Sandhi Rules

Tamil is a language that relies heavily on suffixes. Every grammatical change of words and sentences are indicated by different suffixes that a concatenated to the words.

And during those concatenations the some of the letters need to be transformed to ensure that the rules of the letters are not broken.

Let's have a look at an example and you will understand what letter transformations mean:

மகள்makaḷ means daughter. If you want to make it a question and ask "Is it the daughter?" you would add the suffix -ஆ] which is the indicator for a question to the word. That would look like following:


But remember, there was a rule that said there was never a vowel allowed within a word? That is why the word has to be transformed.

மகள்makaḷ + ā is transformed easily, there is a compound letter for ள் + ā that is ளாḷā so it is transformed into மகளாmakaḷā. This easy transformation is always possible whenever a consonant of the word meets a vowel of the sufffix.

But there are other situations as well like a vowel of the word meeting another vowel of the suffix. Or a vowel meets a consonant of the suffix. In those cases there are specific rules called Sandhi rules. Sandhi is the Tamil word for junction.

So these Sandhi rules explain what to do when a word meets a suffix or another word. There are a lot of them and sometimes it can be confusing but be assured that they aren't. Sandhi rules appeared through the evolution of the language to make it easier for the tongue to pronounce certain words.

In the course of this book you will learn a few Sandhi rules but not all of the rules will be explicitly mentioned as Sandhi rules. That way you will be able to recognize the patterns yourself which will help to actually learn these rules yourself.