Like most languages, Tamil has a few particularities. Most important, voicing is allophonic, so that instead of having both voiced and unvoiced stop phonemes (or even four sets, with aspirated and breathy stops, as do the Indo-Aryan languages), Tamil has one set of phonemic stops, which are voiced in some contexts and invoiced in others. But Shwa writes them as they are pronounced, so the Shwa alphabet for Tamil includes both sets.
The Tamil script also distinguishes between dental and alveolar stops, although this distinction has been lost in the modern language.
Tamil has a classic five-vowel system with both short vowels (in red) and long vowels, plus two diphthongs:
|ஈ i:||இ i||உ u||ஊ u:|
|ஏ e:||எ e||ஒ o||ஓ o:|
|ஐ aj||அ ʌ (a)||ஆ a:||ஔ aw|
Letters on a gray background are only used in foreign words, including those from Sanskrit, Arabic and English.
|ப¹² p||த¹² ற¹² t||ட² ʈ||ச¹² ʧ||க¹² k|
|பⁿ b||த³ⁿ d||ட³ⁿ ɖ||சⁿ ஜ ʤ||கⁿ g|
|ஃப f||ச³ ஸ s||ஷ ʂ||ஶ sh||க³ ஹ h|
|ம m||ந ன n||ண ɳ||ஞ ɲ||ங ŋ|
|ஃஜ z||ர ɾ||ழ ɻ||ற³ⁿ r|
|ப³ வ ʋ||ல l||ள ɭ||ய j|
Now that you know the letters, why not try to read some Tamil written in Shwa?
|பால் சட்டிக்கு பூனை காவல் வைக்கிறதுபோல்|
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