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Tamillanguage
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Tamil/tml/(,
tami,[t
m] ? )isaDravidian
languagepredominantlyspokenby
theTamilpeopleofIndiaand
northernSriLanka,andalsobythe
Tamildiaspora.Tamilisanofficial
languageoftwocountries,
SingaporeandSriLanka,[9][10]and
hasofficialstatusintheIndianstate
ofTamilNaduandtheIndianUnion
TerritoryofPuducherry.Itisalso
usedasoneofthelanguagesof
educationinMalaysia,alongwith
English,Malayand
Mandarin.[11][12]InIndia,outsideof
TamilNaduandPuducherry,Tamil
isalsospokeninthestatesof
Kerala,PuducherryandAndaman
andNicobarIslandsasasecondary
languageandbyminoritiesin
KarnatakaandAndhraPradesh.Itis
oneofthe22scheduledlanguages
ofIndiaandwasthefirstIndian
languagedeclaredasaclassical
language,whichwasdonebythe
GovernmentofIndiain2004.[13]
Thelanguageisalsospokenby
TamilminoritiesinMalaysia,the
UnitedArabEmirates,[14]the
UnitedStates,UnitedKingdom,
Mauritius,Canada,[15]South
Africa,[16]Fiji,[17]Germany,[18]the
Philippines,theNetherlands,
Indonesia[19]andFrance,aswellas
smalleremigrantcommunities
elsewhere.
Tamilisoneofthelongest
survivingclassicallanguagesinthe
world.[20][21]TamilBrahmi
inscriptionsfrom500BChavebeen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language

Tamil
tami

Pronunciation [t
m]
Nativeto

India
SriLanka

Ethnicity

Tamilpeople

Native
speakers

70million(2007)[1]

Language
family

Dravidian

Earlyforms

OldTamil

8millionL2speakersinIndia(nodate)[2]

Southern
TamilKannada
TamilKodagu
TamilMalayalam
Tamillanguages
Tamil

MiddleTamil
Tamil
Writing
system

Tamilalphabet(Brahmic)
ArwiScript(Abjad)
TamilBraille(Bharati)
Vatteluttu(historical)

Signedforms

SignedTamil
Officialstatus

Official
languagein

SriLanka, [3]
Singapore. [4]
Indianstates:TamilNadu, [5]andPuducherry[6]

Recognised
minority
languagein

Canada
Malaysia
Mauritius
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Runion
foundonAdichanallur[22]and
Seychelles
2,200yearoldTamilBrahmi
Kerala(India)
inscriptionshavebeenfoundon
Languagecodes
Samanamalai.[23]Ithasbeen
describedas"theonlylanguageof
ISO6391
ta
contemporaryIndiawhichis
ISO6392
tam
recognizablycontinuouswitha
ISO6393
Variously:
classicalpast."[24]Thevarietyand
tam(http://www01.sil.org/iso639
qualityofclassicalTamilliterature
3/documentation.asp?id=tam)ModernTamil
hasledtoitbeingdescribedas"one
oty(http://www01.sil.org/iso639
ofthegreatclassicaltraditionsand
3/documentation.asp?id=oty)OldTamil
literaturesoftheworld".[25]Tamil
ptq(http://www01.sil.org/iso639
literaturehasexistedforover2000
3/documentation.asp?id=ptq)PattapuBhasha
years.[26]Theearliestperiodof
oty(http://multitree.org/codes/oty)OldTamil
Linguistlist
Tamilliterature,Sangamliterature,
isdatedfromca.300BCAD
Glottolog
tami1289
[27][28]
(http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/tami1289)
300.
Ithastheoldestextant
literatureamongotherDravidian
(ModernTamil)[7]
languages.[20]Theearliest
oldt1248
epigraphicrecordsfoundonrock
(http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/oldt1248)
edictsandherostonesdatefrom
(OldTamil)[8]
[29][30]
aroundthe3rdcenturyBC.
Morethan55%oftheepigraphical
inscriptions(about55,000)foundby
theArchaeologicalSurveyofIndia
areintheTamillanguage.[31]Tamil
languageinscriptionswrittenin
Brahmiscripthavebeendiscovered
inSriLanka,andontradegoodsin
ThailandandEgypt.[32][33]Thetwo
earliestmanuscriptsfrom
India,[34][35]acknowledgedand
registeredbyUNESCOMemoryoftheWorldregisterin1997and2005,wereinTamil.[36]

