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Grantha letters in Tamil
Our task is to create a usable Tamil standard which people will use. Yes,
it is wonderful to say koTTai vaTi niir for coffee, but no one will
understand it! Similarly, the great majority of people who use Tamil
(regardless of political affiliation) need grantha characters (s, h, j).
They are not an abomination, nor are they a subtle political attempt by any
caste or political group to get control of the language. They are
indispensable if Tamil is to become a modern language, pure and simple --
not only for transliterating Sanskrit, but for transliterating almost any
other language. They are pronounced in modern Tamil (does anyone say kari
for hari, or caina for jaina?)
For heaven's sake, let's face facts. Thomas Malten has discovered that
Tamil has only 50% of the words that are shared between modern German and
English. This means that Tamil is NOT a usable or viable language for
modern purposes -- that is one reason why English is used almost
exclusively in Tamil Nadu for purposes of technology and science. Tamil is
LESS usable for modern purposes than Malayalam, which has been blessed with
considerably more linguistic insight and rationality than Tamil.
Purging the alphabet of symbols and sounds in common usage among the Tamils
is not our purpose. If people want to write without the grantha letters --
and there are styles of Tamils where this is desirable and even necessary
-- they can do so. But we must have a standard in which people can write
borrowed words from English, Sanskrit, Telugu, Arabic, Russian (try
Stalin), and other languages if they wish. This can only enrich Tamil.
Any other course would permanently and disastrously close Tamil off to any
rational efforts at modernization, and I for one refuse to have anything to
do with such a course. I love the language too much.
We live in a global, interconnected world. Like it or not, no language is
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