Decoding the “Zha” code

Now many of you non-tams must have been dumbfound how to pronounce Azhagiri or KaniMozhi or Thamizh Nadu for that matter. I have heard some amit news anchors pronouncing them as Kanimoyi or even a Kanimozi with a literal “z” sound worth cringing my whole life. I feel like I want to put “dharbai” in their tongue and posikkify their mouth.

Before going into the step by step method to pronounce the letter “zha”. Zha represents the Thamizh letter  “ழ”. The sound of the letter and its variants are quite unique that only Thamizh and Malayalam have it.

Variants of Zha by vencurd

Those of non-tams who cant pronounce it, don’t worry! Even many Tams cant pronounce it. Many people substitute it with a “La” sound. A friend of mine from south of Tamil Nadu even claims that it is the right sound hahaha!

Don’t worry you are in safe hands! I will teach you how to pronounce a “Zha”. It’s closest equivalent is the American ‘r’ If you don’t find that good enough here’s a simple way.

Step 1: Imagine you have gobbled something really hot. Say, Vada Pav with two extra chillies

Step 2: If you do that I am 100% sure that the portion of gums above the middle of your tongue must have been roasted. It would have been so hot that it would have peeled off some skin. Imagine that.

Step 3: Now gently try to massage the roasted portion with the tip of your tongue and try saying “la” without touching the teeth.

Voila! You will end up saying a “zha” It is as simple that you know!

You have decoded the “zha” code if you can successfully do this.

Tongue twister by vencurd

I mastered this when I was a baby itself! Saraswathi wrote “zha” in my tongue. Please don’t ask me to show it okay!


  1. Aiyoo! Cute only this post is. :D

  2. idhu nallaa irukke?! :) I will keep this in mind. If I ever happen to teach a phonetics course and use the thamizh inventory as an example, I will use this analogy. And credit you too. :D

    "I feel like I want put “dharbai” in their tongue and posikkify their mouth." - hilarious! :D

  3. @Ladyrara: Thanks :-)

    @Srini :-D Mikka nandri! :-) that phrase is used when manthras are mispronounced by us, by the vaadhiyaars :-P

  4. Sama super post. WhattA creativity!!! Good thumbs :)

  5. Hi. I am malayalee. Ur neighbour. We pronounce 'zha' sound easily and naturally. But at the time of teaching foreigner it is a himalayan task. Next time onwards i will try ur invention. I hope there is no intellectual property right issue :) . Excellent blog post. Congrats.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A train Journey from Mambalam to Meenambakkam. Part 1

Living life King(s) size with Charm(s)

On travel