--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> Tamil being unusual among the Indian scripts in that; but even in
> the /u/ is realized in many ways.

I would say that one vowel out of 12 vowels is not by any means

> The vowel objects don't look like separate letters because they
> separate letters.

They are full size and usually unattached. Some vowels and
consonants have a similar shape. It is not at all so obvious as you

If you're interrupted while writing Tamil, would you
> leave off with just a left-hand vowel piece and not finish the
> by writing the consonant?

Children certainly hesitates between letters, they write one letter,
check the syllable chart and continue to compose the syllable
sometimes letter by letter, but in visual order not phonetic order.
The syllable knowledge has to become secure before this stage passes.
It does not compare to putting together two strokes in a letter of
the Roman alphabet. It involves another level of stroke memorization
and visual synthesis on the part of the learner.

I agree, however, that the syllable is the primary structural unit
and the consonants and vowels are secondary units. This is why Tamil
must fall into the primary class of syllabic scripts. This fact
should not be obscured by innovative terminology that reflects a new
and insightful understanding of historic processes.

Suzanne McCarthy