Tamil character notes

Updated 27 June, 2020 • tags tamil, scriptnotes

This page lists characters in the following Unicode block and gathers information about them from various sources.

See also the companion document, Tamil, for a summary of the Tamil script and its use for the Tamil language.

Tamil has a fairly complicated set of rules and variations on pronunciation, and the writing system abstracts away from the detail. Phonetic transcriptions on this page should be treated as an approximate guide, only. Many are more phonemic than phonetic, and there may be variations depending on the source of the transcription. For example, the symbol a represents a set of central sounds which may be written a, ə, or ʌ in more detailed transcriptions.

Related pages.
Other character notes.
About this page

Various signs

U+0B82 TAMIL SIGN ANUSVARA

Description in the Unicode standard:

• not used in Tamil

U+0B83 TAMIL SIGN VISARGA

Tamil symbol, āytam ஆய்தம்

Returned to use in the modern script to form the following non-native fricatives from plosives:

Note that a vowel-sign can occur between the visarga and the other consonant – ie. the two are not treated as an indivisible unit, eg. ஃபோரியர்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

Independent vowels

U+0B85 TAMIL LETTER A

Tamil

a eg. அழகு.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B86 TAMIL LETTER AA

Tamil

eg. ஆண்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B87 TAMIL LETTER I

Tamil

i eg. இலை.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B88 TAMIL LETTER II

Tamil

eg. ஈரல்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B89 TAMIL LETTER U

Tamil

u eg. உண்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B8A TAMIL LETTER UU

Tamil

eg. ஊது.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B8E TAMIL LETTER E

Tamil

e eg. எலும்பு.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B8F TAMIL LETTER EE

Tamil

eg. ஏரி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B90 TAMIL LETTER AI

Tamil

eg. ஐந்து.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B92 TAMIL LETTER O

Tamil

o eg. ஒன்று.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B93 TAMIL LETTER OO

Tamil

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B94 TAMIL LETTER AU

Description in the Unicode standard:

≡ 0B92 0BD7

Tamil

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

Consonants

U+0B95 TAMIL LETTER KA

Tamil

k when

  • word-initial, eg. கால்,
  • geminated, eg. மக்கள், or
  • in a cluster, eg. கற்க.

g when intervocalic, eg. பாகு. Other sources list x ɣ h ∅.

ɡ when post-nasal, eg. அங்கே.

x when preceded by [U+0B83 TAMIL SIGN VISARGA], eg. செங்கிஸ் ஃகான்.w

as the digraph க்ஷ [U+0B95 TAMIL LETTER KA + U+0BCD TAMIL SIGN VIRAMA + U+0BB7 TAMIL LETTER SSA], eg. காமாக்ஷி

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B99 TAMIL LETTER NGA

Tamil

ŋ when

  • geminated, eg. அங்ஙனம், or
  • in a cluster, eg. அங்கே.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B9A TAMIL LETTER CA

Tamil

t͡ʃ ~ s when word-initial, eg. சின்ன.

tːʃ when geminated, eg. பேச்சு, or when following a stop consonant, eg. கட்சி.

s~ʒ when intervocalic, eg. பாசம்.

d͡ʒ when post-nasal, eg. இஞ்சி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B9C TAMIL LETTER JA

Tamil

d͡ʒ generally.

z when preceded by [U+0B83 TAMIL SIGN VISARGA], eg. ஃஜிரொக்ஸ்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B9E TAMIL LETTER NYA

Tamil

ɲ when

  • initial, eg. ஞானம்,
  • geminated, eg. அஞ்ஞானம், or
  • in a cluster, eg. இஞ்சி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0B9F TAMIL LETTER TTA

Tamil vallinam consonant

Doesn't occur initially.

ʈ when geminated, eg. பட்டு.

ɽ~ɖ when intervocalic, eg. படி.