In1578,PortugueseChristianMissionariespublishedaTamilprayerbookinoldTamilscriptnamed
'ThambiraanVanakkam',thusmakingTamilthefirstIndianlanguagetobeprintedandpublished.[37]Tamil
Lexicon,publishedbytheUniversityofMadras,isthefirstamongthedictionariespublishedinanyIndian
language.[38]TamilisusedasasacredlanguageofAyyavazhiandinTamilHindutraditionsofShaivism
andVaishnavism.Accordingtoa2001survey,therewere1,863newspaperspublishedinTamil,ofwhich
353weredailies.[39]

Contents
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language

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1 Classification
2 History
2.1 Legend
2.2 Etymology
2.3 OldTamil
2.4 MiddleTamil
2.5 ModernTamil
3 Geographicdistribution
4 Legalstatus
5 Dialects
5.1 Regionspecificvariations
5.1.1 Loanwordvariations
6 Spokenandliteraryvariants
7 Writingsystem
8 Phonology
8.1 Vowels
8.2 Consonants
8.3 ytam
8.4 Numeralsandsymbols
9 Grammar
9.1 Morphology
9.2 Syntax
10 Vocabulary
11 Influence
12 Seealso
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language

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13 Footnotes
14 References
15 Furtherreading
16 Externallinks

Classification
TamilbelongstothesouthernbranchoftheDravidianlanguages,afamilyofaround26languagesnativeto
theIndiansubcontinent.[40]ItisalsoclassifiedasbeingpartofaTamillanguagefamily,whichalongside
Tamilproper,alsoincludesthelanguagesofabout35ethnolinguisticgroups[41]suchastheIrulaand
Yerukulalanguages(seeSILEthnologue).
TheclosestmajorrelativeofTamilisMalayalamthetwobegandivergingaroundthe9thcenturyCE.[42]
AlthoughmanyofthedifferencesbetweenTamilandMalayalamdemonstrateaprehistoricsplitofthe
westerndialect,[43]theprocessofseparationintoadistinctlanguage,Malayalam,wasnotcompleteduntil
sometimeinthe13thor14thcentury.[44]

History
AccordingtolinguistslikeBhadrirajuKrishnamurti,Tamil,asa
Dravidianlanguage,descendsfromProtoDravidian,aProtolanguage.
LinguisticreconstructionsuggeststhatProtoDravidianwasspoken
aroundthethirdmillenniumBC,possiblyintheregionaroundthe
lowerGodavaririverbasininpeninsularIndia.Thematerialevidence
suggeststhatthespeakersofProtoDravidianwereoftheculture
associatedwiththeNeolithiccomplexesofSouthIndia.[49]Thenext
SilvercoinofkingVashishtiputra
phaseinthereconstructedprotohistoryofTamilisProtoSouth
Stakarni(c.AD160).Obv:Bust
Dravidian.ThelinguisticevidencesuggeststhatProtoSouthDravidian
ofkingRev:Ujjain/Stavhana
wasspokenaroundthemiddleofthesecondmillenniumBC,andthat
symbol,crescentedsixarch
protoTamilemergedaroundthe3rdcenturyBC.Theearliest
chaityahillandriverwithTamil
epigraphicattestationsofTamilaregenerallytakentohavebeen
Brahmiscript[45][46][47][48]
[50]
writtenshortlythereafter. AmongIndianlanguages,Tamilhasthe
mostancientnonSanskritisedIndianliterature.[51]Scholarscategorise
theattestedhistoryofthelanguageintothreeperiods,OldTamil(300BCAD700),MiddleTamil(700
1600)andModernTamil(1600present).[52]InNovember2007,anexcavationatQuseiralQadim
revealedEgyptianpotterydatingbacktofirstcenturyBCwithancientTamilBrahmiinscriptions.[32]John
GuystatesthatTamilwasthelinguafrancaforearlymaritimetradersfromIndia.[53]

Legend
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language

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AccordingtoHindulegend,TamilorinpersonificationformTamilThi(MotherTamil)wascreatedby
LordShiva.Murugan,reveredastheTamilGod,alongwithsageAgastya,broughtittothepeople.[54]

