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Re: [WMASTERS] Initial voiced stops.
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*> Tamil does *not* have J, G, and such voiced stops at the
*> *beginning* of a word. Tamils are aware of many sounds and
*> sound sequences but they don't include all of them.
*> To say they that they have is similar to saying, 'Oh
*> there are many in America who speak English who have 'zha'
*> in their name and so English should have a representation.
*> English *has* zha and even the way americans pronounce
*> 'american' has some slight similarities.. Or to say 'Oh
*> English has a word 'pariah' and we should include a new
*> symbol for hard 'r'. English *has* what we call in tamil
*> 'vallina Ra'.
*Sorry, Selva, but initial stops can be traced back to Old Tamil and even
*Proto-Dravidian. However, they only occur in onomatopoetic words -- Prof.
*Emeneau and my wife have written a paper on this, and the evidence is quite
*clear. It is common for languages to use unusual sounds in onomatopoetic
*words or deictic words. A famous example is English: only in deictics is
*initial "th" voiced. Similarly in Russian, only in deictic words ("this")
*does an initial "e" occur initially. (etot, "this").
Your words above only go to prove that tamil does not
have voiced stops at the beginning ( with the exception
of onomatopoetic words). The onomatopoetic words can have
ANY letter. Even the retroflex 'N' (mUnRu cuzi Na) can come at the
beginning; example: 'Nang'nnu kuTTinaan. They are afterall
*In any case, for a modern linguist, the language is what is actually
*spoken, not what was codified over 2000 years ago. Modern Tamil most
True it was codified over 200 years ago,
but it has served us VERY WELL and is serving us WELL right now.
Our rules and approaches are serving us well. Modern
linguist's opinion on this matter may be short-sighted.
*certainly has voiced initial stops -- e.g. gavani, bayam, etc. Mostly in
*borrowed words, but they are used all the time in spoken Tamil. Hal is
*making the sensible argument that the Tamil writing system should reflect
*modern Tamil, not Tamil as it was (for the most part) several millenia ago.
I've heard people pronounce kavani and payam (more common in the
south TN than in the north). This is also the
preferred pronounciation since that is closer to tamil way of
pronouncing. If gavani and bayam *should* be encouraged
(I don't see why), why not
write the way I suggested as (ng)kavani, (m)payam.
Do English say maankaay or mango? inji_vEr or ginger ?
kattumaram or catamaran ? paRaiyan or paraia ?
I certainly don't understand *WHY*
Tamils have to represent accurately all these borrowed words
while English or other languages don't have to.
What kind of linguistic colonialism or slavery is this ?
Are linguistic scientists new imperialists ?
[Prof. Hart these are *not* directed at you or any particular
I thought 'modern linguists' are 'observers', but now
I get the feeling they are 'dictators' and they try to 'set' what
Tamil *should* do. What it should reflect etc.
*The same argument has been made countless times, without effect, for
*English -- it makes very little sense to write "night" when we say "nite."
Then *why* ask Tamils to do ? As I had pointed out, these separate
representations for voiced stops can bring in more *trouble*.
It will destroy the harmony we have now and it is an unneeded baggage.
If it is needed for proper noun or for a *few* borrowed words,
we can adopt some system that actually strengthens the tamil rule
like I've suggested. There are many ways of doing, but we have to
reflect as to what is a better way of doing, assuming we want to do.
Each language has its own native way of adopting, adapting, etc.
Language is also like a living species. Some animals (bacteria, whales)
take in a lot of toxic wastes produced by humans
and they do not affect them. You can't recommend these toxic
material for all species. If a habitat is affected some species
die and the same can happen to languages. Like *some*
animals adapt in other environments, some languages
also may adapt and survive or even thrive.
Like living species have antibodies or protection mechanisms,
languages also have protective stategies. To say that languages
have to give up their native characteristics is to understand
languages inadequately ( at least as far as Tamil is concered).
This is just my layman's opinion.
In my layman's terms I've once described language-ecology. If we try to
meddle with language without understanding it(language-ecology),
I believe, we'll destroy the language. Like ecology,
language-ecology is also delicate. The all-knowing modern
linguists can dismiss this layman's
prattlings. But it is our language that is at stake.
Our wise guys ( not linguists ) exterminated Ona indians
who could live nearly naked in snow and thick winter. This
happened in our lifetime. I'm citing this to point out that
one needs to understand a lot more about the delicate balance.
Prof. Hart, although I'm a layman, if some 'modern linguist'
can come forward and argue his point of view, that Tamil *should*
have *spearate* alphabet for voiced stops so as to be able to
use it at the beginning of a word, I would try to
defend my view about Tamil in this forum.
*The "gh" was pronounced in Chaucer's time (e.g. modern German Nacht). G.
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