Friday, June 10, 2005

Thamizhuku Amudenru Per! :-)

For the non-Thamizh readers, that line says that Thamizh is comparable to nectar. It's the first line of a famous poem by Bharathidasan(and not Bharathiyar!!) And don't stop reading now, much as I love my language, I am not going to extol it's virtues or anything right now. :-)

When we take any language, the spoken language has certainly become a little warped whereas the written is less affected. We write "Where have you been?" and we say "Where've you been?". Warped but not so much! The same case with Hindi, the spoken is a mildly contracted form of the written. (Since my Hindi is not so good, I am not typing out an example! :-) ). To clear things up, I am not talking about slang here, just talking about normal lines that we use everyday. So if a person learns English by reading some recent novels, he can pretty much manage the spoken part of it too.

But I notice that in Thamizh, what we speak is so much distorted. For example, "Nee engu sendru kondu irukirai?"(Where are you going?) becomes "Enga pore?" while talking. Why is thamizh alone in this state? When we can write decent thamizh, why do we mangle it while speaking? I am not even talking about the famous "madras bashai" here, just the normal thamizh that most people speak at home. A person who learns thamizh from "Learn Tamil in 30 Days" is screwed if he tries to live using it in Chennai. I mean things don't even sound remotely similar.

Any thoughts? And how are things in other languages?


littlecow said...

wouldn't call it 'mangled tamizh' - the language is so robust and adaptable that the written and spoken versions are different (purely for matters of style i might add) - ain't that awesome?!

littlecow said...

the language of the blacks sounds different too - 'whatcha doin nigga?', 'this bike is cool'

Kaarthik said...

Nee engae porae is more closer to Nee engae poi kondirikirai ? 'Poi' as in 'Indru poi naalai vaa' has been in existence since Kambar's days I think. Considering that the language has undergone generations and generations of change, the current form should be unidentifiable from its original (?!!) form. I for one cant make out the inscriptions in Tanjore temple it needs 'special people' who know 'THAT' language.

Its interesting to figure out the roots of people based on the way they speak that language. Madurai, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Madras, Nagercoil, Lankan, all have their distinct flavours.

littlecow said...

@kaarthik: i had the chance to look at a paper which traced the evolution of tamil script over 2000 years. the change was stunning. The script used then was so different from what is used now. and all this in only ~50 generations.

Vetty Max said...

In any language, the written grammar and rules somehow always do seem to lag in time behind that which is spoken.

Hindi would be a bad language to use for a comparison as it has a very short history, but still jokes on Shudh Hindi have been made, notably in this amazing movie called Chupke Chupke.

As kaarthik has pointed out, its "engu pogirai" which has become enga pora...and not engu sendru kondirukkirai.

Even English had its "whither goest thou" that has become "where are you going".

janani said...

@everyone - I am not talking about the general evolution of the language here. Yes, Kaarthik has a point - it is "Enge pogirai" which has become "enga pora". And as VMax says "where are you going" is from "whither goest thou". But I am talking about contemperory writing and the way we talk. For example consider this comment I am typing out. I can work it into a conversation with one of you and use the exact same words and grammar construct and it wouldn't sound too formal or wierd. But if I were to write it in thamizh, one would naturally fall into some formal way of writing. This is what I am trying to observe. We write "peyar" and we say "peru". Difficult if someone learns the maguage from books.