Sunday, September 26, 2010

First effort to describe "Tamil"

(also known as "malabar"or "malauar" in those days) to non-Indians by the Portuguese missionary Fr. Henrique Henriques.

The effort of describing Tamil by Fr. Henriques to other missionaries started *before 1549 A.D*, and his grammar of Tamil in Portuguese (that is, describing Tamil in Portuguese) surfaced in 1549 A.D.

This particular hand-written manuscript was obtained (way back in the sixties) for our research from Lisbon, Portugal.

The following page is the first folio entitled "Arte Da Lingua Malabar":

The following page introduces the Tamil alphabet (as the missionary perceived it in the 16th century) in its own orthography:

Notice the segment on the first line "... ba be bi bo bu... " in the following document. Many of us from an older generation can recall our recitation of the English vowels: "a ஏ, e ஈ, i ஐ, o ஓ, u யூ," right? :) The Portuguese seem to have had their own recitation method ("ba, be, bi, bo, bu"). There's much more to know from this manuscript!


  1. Rarest of the Rarest Joy one experiences,

    Purest of the Purest Ray serene,

    Shineth from these Pages.

    Fine are the letters and words.


  2. mudhal ilkkana noolai parthadhil mikka santhosham.naan oru tamil teacher.mintamilil pudhiya urupinar.

  3. இந்த அரிய பிரதி தான் என்னை முனைவர் ராஜத்திடம் இழுத்துச்சென்றது.