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Mary: நீங்கள் தமிழா?
Kannan: ஆமாம். நான் தமிழ்.
Mary: அப்போ! நீங்கள் சென்னையா?
Kannan: இல்லை. நான் தஞ்சாவூர். நீங்கள் அமெரிக்காவா?
Mary: இல்லை. நான் கனடா.
Kannan: ஓ! அப்போ! நீங்கள் பிரஞ்சா?
Making Interrogative Questions and Sandhi Rules
The interrogative marker ஆInterrogative questions, also called yes/no questions, are made in Tamil using the suffix ஆ. This suffix can be added to the end nouns, adjectives, adverbs, or verbs. For example, the noun பையன் when added with the suffix ஆ, as in பையனா?, it becomes a question. This can mean either 'is he a boy?' or 'are you asking about a boy?' etc., depending upon the context of the utterance. Thus, unlike in English where the interrogative questions are made by a change in word order between the auxiliary verb 'be' and the subject, the interrogative question in Tamil is made simply by adding the suffix ஆ at the end of words. Following are some of the other examples of Tamil interrogative expressions with examples from various parts of speech.
உங்கள் பெயர் கண்ணனா? (கண்ணன் + ஆ)
கண்ணன் உங்கள் பெயரா? (பெயர் + ஆ)
நான் உயரமா? நீங்கள் உயரமா?
The suffix ஆ is added next to any word ending in consonant without any change in the word as in கண்ணனா, பெயரா,
உயரமா etc. However, when this suffix or
any other suffix that begins with a vowel is added to a word that ends in a
vowel a change in the word occurs - either by adding a glide, or removing
final vowel. The change that takes place in words during the
addition of suffixes is called sandhi change, and the rules
that govern each of such changes are called sandhi rules (See lesson 4).
Use of the suffix ஆ with a negative connotation:
When the suffix ஆ is used in obvious expressions like 'is this a book?' (இது புத்தகமா?), 'is this food'? (இது சாப்பாடா?) etc., a negative connotation of 'who on earth would call this a book?, 'what kind of food is this?' etc., can be implied. In English an extra stress is placed on the nouns such as 'book' and 'food' etc., to disambiguate such expressions. But in Tamil such distinction can only be made with a very subtle intonation. So, in failing to use such intonation, misunderstandings might occur. In some cases, the words such as என்ன, 'what' எல்லாம் 'all', etc., are used with the subject, but again such sentences can also be used with a normal intention. Except for very obvious cases, an ambiguity of interpretation is always possible.
இது என்ன? சாப்பாடா? a) What is this? food! b) Who on earth would call this a food?
நீ எல்லாம் ஒரு மனுஷனா? Are you (all) a human being?
நீங்கள் எல்லாம் போலிஸ் காரர்களா? a) Are you all police men? b) What kind of police men are you all?
இக்கு எங்க போட்றது? இச்சு எங்க போட்றதுண்ணு தெரியலெ! நீயெல்லாம் ஒரு தமிழ் வாத்தியாரா?
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