Tamil language

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tamil
தமிழ் tamiḻ
Word Tamil.svg
Pronunciation [t̪ɐmɨɻ]
Native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Réunion, Mauritius, Burma[1]
Ethnicity Tamil people
Native speakers 70 million  (2007)[2]
8 million as a second language[3]
Language family
Writing system Tamil alphabet (Brahmic)
Tamil Braille
Official status
Official language in Indian states: Tamil Nadu[4] and Puducherry,[5]
Sri Lanka,[6] and
Singapore.[7]
Recognised minority language in  Malaysia
 Mauritius
 Réunion
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ta
ISO 639-2 tam
ISO 639-3 Either:
tam – Modern Tamil
oty – Old Tamil
Linguist List oty Old Tamil
TamilPopulation-World.png
Distribution of Tamil speakers around the World

Tamil /ˈtæmɪl/[8] is a Dravidian language. It is spoken in the Tamil Nadu state of India and in some parts of Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. It is in the southern branch of the Dravidian language family. It is a classical language. It is one of world's oldest literary languages. It has existed for at least 2,000 years.[9][10] The oldest text found in Tamil is Tolkāppiyam. Tamil is the one of the oldest living languages in the world. It is spoken by almost 65 million people. Tamil is the main language in Tamil Nadu, India, and in Northern Province, Sri Lanka.

Tamil script[change | change source]

Main Article: Tamil Script

The script of the language is very primitive, making it very hard to read. It has 12 consonants, 18 vowels, and the āytam  , which is neither a consonant nor a vowel. The āytam can be used with other letters to represent sounds not in the Tamil script, such as 'f'. The consonants and vowels can mix to form compound letters. Alltogether, there are 247 sounds/sets of sounds in the Tamil script.

Tamil, like English, is written from left to right.

Tamil derivings[change | change source]

It has been said that most of the other Indian languages are basically derived from the letters of Tamil. In a few cases, the words themselves were used in other Indian languages for better understanding. Tamil numbers have certianly shaped the numbers in other Dravidian language family.

Tamil is the dominant language in Tamil Nadu, India, and Northern Province, Sri Lanka.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Myanmar's Tamils seek to protect their identity". BBC. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25438275. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  2. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  3. Tamil language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  4. "Official languages of Tamilnadu", Tamilnadu Government, http://www.tn.gov.in/welcometn.htm, retrieved 1 May 2007
  5. "Official languages", UNESCO, http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=22495&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html, retrieved 10 May 2007
  6. "Official languages of Srilanka", State department, US, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5249.htm, retrieved 1 May 2007
  7. "Official languages and national language", Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Government of Singapore), http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_version/cgi-bin/DisplayContent.pl?DOCID=1999-REVED-CONST&VID=931158661-003601&WEF=latest&TYPE=simple&mode=and&version=currentVersion&query1=official%20language, retrieved 22 April 2008
  8. Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  9. Stein, Burton (November 1977), "Circulation and the Historical Geography of Tamil Country", The Journal of Asian Studies 37 (1): 7–26, doi:10.2307/2053325 , JSTOR 2053325
  10. Steever, Sanford B. "The Dravidian languages", First Published (1998), pp. 6–9. ISBN 0-415-10023-2

Other websites[change | change source]

Tamil at Wikibooks