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Posts tagged ‘tamil’


Finally the wait was PLEASANTLY over. The BEST MUSIC DIRECTOR’S ACADEMY AWARD was awarded to A.R.Rahman. It was an expectation of every Indian that A.R.Rahman should win the Oscar, but he won TWO. Also for the BEST SONG category, and that was doulbly pleasing.

A.R.Rahman’s biography had been updated in the Wikipedia within minutes of him having won the OSCARS. I’ve excerpted here below the part that proclaims his feat:

His acclaimed music compositions have led to references to him as the “Mozart of Madras” and several Tamil commentators have given him the title Isai Puyal (Tamil: இசைப் புயல்; English: Music Storm). Rahman also won two Oscar Awards in 2009 (Best Original Score and Best Original Song) for his work in Slumdog Millionaire. He also performed at the ceremony.

While accepting the award for the BEST ORIGINAL SCORE, he thanked everyone whom he had to, but the icing was his utterance in Thamizh (Tamil) thanking God in the International Language of Thamizh: YELLA PUGAZHUM IRAIVANUKKAY, which when translated to English would mean ALL GLORY TO GOD.

As a person having been in TamilNadu, it is no surprise that he chose to thank God in Tamil. It is not politics that he brought the language into focus, it is pure THANKFULNESS. The language, which according to the Nobel Laureate Sir.C.V.Raman,  is mathematical in its structure and precise in its expression. It was his utterance in Tamil that made it exhilarating.

I see it as the homage paid by a Thamizhian to the discipline and the work culture that the language Thamizh promotes. Thamizh is not kitschy or glossy languge that skims over human situations in sentimentalism and defeatism . It grapples with human predicaments and brings it into human consciousness and strives to continually find solutions. It is no wonder that an A.R.Rahman had to be from this hoary CULTURE in India.

Long live THAMIZH. Long live INDIA.


There have been some questions raised regarding the singing of songs in Tamil by Udit Narayan Jha w r t my earlier blog. The reasons for my opinion are mentioned below and anyone, who could contribute on this topic is most welcome to join in.

Tamil consonants[2]

Labial Dental
Retroflex Postalveolar
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ (ɲ)
Plosive p  (b) t̪  (d̪) ʈ  (ɖ) k  (g)
Affricate tʃ  (dʒ)
Fricative (f)1 s  (z)1 (ɦ)2
Tap ɾ
Approximant ʋ ɻ j
Lateral approximant l ɭ
  1. /f/ and /z/ are peripheral to the phonology of Tamil, being found only in loanwords and frequently replaced by native sounds.
  2. [ɦ] is a possible allophone of /k/

The above is the link, where the consonants of  Thamizh are represented in a tabular form  classifying the HA sound as a fricative glottal sound. The footnote says that Ha is a possible ALLOPHONE of KA.

Once we get into the allophones, then there is no certainty. We bring in usage into play. Most of Carnatic music (except for Purandaradasa), was formulated in the Thanjavur area of  Tamil Nadu and the Sanskritization of the hyms are well known. The sounds were essential in the singing of these hymns. However, to say that HA, was a sound in Tamil is preposterous. A person who is in a Sanskritised atmosphere is likely to pronounce AGAM as AHAM (meaning inner or inside). It is merely an usage and not a necessary sound in Tamil. (I’d consider it hilarious, if someone were to say AHATHIN AZHAHU MUHATHIL THERIYUM!!!)

The more basic question would be WHETHER THE WORD AGAM itself is Tamil or a LOANWORD, which was  SUBSEQUENTLY adopted into Tamil, by usage ?

INDIRA PARTHASARATHY on Iravatham Mahadevan’s Early Tamil Epigraphy, HAS THE FOLLOWING TO SAY:-

“Though Br-ahm-i was the mother of all the scripts in India, Devan-agari and Dravidian, it was adapted in a way to suit the genius of the language of the region. There were five variations of the Br-ahm-i script such as (1) Northern Br-ahm-i. (2) Southern Br-ahm-i, (3) Bhattiprolu script, (4) Sinhala- Br-ahm-i and (5) Tamil- Br-ahm-i.

Tamil- Br-ahm-i evolved after certain changes were made in Br-ahm-i to suit the phonetic system in the Tamil language.

Tamil- Br-ahm-i omitted sounds not present in Tamil viz., voiced consonants, aspirates, sibilants, the anusv-ara (.m) and the visarga (-h). Tamil has certain sounds for which there were no signs in Br-ahm-i, which called for additional letters viz. -l, .l, -r, -n.