ɖ when post-nasal, eg. வண்டி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BA3 TAMIL LETTER NNA

Tamil

ɳ when in a cluster, eg. வண்டி, or geminated, eg. வண்ணம்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BA4 TAMIL LETTER TA

Tamil

when

  • word-initial, eg. தனி,
  • in a doubled consonant, eg. பத்து, or
  • after a stop, eg. யுக்தி.

ð when intervocalic, eg. நல்லது.

when post-nasal, eg. பந்து.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BA8 TAMIL LETTER NA

Tamil

eg. பந்து.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BA9 TAMIL LETTER NNNA

Tamil mellinam consonant

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BAA TAMIL LETTER PA

Tamil

p when

  • word-initial, eg. பத்து,
  • in a doubled consonant, eg. அப்பன் or
  • in a cluster, eg. விற்பனை.

b when intervocalic, eg. ஆபத்து. Some sources say β~w.

b when post-nasal, eg. அன்பு.

f when preceded by [U+0B83 TAMIL SIGN VISARGA], eg. ஃபீசு. Sometimes this sound is produced just using this character alone, for foreign words.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BAE TAMIL LETTER MA

Tamil

m when

  • initial, eg. மலை.
  • geminated, eg. மலை.
  • in a cluster, eg. மலை, and
  • finally, eg. வண்ணம்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BAF TAMIL LETTER YA

Tamil

j when

  • initial, eg. யானை, or
  • geminated, eg. உய்ய,

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB0 TAMIL LETTER RA

Tamil

ɾ eg. கரி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB1 TAMIL LETTER RRA

Tamil

Doesn't occur initially.

ttr when geminated, eg. பற்றி.

r when intervocalic.

(d)r when post-nasal, eg. ஒன்று.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB2 TAMIL LETTER LA

Tamil

l when

  • between vowels, eg. வலி,
  • geminated, eg. வல்லி, or
  • final, eg. வந்தால்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB3 TAMIL LETTER LLA

Tamil

Doesn't occur word-initially.

ɭ when

  • between vowels, eg. வளி,
  • geminated, eg. வள்ளி, or
  • final, eg. வந்தாள்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB4 TAMIL LETTER LLLA

Tamil

ɽ when intervocalic, eg. வழி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB5 TAMIL LETTER VA

Tamil

ʋ when

  • initial, eg. வழி, or
  • geminated, eg. அவ்வழி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB6 TAMIL LETTER SHA

Tamil grantha consonant

ʃ eg. ஶிவா.

This character is not commonly used, except in the ʃ͓ɾī ligature ஶ்ரீ. (Other ligatures with MA, YA, RA, and VA are found in archaic forms of Tamil only.)

The syllable ʃri can be written with two different initial letters: [U+0BB6 TAMIL LETTER SHA] (ie. ஶ்ரீ ʃ͓ɾī) or [U+0BB8 TAMIL LETTER SA] (ie.ஸ்ரீ s͓ɾī). The result looks identical. Since 2005, the Unicode Consortium has recommended use of the former, but both are still in wide circulation, so Unicode 12 recommends that both be treated as equivalent sequences.u493-4

Refs: [1] Proposal to add Tamil grantha character SHA; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB7 TAMIL LETTER SSA

Tamil

ʂ eg. உஷா.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB8 TAMIL LETTER SA

Tamil

s eg. ஸந்தியா

ks when preceded by [U+0B83 TAMIL SIGN VISARGA], eg. ரெஃஸ் ɾeˑs͓ rex.w

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BB9 TAMIL LETTER HA

Tamil

h eg. ஹரி

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p428; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

Dependent vowel signs

U+0BBE TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AA

Tamil

eg. கால்.

This character can also be used in another way, but it is not recommended. Decomposed forms of [U+0BCA TAMIL VOWEL SIGN O] and [U+0BCB TAMIL VOWEL SIGN OO] are each represented by two characters, [U+0BC6 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN E] or [U+0BC7 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN EE] , respectively, and this character. When used this way, both combining characters must appear after the base consonant(s), and this character must come second.3

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script; [3] The Unicode Standard v5.2 pp290-291

ி

U+0BBF TAMIL VOWEL SIGN I

Tamil

ி

i eg. கிரி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BC0 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN II

Tamil

eg. கீரி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BC1 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN U

Tamil

u eg. குடம், அழகு.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BC2 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN UU

Tamil

eg. கூடம்.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BC6 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN E

Description in the Unicode standard:

• stands to the left of the consonant

Tamil

e eg. கெடு.

