Tolkappiyam catergorises alphabet into consonants and vowels by analysing the syllables. It grammatises the use of words and syntaxes and moves into higher modes of language analysis. The Tolkāppiyam formulated thirty phonemes and three dependent sounds for Tamil.
Derivation of Tolkāppiyam from root words as per the rules defined in Nannūl verse 136.
EzhuththathikaaramEzhuththathikaaram is further subdivided into the following 9 sections - Nuul Marabu, Mozhi Marabu, PiRappiyal, PuNaRiyal, Thokai Marabu, Urubiyal, Uyir Mayangial, PuLLi Mayangial and the KutriyalukarappunaRiyal.
Nuul Marabu - This section enumerates the characters of the language, organises them into consonants, vowels and diacritic symbols. The vowels are sub classified into short and long vowels based on duration of pronunciation. Similarly, the consonants are sub classified into three categories based on the stress.
Mozhi Marabu - This section defines rules which specify where in a word can a letter not occur and which letter can not come after a particular letter. It also describes elision, which is the reduction in the duration of sound of a phoneme when preceded by or followed by certain other sounds. The rules are well-defined and unambiguous. They are categorised into 5 classes based on the phoneme which undergoes elision.
- Kutriyalukaram - the (lip unrounded) vowel sound u
- Kutriyalikaram - the vowel sound i(as the vowel in 'lip')
- Aiykaarakkurukkam - the diphthong ai
- Oukaarakkurukkam - the diphthong au
- Aaythakkurukkam - the special character (aaytham)
PiRappiyal - This is a section on articulatory phonetics. It talks about pronunciation methods of the phonemes at the level of diaphragm, larynx, jaws, tongue position, teeth, lips and nose. The visual representation of the letters is also explained.
PuNaRiyal - This section talks about the changes to words due to the following word i.e. it specifies rules that govern the transformations on the last phonem of a word (nilaimozhi iiRu) because of the first phonem of the following word (varumozhi muthal) when used in a sentence.
Urubiyal - This section talks about the word modifiers that are added at the end of nouns and pronouns when they are used as an object as opposed to when they are used as subjects.
PuLLi - Pulli concept is one of the distinguishing feature among the Tamil characters. Although it is not unique and brahmi also has pulli. It is distinguished by placement . According to tolkappiam which talks about pulli and its position, that is on top of the alphabet instead of side as in Brahmi. This is also one of the characteristics of Tamil brahmi according to Mr. Mahadevan. The first inscription of this type of pulli is in vallam by pallvas dated 7-8th century AD by Mahendra varman pallava. KutriyalukarappunaRiyal
Sollathikaaram deals with words and parts of speech. It classifies Tamil words into four categories - iyar chol(Words in common usage, thiri chol(words used in Tamil literature), vata chol(words borrowed from Sanskrit), thisai chol(words borrowed from other languages. There are certain rules to be adhered to in borrowing words from Sanskrit. The borrowed words need to strictly conform to the Tamil phonetic system and be written in the Tamil script.
The chapter Sollathikaaram is sub divided into the following 9 sections - KiLaviyaakkam, VEtRumaiyiyal, VEtrumaimayangial, ViLimaRabu, Peyariyal, Vinaiyiyal, Idaiyiyal, Uriyiyal and the Echchaviyal.
Peyariyal - This section deals with nouns.
Vinaiyiyal - This section deals with verbs.
PoruLathikaaramThe PoruLathikaaram gives the classification of land types, and seasons and defines modes of life for each of the combinations of land types and seasons for different kinds of people. This chapter is subdivided into the following 9 sections - AkaththiNaiyiyal, PuRaththiNaiyiyal, KaLaviyal, KaRpiyal, PoruLiyal, Meyppaattiyal, Uvamayiyal, SeyyuLiyal and the Marabiyal.
AkaththiNaiyiyal - This section defines the modes of personal life i.e. life of couples.
PuRaththiNaiyiyal - This section defines the modes of one's public life.
Uvamayiyal - The name Uvamayiyal literally translates to the nature or science of metaphors.