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Encyclopedia > Tamil script
Tamil
Type Abugida
Languages Tamil, Saurashtra, Sanskrit
Time period
Parent systems Proto-Sinaitic
 → Phoenician
  → Aramaic
   → Brāhmī
    → Tamil-Brahmi
     → Tamil
ISO 15924 Taml

The Tamil script (or vaṭṭeḻuttu "rounded writing") is an Indic script that is used to write the Tamil language. With the use of special diacritics to represent aspirated and voiced consonants not represented in the basic script, it is also used to write Saurashtra and, by Tamils to write Sanskrit. The Brahmic family is a family of abugidas used in South Asia and Southeast Asia. ... Tamil ( ; IPA ) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamils in India and Sri Lanka, with smaller communities of speakers in many other countries. ... Example of a letter with a diacritic A diacritical mark or diacritic, also called an accent, is a small sign added to a letter to alter pronunciation or to distinguish between similar words. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some obstruents. ... Phoneticians define phonation as use of the laryngeal system to generate an audible source of acoustic energy, i. ... Saurashtra, more correctly, Sauraṣṭri or Sauraṣṭram or Sourashtra, also known as Palkar, Sowrashtra, Saurashtram, is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in parts of the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. ... Languages Tamil Religions Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism Related ethnic groups Dravidian people Brahui people Kannadigas Malayalis Tamils Telugus Tuluvas Gonds The Tamil people are a multi-ethnic group from the Indian subcontinent with a recorded history going back more than two millennia. ... The Sanskrit language ( , for short ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ...

Contents

Overview

A sign in Tamil script.
A sign in Tamil script.

Sample of the tamil alphabet. ... Sample of the tamil alphabet. ...

Characteristics

The Tamil script has twelve vowels (uyireḻuttu "soul-letters"), eighteen consonants (meyyeḻuttu "body-letters") and one character, the aytam, which is classified in Tamil grammar as being neither a consonant nor a vowel (aliyeḻuttu "the hermaphrodite letter"). The script, however, is syllabic and not alphabetic. The complete script, therefore, consists of the thirty-one letters in their independent form, and an additional 216 combinant letters (uyirmeyyeḻuttu) representing every possible combination of a vowel and a consonant. These combinant letters are formed by adding a vowel marker to the consonant. Some vowels require the basic shape of the consonant to be altered in a way that is specific to that vowel. Others are written by adding a vowel-specific suffix to the consonant, yet others a prefix, and finally some vowels require adding both a prefix and a suffix to the consonant. In every case the vowel marker is different from the standalone character for the vowel. Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... A syllable (Ancient Greek: ) is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. ... For other uses, see Alphabet (disambiguation). ...


The Tamil script is an abugida, in that basic form of the symbol for every consonant has an inherent following vowel a, and must be modified not only to replace the inherent vowel with a different one, but also to produce a pure consonant without the inherent a. Thus, for example, the basic form of the letter k is க ka. The pure consonant k is written க், with an added marker that suppress the inherent vowel. The sign used to suppress the inherent trailing vowel is always an overdot (see image), called puḷḷi in Tamil. An inscription of Swampy Cree using Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, an abugida developed by Christian missionaries for Aboriginal Canadian languages An abugida, alphasyllabary, or syllabics is a writing system in which consonant signs (graphemes) are inherently associated with a following vowel. ...


The Tamil script is written from left to right.


History

Main article: Vatteluttu

The Tamil script, like the other Indic scripts, is thought to have evolved from the Brahmi script. An example of the Vatteluttu script from an inscription by Rajaraja Chola I at the Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur. ... The family tree ([1]) of the scripts of the South and South-East Asian sub-continent. ... The Brahmic family is a family of abugidas used in South Asia and Southeast Asia. ...

The Tamil Brahmi script, unlike standard Asokan Brahmi, distinguished between pure consonants and consonants with an inherent vowel marker.
The Tamil Brahmi script, unlike standard Asokan Brahmi, distinguished between pure consonants and consonants with an inherent vowel marker.

The script used by the earliest accepted inscriptions is commonly known as the Tamil Brahmi or Tamili script, and differs in many ways from standard Asokan Brahmi. For example, as the chart to the right shows, early Tamil Brahmi, unlike Asokan Brahmi, had a system to distinguish between pure consonants (m in this example) and consonants with an inherent vowel (ma in this example). In addition, early Tamil Brahmi used slightly different vowel markers, and had extra characters to represent letters not found in Sanskrit. Image File history File links Tamil_brahmi. ... Image File history File links Tamil_brahmi. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... The Sanskrit language ( , for short ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ...


