Dynamics of Tamil Finite System
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Dynamics of Tamil Finite System

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Item Code: NAK304
Author: R. Kothandaraman
Publisher: Central Institute of Classical Tamil, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788190800006
Pages: 526
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 870 gm
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AboutThe Book

Dynamics of Tamil Finite System (DTFS) is the introductory part of the Historical Grammar of Tamil Syntax. DTFS examines Tamil finite system in its historical perspective. It maintains that the verbal constructions of ceyum, ceyuntu, cey(u)pu (>ceyyuu), and cey(u)ku types of early Tamil are identifiable as non past impersonal finite constructions originally. It maintains that the early Dravidian finite system was impersonal in character without reference to person/gender appendage. The agreement markers are treated as the complementary variants of the personal pronouns. Although, the Dravidian syntax is of SOY type synchronically, it should have originated in OVS system with gender/person markers representing original pronominal subject NPs. The syntax of negation and certain relative clause constructions that have gone out of use are brought to notice. Such complementizers as an, in, am, um and their variants attested in Tamil are treated as the alternants of Be verb which in course of time is considered to have lost their lexical meaning.

About The Author

Prof. R. Kothandaraman (74) M.A.(Tamil), M.A.(Linguistics), and Ph.D (Linguistics) taught Tamil to American students under American Institute of Indian Studies programme, grammar and linguistics to postgraduate students of Tamil and Linguistics in Madurai Kamaraj University. Served as Senior Fellow/Professor in the International School of Dravidian Linguistics, Thiruvananthapuram. Held Directorship in the Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture. Presently serving as Fellow in the Central Institute of Classical Tamil. Publications: Several papers on Tamil and Dravidian linguistics, and three books, one in English and two in Tamil of collected papers.


The Tamils may be justly proud of the fact that Tamil has won the status of a Classical language, the status it richly deserves and should have got long, long ago. The Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), established in Chennai, has mapped out various plans including preparation of definitive editions of forty-one Classical Tamil texts and translation of these works into English and other major European languages as well as into major Indian languages and writing of a historical grammar of Tamil. Language being the autobiography of a people, our objective is to preserve and safeguard the invaluable treasure of the literary compositions in our language. If only we could delve into our past and recover the riches and wealth of the mighty treasure trove of Classical Tamil poetry, we will be amply rewarded by its lofty poetry, the poetry that strengthens and purifies the holiness of heart's affection and enlarges our imagination. Apart from these, reading the ancient Tamil texts such as Tolkappiyam, Ettuuokai, Pattuppattu, Tirukkural etc., provides a foundation for scholarship for the present and in this sense they do provide enlightened education.

It is heartening to write this foreword to the series of publications brought out by CICT, which I am sure, will do full justice to the masterpieces in Tamil without compromising on the quality of production. The Cankam corpus being a repository of our glorious culture, it behoves our present and future generations to study them and to convey their message and the vision of life embodied in them to the public at large. Let me, therefore, commend the series to the enlightened beings the world over.



New proposals and counter proposals against the existing ones are theoretically significant in promoting the advancement of knowledge in any discipline. While new proposals are path-breaking ventures, counter proposals seek to evaluate the existing theories and convictions. Exponents of new and counter proposals are trendsetters, and traditionalists are the guardians of the existing theoretical models. It is not uncommon that traditionalists and trendsetters are taking defensive and offensive positions respectively. As for the study of linguistic system, there has always been a conflict between the trendsetters and traditionalists of whom the former are the pillars of counter proposals. Theoretically, the traditionalists are very much in alignment with the principles of external adequacy whereas the trendsetters who move ahead out of reach of the traditionalists adhere to internal adequacy. Externally adequate description is very much concerned with the goals disregarding the means, and this is not the case with respect to the deliberations based on internal adequacy. Internally adequate exposition is not only particular about the goals but also about the means. The linguistic system obtained in Tamil has been traditionally described with reference to the principles governed by external adequacy. It is to be noted that externally adequate description is performance - oriented without regard to the linguistic competence of the speaker. The Chomskyan distinction between competence and performance of the speaker is the core issue of the present monograph. The main concern and objective of this work is to capture the linguistic competence of the speaker marginalizing the linguistic performance. Internally adequate description has therefore reference to linguistic competence seeking to identify the deep-seated regularities of the speech system in the underlying representation.

