--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> Richard Wordingham wrote:
> >
> > --- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> > wrote:
> > > Richard Wordingham wrote:
> > > > Spoken Tamil does have initial voiced stops - or so it is
> > > > reported, e.g. look at
> > > >
> > > > and follow the link to voiced consonants.
> > >
> > > _Phonemic_ ones?
> >
> > Yes. There wouldn't be much point in discussing them if they
> > weren't! On the other hand, I would not be surprised if /f/ were
> > marginal.
> Then it's odd indeed that the Tamil script doesn't provide for them.

I believe it does. From what I can make out from a search for a
clear statement on Tamil phonology on the net, the extra letters are
a subset of the 'Grantha' characters, a more extensive set than the
five listed in your book. (It's annoying when terms have different,
overlapping meanings!) These extra ones are not in Unicode, as is
bemoaned in the ill-tempered discussion of voiced initials containing
http://www.infitt.org/tscii/archives/msg00373.html .

The explanation for their apparent lack is that they are not needed
for Classical Tamil and that they are a mark of foreign words (like
sk- in English), so Literary Tamil strives to avoid such words.

> And that Sandy Steever doesn't recognize them.

This is more perturbing. I can find other references to initial
voiced consonants, e.g. to T. Balasubramanian's 1972 Ph.D. thesis at
Edinburgh, 'The Phonetics of Colloquial Tamil' on p2 of
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~sjoh0535/Thesis/Chapter5.pdf .