Etymology
TheearliestextantTamilliteraryworksandtheircommentaries
celebratesthePandiyanKingsfortheorganizationoflongtermed
TamilSangams,whichresearched,developedandmadeamendmentsin
Tamillanguage.Eventhoughthenameofthelanguagewhichwas
developedbytheseTamilSangamsismentionedasTamil,theexact
periodwhenthename"Tamil"cametobeappliedtothelanguageis
unclear,asisthepreciseetymologyofthename.Theearliestattested
useofthenameisfoundinTholkappiyam,whichisdatedasearlyas
1stcenturyBC.[55]Southworthsuggeststhatthenamecomesfromtam
mi>tami'selfspeak',or'one'sownspeech'.[56](seeSouthworth's
derivationofSanskrittermfor"others"orMleccha) KamilZvelebilsuggests
anetymologyoftami,withtammeaning"self"or"one'sself",and"
i"havingtheconnotationof"unfoldingsound".Alternatively,he
suggestsaderivationoftami<tami<*tavi<*taki,meaningin
origin"theproperprocess(ofspeaking)".[57]
TheTamilLexiconofUniversityofMadrasdefinestheword'Tamil'as
'sweetness'.[58]S.VSubramaniansuggeststhemeaning'sweetsound'
from'tam'sweetand'il''sound'.[59]

OldTamil
OldTamilistheperiodoftheTamillanguagespanningthe5th
centuryBCEtothe8thcenturyCE.TheearliestrecordsinOld
Tamilareshortinscriptionsfrombetweenthe5thand2ndcenturyBCE
incavesandonpottery.Theseinscriptionsarewritteninavariantof
theBrahmiscriptcalledTamilBrahmi.[60]TheearliestlongtextinOld
TamilistheTolkppiyam,anearlyworkonTamilgrammarand
poetics,whoseoldestlayerscouldbeasoldasthe1stcenturyBC.[52]A
largenumberofliteraryworksinOldTamilhavealsosurvived.These
includeacorpusof2,381poemscollectivelyknownasSangam
literature.Thesepoemsareusuallydatedtobetweenthe1stand5th
centuriesAD,[52]

Agastya,ChairmanoffirstTamil
Sangam,Madurai,Pandiya
Kingdom

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TamilhymnfromThiruppugazh

MangulamTamilBrahmi
inscription

MiddleTamil
TheevolutionofOldTamilintoMiddleTamilwhichisgenerallytakentohavebeencompletedbythe8th
century,[52]wascharacterizedbyanumberofphonologicalandgrammaticalchanges.Inphonological
terms,themostimportantshiftswerethevirtualdisappearanceoftheaytam(),anoldphoneme,[61]the
coalescenceofthealveolaranddentalnasals,[62]andthetransformationofthealveolarplosiveintoa
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rhotic.[63]Ingrammar,themostimportantchangewastheemergence
ofthepresenttense.Thepresenttenseevolvedoutoftheverbkil
(),meaning"tobepossible"or"tobefall".InOldTamil,thisverb
wasusedasanaspectmarkertoindicatethatanactionwasmicro
durative,nonsustainedornonlasting,usuallyincombinationwitha
timemarkersuchas().InMiddleTamil,thisusageevolvedintoa
presenttensemarkerkia()whichcombinedtheoldaspect
andtimemarkers.[64]

ModernTamil
TheNannulremainsthestandardnormativegrammarformodern
literaryTamil,whichthereforecontinuestobebasedonMiddleTamil
ofthe13thcenturyratherthanonModernTamil.[65]Colloquialspoken
ThanjavurTamilInscription
Tamil,incontrast,showsanumberofchanges.Thenegative
conjugationofverbs,forexample,hasfallenoutofuseinModern
Tamil[66]negationis,instead,expressedeithermorphologicallyorsyntactically.[67]ModernspokenTamil
alsoshowsanumberofsoundchanges,inparticular,atendencytolowerhighvowelsininitialandmedial
positions,[68]andthedisappearanceofvowelsbetweenplosivesandbetweenaplosiveandrhotic.[69]
ContactwithEuropeanlanguagesalsoaffectedbothwrittenandspokenTamil.ChangesinwrittenTamil
includetheuseofEuropeanstylepunctuationandtheuseofconsonantclustersthatwerenotpermittedin
MiddleTamil.ThesyntaxofwrittenTamilhasalsochanged,withtheintroductionofnewaspectual
auxiliariesandmorecomplexsentencestructures,andwiththeemergenceofamorerigidwordorderthat
resemblesthesyntacticargumentstructureofEnglish.[70]Simultaneously,astrongstrainoflinguistic
purismemergedintheearly20thcentury,culminatinginthePureTamilMovementwhichcalledfor
removalofallSanskriticandotherforeignelementsfromTamil.[71]Itreceivedsomesupportfrom
Dravidianparties.[72]ThisledtothereplacementofasignificantnumberofSanskritloanwordsbyTamil
equivalents,thoughmanyothersremain.[73]

