--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, Andrew Dunbar <hippietrail@...> wrote:

> Perhaps the English word "letter" doesn't map well to
> Indic scripts. 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

I believe these are all the akshara but I have read of some other
terms. I don't have any reference material with me.

"vowel letter",

matra a vowel dependent on the consonant

"consonant letter"


> "syllable letter"


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

I am not training Tamil kids to do anything in Tamil. I teach them
English. I firmly believe that when an appropriate input method has
been developed the Tamil kids will be able to use their knowledge of
their own language to learn this application themselves. Of course,
it helps if I can demonstrate a little but I don't ever *teach*

> > > If you're interrupted while writing Tamil, would
> > > you leave off with just a left-hand vowel piece
> and
> > > 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
> "letters".

Yes in a way these can be compared. However, there are about 12
common digraphs in English and 247 aksharas in Tamil.

Suzanne McCarthy