Inscriptions from the second century AD use a later form of the Tamil Brahmi script, which is substantially similar to the writing system described in the Tolkappiyam, an ancient Tamil grammar. Most notably, they use the puḷḷi to suppress the inherent vowel. The Tamil letters thereafter evolved towards a more rounded form, and by the fifth or sixth century AD had reached a form called the early vaṭṭeḻuttu, the immediate ancestor of the vaṭṭeḻuttu ("rounded writing") script in use today. The rounded shape of the letters is partly the result of the fact that in ancient times, writing involved using a sharp-pointed stylus to carve the letters on palm leaves (olaiccuvaṭi), a process which made it easier to produce curves than straight lines. Some scholars state that the script was originally called veṭṭeḻuthu meaning script that was cut (on stone), standing for ease of carving in stones. The Tamil Brahmi script, unlike standard Asokan Brahmi, distinguished between pure consonants and consonants with an inherent vowel marker Tamil-Brahmi was an early script used to write Tamil characters. ... The Tolkāppiyam (தொல்காப்பியம் in Tamil) is a work on the grammar of the Tamil language. ... An example of the Vatteluttu script from an inscription by Rajaraja Chola I at the Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur. ... Modern stylus, used for touch-screen enabled devices such as the Nintendo DS and personal digital assistants Styli used in writing in the Fourteenth Century. ... In mathematics, the concept of a curve tries to capture the intuitive idea of a geometrical one-dimensional and continuous object. ... This balancing rock, Steamboat Rock stands in Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, CO The rocky side of a mountain creek near Orosí, Costa Rica. ...


In addition to producing rounder letters, the use of palm leaves as the primary medium for writing led to other changes in the Tamil script. The scribe had to be careful not to piercing the leaves with the stylus while writing, because a leaf with a hole was likelier to tear and decay faster. The result of this was that the use of the puḷḷi to distinguish pure consonants became rare, with pure consonants usually being written as if the inherent vowel were present. Similarly, the vowel marker for the kuṟṟiyal ukaram, a half-rounded u which occurs at the end of some words and in the medial position in certain compound words, also fell out of use and was replaced by the marker for the simple u. The puḷḷi did not fully reappear until the introduction of printing, but the marker kuṟṟiyal ukaram never came back into use, although the sound itself still exists and plays an important role in Tamil prosody. Illustration of a scribe writing Writing, in its most common sense, is the preservation of and the preserved text on a medium, with the use of signs or symbols. ... For other uses, see Print. ... Prosody may mean several things: Prosody consists of distinctive variations of stress, tone, and timing in spoken language. ...

The forms of some of the letters were simplified in the nineteenth century to make the script easier to typeset. In the twentieth century, the script was simplified even further in a series of reforms, which regularised the vowel markers used with consonants by eliminating special markers and most irregular forms. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999...

Relationship with other Indic scripts

The Tamil script differs from other Brahmi-derived scripts in a number of ways. Unlike every other Indic script, it uses the same character to represent both an unvoiced stop and its voiced equivalent. Thus the character க் k, for example, represents both [k], and [g]. This is because Tamil grammar treats only unvoiced stops as being "true" consonants, treating voiced and aspirated sounds are euphonic variants of unvoiced sounds. Traditional Tamil grammars contain detailed rules, observed in formal speech, for when a stop is to be pronounced with and without voice. These rules are not followed in colloquial or dialectal speech, where voiced and unvoiced versions of a stop are, in effect, allophones, being used in specific phonetic contexts, without serving to distinguish words. The Brahmic family is a family of abugidas used in South Asia and Southeast Asia. ... A stop, plosive, or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... Much of Tamil grammar is extensively described in the oldest available grammar book for Tamil, the Tolkāppiyam. ... Euphony describes flowing and aesthetically pleasing speech. ... In phonetics, an allophone is one of several similar phones that belong to the same phoneme. ...


Also unlike other Indic scripts, the Tamil script hardly uses special consonantal ligatures to represent conjunct consonants, which are far less frequent in Tamil than in other Indian languages. Conjunct consonants, where they occur are written by writing the character for the first consonant, adding the puḷḷi to suppress its inherent vowel, and then writing the character for the second consonant. There are a few exceptions, namely க்ஷ kṣa and ஸ்ரீ srī. The family tree ([1]) of the scripts of the South and South-East Asian sub-continent. ...


