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Re: [WMASTERS] What we are doing.
@From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Sep 18 11:53:04 1997
@To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
@From: George Hart <email@example.com>
@Subject: [WMASTERS] What we are doing.
@There are some profound misconceptions floating around, and I'd like to
May be but not everyone is confused !
These are known to quite a few tamil scholars and lay
people like me. It is possible some of the termilogies used
may not be known to them.
@There are two sorts of grammars in the world: prescriptive and descriptive.
@The former PRESCRIBES how a language should be, what is correct and not
@correct, etc. The premier examples of prescriptive grammar are Panini and
@the Tolkaappiyam. (Panini is said to the source of the science of modern
@linguistics). English has such grammars as well -- we are supposed to say
He is certainly ONE of the early sources, and I don't think he
was the 'source of the science of modern linguistics'. This is
not to deny that western scholars have indeed taken good notice of
this work and have meaningfully related to the understanding
of modern linguistics. Tholkaappiyam is at least contemperory work
if not earlier and it has wealth of info. What is important is
for many tamil scholars the knowledge is live.
About prescriptive(P) and descriptive (D) grammars, when applying to
Tamil at least, one has to take into account the 'thamizh marabu'.
According to our tradition ( one is welcome to examine calmly
and point out the flaws), our so called P grammar is actually
D grammar. This can be amply supported with intrinsic reference
( for example in Tholkaappiyam). We have a Science (say physics),
and it stipulates many things but those stipulations were arrived
at by observations. Similar was Tamil Grammar.
Now, you can't do something as you like and say you measured
such and such a quantity and it is 'valid'. Tamils generally
understand the danger of believing in the 'kaNdathE kaatchi,
koNdathE kOlam'. Just like some people are not practising medcine
properly or doing sience properly, or driving on the road properly,
many people do speak language improperly. Now to take that
as the 'real' or 'actual' and to justify it is as silly as
saying quackery is the right way of practising medicine.
Only someone who does not
understand how Tamil developed the way it has ( I don't
think linguists or for that matter many, tho not all,
tamil scholars either in the east or west understand the
tamil 'uyirppu' and its 'uNmaiyaan perumai'.
@"It is I," though scarcely anyone actually says this.
@A descriptive grammar describes a language as it is and does not attempt to
@tell its speakers how they should speak. Virtually all modern work in
@linguistics is descriptive -- linguists do not have the arrogance to
@presume to tell people how to speak or write.
@Obviously what we are doing is descriptive, not prescriptive. We are not
@telling people what to write or how to write; we are attempting to give
@them the tools they need to write whatever they wish, within the accepted
@and commonly used conventions for writing Tamil.
Tamil tradition is not that. The tradition of modern science is
also not like that. In Tamil the P was based on D and they are
not set in stone. They can be changed or modified, but it has to be
given considerble thought and by a few who at least who are
inspired scholars who understand the 'uyirppu'.
@The reason I have including the old orthography is that the change to the
@new style has been adopted generally (especially for printing) and there is
@nothing you can write in the old style that you cannot write with the new.
@The reason I have opposed leaving out the "grantha" letters is that they
@are in common usage and omitting them would have the effect of legislating
@linguistic change. That we cannot do -- it is not our task. Our aim is to
@produce a standard that will enable everyone to write the various styles of
@Tamil in common usage. If people want to omit grantha letters from Tamil
@or make other changes to the language (e.g. include a glyph for "b"), this
@is not the forum to do that.
More on these later..
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