tam names

Two days back I received an email from my HR informing everyone that a certain “rokini” was celebrating her birthday that day. Initially i found the name very unusual for a tam (her last name gave it away that she was tam) but then realized that it was just a “different” way of spelling “rohini”. Thankfully she didn’t spell it as “rogini”, which in sanskrit based languages means “diseased woman”.

Thing with tamil, as i have explained in my first ever blogpost, the tamil alphabet is very limited and practices polymorphism. For example, a single character represents K, Kh (as in khaana, khanna, etc.), G, Gh and some vague guttural version of n. Apart from polymorphism “along the rows”, there are some other peculiarities as well. There is no H sound in tamil, nor is there a letter to represent S or Sh, which are both represented by the “ch” sound.

What has happened is due to increased aryan influences, a number of tams have sanskrit-based names (in fact most tams I know have sanskrit names). Unfortunately, many of them can’t be accurately written in Tam, and hence get grossly mis-spelt. So you get Rokini for Rohini, and Braggasam for prakasam and gobal for gopal etc.

\begin{Update}One of the most popular bloggers in India is supposed to be Kiruba Shankar. When I first heard his name I burst out laughing because in Kannada, “kiruba” means “hyena” and whoever would have such a name! Then i realized it must be “krupashankar”. Writing “krupa” in tam and then transliterating it to english would yield “kiruba”. Strong. \end{Update}

So my dear tams, in order to prevent us from laughing at the funny ways in which you spell your names, I hereby exhort you to take on purely Dravidian names only. Listen to Periyar. Remember the dravidian movement. Chuck all the sanskrit in the names. And take on pure tam names. I’m sure you can’t misinterpret spellings with “Senthil” or “Anbazhagan” right!

Postscript Speaking of spellings, I don’t think the way I spell my name (Karthik) is accurate enough, though it is the most widely accepted spelling. Something like “kaartik” might be more accurate. However, it all depends on how you want to transliterate the Ta (as in tomato) and ta (as in pasta) into english.

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