Geographicdistribution
Tamilisthefirstlanguageofthemajorityofthepeopleresidingin
TamilNadu,Puducherry,inIndiaandNorthernProvince,Eastern
Province,inSriLanka.Thelanguageisalsospokenamongsmall
minoritygroupsinotherstatesofIndiawhichincludeKarnataka,
AndhraPradesh,Kerala,MaharashtraandincertainregionsofSri
LankasuchasColomboandthehillcountry.Tamilordialectsofit
wereusedwidelyinthestateofKeralaasthemajorlanguageof
administration,literatureandcommonusageuntilthe12thcenturyAD.
TamilwasalsousedwidelyininscriptionsfoundinsouthernAndhra
PradeshdistrictsofChittoorandNelloreuntilthe12thcenturyAD.[74]
Tamilwasalsousedforinscriptionsfromthe10ththrough14th
centuriesinsouthernKarnatakadistrictssuchasKolar,Mysore,
MandyaandBangalore.[75]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language

DistributionofTamilspeakersin
SouthIndiaandSriLanka(1961)
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TherearecurrentlysizeableTamilspeakingpopulationsdescendedfromcolonialeramigrantsinMalaysia,
Singapore,Philippines,Mauritius,SouthAfrica,Indonesia,[76]Thailand,[77]Burma,andVietnam.Alarge
communityofPakistaniTamilsspeakersexistsinKarachi,Pakistan,whichincludesTamilspeaking
Hindus[78][79]aswellasChristiansandMuslimsincludingsomeTamilspeakingMuslimrefugeesfrom
SriLanka.[80]ManyinRunion,Guyana,Fiji,Suriname,andTrinidadandTobagohaveTamilorigins,[81]
butonlyasmallnumberspeakthelanguage.InReunionwheretheTamillanguagewasforbiddentobe
learntandusedinpublicspacebyFranceitisnowbeingrelearntbystudentsandadults.[82]Itisalsoused
bygroupsofmigrantsfromSriLankaandIndia,Canada(especiallyToronto),UnitedStates(especially
NewJerseyandNewYorkCity),Australia,manyMiddleEasterncountries,andsomeWesternEuropean
countries.

MahatmaGandhi's
AtenSingaporedollar
writtenwishesinTamil notewithnamewritten
forSubramanya
inTamilatthetop
Bharathy

Anelectricalhazard
signinMalaysia
writteninTamilwith
otherlanguages

Ahospitalsignin
Toronto,Canada
writteninTamil

Adangersignin
SingaporewithTamil
writing

Legalstatus
TamilistheofficiallanguageoftheIndianstateofTamilNaduandoneofthe22languagesunderschedule
8oftheconstitutionofIndia.ItisalsooneoftheofficiallanguagesoftheunionterritoryofPuducherryand
theAndamanandNicobarIslands.[83][84]TamilisalsooneoftheofficiallanguagesofSingapore.Tamilis
oneoftheofficialandnationallanguagesofSriLanka,alongwithSinhala.[9]Itwasoncegivennominal
officialstatusinthestateofHaryana,purportedlyasarebufftoPunjab,thoughtherewasnoattestedTamil
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speakingpopulationinthestate,andwaslaterreplacedbyPunjabi,in2010.[85]InMalaysia,543primary
educationgovernmentschoolsareavailablefullyinTamilmedium.[86]TheestablishmentsofTamil
mediumschoolshavebeencurrentlyinprocessinMyanmartoprovideeducationcompletelyinTamil
languagebytheTamilswhosettledthere200yearsago.[87]TamillanguageistaughtinCanadaandSouth
AfricaforthelocalTamilminoritypopulations.InOntario,Canada,themonthofJanuaryhasbeen
declared"TamilHeritageMonth"perlegislation.
Inaddition,withthecreationinOctober2004ofalegalstatusforclassicallanguagesbytheGovernmentof
IndiaandfollowingapoliticalcampaignsupportedbyseveralTamilassociations,[88][89]Tamilbecamethe
firstlegallyrecognisedClassicallanguageofIndia.TherecognitionwasannouncedbythethenPresidentof
India,AbdulKalam,inajointsittingofbothhousesoftheIndianParliamenton6June2004.[90][91][92]

