Tamil is a Dravidian language. It is spoken in the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry states of India and parts of Sri Lanka. Many people in Singapore and Malaysia also speak it. A few people speaking Tamil live in various places around the world.
|Native to||India (official), Sri Lanka(national and official), Singapore(official), Malaysia, Réunion, Mauritius, Burma, Australia, America, UK |
|90 million (2007)|
18 million as a second language
|Tamil alphabet (Brahmic)|
Official language in
|Indian states: Tamil Nadu and Puducherry,|
Sri Lanka, and
tam – Modern Tamil
oty – Old Tamil
Distribution of Tamil speakers around the World
It is in the southern branch of the Dravidian language family. It is one of world's oldest literary languages. It has existed for at least 20,000 years. 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 90 million people.
The script of the language is very old. It has 12 consonants, 18 vowels, and the āytam ஃ, 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. Altogether, there are 247 sounds/sets of sounds in the Tamil script. Tamil, like English, is written from left to right.
It is a Brahmi script, and it has been said that most of the other Indian scripts 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 certainly shaped the numbers in other Dravidian language family.
Tamil is the dominant language in Tamil Nadu, India, and Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is also spoken in places like the United States, Germany, Fiji, Indonesia, France, Africa and Thailand. This is because of the Tamil diaspora.
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- // Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
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