Visarga and aaytham in Tamil (Re: String name and Character Name

From: N. Ganesan (
Date: Tue Apr 12 2005 - 12:54:12 CST

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: String name and Character Name"

    In this thread, I wish that more than Tamil,
    Kannada script should get mentioned. Among the
    Dravidian scripts, one Kannada character
    is completely misnamed. U+0CDE has nothing
    to do with "f" or "fa". U+0CDE is exactly same
    as Tamil U+0BB4 and Malayalam U+0D34. Luckily, there is
    now annotation announcing the mistake done about
    Kannada LLLA. Similarly, hopefully Malayalam digit
    zero glyph gets to be corrected to 0.

    But I am not even sure whether Tamil aaytham
    being named as Tamil visarga is a mistake.
    Years ago, i recall mentioning to S. Srivas
    in the Infitt working group list on unicode that
    aaytham does not mean "weapon".
    Though commonly perceived by Tamils as weapon,
    the assumption that aaytham is related to sanskrit word,
    aayudha 'weapon' is not held upon scrutiny. Aaytham is
    a tamilized form of aa'srita (Sanskrit word)
    which is a class of visarga. How do we know this?
    In its earliest attestations in epigraphy (8th and
    9th centuries) aaytham looks like the mathematical
    "division" sign. This "division" sign (= aaytham)
    is a visarga of special type. See Michael Everson's
    proposal on Vedic accents,
    The "division" sign is "0501 (div.sign) VISARGA ONE"

    N. Ganesan

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