Tamil: அழுத பிள்ளை பால் குடிக்கும்

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Au101

Senior Member
England, English (UK)
Hi, can anyone help me with this Tamil saying:

"அழுத பிள்ளை பால் குடிக்கும்"

In the Latin alphabet:

"Azhutha pillai paal kudikkum"

I am told that it means:

"A child who cries only will get the milk."

But that doesn't make sense. For a start, it should surely be:

"A child who only cries, will get milk", or better "nothing but milk", or, "a child who cries will only get milk." But surely milk is something that a child would actually want, and therefore the "only" doesn't make sense. My feeling is that it has probably been translated a little too literally. Is there anyone who might be able to re-phrase it. Thanks very much.

Editted to add: assuming those kind people who have posted with a very sensible suggestion are correct (which they surely are,) does anybody know if the transliteration into the Tamil script is correct. The website I saw it on is in English. I used their own transliteration service, but I can't be sure if I did it correct,ly there seemed to be a small problem with the "l"s in "pillai" for a start. The unfortunate thing is that there is no uniform transliteration scheme for Tamil, so if anybody knows this phrase (and more importantly, how to spell it) I'd also be grateful if they could post and tell me if my transliteration is correct.
 
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  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    It could be that the meaning is "Only a child who cries will get some milk" (we have a similar saying in Portuguese).
     

    DotterKat

    Moderator
    English (American)
    Hi,

    A child who cries only will get the milk.

    A better re-phrasing in English would be :

    Only the child who cries will get the milk. or The child who cries will get the milk.

    That would be similar to " The squeaky wheel gets the grease ", meaning that the child who complains ( by crying ) will get the attention that it requires just as the the wheel that squeaks will get noticed and be lubricated.
    A child who is not crying is obviously satisfied and not in need of anything.

    Gary
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Ah, now you see that, would make a great deal of sense. I'd love some confirmation from a Tamil speaker, but thanks very much Outsider, that's been really helpful. We have a similar saying in England to, but it's a bit less elegant:

    "If you don't ask, you don't get."

    Edit: Thanks very much to you too, DotterKat, I hadn't finished writing my post when you posted yours.
     
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    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    "அழுத பிள்ளை பால் குடிக்கும்"
    "Azhutha pillai paal kudikkum"

    Editted to add: assuming those kind people who have posted with a very sensible suggestion are correct (which they surely are,) does anybody know if the transliteration into the Tamil script is correct. The website I saw it on is in English. I used their own transliteration service, but I can't be sure if I did it correct,ly there seemed to be a small problem with the "l"s in "pillai" for a start. The unfortunate thing is that there is no uniform transliteration scheme for Tamil, so if anybody knows this phrase (and more importantly, how to spell it) I'd also be grateful if they could post and tell me if my transliteration is correct.
    Admittedly, my knowledge of Tamil is still in the formative stages, but I don't see a word for "only" in the original Tamil:

    அழுத பிள்ளை பால் குடிக்கும் Auda = crying, piḷḷai = child (nominative), paal = milk (indefinite accusative), kuḍikkum = (usually) drinks or will drink.

    I think that the "only" was an interpolation by the translator, attempting to catch an understood nuance in the original, but which ended up confusing things.

    As you indicate, there is no universally accepted transliteration of Tamil into the Roman alphabet. I've used the ISO 15919 transliteration scheme that Wikipedia uses. is a retroflex l; is a sound similar to Mandarin r in ren, or a little like Russian ж without any "scrape."

    There are several problems in transliterating Tamil which make it difficult to standardize. For one thing, there are a large number of allophones, and one letter in Tamil may be transliterated by several different letters in the Roman alphabet depending on the position of the letter in the word, e.g. கு at the beginning of a word is transliterated ku, but in the middle of a word it is hu, after an n it's pronounced gu, and if it's doubled in the middle of a word it's pronounced ku again.

    For another thing, Tamil has two letters for r which are pronounced the same in modern Tamil, but for which scholars prefer to use two different symbols in transliteration; the same is true for n.

    Finally, the question of diglossia in Tamil makes it difficult to determine what letters don't need to be transliterated at all, since some aren't pronounced in spoken Tamil, but they are usually written, except in study material for children and foreigners.
     
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    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Oh yes, Palomnik, in fact, it's exactly the things which you've mentioned (just about anything to do with the ferociously difficult pronunciation) that's prevented me from learning very much at all. Especially, allophones. In fact, I've spent ages trying to find a definitive guide on when to say "p" and when to say "b", when to say "v" and when to say "w" and all of the rest. I'm hoping to get a real teacher eventually, but that's going to have to wait for some time. Anyway, like I said, the website is in English and I used their own transliteration service to put it into Tamil. However, I had a few problems, especially with the "l"s in "பிள்ளை". What I was wondering is, is this phrase spelt correctly? I believe from your post (which was very informative in itself, thanks a lot :)) that the grammar is correct, and that translated into an idiomatic English phrase, "only a child who cries will get the milk", or the general meaning of this phrase. Would I be correct in thinking that? Thanks.
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    Oh yes, Palomnik, in fact, it's exactly the things which you've mentioned (just about anything to do with the ferociously difficult pronunciation) that's prevented me from learning very much at all. Especially, allophones. In fact, I've spent ages trying to find a definitive guide on when to say "p" and when to say "b", when to say "v" and when to say "w" and all of the rest. I'm hoping to get a real teacher eventually, but that's going to have to wait for some time. Anyway, like I said, the website is in English and I used their own transliteration service to put it into Tamil. However, I had a few problems, especially with the "l"s in "பிள்ளை". What I was wondering is, is this phrase spelt correctly? I believe from your post (which was very informative in itself, thanks a lot :)) that the grammar is correct, and that translated into an idiomatic English phrase, "only a child who cries will get the milk", or the general meaning of this phrase. Would I be correct in thinking that? Thanks.
    Au101, as far as I can tell it seems to be spelled correctly, but I'd appreciate an opinion from a native speaker. பிள்ளை is, I believe, a literary word and not the common word for "child" in modern spoken Tamil, and I'm not really clear why குடிக்கும் appears to be in the third person neuter form of the verb; I can only assume that in literary Tamil (which I don't know much about yet) பிள்ளை is considered a neuter noun. Based on the tense of the verb, I assume the sense is that "It is the crying child that usually gets the milk/that will get the milk." Proverbs around the world are noteworthy for their brevity, aren't they?
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    OK, thanks a lot Palomnik. Although, this website was written in Eelam Tamil (ஈழத் தமிழ் (I think.)) That's the Tamil spoken in Sri Lanka and there are some variations. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but that may be the reason for the use of பிள்ளை and குடிக்கும். It's possible, also, that the author just made a mistake. Thanks so much for your ever-valuable input Palomnik and if there's anyone who knows exactly how this phrase should look, I'd be very grateful.
     
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