, naughtiness), œdak pœdak (a bend or curvature), hit pit (thought, conciousness), ivum pivum (cooking etc), kata bata (conversation, talk), yakku bakku (devils etc), kavicci bavicci (couches) , kaːr  baːr ( car etc), saːri  baːri (saree etc), kœːli  baːli (pieces), suːt  buːt ( suits etc), sereppu bereppu (sandals).

Sometimes, there may be a change in the first vowel of the echo word as well as the initial consonant, or consonants other than /p/ or /b/  may be used:  ɡaman biman (journeys), kaːsi  buːsi (money etc), udav padav (help etc) , iɖam kaɖam (lands) , vihilu tahalu (jokes).

In these three features Sinhala is more in line with languages in North India (see below) than with the neighbouring languages of South India.

More examples and a discussion are given in a brief but interesting paper by Dr DE Hettiaratchi, ‘Echo Words in colloquial Sinhala’, which is available here.

North Indian languages

All the major languages of North India use echo word formation in colloquial speech to convey very similar meanings as described for the South Indian languages. The sound changes used however are rather different. The substitution usually involves a single consonant sound rather than the whole first syllable. In standard Hindi, /v/, a labial sound, is the most common substitution e.g. pen  ven (pen or other writing implement), sha:di  va:di (marriage etc), ca:y  va:y (tea etc),  a:tma  va:tma (soul etc), prem  vrem (love etc), english  vinglish (you work this one out!). An excellent description and discussion of the semantics of echo words in Hindi/Urdu is given in this article by Annie Montaut, pages 38-52.  In Punjabi dialects the replacement sound most commonly used is /sh/or /s/ and in Bengali the sound most often used is /t/.

Echo Words have been the focus of a fair amount of research in modern linguistics.  Two recent Doctoral theses are of particular interest with regard to south Indian languages. A full pdf version of Dr Parimalagantham’s PhD thesis which includes an extensive comparative study of Echo Words in Tamil and Telugu is available at this link . An Oxford D Phil Thesis on Echo Words in Tamil by Dr Elinor Keane can be accessed in abstract form via this link.

It is apparent from the above that echo word usage is an informal, flexible, subtle and intriguing component of the grammar of many spoken languages. Every native speaker of these languages would have an intuitive and unique understanding of this aspect of grammar. What are your views? Let us know!

Posted in Grammar

A framework for analysing the role of Language in Ethnic Group relations in SriLanka

Language is one of the most salient components in determining an individual’s or a communuity’s perception of Ethnicity. The relationship between language and ethnicity however is often very complex and dynamic and each context has its own unique combination of interacting factors. Describing and analysing this relationship within one ehnic group is daunting enough. But Ethnic groups do not exist in isolation. They continuously interact with other groups who share the same or adjecent geographic, political, economic or social space. The really important  challenge is to understand the role that language plays in shaping the outcome of these inter-ethnic interactions. In this post, I wish to make a start towards tackling this challenge by outlining two overlapping theoretical frameworks to help us systematise the description and analysis of the role of language in any given context or example of inter-ethnic group interaction. Continue reading

Posted in Ethnicity

Demonstratives and deixis in Tamil and Sinhala.

Demonstratives are words like here/there/over there/yonder, and this/that.  In Tamil, these words begin with the syllables /இ,i/அ,a/ or /உ,u/  (சுட்டெளுத்து) as in inta/anta/unta (இந்த/அந்த/உந்த). In Sinhala, the words are based on the four member set mee/oyə/arə/ee. This class of words, or parts of words (prefixes, suffixes) are used by all languages to enable the speaker and listener in a conversation (or ‘discourse’, in the broad sense)  to readily and accurately place the object or the event being talked about in  the space or time relevant to the discourse. They provide an efficient means of imparting context-based meaning to spoken or written communication.  This component of grammar is called Deixis  and is a fundamental feature of all languages. But languages vary widely in the extent and type of use they make of deixis. It is used more extensively, flexibly and innovatively in colloquial spoken dialects than in formal speech or writing. Continue reading

Posted in Grammar

Word Endings in the South Indian and Jaffna spoken dialects of Tamil

There are many aspects in which the South Indian and Jaffna dialects of spoken Tamil differ. One of the more prominent set of differences are in the ways that the relevant sounds are used at the end of words. This type of dialect difference related to word endings is seen in a number of other languages besides Tamil, and the study of these dialect differences in modern linguistics has led to some fundamental insights.

Prof. Suseendirarajah, formerly Professor of Linguistics at Jaffna and Peradeniya Universities in Sri Lanka, wrote a brief essay on this subject some time ago. The essay was published only in Tamil, as a Chapter in a book. The book is now hard to come by. I have transcribed the Chapter from a copy of the book in the British Library, and have translated it into English, keeping as close as possible to the style of the original in Tamil. Continue reading

Posted in Grammar, Uncategorized