Tamil letters

Basic consonants

Consonants are called the 'body' (mei) letters. The consonants are classified into three categories: vallinam (hard consants), mellinam (soft consonants, including all nasals), and idayinam (medium consonants). A nasal consonant is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ...


There are some lexical rules for formation of words. Tolkāppiyam describes such rules. Some examples: a word cannot end in certain consonants, and cannot begin with some consonants including 'r' 'l' and 'll'; there are two consonants for the dental 'n' - which one should be used depends on whether the 'n' occurs at the start of the word and on the letters around it. The Tolkāppiyam (Tamil: ) is a work on the grammar of the Tamil language and the earliest extant work of Tamil literature. ...

Consonant ISO 15919 Category IPA
க் k vallinam [k], [g], [x], [ɣ], [h]
ங் mellinam [ŋ]
ச் c vallinam [ʧ], [ʤ], [ʃ], [s], [ʒ]
ஞ் ñ mellinam [ɲ]
ட் vallinam [ʈ], [ɖ], [ɽ]
ண் mellinam [ɳ]
த் t vallinam [t̪], [d̪], [ð]
ந் n mellinam [n]
ப் p vallinam [p], [b], [β]
Consonant ISO 15919 Category IPA
ம் m mellinam [m]
ய் y idaiyinam [j]
ர் r idaiyinam [ɾ]
ல் l idaiyinam [l]
வ் v idaiyinam [v]
ழ் ẓ, ḻ, ṛ idaiyinam [ɹ]
ள் idaiyinam [ɭ]
ற் ṟ, R vallinam [r], [t], [d]
ன் ṉ, N mellinam [n]

A romanization or latinization is a system for representing a word or language with the Roman (Latin) alphabet, where the original word or language used a different writing system. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... A romanization or latinization is a system for representing a word or language with the Roman (Latin) alphabet, where the original word or language used a different writing system. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...

Usage of other lingual consonants

Also called Grantha letters, these are used exclusively for writing words borrowed from Sanskrit and other indic languages. Of course not all such words include these letters. Grantha (from Sanskrit ग्रन्थ grantha meaning book or manuscript) is an ancient script that was prevalent in South India. ...

Consonant ISO 15919 IPA
j [ʤ]
[ʂ]
s [s]
h [h]
க்ஷ kṣ [kʂ]

A romanization or latinization is a system for representing a word or language with the Roman (Latin) alphabet, where the original word or language used a different writing system. ...

Vowels

Vowels are also called the 'life' (uyir) or 'soul' letters. Together with the consonants (which are called 'body' letters), they form compound, syllabic (abugida) letters that are called 'living' letters (uyirmei, i.e. letters that have both 'body' and 'soul'). An inscription of Swampy Cree using Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, an abugida developed by Christian missionaries for Aboriginal Canadian languages An abugida, alphasyllabary, or syllabics is a writing system in which consonant signs (graphemes) are inherently associated with a following vowel. ...


Tamil vowels are divided into short and long (five of each type) and two diphthongs. In phonetics, a diphthong (also gliding vowel) (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds, or with two tones) is a monosyllabic vowel combination involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ...


Isolated form

Vowel ISO 15919 IPA
a [ʌ]
ā [ɑː]
i [i]
ī [iː]
u [u], [ɯ]
ū [uː]
Vowel ISO 15919 IPA
e [e]
ē [eː]
ai [ʌj]
o [o]
ō [oː]
au [ʌʋ]

A romanization or latinization is a system for representing a word or language with the Roman (Latin) alphabet, where the original word or language used a different writing system. ...

Compound form

Using the consonant 'k' as an example:

Compound form ISO 15919 IPA
ka [kʌ]
கா [kɑ:]
கி ki [ki]
கீ [kiː]
கு ku [ku], [kɯ]
கூ [kuː]
Compound form ISO 15919 IPA
கெ ke [ke]
கே [keː]
கை kai [kʌj]
கொ ko [ko]
கோ [koː]
கௌ kau [kʌʋ]

The special letter (pronounced 'akh') is rarely used by itself. It normally serves a purely grammatical function as the independent vowel form of the dot on consonants that suppresses the inherent 'a' sound in plain consonants.


