Ok, apparently this is at least a year old as I write about, but I happened to come across some songs that Shankar Tucker produces and uploads on youtube. Most of them are pretty good. Now, I am by no means a trained musician, nor do I claim to know music. But like anyone and everyone, I have my own preferences. I am generally open to any genre as long as it is engaging enough. (almost any genre. Pop makes me want to puke most times.)
Now, it is not true that my parents did not try and get me to learn a musical instrument. While my siblings could all play the Violin, thanks to my army school, all I could play (and not even well at that), was the Bugle. My dad made every effort to enrol me in a music class post the army school stint, but he wanted me to learn keyboard (by now, Violin was obviously out of the equation) and I wanted to play the drums. Stalemate.
Many many years later, I tried learning guitar on my own, and even blew a decent amount on a Cort acoustic guitar, making sure I only replaced the strings with D’Addario when I broke them. (which was, well, once too often) After about 6 months of playing with it, I had learnt nothing. Two flights and a few time-zones later, I was a few thousand miles away from my guitar, and more than a year and a half has gone by. The gist of it – can’t play instruments – don’t know music. I shall make every effort to try and learn again.
Anyway, back to the point of the post, this is the song under discussion,
What was amusing, other than the video, which I think is a little goofy (not that I mean that negatively at all), was the pronunciations of a couple of words. The post title gives away one of them. As[h]ai. S[h]olven. Nes[h]am. If you spoke Tamil, then you’d probably know that these words are alternatively, and perhaps more predominantly pronounced Asai, Solven,Nesam. Now, hailing from a PI (Palakkad Iyer – Tamilians who are somehow associated with Palakkad in Kerala, and as a result speak in a uniquely different way which combines Tamil and some Malayalam, and some other stuff, that neither camp understands. ) family myself, I could instantly recognize the pronunciations.
My reaction was a mix of curiosity and incredulity. Very few people I know still speak like this today. My parents’ generation does. My grandparents’ generation most certainly does. But I know very few people of my age group who still speak this way. People still do, and I am sure I have other relatives who look at me and say ‘how come he doesn’t speak like us?’, but even so, the PI Tamil speaking population is a little limited.
If you have never heard PI Tamil before, here’s probably a good (I might include one of the more popular) reference,
I heard S[h]eri as I was previewing the video. [chuckles]
Anyway, as I was thinking about how the pronunciation was amusing, I got to reading the comments on the video, and the amusement vanished. Of course, as always sensible people exist, but a good number of people taking a stand for no particular reason. I would like to heard some of these people speak Tamil. Take people in Chennai [Sennai anyone ?] for instance.
I am reminded of a day when I was still in college (oh, wait, I still am only different place, and different time) when one of my classmates said something that went ‘Anga rendu ver nikkian, inga rendu ver nikkian‘ and I burst out laughing. He joined in. I later learnt that in Tirunelveli Tamil, that meant ‘there are two guys standing there, and two guys standing here’. I sure as hell don’t remember anyone asking him not to ‘mispronounce’ words.
Back to the sisters, their rendition of ‘Nee Ninaindhal’ is also pretty good. Munbe Va – umm, not so much.
[Edit - Nov-19] As I continued reading the comments section on YouTube, my amusement only increased with each comment. I think the comments can pretty broadly be classified into the following (actually, a lot of YouTube videos have comments that fall into these categories. Some of the videos are richer in the diversity of comments though. )
I [y]am the save the Tamil Language/I will criticize thee, and also contradict myself/An*l retentive:
Several of the ‘your mis-pronunciation spoil the beauty of the song’, fall under this broad category. Here are some of these jokers,
“How ‘sai’ can become shai? can sit become shit?..you have a wonderful voice …just some caution while pronouncing language will help.”
“music is gd…but ashingamaana pronounciation…sucks “
“tamil and our people means perfection. we lost it.because of cultural invasion like u broadminded hypocrates headed people spoiled in all the way. great work enjoy.”
“great work , sibilance sound always have fanciness and attractiveness but any change in language looses its basic property.i don’t think the poet will accept this.Musically its advanced and inspiring.”
“Hi– if this is repetition– sorry… Pls pronounce Thamizh words in Thamizh phonetics only– there is a sanskrit flavor heard.. especially while listening to S sound – it is ASAI- not ASHAI, it is Solven – not SHOLVEN … it is NESAM – not NESHAM– The song title itself shown as ÄSHAI— please correct it…! The lovely voice flowing to heart– but the pronouncing of words hitting back… Plss”
I defend thee: Several of the ‘give them a break’ comments fall under this category,
“Excellent.They are singing their hearts out and all you can do is criticize their pronunciation?A language,any language for that matter,is meant to be spoken freely.”
“AWESOMENESS……………….………there is no wrong in the pronunciation of “sha”……………super innovation…..inner meaning and eternal music have created a good product……..all the best”
I don’t know Tamil, but I am totally dig this song: (after going to Google translate and typing - எனக்கு சுத்தமா தமிழ் தெரியாது , ஆனா நான் இந்த பாட்டை ரொம்ப தோண்டுவேன் )
“I am Like this Song And My Life Chan..ging Very Help This Song And This 2 Sister Thank Sister”
“Kudos to shankar tucker and the singer sisters, beautiful job, i dont knoe tamil, don’t even get one word, but cant help listening it multiple times every day, same goes with the other 2 songs as well “Nee Nenaindal” and “Munbe Va”"
People who are from the Snail Mail Era:, and write Dear Sir, Dear Madams and please find enclosed herein
“Hi Shankar Tucker….” O, hello there yourself.
Hyper People/ The punctuation-ally challenged/The SMS speak:
“awesome songs you guys are super!!!!”
“fantastic Superb song…singers …music……”
“Just <3 der voice”
The woefully misinformed:
“It not different dialects, its english influence but still good to listen to.” - right then.
“they are brahmins , they incorporate sanskrit alot in their daily vocabs. Nothing wrong.” – yes, GRE Voabs 800/800
“These are pure tamil word we often use in srilankan tamil” - Ok, maybe I am misinformed, but really ?
I [y]am know music better than you B**es:
(well, that’s just figurative. The category would have remained even if it was for a Justin Beiber song.) But these are at least way better than the ‘don’t spaail the Tamil comments’
“Very amateurish. No feelings or emotional connection. This sort of retro rerecording has become a fad. The singers lack basic understanding of music, melody and raga. Gamakams are half-baked at best and blatantly incorrect at worst.”
“singing is bad..no breath control”
“its..ok..nothing grt !! “
I am suck so much at this:
“Hi.. am **. love this song so much.. i am so bad in singing.. but i feel so good when sing this song.. I tried n recorded..pls comment if u do hear..(at ur own risk) “
“How to download this song.. pls give me link..”
The disliker dislikers:
“.and why their are bloody 110 dislikes…probably some alliens”
“108 deaf people came here.”
The lower-case Challenged
“TAMIL LANGUAGE MUST B SAVED AND THE GIRLS DID WELL BUT INDIAN MUSIC NEEDS PRONUNCIATION AND ITS VERY IMPORATANT………………”
The teachers/reviewers [go, and redo it I say]
“Beauty of language is in its words and at least when one is singing it is VERY important to pronounce well. Girls sing well, I am sure they can correct pronunciation and redo… All the best”
Ok, as I going on reading, I am find more categories, but I think for now this should suffice. More, when I am bored.