It is to be taken into consideration that linguistic system is a manifestation of a series of diachronic layers of different stages and periods. Since this factor is not explicit in the synchronic system, the grammarian is constrained to resort to different descriptive strategies to reach the surface representation. More often than not, these strategies employed in traditional description without any diachronic perspective are highly adhoc and arbitrary. Notice, for instance, the underlying representations of makattu 'son' (oblique base), marattu 'tree' (obl.), and alattu 'death ritual' (obl.) are maka+attu, maram+attu, and alan+attu where attu is an instance of inflectional increment according to the phonological description obtained in Tolkappiyam (Tol.). Tol. proposes that attu loses a- after nouns ending in a-. Consequently, maka+attu becomes makattu. With a view to generalizing the application of the rule under reference, Tol is taking for granted the deletion of the word final labial and alveolar nasals of maram and ala before attu. This follows the deletion of a- of attu after the contrived versions mara- and ala-, There are several anomalies in this analysis. First, what is the justification to propose the inflectional increment attu in the oblique constructions under reference? Second, does the deletion of word final consonant before attu have any phonological motivation? Third, is the deletion of the initial vowel of attu after nouns constrained to lose the word final labial and alveolar nasals phonologically justified? Fourth, is there no scope to resort to internal reconstruction within the framework of synchronic description? Traditionally, the foregoing analysis has been upheld without its sustainability being evaluated with reference to the issues raised above. In the counter proposal, not only attu is replaced by the inflectional increment tu, but also the strategy of internal reconstruction is pressed into service. The nouns maka and alan are associated with the internally reconstructed variants makam, and alam. These variants are morphologically definable occurring both in internal and external sandhi. E.g. alam+tu > alan+tu > alat+tu, makam+tu > makan+tu > makattu, alam+kutam > alan+kutam > alak+kutam, makam+peru > makap+peru: This analysis is in consonance with the analysis of nouns ending in labial nasal, and this is the reason why maka and alan are internally reconstructed into makam and alam on the basis of makattu / makap+peru and alattu / alak+kutam which are analogous to marattu / marak+kilai. Contrary to the traditional analysis, the alternative proposal meeting the requirements of internal adequacy renders justice not only to the goals but to the means as well. This proposal maintains that the nasal assimilates to voiceless plosive before single and double voiceless plosives, of which the first process is an earliest phonological process belonging to either PDr or pre PDr linguistic system. The rule N>P/-P belonging to PDr phonological system is retained in the individual Dravidian languages in general and Tamil in particular. On the other hand, the rule N>P/-PP is located in the intermediate stage of derivation. The derivation of erku 'to me' from enakku through enkku is a case in point in this regard.




