Learning tamizh

Languages used in Carnatic Music & Literature

#1  Postby mahakavi » 03 Feb 2007 19:47

arasi wrote:viNmInagaLil

Nice and crisp song, arasi!
Is there a superfluous "a" after the viNmIn or is it intended?

Unrelated to your lyrics, I also have a doubt about the use of "c" sound in Thamizh words which is very cumbersome to handle. For example I always thought it is written as "salangai" rather than "calangai" except when it is coupled with a previous word that requires the use of "c" (mey ezhuttu)--as in "sinnac calangai". That is because the Thamizh letter with the "ca" (uyir mey ezhuttu) sound cannot appear at the beginning of a word. It has got to go with "c" (mey ezhuttu) in front. On the other hand one would write "konjum salangai" and not "konjum calangai". Right? Please, anybody, educate me on this.
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#2  Postby arasi » 03 Feb 2007 20:43

sub,
No, it was a typo! (I am correcting it in the text now).It is mIngaLil, as you say--as for cha and sa, I have no idea. I go by my own rule! Why? If I write salangai, some may pronounce it as in sammadam--which to me is not agreeable. I find in spoken tamizh: sollunga, seigirEn, and in song, solla vallAyO kiLiyE! I break my rule sometimes, because the particular word does not need to be saved from misspelling. Now, chalangai, though acceptable, is not my choice. I like shalangai as in shyAmalA--but if I use sh, then it may end up as being pronounced as in sugar! I have no idea either!
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#3  Postby arasi » 03 Feb 2007 20:53

As I went to the song to correct the typo, I found another ?? : vIsum--if I write it as vIshum, trouble again! Not as bad as the s at the start of the word, and so, I go for the 's', I suppose!
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#4  Postby jayaram » 04 Feb 2007 05:30

Arasi - I think we use the following scheme to disambiguate these:
s : as in sammadam
S : as in Salangai
sh : as in sugar
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#5  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 05:52

i always thought it was pronounced salangai (as in sammadam) and not calangai. I dont know if it was the other way around in olden days but today as far as i know, today even in tamil literary circles it is salangai.

Of course the sa, ca, ja triplet unique as you have two "softer" forms of the harder ca and unlike ka/ga, ta/da, Ta,Da, pa,ba. For all others, the norm is for the harder sound at beginning of word, and softer in middle unless preceded by appropriate mei. But for ca/ja/sa, atleast nowadays it is "sa" at the beginning, and BOTH sa/ja as soft form in the middle (although ja only when preceded by nasal mei n), and ca definitely when preceded by approp mei. It is a puzzler alright. If one were to take "ja" as in nja and is really a modified form of ca sound, then you have softer "sa" in middle, AND softer sa at the beginning!

One could be tempted to say "sa" was never around and was an import, and indeed had taken over the use of "ca" at the beginning but it is way too prevalent for that. It is possibility a linguistic change towards easier pronounciation (sort of similar to why harder sounds dont occur in the middle of the word after a vowel)?

Arun
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#6  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 06:05

Pl. check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language under phonology. Per rules in tolkAppiyam the voiced (soft) and unvoiced (hard) sounds for alll combinations had same rules and the only rule that is not followed today is of course our friend ca. :)


The Tolkāppiyam cites detailed rules as to when a letter is to be pronounced with voice and when it is to be pronounced unvoiced. The rule is identical for all plosives.

With the exception of one rule - the pronunciation of the letter c at the beginning of a word - these rules are largely followed even today in pronouncing centamil.


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#7  Postby vgvindan » 04 Feb 2007 09:08

Though I am not academically qualified to comment, IMHO, Tamil does not have 'ca' sound in the beginning or in the middle of the word - it is only 'sa' (சிறுத்தை, சிலம்பு, சிங்கம், சினம், பசை, மீசை, தோசை etc).
When preceded by a virAma of the same letter in the same or previous word, 'ca' sound comes (பச்சை, இச்சை, காய்ச்சல், பசிக்குச் சோறு) or when preceded by letters ட், ற் (பட்சம், மோட்சம், பாற்சோறு, கற்சிலை)
This, however, is not applicable to tatsamam and tatbhavam words - Sanskrit words migrated to Tamil.
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#8  Postby mahakavi » 04 Feb 2007 09:51

I endorse what vgvindan has written. As I said in my earlier post, "sa" sound can come at the beginning of a word but not "ca". So it has to be written as "salangai" as a stand-alone word. When compounding the "ca" will appear on certain occasions (e.g., veLLIc calangai). The examples of vgvindan illustrate this further.

Likewise"ka", "Ta", "pa" "ta"sounds can appear in the middle of a word only when "k","T", "p", and "t", respectively precede them. Examples: pakkam (side), paTTam (kite, title), kappam (dues), sattam (sound). maTam (mutt) will become maDam in Thamizh, SutA will become SudA, and gItam will become gIdam. "Ta" sound cannot be at the beginning of a word but "ka" "pa" and "ta" can (TaNDA=cold in Hindi will be awkward to write in Thamizh). (other examples: kappal=ship, pattu=ten, taTTu=plate).

