A small question

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Fri Mar 10 14:34:09 CST 2000

On Fri, 10 Mar 2000, Ashish Chandra wrote:


> p.s. IN north India, UP etc, we pronounce, and write, Sita as Sita but its
> written as Sitha in the South. Is this how its written in the southern
> languages as well?

In Tamil, there is no aspirated "th," or for that matter, no aspirated
sounds at all, i.e, no "kh," "gh," "chh" etc. in fact, Tamil doesn't even
have the Sanskrit/English sound "g"! All Sanskrit letters "k," "kh," "g,"
"gh" are incorporated into the lone single character for "k" in Tamil.

The Sanskrit word "mukham" (= "face") was borrowed into Tamil, where it
came to be pronounced as "mukam" (making the "k" non-aspirated). The
characters with aspirated sounds are called "mahAprANam.h" or "great
breath" (or aspirated) in Sanskrit, since these characters require more
breath output for pronunciation than the non-aspirated ones.

This is the reason that most Tamilians usually pronounce the aspirated
Sanskrit sounds incorrectly (i.e, without aspiration), and are sometimes
even unable to comprehend where they're going wrong even when the mistake
is pointed out to them.

Therefore the word "Sita" is sometimes written by Tamilians as "Sitha" (in
Roman script) since the "th" and "t" sounds are alike. This may also be
spelt in this manner so as to avoid confusion between the "t" and "T"
sounds (i.e, not to pronounce the name "siiTa").


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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