pronunciation

pronunciation

Pronunciation is best learned with someone for whom Thamil is a first language. The guide provided below is just a crude approximation of Thamil sounds using English words. Even if you learn written Thamil well, having an accent when speaking can offset a lot of your hard work. If you want to be able to speak Thamil without an English (or French, German, etc.) accent, tape recording yourself speaking helps -- and you might be in for a surprise when you hear youself.

improving pronunciation -- using hints

Although you may think of Thamil people's accents as silly when speaking English, they may help you improve your pronunciation. For (probably) at least 95% of the people who speak English with a Thamil accent, they pronounce the English words with Thamil characters. For example, when a person says the word "rice", what they really may be pronouncing is "ரைசு". Similarly, "pizza" may become "பீட்சா" and "computer" may become "கம்பியூட்டர்". Depending on the person, even more can be learned about Thamil pronunciation.

vowels

vowel sounds like example of sound in english word
short a another
long aa all
short i in
lone ee bee
short oo book
long oo pool
short ay enter
long ay ate
ai life
short o oboe
long o phone
ou,ow flour

consonants

Sometimes, letters are doubled with its consonant sound. In those cases, the consonant will precede the letter, and the consonant receives an extra emphasis when the word is said aloud. Also, க and ப also pronounced differently if they begin a word.

consonant sounds like example of sound in english word
க் k (beginning of word, or preceded by f;) bucket
h (not preceded by க்) hallow

ng thing

ch (preceded by ச்) charge
s (not preceded by ச்) salad

ny cognac

t (preceded by ட்) tight
d (not preceded by ட்) door

strong n ~

th tooth

n now

p (beginning of word, or preceded by ப்) pear
b (not preceded by ப்) bear

m mom

y yell

r red

l laugh

v have

~ ~

~ ~

~ (preceded by ற்) ~
strong r (not preceded by ற்) ~

n win

consonants vs. "doubled" consonants

single consonant doubled consonants
தாகம
hear word
தாக்கம்
hear word
காசு
hear word
காய்ச்சல்
hear word
பாடு
hear word
பாட்டு
hear word
காது
hear word
கத்து
hear word
பண்பாடு
hear word
அப்பளம்
hear word
மாமா
hear word
அம்மா
hear word
பையன்
hear word
கொய்யா
hear word
கலை
hear word
கல்லூரி
hear word
இவன்
hear word
இவ்வளவு
hear word
புளி
hear word
புள்ளி
hear word
பறவை
hear word
பற்றி
hear word
சனி
hear word
சின்ன
hear word

consonant cluster sounds

Some sounds only happen in consonant clusters. They are listed below.

consonant cluster sounds like example of sound in english word example in Thamil
ங்க hard ng gong தங்கம்
hear word
ஞ்ச soft ng change மஞ்சள்
hear word