Frame 16

Main Feature: 3. Learning Moduals,Module 16

Picture 1

The sound (u) is produced with close lip rounding.  The back of the tongue is raised as high as possible towards the soft palate but not to the extent of causing any constriction.  The sides of the tongue are in contact with the teeth and the tip of the tongue is somewhat retracted from the lower part of the teeth.  The vocal cords vibrated.  The soft palate is raised. This is a high, back, rounded, short vowel.  It occurs in words initially and medially. The letter Picture 2 represents the sound.
In spoken Tamil this sound is pronounced with spread lips in the middle and final positions other than in the initial syllable. This is high back un-rounded short vowel.  Look at the vowel and write three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).

Picture 3

Read the following words.

Picture 4

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Frame 17

Main Feature: 3. Learning Moduals,Module 17

Picture 1

(uu): This is a long counter part of the short vowel Picture 2 (u).  In its production the manner of articulation and point of articulation are same as that of short except for the length of duration.  It is a high, back, rounded, long vowel.  It occurs initially, medially, and finally.  This long vowel is represented by Picture 3.
The letter,  Picture 3 is combination of two letters that are familiar to you (Frames 16 and 12). It is written in the following manner.
(i) FirstPicture 2 is written.
(ii) Then  Picture 4is written over Picture 2and that looks like: Picture 3

Write five times the letter (see Appendix I for hand-movements).

Picture 5

Read the following words.

Picture 6

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Frame 18

Main Feature: 3. Learning Moduals,Module 18

As the time passed socio-cultural changes affected languages. Tamil is not exceptional to this.  The language development occurred along with the changes from time to time.  The industrialization and science and technology development influenced the language use and language under went lot of changes.  Due to this, borrowing into Tamil was inevitable at all levels namely phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic levels.  Though Sanskrit influence through borrowings was found in Tamil from early times, in the modern times the above said reasons attributed to this borrowing and made the language users to adopt borrowings. Words used in the religious spheres and personal and place names necessitated the Tamils to adopt the sounds as such and used special characters for them known as Grantha characters.  Six such letters are used in modern Tamil widely for the sounds s, j, sh, h, ksh, and sri. They are mainly used for writing proper names, place names and scientific terms to retain original pronunciation. They take vowel symbols(secondary symbols) in the same way as pure Tamil consonants of similar form except the vowels, 1and 2. Only one secondary symbol is used for each. The secondary symbols for  1and 2 vowels for the Grantha letters (s, j, sh, h, ksh) are 3and 4respectively (see Exercise-item 8 in F-18, Chart-1, and see Appendix I & II for hand movements, and a Table at the end if this Frame). The last one, sri is treated as a word. This is used as a respect form before male names like Mister (Mr.) in English. Also sri is found as part of names.   ksh is combination of k and sh.


6(s) in its production the blade of the tongue is positioned very closely to the alveolar ridge.  The air squeezes out with friction through a narrow passage between the alveolar ridge and the tip of the tongue.  The vocal cords do not vibrate.  The soft palate is raised.  This sound may be described as a voiceless alveolar fricative.  It occurs initially and medially.  Medially it occurs as a single consonant (pure consonant with a dot- 6) between two vowels and as the second member of a consonant cluster.

Observe the hand movements and copy three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).


8(j).  The movements of the speech organs are the same as those for (c) except for the vibration in the vocal cords during its production.  This is described as a voiced palatal.
This sound occurs in the word initial positions, medially as a pure consonant between vowels, as the second member of a consonant cluster and an identical consonant cluster.

Observe the hand movements and copy three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).


10(sh).  This sound is produced when the tip of the tongue is curved slightly towards the hard palate.  But this curving does make a complete closure.  The air stream passes through the narrow passage between the hard palate and the tip of the tongue.  The vocal cords do not vibrate.  The soft palate is raised.  This sound is voiceless retroflex fricative.  It occurs medially as a pure consonant between vowels and as the first member of a consonant cluster.

Observe the hand movements and copy three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).


12(h).  In its production the mouth is kept as in the production of vowels.  The air stream passes through the wide open glottis with week friction.  The soft palate is raised.  This is a glottal fricative. This occurs word initial and medial positions.

Observe the hand movements and copy three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).


14(ksh) is combination of    (k) and   (sh).  The production processes of these sounds are discussed in Frame 3 and 18.
Observe the hand movements and copy three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).


Observe the hand movements and copy three times (see Appendix I for hand-movements).


Read the following words.



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Tamil Diglossia

There is a wide gap between spoken and written Tamil. Spoken Tamil is used for face-to-face communication or in informal occasions whereas written Tamil is used during official speeches and other formal occasions. Spoken Tami is not generally written; thus, while writing, the written form is invariably used. While there is a wide gap between the two forms of Tamil, there are certain rules the use of which would help the learner to derive one form of language from another.