Dialects
Regionspecificvariations
ThesociolinguisticsituationofTamilischaracterisedbydiglossia:therearetwoseparateregistersvarying
bysocialstatus,ahighregisterandalowone.[93][94]Tamildialectsareprimarilydifferentiatedfromeach
otherbythefactthattheyhaveundergonedifferentphonologicalchangesandsoundshiftsinevolvingfrom
OldTamil.Forexample,thewordfor"here"ikuinCentamil(theclassicvariety)hasevolvedintoik
intheKongudialectofCoimbatore,ingainthedialectofThanjavur,andikaiinsomedialectsofSri
Lanka.OldTamil'sika(wherekameansplace)isthesourceofikaneinthedialectofTirunelveli,Old
TamilikauisthesourceofikuuinthedialectofMadurai,andikaeinvariousnortherndialects.Even
now,intheCoimbatorearea,itiscommontohear"akkaa"meaning"thatplace".AlthoughTamildialects
donotdiffersignificantlyintheirvocabulary,thereareafewexceptions.ThedialectsspokeninSriLanka
retainmanywordsandgrammaticalformsthatarenotineverydayuseinIndia,[52][95]andusemanyother
wordsslightlydifferently.[96]ThevariousTamildialectsincludeCentralTamildialect,KonguTamil,
MadrasBashai,MaduraiTamil,NellaiTamil,kumariTamilinIndiaandBatticaloaTamildialect,Jaffna
Tamildialect,NegomboTamildialectinSriLanka.SankethidialectinKarnatakahasbeenheavily
influencedbyKannada.
Loanwordvariations

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OppaariSong,sungbyfemales

ThedialectofthedistrictofPalakkadinKeralahasalargenumber
duringadeathceremony.
ofMalayalamloanwords,hasbeeninfluencedbyMalayalam's
syntaxandalsohasadistinctiveMalayalamaccent.Similarly,Tamil
spokeninKanyakumariDistricthasmoreuniquewordsandphoneticstylethanTamilspokenatotherparts
ofTamilNadu.ThewordsandphoneticsaresodifferentthatapersonfromKanyakumaridistrictiseasily
identifiablebytheirspokenTamil.HebbarandMandyamdialects,spokenbygroupsofTamilVaishnavites
whomigratedtoKarnatakainthe11thcentury,retainmanyfeaturesoftheVaishnavaparibasai,aspecial
formofTamildevelopedinthe9thand10thcenturiesthatreflectVaishnavitereligiousandspiritual
values.[97]Severalcasteshavetheirownsociolectswhichmostmembersofthatcastetraditionallyused
regardlessofwheretheycomefrom.Itisoftenpossibletoidentifyaperson'scastebytheirspeech.[98]
TamilinSriLankaincorporatesloanwordsfromPortuguese,Dutch,andEnglish.
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Spokenandliteraryvariants
Inadditiontoitsvariousdialects,Tamilexhibitsdifferentforms:a
classicalliterarystylemodelledontheancientlanguage
(sankattami),amodernliteraryandformalstyle(centami),anda
moderncolloquialform(kountami).Thesestylesshadeintoeach
other,formingastylisticcontinuum.Forexample,itispossibleto
writecentamiwithavocabularydrawnfromcakattami,ortouse
formsassociatedwithoneoftheothervariantswhilespeaking
kountami.[99]

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Tamilpronunciation(Anexcerptfrom
Ma.Po.Si'sbookArivukkadhaigal)

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AudiorecordingofPudumaipithan
shortstoryPonnagaram

Inmoderntimes,centamiisgenerallyusedinformalwritingand
speech.Forinstance,itisthelanguageoftextbooks,ofmuchofTamilliteratureandofpublicspeakingand
debate.Inrecenttimes,however,kountamihasbeenmakinginroadsintoareasthathavetraditionallybeen
consideredtheprovinceofcentami.Mostcontemporarycinema,theatreandpopularentertainmenton
televisionandradio,forexample,isinkountami,andmanypoliticiansuseittobringthemselvescloserto
theiraudience.Theincreasinguseofkountamiinmoderntimeshasledtotheemergenceofunofficial
standard'spokendialects.InIndia,thestandard'kountami,ratherthanonanyonedialect,[100]buthas
beensignificantlyinfluencedbythedialectsofThanjavurandMadurai.InSriLanka,thestandardisbased
onthedialectofJaffna.

