There are a number of so-called emphatic particles in Tamil, such as Î -ee, ¾¥à£ mattum, and »Ô¨ taan . They are used in Tamil to emphasize or focus attention on particular elements of the sentence, as well as to handle other discourse phenomena such as whether information is new, old but related to new, presupposed, and for other pragmatic functions. Many western languages (such as English) use emphatic word stressBy this is meant uttering an element with more force, more volume, higher pitch, etc. than other elements, in order to emphasize it.. Tamil does not have emphatic word stress, but uses `emphatic particles' instead. Often they cannot be literally translated.But this fact does not prevent many speakers from doing so anyway, as `only, itself, just' etc.
There is much confusion in the use of Tamil particles in that their English equivalents seem the same, but the Tamil meanings are different. The basic difference beteen Î ee and »Ô¨ taan is that Î -ee means `one compared to many' while »Ô¨ taan means `one and only one (compared to none)', `just'. Thus:
Occasionally, both occur, as »ÔØÆ taan-ee , as in
Ø´¥¹Ô »ÔØÆ keettaa taanee `If (you'd) only ask/listen.'
»Ô¨ taan being a word suffix obeys word-internal sandhi in Tamil, so sometimes the initial consonant is phonetically voiced, and sometimes not. The same rules that apply to this are the rules shown in § [xxx] on sandhi.
»Ô¨ taan often functions in a discourse to indicate that new information is related to old information; it therefore functions as a communicative device that speakers use to establish solidarity, as in the following discourse:
Here Ë£ um is used to indicate `also' but »Ô¨ taan indicates that new information (B is a Tamil teacher) is related to old information (A is also a Tamil teacher) and establish solidarity. Without »Ô¨ taan the sentence would be abrupt and almost confrontational.
Î ee also has pragmatic uses that are equivalent to English `of course, as you know' etc.