Introduction I

There are a number of language families in the world. Tamil belongs to the Dravidian language family. This classical language is considered the earliest of the Dravidian languages and is spoken by more than eighty million people worldwide. Tamil is regarded as one of the four major literary languages of the Dravidian family and, in spoken form, is predominant form of communication in Tamil Nadu in south India. The literary heritage of this south Asian language is very rich. The Sangam literary classics that were written between 300 BCE and 500 CE are considered masterpieces of Tamil literature. This literary tradition embodies the richness and beauty of the Tamil language. The grammatical tradition dates to the third century BCE and is considered one of the two grammatical traditions that arose concomitantly, the other being Sanskrit.

The Tamil language reflects the cultural traditions in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu has an area of 50,193 sq. miles and holds a population of over forty-three million people. This southern state is situated at the southeastern tip of the Indian peninsula. Tamil Nadu has been referred to as a temple state because the area is rich with temples. The architecture of the temple and the sculptures that adorn the walls are both magnificent. The culture is very unique and rich in Tamil Nadu. This is a land of art, music, dance and rich language. This language is also used as a medium of instruction at different levels of education. At the higher level of education it is used along with English. Tamil is widely used in mass media, the judicial system, the sciences and areas of technology. In addition to reflecting the cultural and traditional milieu, Tamil is the language used in the state administration and is recognized as one of the official languages of India.

Tamil Studies in India and Sri Lanka

There are number of universities in India and Sri Lanka which have facilities for Tamil Studies. In India (excepting Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka the following institutions have programs for Tamil studies:

1. Punjab University, Chandigarh
2. Punjab University, Patiala
3. Delhi University, Delhi
4. Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
5. Agra University, Agra
6. Lucknow University, Lucknow
7. Allahabad University, Allahabad
8. Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
9. Calcutta University, Calcutta
10. Osmania University, Hyderabad
11. Sri Krishna Devaraya University, Anantapur
12. Sri Venkateswara University, Thirupati
13. Karnataka University, Dharwad
14. Mysore University, Mysore
15. Calicut University, Chittoor
16. University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram

In Sri Lanka:

17. University of Jaffna
18. University of Colombo
19. Peradeniya University

In the US there are about ten universities that have programs for Tamil language and literatures, and culture etc.

Culture and People Quiz

There are twenty five questions for the learners to check their understanding of the above write-up. Choose the correct answer for the question.

What is the name of the temple conducted by Rajarajan in Tanjavur?

Natarajar temple
Kankai Konta coolapuram
Tancaip periya kooyil

Which is the earliest grammar in Tamil?


Which of the following is correct?

Spoken Tamil differs from written Tamil and vice-versa
Spoken Tamil and written Tamil are one and the same

Which is the Tamil novel that won the Gnana Peeth Award?

Pavai vilakku

Arattupal in Thirukkural could be somewhat equated with:


What is the equivalent expression in Tamil for Good morning in English?

Siva Siva

What is Nannul?

It is a drams
It is a novel
It is a grammar book

Which of the following is correct?

Spoken Tamil can be derived from written and vice-versa
Spoken Tamil cannot be derived from written Tamil
Written Tamil cannot be derived from spoken Tamil

Natakam or Kuthu is mainly concerned with:

Musical Instruments
Musical Notes

A celebrated work of Buddhism is:


Pancali Sapatam was written by:


The Raja Rajan award was given to Suthananta Bharati for his work:

Bhartha Sakthi
Kannan Pattu

Kancippattu sarees are produced from the town called:


The very first novel published in Tamil was:

Pirathapa Muthaliar Sarithiram
Kallo Kaviyamo
Pavai Vilakku

The saint Ilango wrote the epic:


The Tamil language belongs to the:

Central Dravidian sub-group
North Dravidian sub-group
South Dravidian sub-group

The recorded history of the Tamil literature can be broadly grouped under:

five periods
seven periods
four periods

The author of Thirukkural is:


The Nayanmars are the saints of:


A collection of eight anthologies of the Sangam classics is called:


The Tamil festival connected with the harvest is:


Ancient Tamil Nadu was divided into three major regions called:

Cheranadu, Cholanadu, Pandiyanadu
Cholanadu, Ramnadu, Pandiyanadu
Cheranadu, Ramnadu, Pandiyanadu

The phrase, Poy vaukiren is used:

at the time of meeting
at the time of eating
at the time of departure

An anthology of ten poems in Sangam Classics is named:


Married women in Tamil Nadu wear:

Valayal as the symbol for marriage
Tali as the symbol for marriage
Mukkuthi as the symbol for marriage

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