Tamil: pronunciation of ச (c) word-initially

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As far as I know, the original pronunciation of the Tamil letter ச at the start of a word was something like [c] or [ʧ]. This is preserved in Malayalam (and some dialects of modern Tamil?). However, I hardly ever hear it pronounced like that in Tamil films or songs - almost everyone seems to use the newer [s] pronunciation. Is the [c] pronunciation considered strange or rustic nowadays?

  • Gope

    Senior Member
    Kannan saar, as you know Tamil pronunciation varies enormously across the regions. What I can safely say is this:
    च c சந்திரன், சென்னை (chandiran, chennai are the common representations)

    श ś சிவன், சங்கரன், சேலை, சோலை (śivan, śankaran, śelai, śolai)

    स s. சந்தோஷம், சந்தேகம் (santosham, sandeham)

    The above three pronunciations are the most commonly heard ones for initial ச. That is, this letter in the initial position represents one of three sounds. Of course the word determines the sound. You will notice that Sanskrit words beginning with ś are written using the Tamil leter ச. So are Sanskrit words beginning with s. But they have largely retained the Sanskrit pronunciation of the initial letter. śelai and śolai are Tamil words, though.
    sandiran and sennai are also sometimes heard for chandiran and chennai.
    Trust this helps.:)
    I thank marrish SaaHib for kindly drawing attention to your thread.
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