  Preface xiii
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Redefining S-P Agreement 1
1.2 Decisively Impersonal - Further Observations 4
1.3 Manifestations of Ceyyuntu Finite System 5
1.4 Descendants of Ceyum Finite System 6
1.5 Extended Finite System 7
1.6 Forgotten Suffix Variants 11
1.7 Formal Distortion 12
1.8 Reanalysis of Verbal Suffixes 14
1.9 Finite System - A Vital Player of Syntax 19
1.10 Problems and Resolutions 20
1.11 Diphthongs in Tamil - An Impossed Burden 20
1.12 Reinterpretation of Glides in Tamil 22
1.13 The Plosive Increments in Tamil 23
1.14 Composition of Past Tense Suffix –in 23
1.15 First Person Marker om and om 24
1.16 Is arik-ilar a Nonpast Ability Verb 24
2 Beginnings of Finite System in Tamil 25
2.1 Finite System in General 27
2.2 Impersonal Finite System 29
2.3 Subject-Predicate Agreement - A Later Development 30
2.4 Dating of Classical Tamil 32
2.5 Tenseless Finite System - Untenable Hypothesis 33
2.6 Tensed Impersonal Finite System 34
2.7 Ceyticin Finite System 35
2.8 Relative Participle as Impersonal Finite System 36
2.9 A Hypothesis Called into Question 38
2.10 Predicate Verb as Nominal Constituent 38
2.11 Ceytu Verbal as Nominal Constituent 41
2.12 Future Negation 42
2.13 Means Differ But Goal Same 44
2.14 Source of Personal Finite System 46
2.15 Relative Participle as Finite Verb - Further Observations 53
2.16 A Nonpast Finite System Parallel to ceyt- alJ+PM Type 54
2.17 Reflexes of the Increment -am 57
2.18 Impersonal Finite System of NP and PP Types 60
2.19 Extended Impersonal Finite System 62
2.20 Nonpast Impersonal Finite System 63
2.21 Ceyal Type of Finite System 63
2.22 Ceytal Type of Finite System 64
2.23 Ceyum Type of Finite System 67
2.24 Ceyum Verbs - Stages of Development 72
2.25 Finite System of Ceypu Type 74
2.26 Source of Ceypu Finite System 75
2.27 Finite System of Ceyku Type 76
2.28 Source of Ceyku Finite System 79
2.29 Evolution of Extended Personal Finite System 80
2.30 Remarks on Single Window Conjugation 83
3 Syntax of Complementizer 89
3.1 Complers in Traditional Treatment 91
3.2 Complers - A New Perspective 92
3.3 Compler Types 94
3.4 Lexical Semantics of Compler 94
3.5 Internal Reconstruction of the Compler - um 96
3.6 Complers in Dative Constructions 98
3.7 The Complers -an and -in 99
3.8 Again Looking Back at -am 111
3.9 The Compler - av 113
3.10 The Compler -e 114
3.11 Consonantal Compler 116
3.12 Historical Constraint 117
3.13 The Compler -irru 124
3.14 The Complers tan-/taan- and tam/tam 126
3.15 The Compler -arru 130
3.16 Functional Divergence - A Note 132
3.17 Sentential Complers 133
3.18 Adverbial Compler 134
3.19 Adjectival Compler 137
3.20 Nominal Compler 140
4 Intricacies of Tamil Finite System 143
4.1 Verbal System - General Observations 145
4.2 Tense Implied Finite System 149
4.3 Post Nominal Negative Finite System 158
4.4 Tensed Personal/Gender Verbal Noun 161
4.5 A Digression 167
4.6 Accusative Negation 168
4.7 Nominal Finite System 170
4.8 Person / Gender Marker as Cliticized Be Verb 172
4.9 Kannada Situation 177
4.10 Person / Gender Markers - Further Observations 188
4.11 Extended Predicate System 189
4.12 Loss of a Paradigm 200
4.13 Deflection of Verbal System 205
4.14 Finite System of Ceyum Type 212
4.15 Verbal System of ceyuntu Type 217
4.16 Emergence of Past Finite System 220
4.17 Emergence of ceyyiyar Finite System 224
4.18 Finite Verbal Bases 226
4.19 The -cu / -su Factor in Telugu / Kannada 236
4.20 From Inflectional to Derivational System 242
5 Syntax of Negation 245
5.1 Negation at First Glance 247
5.2 Nonpast Negative Paradigm 250
5.3 Personal Negation 257
5.4 Syntax of Classical Negation 259
5.5 A Digression 264
5.6 Nonpast Negation of Ceykuuu+il-: Type 265
5.7 Nonpast Negation of VB+al- Type 269
5.8 Negative Finite System - Further Development 274
5.9 Finite Verb as Nominal Construction 278
5.10 Imperative System 278
5.11 Speculating Negative System 290
5.12 Negative Nominals 292
5.13 Reduplicative Finite System 295
5.14 Impersonal Negation 298
5.15 Tag Question 300
5.16 Short Versus Long Negation 302
5.17 Ability Phrase 303
5.18 Kil- A Newly Emerging Ability Verb 311
5.19 Double Negation 326
5.20 Optative Negation 327
5.21 A Problem to be Resolved 333
5.22 Negative Participial Nouns 334
5.23 Negative Participles 340
5.24 Negative Adverbial Participles 342
5.25 Negative Conditionals 354
5.26 Negative Adnominal Participles 357
5.27 An Effort to Resolve a Problem 361
5.28 Adnominal Participle as Functional Category 363
5.29 The Lost Paradigm 370
5.30 Tamil Negation Through Centuries 375
6 Forgotten Relative Clause Constructions 383
6.1 Forgotten Syntax of Relative Clause 385
6.2 Retrieving the Lost Finite System 387
6.3 Classification of X+Ceyal+NP Constructions 388
6.4 Moving From Inflectional to Derivational Stage 396
6.5 Relative Clause of NP1-am+NP2 Type 399
6.6 Tol's Treatment of -am 406
6.7 A Digression 409
6.8 Reflexes of -am 410
6.9 Plosive and Nasal Increments in External Sandhi 417
6.10 A Note on vita-m palam 421
6.11 Sentential Sources of NP1-am+NP2 Type 422
7 Conclusion 427
7.1 What has been done? 429
7.2 What has to be done? 433
7.3 Reinterpretation of Personal Suffixes 434
7.4 Short Pronouns without Case Marking 435
7.5 Relative Clause in Tamil 436
7.6 Demonstrative and Interrogative Systems in Tamil 457
7.7 Roots of Subordinate Clause 460
7.8 Ceypu Type of Verbal Participle 465
7.9 Ceyyd Type of Verbal Participle 467
7.10 As If Clause in Tamil 470
7.11 Lexical and Gender Head Nouns 472
7.12 Onomatopoeic Constructions 473
7.13 Coordinate Syntax 475
7.14 Passive Syntax 477
7.15 Reflexive Syntax 479
7.16 Tensed Finite System Ending in –ay 481
7.17 Concluding Remarks 483
  Abbreviations 485
  References 491
  Subject Index 501
  Author Index 506

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