I can't actually see Chennai (or any other city in Tamil Nadu) from *my* house....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/05/09 07:04 -07:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2010/05/09/10009652.aspx

The title is accurate, I cannot see any part of Tamil Nadu from where I live.  But then I'm not running for vice-president of the United States so the "informal" nature of such a bizarre etric on domestic and foreign policy experience leading to me being a poor choice for such a role is unlikely to hamper me too much. Instead I've just gone to the places, which ios clearly less impressive....

Which is good -- because I can forget about all that, and focus on some actual exciting news!

You know, forget about the above, it sounded much cleverer in my head. A place you wouldn't want to live....

So now presenting the thing that everyone (including me) had been waiting for (on, by providence or design, this 150th anniversary of Tagore's birthday) -- the Tamil Language Interface Pack for Windows 7!

It is only being released for 32-bit1, and you must have English resources installed.

And yes, I wish they were releasing a 64-bit version too. As I have mentioned.

You can download that 32-bit version from right here....

This LIP is produced as a part of the Local Language Program! w00t w00t!

And now, a little background information about Tamil:


~70 million, worldwide



Tamil is the official language in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and also in Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is constitutionally recognized in India and South Africa. Most of its 70 million speakers live in Tamil Nadu (around 50 million) and the neighboring states and in northern and northeastern Sri Lanka (4 million), but there are also significant communities of speakers in Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, and South Africa.

A purist movement in the 19th and 20th centuries cleaned the Tamil vocabulary from many Sanskrit loan words which can still be found in many other related languages.  Tamil, like other Dravidian languages, is an agglutinative language.



Tamil is member of the group of Dravidian languages which are not related to the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern and central India (those belong to the family of Indo-European languages). Its closest relative is Malayalam5.


Tamil has its own abugida script (meaning that it is a syllabic, not an alphabetic script). It has less characters than most other Indic scripts due to the lower number of consonants in the Tamil language (There are neither aspirated nor voiced stops like the English g or f4).  It is said that the script developed from the Brahmi script to its own form due to the fact that Tamil was mostly written on palm leaves. This required rounder characters and less dots (which would have pierced the leaves).
[note from me - some have suggested that the plam leaves point is an apocryphal bit added to Daniels & Bright years ago, but I have not had a chance to get the true story from anyone yet]

You can read more about Tamil here. The sections about old/middle/modern Tamil are paricularly interesting, in my opinion....

As I have mentioned in From Seattle (USA) to Coimbatore (India) in June? You betcha! , I will be at Tamil Internet 2010 in Kovai next month, and various other places throughout India. I now have my letters and my visa plus everything else I need. And I am very excited about that. I remembered the Next time, just bring one laptop, Mr. Michael! lesson and am somehow bringing just one laptop this time. Oh, and one iBot, which is neither PC nor Mac5.

Also, for the record, speaking specifically to the points raised in Tamil language support in Windows? You can't SHRII-k yet, but it's getting better, they still did not add SHA to the keyboard, either to fix the SHRII or to just add the letter. Thank goodness for the typography team adding the support, though I occasionally hear rumors of opinions some native speakers have on Latha itself that I'd love to get someone to describe on the record. :-)


1 - Though I am going to convert one of my self-hosting machines into a build machine so I can make a 64-bit version for me at least2
2 - No I cannot send it to anyone, sorry. Being a full-time employee in the Windows org does have some advantages3
3 - I also have my own version of Notepad that makes writing a UTF-8 BOM optional!
4 - Though as I have discussed previously, Tamil does have a more or less world-wide convention of using the Aaytham as an "F" in loasn words that require the sound,
5 - whose LIP was also recently released, as I mentioned in
Are MALAYALAM KA & TAMIL KA confusable? Only if you think "all those Dravidians look alike" !
6 - Actually it is more of a custom Linux distro on custom hardware, so probably closer in lineage to a PC.

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