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The Tamil cliticsSo far we have already seen some of the Tamil 'clitics.' Clitics are suffixes that can attach to many different parts of speech, including nouns, adverbs, and verbs. We have already seen a number of them including உம் and ஆவது. As you will have noticed, these clitics have a number of different functions depending on the context. Below we will discuss a number of these functions with a number of different clitics. The discussion below doesn't exhaust all their possible functions, but just indicates some common ones. Others (such as the concessive form of the verb) are discussed in later lessons.
The clitic கூட can also be used in the same way. It differs from உம் in that it connotes an element of surprise or unexpectedness. It can be translated as 'also' or 'even.'
When உம் comes after a word modified by a numberal it expresses the all-inclusive sense of 'all ' NOUN':
மூன்று நாய்க்கும் உடம்பு சரி இல்லை. 'All three dogs are sick.
நாளைக்கு முருகன் குப்பிடுகிறாரோ? 'I doubt Murugan will call tomorrow' or 'Murugan might call tomorrow.'
அவர் வருவாரோ 'I wonder if he will come.'
Emphasis The clitics ஏ is used to add emphasis to the word that it is attached to. It can be attached to nouns, adverbs, and verbs. In English the function of ஏ and the other emphasis markers are often done via word stress. In Tamil, this is often taken care of by a clitic.
நானே வேலை செய்கிறேன். 'I myself am doing/will do work.'
நான் செய்கிறேனே. 'I will do it.' or 'I am doing work.'
As we have already seen ஏ can also be added to the infinitive form of the verb, as well as adverbial forms of the verb (See Unit 6).
அவர் பேசிக்கொண்டே இருக்கிறார். 'He is always speaking.'
As a general rule, when ஏ is added to a constituent, it has the function of making that word/phrase the salient part of the sentence, modifying or exaggerating the aspect that that word adds to the sentence meaning (whether that be the action, the agent of action, the time frame of the action, etc.). The clitic தான் is also used to give emphasis to the word or phrase that it attaches to. It has a slightly different meaning, however. Whereas ஏ adds emphasis to a single element in a larger set (i.e. this one rather than the others), தான் tends to emphasize the uniqueness of what it modifies (i.e., this one and no others) with respect to some presupposed set.
இப்படிதான் ஓடுகிறது. 'It only drives like this (and in no other way).'
B:வருவேனே!. 'Of course I am coming!'
A final clitic worth mentioning is மட்டும் (from the verb மட்டு, 'limit'), which can be translated as 'only':
நாளைக்குமட்டும் வருகின்றன. 'Only tomorrow will they (neuter) come.'
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