#1 Easy Tamil Pronunciation Guide

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Wondering how தமிழ் (ta-muhl) or Tamil pronunciations can affect the meaning of your sentences? Here’s what we want you to remember: Phonetics is a major part of the language and will greatly affect how you speak and understand it. Let’s get to know more about this in today’s post!

Tamil pronunciation may be difficult for non-native speakers like you due to several factors. One factor is the presence of retroflex consonants, which are pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back towards the hard palate. Another factor is the use of voiced and unvoiced consonant pairs, making it difficult to distinguish between certain words. Additionally, the Tamil script has a complex system of diacritics and conjunct consonants, making it difficult to read and correctly pronounce words.

Another challenge in pronouncing Tamil correctly is distinguishing between short and long vowel sounds. In Tamil, a vowel can be pronounced either short or long, and this distinction can change the meaning of a word. Additionally, Tamil has several diphthongs and combinations of vowel sounds that can make it difficult for non-native speakers to produce the correct sound.

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Tamil Pronunciation – Let’s Talk

The Tamil Language

In Tamil, there are 12 vowels and 18 consonants. Together, they can form a whooping 247 compound characters. We may not look at all of these for obvious reasons, but you will get a good idea of it all by the end of the article.

When it comes to pronunciation, the Tamil language is full of elisions which is the dropping of the sounds of some sounds, parts of words, or some words altogether. Why? Because it helps speed up the conversation. And yes – Tamils can speak super fast! The reason for this is that Tamil is a Dravidian language and they have agglutinated words. Agglutinated means – you guessed it, words glued together. Many of these are found in the Tamil language.

Secondly, it has euphony. Meaning it’s downright musical with rhythm and may even be considered harmonious. Don’t believe me? You only have to look into Kollywood and listen to Tamil songs in their cinema. Your world will change.

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Tamil Pronunciation – Trying The Alphabet

The Tamil Alphabet

Vowels are உயிரெழுத்துக்கள் Uyireḻuttukkaḷ. Note that some are short and others are long vowels. Here are the 12 vowels:

VowelSoundListen To SoundExample
a nut
ā father
i ink
ī easy
u put
ū bloom
e pen
ē ate
ai ice
o one
ō show
au house

When using vowels, vowel markers or உயிர் குறிப்பான் Uyir kuriyeedugal are also needed. Note the following vowel markers: அ , ஆ , இ , ஈ , உ , ஊ , எ , ஏ , ஐ , ஒ , ஓ , ஔ , ஃ .

Consonants are called மெய் எழுத்துக்கள் Mey eḻuttukkaḷ. The 18 consonants with their sounds are given below:

ConsonantSoundListen To Sound Example
க்k kite
ங் ring
ச்c catch
ஞ்ñ syringe
ட் tap
ண் Kindergarten
த்t both
ந்n gander
ப்p pack
ம்m glum
ய்y yak
ர்r stir
ல்l lamb
வ்v Vincent
ழ் gullible
ள் gargle
ற் metric
ன் win

Common Sounds In Tamil

Combining vowels and consonants, we get உயிர் மெய் எழுத்துக்கள் Uyir mey eḻuttukkaḷ. Each is given its sound. For this set, we will use the letter க் or k.

ConsonantVowelCombinationPronunciationListen To Sound

Here is another bunch of combination sounds using the letter ங் or ng:

ConsonantVowelCombinationPronunciationListen To Sound

Can you try combination sounds with the rest of the consonants? Follow the same pattern and let us know how you do in the comments section!

There are also Grantha letters or கிரந்த எழுத்து Grantha eluttu. It is used when Sanskrit words are written and spoken. For example, ஸ்ரீ Sri is a symbolic letter used to give awareness and respect that it is a sacred Sanskrit word.

The Grantha consonants include: ஶ் (ś), ஜ் (j), ஷ் (ṣ), ஸ் (s), ஹ் (h) and க்ஷ்(kṣ). They follow the same combination of sounds when paired with vowels. Do try them out!

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Learn Tamil With The Ling App

Learn Tamil With The Ling App

It is understandable if you cannot fully grasp how to pronounce words in Tamil. You might search for an appropriate video and find great ones on YouTube. Practice is necessary to learn the sound of Tamil words, so watch and listen to as many videos as possible.

But to thoroughly understand the language, you can try the Ling App. The mini-lessons are free and give a fun, non-overwhelming grasp of the language in delightful packages. The lessons are themed, and as little as 10 minutes can go a long way in learning the language.

The Ling App has a total of 62 languages to learn. Users have been exceptionally pleased with the ease of learning through this app. It can help you pronounce, write, and speak at your pace and with a good dose of entertainment. Tamil will no longer seem difficult with Ling at your side.

Download the app today and say goodbye to learning with a dictionary!

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