Re: Tamil Non-Tamil 2-Dot Visarga

From: ndlogasundaram (
Date: Mon Sep 12 2005 - 12:50:04 CDT

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    Richard Wordingham wrote,

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Richard Wordingham" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2005 3:56 PM
    Subject: Tamil Non-Tamil 2-Dot Visarga

    > Is there any reason for not adding what appears to be a 2-dot visarga to
    > Tamil script? While, FWIW, I have no evidence that it occurs in Tamil, it
    > frequently occurs in Sanskrit and Saurashtra texts written in the Tamil
    > scripts. There are three issues that I can see:
    > 1) It seems that some writers simply use the similar looking colon
    > I believe it is regarded as bad practice to use this sort of punctuation as
    > a letter. The 2-dot visarga occurs word-internally in Saurashtra.

    > 2) It might possibly be a glyph variant of ayt.ham. That seems unlikely -
    > has anyone examples of them both appearing, ideally in the same font, in
    > text that is a mixture of the Sanskrit and Tamil languages or the
    > and Tamil languages?


    In the orthodox Tamil, as taught and learnt in the native user's land, there
    is no such letter named as 'visarga'. But it has a letter taught as 'Aytham'
    which is never referred by the word 'visarga' Only in Unicode they are
    referring 'Aytham' by a non-Tamil word 'visarga'.
    There is a clear glyph difference between Tamil Aytham which is with three
    dots in triangular formation (pyramid) while the devanagari visarga have only
    two dots vertically above the other nearly same as the punctuation
    mark - semi colon
    When there is no such letter as two dot visarga in Tamil, if any one uses it
    for any semantics in Tamil it may be in his/her own personnel whims and may
    be treated as a bad practice. If the letter in use is Tamil 'Aytham' then
    they would have marked by a three dot glyph for canonical correctness.
    The 'Aytham is sometimes a misunderstood letter even by some Tamils when they
    try to represent it in transliteration by 'q'  Aytham does not have any
    phonetic proximity to /q/ at all, while it is almost same as to the phoneme
    represented by a the ligature 'æ' = 'a' as in bad, cat, dab, fat, man, pat,
    rack, sap  etc. That is the reason why it is referred as 'Tamil Letter
    Visarga' in Unicode.
    The phonetics of Aytham is precisely defined in standard Tamil grammar as
    'Nannuul' as 'Aytak kiTan2 talai angkA muyaRcci' ( transliterated Tamil
    written in IITS Cologn scheme)  i.e. "Articulation of Aytham has its origin
    from the upper part in exhaling just by opening of the mouth" ( by slightly
    tilting head upward while exhaling.) The phonetics of Aytham is even shown by
    an example as 'kæcu' is very near to 'kaicu' in articulation in the
    commentary of the same cUtram of the quoted Grammar
    ( kæcu is an antique coin of smaller denomination. It was else where shown as
    a link with the word 'cash')
    We can say that Tamil Aytham is a short form of the compound vowel : 'a' +
    'e' = æ because timing of iits articulation is well demarcated in Tamil
    grammars that it is a letter with half 'nodi' (compare it from normal vowels
    are of one nodi while long vowels are of two nodi-s) ( two other compound
    vowels with two nodi-s being 'a'+'i' = 'ai' and 'a'+'u' = 'au' )
    Graphically it can be shown the app.phonetics of Æ as in the drawing below
    If we consider both /A/ & /E/ are at axes in quadrature to each other, then
    the /Æ/ is born when one try to pronounce both /A/ & /E/ at the same
    instance. More precisely the Æ has equal bearings in two axes as /A/ & /E/
     I could not shape a perfect 45 degrees slant line in my attempt of producing
    an image made from typed characters)
    /E/    /Æ/
    |    /
    |   /
    |  /
    | /
    > 3) Spoofing and IDN.  ASCII colon and the Tamil-script 2-dot visarga are
    > very similar.  However, would a colon be allowed inside a Tamil script
    > The description of the character should probably say something like
    > 'Sanskrit, Saurashtra, not Tamil'.  I'd prefer something stronger, like
    > 'Indic languages, not Dravidian', but:
    > (a) I'm not sure it's actually true.
    > (b) Many people don't know the use of 'Indic' to refer to a family of
    > Indo-European languages, and using it would be as confusing to some as the
    > true statement, 'Strine is not an Australian language'.  ('Strine' =
    > as spoken in Australia; 'Australian' = to do with the Australian language
    > phylum.)
    > Richard.

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