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Most grammars of Tamil have discussed the transitivity status of Tamil verbs as being a case of either transitive or intransitive, i.e., as if this distinction were exactly parallel to that of English or some other western language. Actually any cursory examination of the Tamil verb will reveal that the semantic distinction so clearly marked in the morphology, i.e., the distinction between pairs like oodu and ѥ oottu, which is usually glossed as `run' vs. ` cause to run' or `run of one's own volition' vs. `run something' is not as simple when all the verbs of the language have been taken into account. This is not just the case with Tamil, but with many other languages of the world, as has been shown very clearly by the research of Hopper and Thompson (1980), for example. Some researchers on Tamil, such as Paramasivam 1979, have rejected the dichotomy between transitivity and intransitivity as inadequate for Tamil, and have opted for a distinction known as `affective' vs. `effective', which is felt to more adequately capture the distinction.

Vasu Renganathan
Sat Nov 2 21:16:08 EST 1996