Writingsystem
AfterTamilBrahmifelloutofuse,Tamilwaswrittenusingascript
calledthevaeuttuamongstotherssuchasGranthaandPallava
script.ThecurrentTamilscriptconsistsof12vowels,18consonants
andonespecialcharacter,theytam.Thevowelsandconsonants
combinetoform216compoundcharacters,givingatotalof247
characters(12+18+1+(12x18)).Allconsonantshavean
JambaiTamilBrahmiinscription
inherentvowela,aswithotherIndicscripts.Thisinherentvowelis
datedtotheearlySangamage
removedbyaddingatittlecalledapui,totheconsonantalsign.For
example,isa(withtheinherenta)andis(withouta
vowel).ManyIndicscriptshaveasimilarsign,genericallycalledvirama,buttheTamilscriptissomewhat
differentinthatitnearlyalwaysusesavisiblepuitoindicateadeadconsonant(aconsonantwithouta
vowel).InotherIndicscripts,itisgenerallypreferredtousealigatureorahalfformtowriteasyllableora
clustercontainingadeadconsonant,althoughwritingitwithavisibleviramaisalsopossible.TheTamil
scriptdoesnotdifferentiatevoicedandunvoicedplosives.Instead,plosivesarearticulatedwithvoice
dependingontheirpositioninaword,inaccordancewiththerulesofTamilphonology.
Inadditiontothestandardcharacters,sixcharacterstakenfromtheGranthascript,whichwasusedinthe
TamilregiontowriteSanskrit,aresometimesusedtorepresentsoundsnotnativetoTamil,thatis,words
adoptedfromSanskrit,Prakritandotherlanguages.Thetraditionalsystemprescribedbyclassical
grammarsforwritingloanwords,whichinvolvesrespellingtheminaccordancewithTamilphonology,
remains,butisnotalwaysconsistentlyapplied.[101]

Phonology
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Tamilphonologyischaracterisedbythepresenceofretroflexconsonantsandmultiplerhotics.Tamildoes
notdistinguishphonologicallybetweenvoicedandunvoicedconsonantsphonetically,voiceisassigned
dependingonaconsonant'spositioninaword.[102]Tamilphonologypermitsfewconsonantclusters,which
canneverbewordinitial.NativegrammariansclassifyTamilphonemesintovowels,consonants,anda
"secondarycharacter",theytam.

Vowels
Tamilhasfivevowelqualities,namely/a/,/e/,/i/,/o/and/u/.Eachmaybelongorshort.Therearetwo
diphthongs,/a/and/a/.Longvowelsareabouttwiceaslongasshortvowels.Thediphthongsareusually
pronouncedabout1.5timesaslongasshortvowels.Mostgrammaticaltextsplacethemwiththelong
vowels.
Short

Long

Front Central Back Front Central Back


Close

Mid

Open

(a
)

(a
)

Consonants
Tamilconsonantsarepresentedashard,softandmedialinsome
grammarswhichroughlycorrespondstoplosives,approximantsand
nasals.UnlikemostIndianlanguages,Tamildoesnotdistinguish
aspiratedandunaspiratedconsonants.Inaddition,thevoicingof
plosivesisgovernedbystrictrulesincentami.Plosivesare
unvoicediftheyoccurwordinitiallyordoubled.Elsewheretheyare
voiced,withafewbecomingfricativesintervocalically.Nasalsand
approximantsarealwaysvoiced.[103]

