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Demonstrative Adjectives

Tamil has demonstrative adjectives, pronouns, and other proforms which form sets of three, differing only in the initial vowel, which indicates whether one is referring to something proximate from the speaker, something distant, or whether a question is being asked about someone or something.This is similar to sets in English like `here, there' and `where', or `this, that,' and `what'. In English the only element that replicates itself reliably in these sets is the wh- element, so in English these are referred to as wh-interrogatives by linguists. In Tamil, the first vowel of the adjective or pronoun, i represents the meaning `proximate' (this, here), a represents the meaning `distant' (that, there), and e represents the meanings `interrogative' (what, where). These sets are quite regular (more so than English), with only a few deviations from this vowel pattern.In older LT, there was a further distinction, `yonder, out of sight' provided by the vocalic element u, but this is no longer in use, even in modern LT. Some grammarians refer to these kinds of pronouns etc. as `deictic' pronouns (from the Greek deixis meaning `pointing'.)

Thus idu ` this thing', adu ` that thing', etu? ` which thing?' This contrasts with purely `adjectival' inda `this', anda `that', and enda `which?' The latter forms must always be followed by some kind of nominal element, or be nominalized; the former ( idu etc.) cannot be followed by a nominal element, unless in a noun--noun construction. (Cf. § xxx Chap. 7, syntax). Example: adu nalla viidu `That is a good house' vs. anda viidu nallaa irukku `That house is good'. In the first example, one must assume that it is an equational sentence with a deleted element `be' or else the statement that atu cannot be followed by a noun is contradictory. Other sets:





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Harold_F.Schiffman