--- suzmccarth <suzmccarth@...> wrote: > --- In
qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels"
> <grammatim@...>
> wrote:
> >>
> > Tamil being unusual among the Indian scripts in
> > that; but even in Tamil, the /u/ is realized in
> > many ways.
> I would say that one vowel out of 12 vowels is not
> by any means representative
> > The vowel objects don't look like separate letters
> > because they _aren't_ 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 claim.

Perhaps the English word "letter" doesn't map well to
Indic scripts. Suzanne, can you find out for us what
the word or words which could mean "letter" in Tamil
are? Maybe they have words which mean "visual letter
including a vowel-part", "whole letter including the
parts to the left and to the right", "audible letter",
"visible letter", "vowel letter", "consonant letter",
"syllable letter" and who knows what else.

I have a feeling these words will be much more useful
for the purposes of training Tamil-speaking kids.

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

My guess is that it compares to putting together the
two strokes of a digraph like "ch", "sh", "th". In
fact, in some European languages like Spanish and
Czech, certain digraphs are or were considered

Andrew Dunbar.

> 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

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