By introducing a diacritical mark called (dots) three things were achieved: (a) basic consonants in final position were indicated (b) ligaturing of consonant clusters was avoided (c) the short vowels `e,’ `o’ were differentiated from the respective long vowels.”

In any case, purity of a language is essential to prove the UNIQUENESS and the NON-DEPENDENCE on other languages. However, PURITY can never be at the cost of one’s SURVIVAL. If GOLD has to SURVIVE AS AN ORNAMENT, IT HAS TO ACCOMMODATE COPPER.

Like, Anglicization of Tamil is required for keeping oneself abreast of the Scientific development in the present times, Sanskritisation was essential for MUSIC and RELIGIOUS PURPOSES in the past, and consequently when certain ALIEN SOUNDS CAME INTO USAGE,  SOME  HAVE BEEN LED INTO BELIEVING THAT THOSE SOUNDS ARE NATIVE TO TAMIL, EVEN THOUGH THESE SOUNDS HAVE OUTLIVED THEIR PURPOSES.

NEVERTHELESS, the foreign sounds need not be adopted, but the foreign words could be adopted and used with the available sounds, till a word in Tamil is invented and brought to large-scale usage. For example, till the coinage of KANIPPORI, in Tamil a computer was pronounced as KAMPOOTER. Alternatively,we can wait till people become liberal to accept foreign words and and pronounce it the foreign way, for example,  ENVELOPE (noun), was pronounced in English as “en-ve-lep” till a few years ago, but now it is not uncommon for persons to ask for an “aan-ve-lop”. But to come to a conclusion that “aan” is a sound in English is downright ERRONEOUS.




Thamizh ( Tamil for the Anglicized), as a language has shown the maximum resistance towards acceptance of sounds that are foreign to it. Thamizh as a language has prided itself as a language that had not accepted foreign sounds as it was interpreted to mean subjugation of its uniqueness and its status. When Sanskrit entered thru the shlokas into the culture of the Thamizh language, since it was in the name of God, the influx was not palpable to the common man.

The common man accepted the import of all the Ch has, shas, jhas as an essential part of the religious rituals and ACQUIESCED to the religion trotted out by the priests. But with the advent of the RATIONAL MOVEMENT in Thamizh Nadu (formerly Madras State), EV Ramaswamy and subsequently C.N.Anna Durai, identified the import of these sounds alien tothe Thamizh culture and sanitized the language.


In Thamizh, one cannot get the sound Ha, Hi, Hu, Hai, Hum or Ho. The H would be substituted by G, K etc..

I am herewith appending the write up on what GLOTTAL STOP means, as mentioned in the Wikipedia.

“The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound which is used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʔ. The glottal stop is the sound made when the vocal cords (vocal folds) are (1) drawn together by muscular action to interrupt the flow of air being expelled from the lungs and then (2) released as pressure builds up below them; for example, the break separating the syllables of the interjection uh-oh. Strictly, the perception that it is a consonantal sound is produced by the release; the closure phase is necessarily silent because during it there is no airflow and the vocal cords are immobilized. It is called the glottal stop because the technical term for the gap between the vocal cords, which is closed up in the production of this sound, is the glottis. The term “glottal stop” is one of rather few technical terms of linguistics which have become well known outside the specialism.”

In Thamizh a new route has started by which the sound H is being imported. It is thru the Cine Songs that this sound is being imported. If one were to listen to the singing of Udit Narayan Jha, one could sense the import of GLOTTALIZATION of THAMIZH. In one of the recent movies named PADDIKATHAVAN (Dhanush playing the lead role), in the song RAANGI RANGAMMA one could sense the glottalization of Thamizh. When Udit Narayan sings SUNGUDI CHALLAI, in the cited song, one could sense the import of those sounds that are alien to Thamizh.

I am a great fan of Udit Narayan, and his singing has ENRICHED THE THAMIZH SOUNDS. Yet, the purists, once they identify that the masses like the glottalization of these sounds, they would ascribe a vile social reason for import of the glottal sound, and may even say that Jha ( a Brahmin community from Bihar/Nepal/Jharkhand) being a person from the Upper Caste, has been made a tool in the hands of the Artistes  for advancing their agenda!!


Enjoy the song Raangi rangamma in PADIKAATHAVAN and do not get involved in the conspiracy theory!!



