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Siva: அண்ணன்! இவர்கள் பெயர் மேரி.
Mary: வணக்கம். உங்கள் பெயர் என்ன?
Kannan: என் பெயர் கண்ணன்.
Siva: கண்ணன் என்னுடைய அண்ணன்.
Mary: அப்படியா? அப்போ யார் பெயர் கோபால்?
Siva: என் தம்பி பெயர் கோபால். அவன் ஒரு டாக்டர்.
Kannan: நான் ஒரு தமிழ் ஆசிரியர்.
Mary: அப்படியா? நான் ஒரு தமிழ் மாணவி.
Question words in Tamil can occur freely in more than one position in a sentence. Depending upon where they occur and how the stress is placed on them, they have slightly different meanings. For example, யார் முருகன்? would mean 'who is Murugan?' but the question முருகன் யார்? with an extra stress on the word யார் can mean 'who do you think Murgan is?'. Both of these questions in normal utterances can also mean 'which person is called Murgan?' or 'who is called Murukan?'.
The following table provides a list of question words along with their spoken form.
Question words and deictic setsEvery language has a class of expressions called 'deictic.' Here this simply means words that refer by 'pointing to' some.htmlect of the context. The reference of such words, then, vary depending on the context: e.g., who is speaking, where you are, etc. In English, 'I', 'you, 'he', 'she', 'that', 'there', etc., are deictics.
We have already seen a number of such constructions in Tamil: நான், நீங்கள், நீ, அவர், அவர்கள், அது,, etc. In addition, some deictics tend to occur in contrastive paradigms: e.g., in English, 'here/there/where', 'this/that/which', etc. In Tamil, such constrastive paradigms are extremely regular and vary by the first letter: இ, அ, எ (proximate, distal, question). Consider the following deictic sets:
Note on Politeness and Formal/Informal Tamil
When introducing someone to others, attention must be paid to use the appropriate polite forms. Elders should be addressed with the form உங்க 'your-polite' as opposed to உன் 'your-intimate', which is normally used among equals and children. The plural pronominal forms in Tamil are used to denote polite singular, besides marking plural number. Also, only spoken informal variety is used in speech as opposed to formal literary variety, which is used only in platform speech and written communication. For example, உங்கள் is a formal literary variety whose spoken informal form is உங்க. These two varieties are distinguised based on a sequence of sound changes to the formal variety, as in this case the loss of ள் in உங்கள் makes it an informal spoken variety. This type of sound changes are an automatic phenomenon, and the learner is required to pay extra attention to learn the distinction between spoken informal variety and formal written/literary variety. Sound changes also tend to occur in intra-word level in sentences. Example, the phrase என் பேரு 'my name' is used in speech as எம் பேரு with ன் becoming ம் in the word என் due to the following labial plosive sound ப். Stop sounds in Tamil have a tendency to assimilate the preceding nasal sounds to their place of articulation. This type of sound changes is very common in fast speech.
Following table lists a predominantly used formal and informal variety of pronominal forms.
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