If these cases sound complex they are meant to be that way just like the British constitution. As you know the British constitution is an unwritten one. One gets to know if something is consitutional or not through practice. It is also like defining obscenity. Similar to what US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity " I can't define it but I can know it when I see it", these oddities can be recognized when one encounters them. What is the function of grammar if not to entangle us?
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#9  Postby arasi » 04 Feb 2007 11:10

Arunk,
I am always awed by all that you have to say, and given the 'mEdA vilAsam' (now, how do I spell it in tamizh?) in grammar and kaNakku (ah, tALam!), it is all above my head, sometimes! I am an intuitive learner and writer, that's all. It is a bit difficult to retain what I learn, at this age. The more I see things written the proper (?) way, the more I will conform. mahakavi might remember my early postings on the BB. I learnt some, and sometimes, I have my own preferences, logical or not. I am more than willing to learn new ways, though.

Sub,
Thanks for your analogy. I will learn by practice.

Vgovindan,
I appreciate your learned comments. I will improve, with all the help I get here...:)
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#10  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 19:56

arasi - thanks but I dont deserve it! My knowledge in all of this (music, language etc.) is definitely arai-korai (ara-kora) :)! I miss as often as i hit.

mahakavi,vgvindan - from googling yesterday, i found that there are a couple of tamizh speaking people who use "ca" at beginning - folks around tirunelvEli and folks in Sri Lanka. Also of course malayalam which is similar to tamil uses it. But we dont if they are retaining an older form or whether it is external influence, or whether it is an aspect of local dialect.

mahakavi - good point about Ta not being at the beginning. Also note that the harder sound for ka,pa etc. can come in the middle also when following the T and R (vETkai, kaRpu).

Arun
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#11  Postby mahakavi » 04 Feb 2007 21:18

arunk wrote:mahakavi - good point about Ta not being at the beginning. Also note that the harder sound for ka,pa etc. can come in the middle also when following the T and R (vETkai, kaRpu).

Arun

Agreed. We knew some of these all along but do not get to realize it. I am glad I am not a Thamizh grammar teacher--I would have been fired long ago!
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#12  Postby vgvindan » 04 Feb 2007 21:23

i found that there are a couple of tamizh speaking people who use "ca" at beginning - folks around tirunelvEli and folks in Sri Lanka.

The letter ழ which Tamils boast of being their pride, could not be pronounced properly by more than 50% of Tamils - even those educated, particularly, those in Southern Tamil Nadu. But that does not mean, the letter would lose its sound value or the literary usage would be modified to suit the colloquity. Such variations do exist in every spoken language.
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#13  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 21:41

vgvindan - the za usage is irrelevant here. And people mispronounce it even in northern parts of tamil nadu! There is no need to indict a entire dialect (variation) based on this.

Do we have good evidence it used to "sa" at the beginning in olden days. All we know it is indeed so nowadays in literary circles. As for olden days, I dont know for sure but tolkAppiyam does not point towards sa

Arun
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#14  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 21:45

Although malayalam gets a much much better deal from its practioneers w.r.t za. What does that say about tamizh pride ;);)!

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#15  Postby mahakavi » 04 Feb 2007 22:01

arunk wrote:Do we have good evidence it used to "sa" at the beginning in olden days. As for olden days, I dont know for sure but tolkAppiyam does not point towards sa

Arun

I am not sure if you are questioning or stating for a fact. Anyway there were 3 sangams (mudal, iDai, kaDai) , the last one spanning the early CE. Since they existed (at least we are told that) and they were called "sangam" we know that is an evidence for using "sa" at the beginning of a word.
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#16  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 22:08

do we know it wasnt pronounced cangam then? I know it sounds odd today :) but bear with me.

We know tolkAppiyam got into phonetics, and precisly on this related topic. But it looks like it did not lay things unambiguosly, since if it did, there wouldnt even be a possibility of a discussion right?

Btw, i also think it was sa then. But i would like to see some evidence to remove the ambiguity. IMO, one cannot ignore malayalam that easily since ca at beginning is not a sanskrit influence as sa in beginning is very common in sanskrit too. If I remember jayaram right, there are common words between tamil and malayalam, where malayalam uses ca. But again, in spite of all this my leaning is also towards sa in the beginning (in tamizh) from olden times.

(correction added later: Although sangam - doesnt that have the same root as sanskrit word for gathering? So in this case it would have been sangam. Of course then you get into the rathole of which language had it first :))

Arun
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#17  Postby jayaram » 04 Feb 2007 23:46

I agree these 'digression posts' should be moved to language section (to "arun's thread"?) - out of respect to arasi!

