What is Irattai Kilavi?
One of the two types of onomatopoeia used in the Tamil language, Irattai Kilavi, consists of a repetition of the word, for instance, sala sala and pada pada. As a pair, these words stand for the sounds produced by the actions they describe. But when split, the words carry no meaning. So, sala or pada are just nonsense words, but sala sala stands for the sound of flowing water, while pada pada is the sound of a rapid heartbeat.
Irattai Kilavi is mentioned in the oldest available Tamil literary work, Tholkaappiyam, written between 100 CE and 400 CE. Tamil, a very old language, has a lot of complicated grammar. We don’t think of grammar as being fun or cool. But Irattai Kilavi can certainly wear both those crowns because there are so many word pairs in the Tamil language that it makes communication enjoyable!
Enjoy the book with your little one!