--- In phoNet@yahoogroups.com, "Rohit Dasari" <rdasari@m...> wrote:
> Um. Is this group alive?

The following is posted on behalf of David Russell Watson:

Alive, but, if like me, probably not sure about the exact nature of
the the Tamil sound in question.

As best as I can remember, from the last time I had one of Bhadriraju
Krishnamurti's books in hand, the sound is a reflex of a
Proto-Dravidian voiced apico-alveolar fricative (written as an
underdotted 'z'), but that is not supposed to be its present
realization. The book included varying descriptions of the modern
sound from more than one author, and I don't remember which one, if
any, that Krishnamurti preferred.

If the sound is indeed a "semivocalic (open) counterpart of the
retroflex lateral /L/" then I suppose it could be written with the
I.P.A. as a retroflex lateral approximant with the diacritic for
lowering beneath it.

Refer to the "CONSONANTS (PULMONIC)" table at
http://www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/IPA/images/ipachart.gif , where the
"retroflex" column intersects the "lateral approximant" row, for the
symbol for a retroflex lateral, which resembles an 'l' with a tail
descending below the line. The diacritic for lowering can be found in
the tenth row, second column of the table of diacritics, and looks
like the bottom half of a + sign.

However I wonder, if there's no contact of the tongue with the roof of
the mouth during this sound, whether it's proper to refer to, or
write, it as a lateral of any sort?

I second the request that a native speaker of Tamil upload a recording
of the sound, preferably at normal speed between two 'a'-s ("aLa"), as
well as drawn out ("aLLLLLLLLLLLLa").