Meanwhile, let me respond here regarding the ca-sa discussion:
- sri lankan tamils do tend to use the 'ca' sound, and i understand sri lankan tamil (more precisely jaffna tamil) is the closest to the original tamil. if that be the case, this is more support for the 'ca' sound. this makes sense in the context of malayalam using the 'ca' sound also. (sri lankans also say things like 'kugan' in place of 'guhan' - would these be the original versions?)
- and i guess the use of 'namaccivAyam' instead of 'namasivAyam' is in agreement with what has been mentioned here before?
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#18  Postby arunk » 04 Feb 2007 23:58

Mods - PLEASE move these posts :). A separate topic w.r.t Tamil Language and pronounciation? (certainly not transliteration thread as it would be a digression there too).

jayaram - believing that one's own dialect was old(est) is not very different from believing one's own language is the oldest. It is a common theme and IMO a natural fallout of pride in one's own lanugage, and we all suffer from it from time to time;):). So when some one says that a certain dialect is old(er) we need to look at evidence before taking it in. But from what I have read, linguistic evidence can be very very murky underneath. Certain languages/dialects from a common ancestor retain some olden forms, but other other derivatives may retain other olden constructs.

Btw, I do not think guhan is a original tamil word - nor is nama and siva. They are all sanskri based words I think and if I am right, then pronounciation leanings there do not indicate anything.

Arun
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#19  Postby Suji Ram » 05 Feb 2007 00:04

continuing the discussion on ca sa

I heard tamizh cangam/sangam
which is correct?
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#20  Postby arunk » 05 Feb 2007 00:06

suji,

it is sangam only today. It only morphs to cangam as in muccangattamizh (the tamizh that is known-for/associated-with/whose-pride-is the 3 sangams)

Arun
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#21  Postby meena » 05 Feb 2007 00:30

but all this is a digression from the main topic and should be moved to languages section (mods can you please do this?)

arun
i've moved posts. Just once u or others 'alert' the mods will do :)
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#22  Postby rshankar » 05 Feb 2007 02:21

Whether it is chalangai or salangai or shalangai/Salangai maybe moot, but what gets my ire up is the mixing up of caraNam (pAdam/feet) with SaraNam (aDaikkalam/refuge) - both probably words borrowed from sanskrit...would be nice if the original intent was maintained with the pronunciation...and saraNam is definitely awful!
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#23  Postby mahakavi » 05 Feb 2007 02:24

Suji Ram wrote:continuing the discussion on ca sa

I heard tamizh cangam/sangam
which is correct?

Some people write it as tamizh sangam which is not technically correct. sangam means assembly (noun). When tamizh qualifies it as an adjective the conjunctive link "c" is added to indicate the linkage. It is known as "puNarcci" (combination or coalescence) in grammatical construction. Then it becomes tamizhc cangam.
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#24  Postby mahakavi » 05 Feb 2007 02:38

rshankar wrote:Whether it is chalangai or salangai or shalangai/Salangai maybe moot, but what gets my ire up is the mixing up of caraNam (pAdam/feet) with SaraNam (aDaikkalam/refuge) - both probably words borrowed from sanskrit...would be nice if the original intent was maintained with the pronunciation...and saraNam is definitely awful!

Every language has its own peculiarities. Try to write tamizh in Sanskrit and one would know how awful it would be. Self-sustaining languages had their heydays way back and they did not need to borrow words/letters from other languages. Thamizh was blessed in that sense. But when the need arises to borrow it is the responsibility of the borrowers to adapt. There is no use in criticizing the language's "deficiency". Kamban did his own innovations when he had to convert Sanskrit words which would not fit Thamizh construction: LakshmaNan --> ilakkuvan, pankajam ---> pankayam, etc.,

So those who want to use Sanskrit words are better advised to learn to pronounce them properly and also when writing them in Thamizh script use appropriate symbols to indicate proper pronunciation. One would be to use bold letters and other would be to italicize and so on. The purists in Thamizh would not want to meddle with words from other languages or invent their own words (example: minnanjal for email, taTTezhuttu for keystroke etc.)
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#25  Postby arunk » 05 Feb 2007 02:59

i will be bolder and suggest that one/both of SaraNam/caraNam do not belong in tamizh :). I sympathesize with the argument for tatsamam (sp?) words, but i think it is a loosing cause given the tamizh script. The inclusion of many such words in tamizh context were done nilly willy with no attention paid to the language they are included in and what the repurcussions may be (no - this is not a langage purist argument, read on ...).

This is true especially with many tamizh cm composers, who didnt stop with a word here or there, but brought in entire phrases. Brought them within the framework of a krithi in a language which didnt have some of those sounds, and had a script which cannot accomodate those sounds. What do you expect then? It is not a good recipe for preservation of pronounciation (not that the composers had that in mind - they were probably beyond all this)

BTW, this is why I argued that even for tamizh krithis qualifiers is a must!

Arun
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