The Scientific Indian

If you see little boxes or some such things instead of sensible characters below, it is because of the reasons outlined in the comments. To view the tamil text you can temporarily switch the charset to utf-8 in your browser. More help is here.

ஊர் – ஓர் ஒளிப்பதிப்பு தமிழ் மொழியின் வரலாற்றை மிக அருமையான ஒளிப்பதிவாக விளக்கியிருக்கிறார் திரு பாஸ்கர். பிறந்த ஊரை விட்டு பெரும் தொலைவில் வாழும் தமிழரில் ஒருவனான என் மனதில் பல எண்ணங்களை எழுப்பிவிட்டது இந்த ஒளிப்பதிவு.

The squiggles above, if you see them at all, are of my mother tongue Tamil – a language of great antiquity and a copiously rich history and literature. Below is a translation of what the squiggles are about.

I found a fascinating project (via Nina Paley) that captures the history of what once was a pretty cool civilization down the tip of southern India. The project is called Uur – A Video Essay on Tamil and it is the labor of love of Mr MV Bhaskar. I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of what you see. Tamil scholars can chime in. Nevertheless, Mr Bhaskar seems to have done extensive research. The video should be of interest for any Tamilophiles out there.


  1. #1 Ahcuah
    December 30, 2006

    Regarding “squiggles”: for some reason, SciBlogs makes the default encoding be Microsoft Western (if you look at the source for the HTML, you can see the “charset=iso-8859-1”). Is there any way you can prevail upon them to switch that to Unicode (UTF-8)? When an entry is in Unicode (which your Tamil was), it would be nice for it to be accurately be reflected in the HTML headers.

    Because Unicode is what was required to see the Tamil correctly (it only looked like a bunch of @-symbols in Western). Yes, I managed to do it manually myself. But, theoretically, it would be nice for SciBlogs to join the future.

  2. #2 Markk
    December 30, 2006

    This is odd – when looking at this from the Science Blogs last 24 hour page I get garbage characters, but clicking on it and coming to the blog entry itself, It displayed correctly. Or at least it looks like what I think Tamil might look like….
    So Sci blogs has some disconnect in what it shows.

  3. #3 The Ridger
    December 30, 2006

    Even odder – my experience is the opposite of Markk’s – on the 24 hour page it’s Tamil, but on this page it’s random characters (accented a’s, registered trademarks, Z’s with haceks…)

  4. #4 Selva
    December 31, 2006

    Ah. When I made the post on my Mac (OS X), it displayed the characters fine even though the charset wasn’t utf-8. I’ll get a note across to the technical folks at sb.

  5. #5 Sunil
    January 4, 2007

    thanks for this pointer, Selva. I enjoyed that short film greatly.

    I knew of the buddhist influence in early TN (mostly from Kalki Krishnamurthy’s novels), but less about the Jain influence. And the fact that Valluvar was most likely to have been Jain.

    Not a bad effort at all.

  6. #6 selva
    January 4, 2007

    Indeed, quite enoyable and a very spirited effort by Mr Bhaskar. Very poignant too (the three physiclly challenged folks singing at the beach about tamil culture’s lost grandeur.) The historical irony didn’t miss me.

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