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TamilTongueTwisters

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TamilTongueTwisters

Tamilischaracterisedbyitsuseofmorethanonetypeofcoronalconsonants:likemanyoftheother
languagesofIndia,itcontainsaseriesofretroflexconsonants.Notably,theTamilretroflexseriesincludes
theretroflexapproximant//()(exampleTamiloftentranscribed'zh'),whichisabsentintheIndoAryan
languages.AmongtheotherDravidianlanguages,theretroflexapproximantalsooccursinMalayalam(for
examplein'Kozhikode'),disappearedfromspokenKannadaaround1000AD(althoughthecharacterisstill
written,andexistsinUnicode),andwasneverpresentinTelugu.InmanydialectsofcolloquialTamil,this
consonantisseenasdisappearingandshiftingtothealveolarlateralapproximant/l/.[104]Dentaland
alveolarconsonantsalsohistoricallycontrastedwitheachother,atypicallyDravidiantraitnotfoundinthe
neighbouringIndoAryanlanguages.Whilethisdistinctioncanstillbeseeninthewrittenlanguage,ithas
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beenlargelylostincolloquialspokenTamil,andeveninliteraryusagetheletters(dental)and
(alveolar)maybeseenasallophonic.[105]Likewise,thehistoricalalveolarstophastransformedintoatrill
consonantinmanymoderndialects.
AchartoftheTamilconsonantphonemesintheInternationalPhoneticAlphabetfollows:[95]

Plosives

Nasals

Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar

p
t
t

t
k

Tap

Centralapproximants

Lateralapproximants

Theplosiveshavevoicedallophonesinpredictablecontexts.Thesounds/f/and//areperipheraltothe
phonologyofTamil,beingfoundonlyinloanwordsandfrequentlyreplacedbynativesounds.Thereare
welldefinedrulesforelisioninTamilcategorisedintoclassesbasedonthephonemewhichundergoes
elision.

ytam
ClassicalTamilalsohadaphonemecalledtheytam,writtenas'.Tamilgrammariansofthetime
classifieditasadependentphoneme(orrestrictedphoneme[106])(crpeuttu),butitisveryrareinmodern
Tamil.TherulesofpronunciationgivenintheTolkppiyam,atextonthegrammarofClassicalTamil,
suggestthattheytamcouldhaveglottalisedthesoundsitwascombinedwith.Ithasalsobeensuggested
thattheytamwasusedtorepresentthevoicedimplosive(orclosingpartorthefirsthalf)ofgeminated
voicedplosivesinsideaword.[107]Theytam,inmodernTamil,isalsousedtoconvertptofwhenwriting
EnglishwordsusingtheTamilscript.

Numeralsandsymbols
Apartfromtheusualnumerals,Tamilalsohasnumeralsfor10,100and1000.Symbolsforday,month,
year,debit,credit,asabove,rupee,andnumeralarepresentaswell.Tamilalsousesseveralhistorical
fractionalsigns.

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zero one two three four five

six seven eight nine ten hundred thousand


day month

year

debit credit asabove rupee numeral

Grammar
Tamilemploysagglutinativegrammar,wheresuffixesareusedtomarknounclass,number,andcase,verb
tenseandothergrammaticalcategories.Tamil'sstandardmetalinguisticterminologyandscholarly
vocabularyisitselfTamil,asopposedtotheSanskritthatisstandardformostAryanlanguages.[108][109]
MuchofTamilgrammarisextensivelydescribedintheoldestknowngrammarbookforTamil,the
Tolkppiyam.ModernTamilwritingislargelybasedonthe13thcenturygrammarNalwhichrestated
andclarifiedtherulesoftheTolkppiyam,withsomemodifications.TraditionalTamilgrammarconsistsof
fiveparts,namelyeuttu,sol,poru,yppu,ai.Ofthese,thelasttwoaremostlyappliedinpoetry.[110]
Tamilwordsconsistofalexicalroottowhichoneormoreaffixesareattached.MostTamilaffixesare
suffixes.Tamilsuffixescanbederivationalsuffixes,whicheitherchangethepartofspeechofthewordor
itsmeaning,orinflectionalsuffixes,whichmarkcategoriessuchasperson,number,mood,tense,etc.There
isnoabsolutelimitonthelengthandextentofagglutination,whichcanleadtolongwordswithalarge
numberofsuffixes.