This character can also be used, followed by [U+0BBE TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AA] to represent a decomposed [U+0BCA TAMIL VOWEL SIGN O], or followed by [U+0BD7 TAMIL AU LENGTH MARK] to represent [U+0BCC TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AU], but neither approach is recommended. You should just use the single character. When used this way, both combining characters must appear after the base consonant(s), and this character must come first.3

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script; [3] The Unicode Standard v5.2 pp290-291

U+0BC7 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN EE

Description in the Unicode standard:

• stands to the left of the consonant

Tamil

eg. கேடு.

This character can also be used, followed by [U+0BBE TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AA] to represent the decomposed version of [U+0BCB TAMIL VOWEL SIGN OO], but this is not recommended. You should just use the single character. When used this way, both combining characters must appear after the base consonant(s), and this character must come first.3

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script; [3] The Unicode Standard v5.2 pp290-291

U+0BC8 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AI

Description in the Unicode standard:

• stands to the left of the consonant

Tamil

, eg. கைது.

In traditional Tamil orthography the shape of this character changes to picture in conjunction with the following characters: ண ன ல ள. However, this shape is not used in modern Tamil writing.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script; [3] The Unicode Standard v5.2 pp293-294

Two-part dependent vowel signs

U+0BCA TAMIL VOWEL SIGN O

Tamil

o, eg. கொடு.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BCB TAMIL VOWEL SIGN OO

Tamil

, eg. கோடு.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

U+0BCC TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AU

Tamil

, eg. கௌதாரி.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] p426; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script

Virama

U+0BCD TAMIL SIGN VIRAMA

Tamil mark, puḷḷi

Used as a virama to indicate a lack of vowel sound after a consonant, and doubled consonants. Unlike most Indian scripts, which tend to use ligatures for consonant clusters, modern Tamil normally shows a visible puḷḷi over characters without following vowel sounds, eg. பத்து லட்சம் pttu lʈcm (pʌttu lʌʈcʌm) ten lakhs.

Two exceptions include க்ஷ kʃa and sometimes ஶ்ரீ ʃri, although even those are often written with a visible pulli these days. Note that these ligatures are still written in Unicode using an invisible pulli character between the consonants.

The Unicode Standard specifies that you can force the pulli to appear over the initial letters in a conjunct that would otherwise be a ligature by using U+200C ZERO WIDTH NON JOINER immediately after the pulli.

Refs: [1] [Daniels] pp426-429; [2] Wikipedia: Tamil Script; [3] The Unicode Standard v5.2 p290

Various signs

U+0BD0 TAMIL OM

Tamil symbol, ōm̐

2OM is a religious concept found in all three major religions born in India viz. Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Tamil OM sign is widely used in Hindu religious texts, temple publications, and as neon lamps of sign boards in shops etc.

This sign helps with transliteration between Tamil and other indic scripts such as Devanagari, Gurmukhi and Gujarati, which also have an om character.

Refs: [1] Proposal to add TAMIL OM

U+0BD7 TAMIL AU LENGTH MARK

Tamil mark

Use of this character is not recommended. That said, it is normal for this character to appear in decomposed normalisations of text. It allows for [U+0BCC TAMIL VOWEL SIGN AU] to be represented by two characters, [U+0BC6 TAMIL VOWEL SIGN E] and this character. When used this way, both combining characters must appear after the base consonant(s), and this character must come second. It should not be used in any other context.

Refs: [1] The Unicode Standard v5.2 pp290-291

Digits

U+0BE6 TAMIL DIGIT ZERO

Tamil digit, pūkkiyam பூக்கியம்

A modern innovation. This character was added as of Unicode 4.1 for implementations which need to support it.

