Translation:Tolkappiyam/Phoneme, traditional positions

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Tolkappiyam in English (4th century BCE)
by Tolkappiyar, translated from Tamil by [[Author:Sengai Podhuvan|Sengai Podhuvan]] and Wikisource
Phoneme, traditional positions
Section 1, Chapter 2

Verbatim translation

Tolkappiyar1563333Tolkappiyam in English — Phoneme, traditional positions
Section 1, Chapter 2
4th century BCESengai Podhuvan
use me to read Tamil

Word tradition

(Secondary, sound-short, duplicate, initial and ending phonemes in words)

49 verses

First section, verses 34 to 82



  • The first numbers at the end of the each translation of the verse denote the serial number of the verse of the section and the succeeding second one denotes the serial number of the verse of the chapter of source-book.
  • Words within brackets are definitions or examples of the old commentators of 13th century.

Secondary or depending phoneme

  • Shortened-[m] clusters [i] before [y] (kee’n’miyaa) 34/1
  • Shortened [u] will be discussed forthwith. 35/2
  • Six hard [u] blend vowel-consonants on long-phoneme and compound phonemes, [u] becomes short. 36/3
  • Vowel [u] becomes short even between compound words. (sukkukoo’du) 37/4
  • Softening-phoneme [h] (ஃ) stands between short-phoneme and one of the six hard [u] blend vowel-consonants. 38/5
  • Softening-phoneme [h] becomes in ending-word changing-coalescence. (kahr’iithu), (muhtiithu) 39/6
  • Softening-phoneme [h] lengthens in sound-measurement in onomatopoetic words either of word or musical sound could not be written. 40/7
  • To lengthen a phoneme even more in a long-vowel (having two units of sound) corresponding short-vowel is added in writing to supplement the sound. (Written form ‘[aa][a]’, articulation ‘[aaa].) 41/8
  • In such case, phoneme [ai] is added with [i] as ‘[ai][i]’ (articulated as ‘[aii]’) and phoneme [au] is added with [u] as ‘[au][u]’ (articulated as ‘[auu]’) 42/9
  • All the seven long-vowels possess ‘one-letter-word’ capacity. 43/10
  • All the five short-vowels are not eligible to have ‘one-letter-word’ capacity. 44/11
  • There are three structural forms, ‘one-letter-words’, ‘two-letter-words’ and ‘words of more than two-letters’ 45/12
  • The pronunciation of consonants is taken place with [a] sound. (Say [k] as [ka] to denote its name) 46/13
  • The pronunciation noted above is not a mistake as they are denoting their names. 47/14
  • Twinning-cluster occurs between preceding [y], [r] and [l”] and succeeding [k], [s], [th], [p], [ng], [nj], [n”] and [m]. 48/15
  • Among the above [r] and [l”] never cluster after a short-phoneme. 49/16
  • As short and long are define by unit of sound, the words with the above two succeeding after twin-short-phoneme are taken as ‘one long-letter word’ 50/17
  • Twinning-cluster occurs in [n] and [m] at the verse end. (poo’lum > ponm) 51/18
  • In the above case [m] diminishes in sound (from half to quarter unit of sound) 52/19
  • The nature of the letter will not change when using it either in speech or song, so say the poets. 53/20

Duplicate character in written form

  • Duplicate to [ai] is [a][i] (both spoken and written form). 54/21
  • Duplicate to [au] is [a][u] (both spoken and written form). 55/22
  • Duplicate to [ai] is also [a][y] (both spoken and written form). 56/23

Shortened (ai)

  • Long-vowel [ai] diminishes in sound from two units to one unit (in middle portion of a word) 57/24
  • Twinning after [n] phoneme [m] diminishes in sound (from half to quarter). 58/25

Word-initial letter

  • All the twelve vowels can be the initial of words. 59/26
  • Consonants without blending with vowel cannot be the initial of words. 60/27
  • All the five [k], [th], [n”], [p] and [m] blending with all the twelve vowels become word-initials. 61/28
  • Consonant [s] also becomes as above but without blending [a], [ai] and [au]. 62/29
  • Consonant [v] blending with the vowels [u], [uu], [o] and [oo] does not become word-initials. 63/30
  • Consonant [nj] becomes only blending with the three vowels [aa], [e] and [o] word-initials. 64/31
  • Consonant [y] blending only with the vowel [aa] becomes word-initials. 65/32
  • All letters becomes word-initial denoting their name. 66/33
  • Consonant [n”] blending with [u] becomes word-initial, being shorted in its unit of sound (shortened [u]), when it points a kinship (n”un”thai meaning your father) 67/34
  • Here is no difference in meaning for the word pointed above, even it pronounced with shortened-[u] or with its normal sound. 68/35

Word-ending letter

  • All the vowels except [au] stand in word-ending. 69/36
  • Blending with the consonants [k] and [v], vowel [au] also stands in word-ending. 70/37
  • Vowel [e] blending with consonants never stands in word-ending. 71/38
  • Vowel [o] stands in word-ending, blending with only one consonant [n”]. 72/39
  • Vowel [ee] and [oo] blending with the consonant [nj] never stand in word-ending. 73/40
  • Vowel [u] and [uu] blending with the consonants [n”] and [v] does not stand in word-ending. 74/41
  • Vowel-consonant [su] stands at the end of the word only two words (usu denoting mosquito) and (musu denoting gorilla) 75/42
  • Vowel-consonant [pu] stands at the end of only one word with two meaning (‘Thabo’ having stress on [pu] means ‘to die’ and having stress on [th] means make one die). 76/43
  • There is no bar to other vowel-consonants to end in words while denoting their names. 77/44
  • Eleven consonants end in word: [nj], [n’], [n”], [m], [n], [y], [r], [l], [v], [l’] and [l”]. 78/45
  • Consonant [n”] ends in two words as vowel-consonant [su] (verse 75 above, words (1) porun” – meaning to fight and word (2) verin” – meaning the back of the body) 79/46
  • Consonant [nj] ends in one word as [pu] (76 above), but with only one meaning (‘urinj’ denoting the removing skin). 80/47
  • Consonant [v] ends in four words (vs. 1. ‘av’ = the thing away from sight 2. ‘uv’ = the thing far away in sight 3. ‘iv’ = the thing in front and 4. ‘thev’ = foe) 81/48
  • In non-human class there are nine words having [n]-ending, those do not assimilate with [m]-folly during coalescence (on preceding vowel-consonant). 82/49