Tamil PuLLi revisited
Suzanne McCarthy wrote:
It is also interesting to note that Isaac Taylor 1883 in The Alphabet represented Tamil as an alphabet. The consonant plus pulli was shown as the basic unit unlike all other Brahmi derived scripts.
N. Ganesan wrote:
Thanks for the reference. Very interesting info. Perhaps, C. Beschi (a Jesuit missionary, 17th century) mentions this in his books also (have to check). Indeed, in Tamil grammars (ancient Tolkaappiyam or 12th century Nannuul) consonants with puLLi are said to be the basic units. This data is seen in Tamil dictionaries also in contrast to Hindi dictionaries.
Typically, in any non-Tamil script of India will not depict virama in sentences, but any Tamil text will be full of Pulli. That's the reason Tamil has no conjuncts.
ISCII (foll. it, Unicode) has put the Hindi consonant model upon Tamil.
S. McCarthy wrote:
Diderot's encyclopedia, 1750, portrays Tamil as a syllabary, once again, unique representation among all Brahmi scripts.
N. Ganesan wrote:
Will be interesting to see which early European books mention consonants with puLLi as basic units of Tamil. Taylor, of course. Beschi??
Tamil Grantha code page can have ka, kha, ga, gha, nga, ... as consonants because it's used to write Sanskrit. But Tamil language defines k, ng, c, ny, ... as consonants, so ideally Tamil code page should have had them as consonants. http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0B80.pdf Consonants: TAMIL LETTER K, TAMIL LETTER NG, TAMIL LETTER C, TAMIL LETTER NY, and so on.
To illustrate: R. S. McGregor, The Oxford Hindi-English dictionary, OUP, 1995 shows ka, kha, ga, gha, ... as consonants on p. xvii.
OTOH, Tamil Lexicon, University of Madras, Vol. I (Reprint: 1982) p. lxviii has Transliteration table First vowels: a, aa, i, ii, ... Then consonants: k, ng, c, ny, T, N, t, n, p, m, ... (Ie., consonants have puLLi, so no inherent vowel).
A reference grammar of cl. Tamil poetry V. S. Rajam, American Philosophical Society, 1992 also defines Tamil consonants with PuLLi. Take R. Gruenendahl, South Indian Scripts in Sanskrit mss. and prints, 2001:Wiesbaden.
Grantha Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and nandinagari have consonants defined as abugidas with /a/. But Tamil alone (p. 44) has Consonants defined with Pulli.