next up previous
Next: Glides. Up: Phonetics of Spoken Previous: Rhoticsfinal and

Nasal Consonants.

LT script distinguishes six different nasal consonants, but ST only has three phonemically distinct nasal sounds.In LT as well, the nasal [ '070 ] only occurs before velars, i.e. k, and the palatal nasal only occurs before palatal j. LT also distinguishes a dental nasal from an alveolar nasal , but even in LT these two are in complementary distribution: the occurs initially and before t, while the alveolar nasal occurs finally and before r. Thus in our transcription, we only distinguish between m, n and n; the palatal and velar nasals we simply write as n before the appropriate consonant, and we transliterate both and as n, since no Tamil speakers (despite claims otherwise) distinguish between these two sounds.

As noted above, if LT final n occurs in final position, in ST an epenthetic u is added to the word (and doubled if the stem vowel is short), e.g. ׽ pen `woman' --> ׽ ponnu `ibid.'Note that the vowel also undergoes rounding because it occurs between a labial and a retroflex consonant.

All other sequences of vowel plus nasal in final position undergo nasalization of the vowel as described previously.