The Tamils may be justly proud of the fact that Tamil has won the status of a Classical language, the status it richly deserves and should have got long, long ago. The Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), established in Chennai, has mapped out various plans including preparation of definitive editions of forty-one Classical Tamil texts and translation of these works into English and other major European languages as well as into major Indian languages and writing of a historical grammar of Tamil. Language being the autobiography of a people, our objective is to preserve and safeguard the invaluable treasure of the literary compositions in our language. If only we could delve into our past and recover the riches and wealth of the mighty treasure trove of Classical Tamil poetry, we will be amply rewarded by its lofty poetry, the poetry that strengthens and purifies the holiness of heart's affection and enlarges our imagination. Apart from these, reading the ancient Tamil texts such as Tolkappiyam, Ettuuokai, Pattuppattu, Tirukkural etc., provides a foundation for scholarship for the present and in this sense they do provide enlightened education.
It is heartening to write this foreword to the series of publications brought out by CICT, which I am sure, will do full justice to the masterpieces in Tamil without compromising on the quality of production. The Cankam corpus being a repository of our glorious culture, it behoves our present and future generations to study them and to convey their message and the vision of life embodied in them to the public at large. Let me, therefore, commend the series to the enlightened beings the world over.
Tolkappiyam is the earliest extant Tamil grammatical treatise in verse which, in three parts, deals with the letter, the word, and the subject matter of poetry. As it takes into consideration all aspects of a human language including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, prosody, rhetoric, and poetics, it has been praised by knowledgeable Western linguists for its wide range, its theoretical and methodological richness, and its depth. Tolkappiar is now hailed as 'the ultimate linguistic guru.'
It is beyond the reach of any scholar to subject the whole of such a rich text to a complete and comprehensive analysis and study. Realising the impossibility of a task of such magnitude, C.K. Rangan has narrowed down the scope of his research by judiciously choosing the phonological rules as laid down in the 483 sutras of Eluttatikaram, the first section of Tolkappiyam. It has now been accepted by students of structuralist linguistics and generative grammar to codify and formalize the phonological components of language. Such a categorization helps in providing conceptual tools for the purpose of analyzing and arriving at significant generalizations of language. C.K. Rangan has met this demanding and, challenging task of completing his project "Toward Formulating Formal Phonological Rules of Tolkappiyam - Eluttatikaram" most successfully. I am confident that his scholarly work will prove a useful stimulant in providing a workable methodology for further research in related areas.
I congratulate the Publication Division for bringing out this precious little volume.
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