On Sat, 03 Sep 2005 23:23:04 +0000, Richard Wordingham
<richard.wordingham@...> wrote:

>Can someone please explain what Tamil aytham originally represented
>and now represents in Tamil?

As far as I know it represented /h/ in Old Tamil. In
Steever's Dravidian Languages, it is said (Proto-Dravidian

"The phoneme *h represented the predecessor of Old Tamil
a:ytam, conventionally transliterated as <k_>. Recent
proposals attempt to establish it as an independent phoneme
in the proto-language, but it seems to have been an
allophone of *y that appeared in the environment V_C."

The sign is called "Tamil visarga" in the Unicode standard,
which I suppose means that its origin is the visarga sign
/h./, used in Sanskrit for a voiceless /h/.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal