By K.S. Sivakumaran
As we all know there are different kinds of dialects in some languages. Even in English, there are different kinds of English and there are Literatures in English apart from English, American, Canadian or Australian Literature. So it is in Tamil Language and Literature.
There are Indian, European, Canadian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Singaporean and Australian Tamil Literature.
When it comes to language there are Senthamil, Koduntthamil, Semoliththamil and so on. But there had been what was known as Arabu Thamil, which was not very well publicized.
Last week, a book in Tamil titled Arabuth Thamil Engal Anbuth Thamil was launched at Zahira College, Maradana. The book is an elaborate version of a previously published work.
The author was a distinguished Muslim intellectual from Yaalpaanam – the late A.M.A. Azeez, a former Ceylon Civil Service officer and a Senator, and above all, an educationist heading the leading Muslim boys’ school in Colombo.
S.HM. Jameel and M. Ali Azeez are the publishers and Dr. A.M.A. Azeez Mantram has published this introductory book through Kumaran Book House. This book was first published in 1973.
S.H.M. Jameel, a former secretary to the Muslim Cultural Affairs Ministry and a scholar in both Tamil and English, apart from a publisher of books of Muslim interest and an educationist, has written a 20 page introduction to the book.
If readers in Tamil do not know anything about who A.M.A. Azeez was or his works, please read S.H.M. Jameel’s introduction. Present day young people are seldom avid readers – be it English or even in their own languages.
As to the question of what is Arabu Thamil, one has to know the origin, growth and the decline in the use of this type of language where the sounds of words in Arabic missing in chaste Tamil were introduced in certain format so that the Tamil language becomes enriched in terms of sound and phonetics, just as Sanskrit sounds had been assimilated into the Tamil language.
It is difficult for me to explain in English what is meant by Arabu (meaning Arabic) Thamil. The kind of words and sounds are have some commonalities with the Swahili language says Dr. A.M.A. Azeez.
What little I can do is to bring to the notice of the readers that such a book is available for further research.