Transliteration and Other Conventions
I have tried to reduce the amount of transcription in the text to aid readability. However, I have indicated the correct transliteration (usually from Tamil) the first time a word is used. Often, I have put the correct transliteration in parentheses and have adopted the Madras Lexicon style of transliteration. I use diacritics for a word when it first appears in the text and in the Bibliography.
The large number of functional terms in the text side by side with caste names has posed some problems of intelligibility. In the interests of clarity, I have put all caste names in lowercase (i.e., paraiyar, vellala, palli, agamudaiyar). However, in the instance of Kondaikatti vellala, I have indicated the subcaste name with uppercase. I have also decided to put functional names in uppercase. By far the most confusing terms are Pannaiyal (bonded laborers) and Padiyal (laborers employed by years or shorter periods). The reader will therefore be confronted on several occasions with phrases that place paraiyar or palli—both caste names—alongside Pannaiyal or Padiyal. In these cases, it means that these bonded or employed laborers are from either the paraiyar or the palli caste.