Let me state unequivocally that, by any criteria one may choose, Tamil is one of the great classical literatures and traditions of the world.” This quotation was not taken from any recent literary or political statement made in India but from the official “Statement on the Status of Tamil as a Classical Language” issued by the University of California, Berkeley (April 11, 2000). Why has it taken so much time in India to recognise the status of Tamil as a classical language? The reason is political, according to Prof. George L. Hart, who authored the Statement.

The above is excerpted from the Article which appeared in THE HINDU dated 09th JUNE, 2004. The author was one S.S.Vasan, a Rhodes Scholar, Trinity College, Oxford, U.K..

If one were to ask a votary of any particular language, no doubt he/she wud say that his/her language is the best. But when we are talking about CLASSICISM of a particular language, it is not based on the feelings of the person but subject to objective assessment, based on certain criteria, accepted by eminent persons who have adequate knowledge of Languages.

Kannada and Telugu have been accorded the Classical status. As per an article appearing in THE HINDU dt. 10th Nov., 2008, and scripted by one C.Gouridasan Nair; Mr.Krishna Iyer (formerly Justice of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India) besides two others are said to have stated that classification of certain languages as classical created UNHEALTHY HIERARCHIES among languages, and fomented LINGUISTIC FANATICISM.

The above statement by the said Mr.Krishna Iyer and others is the most preposterous statement ever made on this topic. The reasons are:-

Tamil is no doubt hoarier than the other two classical languages declared by the Government of India. I am specifically leaving out Sanskrit, as it is accepted by most as the oldest of all the Classical languages declared by the Govt. of India- yet the native speakers of Sanskrit are negligible and many consider this as dead as Latin and of use only in religious chanting, with no day to day use in a large scale. Mr.Krishna Iyer’s apprehensions are unfounded as, whether it is classified by the Government or not, Tamil had been recognized as a Classical language by the learned. By according official status, the country is doing itself a favour by admitting to its variegated culture of this vast and great country and the cultural length of its past.

If one language is older, distinct and unsullied by other cultures, and therefore if a person takes pride in it, that cannot be called fanaticism. Fanaticism is IMPOSITION of a culture on another, NOT PRIDING ON ONE”S CULTURE OR LANGUAGE. Iyer’s apprehensions are like the AMERICAN DEFENSE (besides S replacing C), the bombing is never on a landmass contiguous to its geographical territory but in alien far-away lands like Vietnam, Iraq, Nicaragua etc.!!

Therefore the place of TAMIL, is not because of anyone doing any favours. It is because of its intrinsic qualities. Even if a hierarchy is not built, the language wud stand on its own. After all it is an INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE, being recognized in the currencies of Singapore, Malaysia & Sri Lanka.  And we as INDIANS shud be proud of such a language and make TAMIL an option in all colleges in India to study this language. After all TAMIL is the only LIVE INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL LANGUAGE from INDIA.

As regards LINGUISTIC FANATICISM , it is at best an EFFECT that is created not because of a DECLARED superiority of a particular language but because of an attitude taken by the INDIVIDUAL . Merely because it MIGHT produce an undesirable effect, it does not mean that we shud not classify, and therefore club the Horses, Donkeys and Mules, merely on the overall features and functions assignable and call them all quadrupeds.

TAMIL’s UNIQUENESS in the country was ASSERTED not in 2004. It was taken up against certain sections of the political ideologues who wanted to make HINDI the sole OFFICIAL LANGUAGE of the union to the exclusion of ENGLISH, 15 years after the adoption of the constitution, when a consensus was a precondition to Hindi being made so, as per the CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION.

At that time the other languages did not have the METTLE in them to assert its place in the union, but now that they see the benefits, others also want to climb the band wagon. There is no resistance from the other languages, as this wagon’s uniqueness cud be considerably diluted, which is in-keeping with their motives!!

It is a kind of AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Give everyone a chance is a policy relating to opportunities available in a social setting. It cannot be applied to the assessment of the DISTINCTNESS of the CULTURE of a language, ANTIQUITY of the language & VOLUME OF LITERARY works of a language that command greatness and the live population that continues to interact in that language.

The title or epithet of CLASSICAL LANGUAGE has become a joke, with each asking for his/her language to be included and the process has become a question of numbers with the ability to push the agenda thru political clout.

Since TAMIL was CHOSEN as the first Classical language, let us enumerate the CRITERIA and see whether the other languages which make a claim to classicism measure up to it and if not, based on other valid reasons classify them also as classical languages, instead of the cacophonous noises made- based on numbers.

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