'Azhagi' - How to pronounce it?

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Gitartha Bordoloi, who resides in Assam and uses Azhagi+ to type in Assamese wrote to me in Aug, 2012 asking (if I remember right, he was the first one to ask) me the meaning of 'Azhagi' and how one has to pronounce it. I made a detailed reply as below and put it (after a few modifications) up in this page too so that whenever anyone else asks in the future, I can refer them to this page.

'Azhagi' - How to pronounce it? What is it's meaning?

Azhagu (A-zha-gu) = அழகு = Beauty

Azhagi (A-zha-gi) = அழகி = Beautiful woman

Azhagan (A-zha-gan)= அழகன் = Handsome man

As such, if you read, you will understand that I named my software 'Azhagi' to honour my wife's beautiful heart. My wife was/is a pillar of support to me. She is the one who earns (monetarily), as of now. In general, the name of my software will give the hearer (who knows the Tamil language) the meaning that my software is a 'beautiful' one in it's various aspects.

'அ' is the first vowel in Tamil language. So, the pronunciation of the 1st and 3rd letters in a-zha-gi are same as in other languages [i.e. the 'a' is pronounced as the first 'a' in 'ashtavakra gita'; the 'gi' is pronounced as the 'gi' in the word 'give']. But, the pronunciation of the 2nd letter 'ழ' is difficult to explain as the sound of the second letter 'ழ' does not find a place in almost all other world languages. As far as I know, a letter (with the same sound of 'ழ') exists in Malayalam. And, I think in German too, but I am not sure about it. I will confirm it with some when time permits and let you know.

The sound of 'zha' can be heard here -

You can view a native speaker telling 'zha', 'zhaa', 'zhi', ..., ... here -
(The letter sounds clearer when heard as part of a Tamil word than when spelled individually as in the above video. When spelled individually, it might sometimes be heard as 'La' or 'Ra').

Since there is no letter in English which sounds like 'ழ்', 'zh' is popularly used to represent this sound while transliterating in English. From this discussion, it looks like one Mr. F. W. Ellis was the first to use 'zh' to represent 'ழ்'.

Usually, those enquiring about Azhagi from the northern parts of India pronounce the 'zha' part of 'Azhagi' as the 'za' in 'zaheer khan'.

I created a nicely working Letter-to-Speech module for Tamil in 2001 or so. But, yet to find time to package it and release it. People have seen it working only in person at my home.