The long (nedil) vowels are about twice as long as the short (kuRil) vowels. The diphthongs are usually pronounced about one and a half times as long as the short vowels, though some grammatical texts place them with the long (nedil) vowels. In phonetics, a diphthong (also gliding vowel) (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds, or with two tones) is a monosyllabic vowel combination involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ...


As can be seen in the compound form, the vowel sign can be added to the right, left or both sides of the consonants. It can also form a ligature. These rules are evolving and older use has more ligatures than modern use. What you actually see on this page depends on your font selection; for example, Code2000 will show more ligatures than Latha. In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more letterforms are written or printed as a unit. ... Code2000 is a digital font which includes characters and symbols from a very large range of writing systems. ...


There are proponents of script reform who want to eliminate all ligatures and let all vowel signs appear on the right side.


Unicode encodes the character in logical order (always the consonant first), whereas legacy 8-bit encodings (such as TSCII) prefer the written order. This makes it necessary to reorder when converting from one encoding to another; it is not sufficient simply to map one set of codepoints to the other. TSCII (Tamil Script Code for Information Interchange) is a coding scheme for representing the Tamil script. ...


Tamil in Unicode

The Unicode range for Tamil is U+0B80 to U+0BFF. The Unicode Standard, Version 5. ...


Please note that the following characters are only one interpretation of the unicode. Tamil unicode does not stipulate any mutilation or alteration of the Tamil characters as done by the following interpretation. The characters below are not authorised by any relevant government or educational authorities.


See also

  • Brahmic family
  • தமிழ் எழுத்துகள் (Tamil letters)

The Brahmic family is a family of abugidas (writing systems) used in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria. ...

External links

  • QUillpad, a peaceful tool for getting on with the tamil script , Thamizh vaazhga
  • E-Kalappai, a Tamil Unicode Writer used by many Tamil writers
  • Tamil Alphabet & Basics (PDF)
  • Tamil alphabet and numbers with sound
  • Phonetics of spoken Tamil
  • Unicode Character
  • Unicode Chart - For Tamil (PDF)
  • The Unicode Book: Chapter 9 - South and Southeast Asian Scripts (PDF)
  • Unicode Converter - Online JavaScript tool to convert text in various Tamil encodings into Unicode
  • Tamil script and language - From Omniglot
  • NLS Information - NLS information page for Windows XP
  • Tamil fonts - Links to download various Tamil fonts
  • Sooriyan.com - A free Unicode Tamil font
  • thamizhlinux.org - A community website for Linux and Open Source, in Tamil
  • Transliterator - A means to transliterate romanized text to Unicode Tamil.
  • [1] - A collections of links to learn Tamil.
  • Windows Bamini Keyboard - Windows program to type in Tamil Unicode using Bamini keyboard layout.
  • Tamil Studies Conference 2006: Tropes, Territories and Competing Realities
  • Encoding converters for various encodings of Tamil
  • Tamil Unicode Fonts And Software - Tamil Unicode Fonts, Encoding Solutions And Software. Founded by Mr Naa Govindasamy.
  • Virtual Tamil Keyboard A freeware virtual Tamil keyboard

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is the file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. ... It has been suggested that Client-side JavaScript be merged into this article or section. ... The Unicode Standard, Version 5. ... The three-letter acronym NLS has several possible meanings: // The National Literacy Strategy of England and Wales The National Language Services of South Africa U.S. National Longitudinal Survey National Laboratory Service National Library Services, A division of the Library of Congress the National Law School of India University National... Windows XP is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on general-purpose computer systems, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. ... This article is about operating systems that use the Linux kernel. ... Open source refers to projects that are open to the public and which draw on other projects that are freely available to the general public. ... Tamil ( ; IPA ) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamils in India and Sri Lanka, with smaller communities of speakers in many other countries. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ...

References

  • Steever, Sanford B. (1996) "Tamil Writing" in William R. Bright and Peter B. Daniels (eds.) The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0

  Results from FactBites:
 
BhashaIndia.com :: Tamil Script (1428 words)
Tamil is one of the few languages, which has managed to create a very distinct identity of its own.
The script took on a curved style, to facilitate the use of sharp instruments to inscribe on the leaves.
Tamil is one of the very few Indian languages, which does not have its origin related to Sanskrit.
BhashaIndia.com :: Tamil Script (1428 words)
Tamil is one of the few languages, which has managed to create a very distinct identity of its own.
The script took on a curved style, to facilitate the use of sharp instruments to inscribe on the leaves.
Tamil is one of the very few Indian languages, which does not have its origin related to Sanskrit.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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