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BE7 TAMIL DIGIT ONE

Tamil digit, oṉṟu ஒன்று

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BE8 TAMIL DIGIT TWO

Tamil digit, iraṇtu இரண்து

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BE9 TAMIL DIGIT THREE

Tamil digit, mūṉṟu மூன்று

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BEA TAMIL DIGIT FOUR

Tamil digit, naraṉku நரன்கு

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BEB TAMIL DIGIT FIVE

Tamil digit, aintu ஐந்து

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BEC TAMIL DIGIT SIX

Tamil digit, āṟu ஆறு

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BED TAMIL DIGIT SEVEN

Tamil digit, ēḻu ஏழு

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BEE TAMIL DIGIT EIGHT

Tamil digit, eṭṭu எட்டு

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BEF TAMIL DIGIT NINE

Tamil digit, oṉpatu ஒன்பது

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

Tamil numerics

U+0BF0 TAMIL NUMBER TEN

Tamil digit, pattu பத்து

The following illustrates how this numbering system is used:
10 is
11 is ௰௧
20 is ௨௰
21 is ௨௰௧
120 is ௱௨௰
1,200 is ௲௨௱
1,221 is ௲௨௱௨௰௧
etc.

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BF1 TAMIL NUMBER ONE HUNDRED

Tamil digit, nūṟu நூறு

The following illustrates how this numbering system is used:
10 is
11 is ௰௧
20 is ௨௰
21 is ௨௰௧
120 is ௱௨௰
1,200 is ௲௨௱
1,221 is ௲௨௱௨௰௧
etc.

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

U+0BF2 TAMIL NUMBER ONE THOUSAND

Tamil digit, en எந்

The following illustrates how this numbering system is used:
10 is
11 is ௰௧
20 is ௨௰
21 is ௨௰௧
120 is ௱௨௰
1,200 is ௲௨௱
1,221 is ௲௨௱௨௰௧
etc.

Modern Tamil normally uses Western digits.

Refs: [1] Omniglot: Tamil; [2] CSS3 Module, Lists; [3] Unicode Technical Note #21: Tamil Numbers

Tamil calendrical symbols

U+0BF3 TAMIL DAY SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

Tamil symbol, nāl

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

U+0BF4 TAMIL MONTH SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

= maatham

Tamil symbol, mātam (approximately)

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

U+0BF5 TAMIL YEAR SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

= varudam

Tamil symbol, varudam (approximately)

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

Tamil clerical symbols

U+0BF6 TAMIL DEBIT SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

= patru

Tamil symbol, patru (approximately)

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

U+0BF7 TAMIL CREDIT SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

Tamil symbol, varavu (approximately)

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

U+0BF8 TAMIL AS ABOVE SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

= merpadi

Tamil symbol, merpadi (approximately)

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

Currency symbol

U+0BF9 TAMIL RUPEE SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

= rupai

Tamil symbol, rupai (approximately)

The Tamil rupee sign is distinguished from [U+20A8 RUPEE SIGN], which is an older symbol not formally tied to any particular currency.u

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

Tamil clerical symbol

U+0BFA TAMIL NUMBER SIGN

Description in the Unicode standard:

Tamil symbol, enn (approximately)

Refs: [1] Proposal to add eight Tamil symbols

References

  1. [ d ] Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, The World's Writing Systems, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  2. [ w ] Wikipedia, Tamil Script
  3. [ wl ] Tamil language
  4. [ u ] The Unicode Standard
  5. [ o ] Tamil
  6. [ wd ] Tamil language - Definition
  7. [ uf ] Tamil Language and Script
  8. [ n ] Tamil Vowels, Consonants, and Syllables: Alternative Formats
  9. [ l ] Anandam Krishnamurthi, Learn Tamil in a Month, Readwell's, ISBN 9788187782049
  10. [ i ] Indic Layout Requirements