Morphology
Tamilnouns(andpronouns)areclassifiedintotwosuperclasses(tiai)the"rational"(uyartiai),andthe
"irrational"(akiai)whichincludeatotaloffiveclasses(pl,whichliterallymeansgender').Humans
anddeitiesareclassifiedas"rational",andallothernouns(animals,objects,abstractnouns)areclassified
asirrational.The"rational"nounsandpronounsbelongtooneofthreeclasses(pl)masculinesingular,
femininesingular,andrationalplural.The"irrational"nounsandpronounsbelongtooneoftwoclasses:
irrationalsingularandirrationalplural.Theplisoftenindicatedthroughsuffixes.Thepluralformfor
rationalnounsmaybeusedasanhonorific,genderneutral,singularform.[111]
Suffixesareusedtoperformthefunctionsofcasesorpostpositions.Traditionalgrammarianstriedtogroup
thevarioussuffixesintoeightcasescorrespondingtothecasesusedinSanskrit.Thesewerethenominative,
accusative,dative,sociative,genitive,instrumental,locative,andablative.Moderngrammariansarguethat
thisclassificationisartificial,[112]andthatTamilusageisbestunderstoodifeachsuffixorcombinationof
suffixesisseenasmarkingaseparatecase.[100]Tamilnounscantakeoneoffourprefixes,i,a,u,ande
whicharefunctionallyequivalenttothedemonstrativesinEnglish.
Tamilverbsarealsoinflectedthroughtheuseofsuffixes.AtypicalTamilverbformwillhaveanumberof
suffixes,whichshowperson,number,mood,tense,andvoice.
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Personandnumberareindicatedbysuffixingtheobliquecaseoftherelevantpronoun.Thesuffixes
toindicatetensesandvoiceareformedfromgrammaticalparticles,whichareaddedtothestem.
Tamilhastwovoices.Thefirstindicatesthatthesubjectofthesentenceundergoesoristheobjectof
theactionnamedbytheverbstem,andthesecondindicatesthatthesubjectofthesentencedirects
theactionreferredtobytheverbstem.
Tamilhasthreesimpletensespast,present,andfutureindicatedbythesuffixes,aswellasa
seriesofperfectsindicatedbycompoundsuffixes.MoodisimplicitinTamil,andisnormally
reflectedbythesamemorphemeswhichmarktensecategories.Tamilverbsalsomarkevidentiality,
throughtheadditionofthehearsaycliticm.[113]
TraditionalgrammarsofTamildonotdistinguishbetweenadjectivesandadverbs,includingbothofthem
underthecategoryuriccol,althoughmoderngrammarianstendtodistinguishbetweenthemon
morphologicalandsyntacticalgrounds.[114]Tamilhasalargenumberofideophonesthatactasadverbs
indicatingthewaytheobjectinagivenstate"says"or"sounds".[115]
Tamildoesnothavearticles.Definitenessandindefinitenessareeitherindicatedbyspecialgrammatical
devices,suchasusingthenumber"one"asanindefinitearticle,orbythecontext.[116]Inthefirstperson
plural,Tamilmakesadistinctionbetweeninclusivepronounsnm(we),namatu(our)that
includetheaddresseeandexclusivepronounsnka(we),ematu(our)thatdonot.[116]

Syntax
Tamilisaconsistentlyheadfinallanguage.Theverbcomesattheendoftheclause,withatypicalword
orderofsubjectobjectverb(SOV).[117][118]However,wordorderinTamilisalsoflexible,sothatsurface
permutationsoftheSOVorderarepossiblewithdifferentpragmaticeffects.Tamilhaspostpositionsrather
thanprepositions.Demonstrativesandmodifiersprecedethenounwithinthenounphrase.Subordinate
clausesprecedetheverbofthematrixclause.
Tamilisanullsubjectlanguage.NotallTamilsentenceshavesubjects,verbs,andobjects.Itispossibleto
constructgrammaticallyvalidandmeaningfulsentenceswhichlackoneormoreofthethree.Forexample,
asentencemayonlyhaveaverbsuchasmuintuviatu("completed")oronlyasubjectandobject,
withoutaverbsuchasatuevu("That[is]myhouse").Tamildoesnothaveacopula(alinkingverb
equivalenttothewordis).Thewordisincludedinthetranslationsonlytoconveythemeaningmoreeasily.

Vocabulary
ThevocabularyofTamilismainlyDravidian.AstrongsenseoflinguisticpurismisfoundinModern
Tamil,[119]whichopposestheuseofforeignloanwords.[120]Nonetheless,anumberofwordsusedin
classicalandmodernTamilareloanwordsfromthelanguagesofneighbouringgroups,orwithwhomthe
Tamilshadtradinglinks,includingMunda(forexample,tavaai"frog"fromMundatabeg),Malay(e.g.
cavvarici"sago"fromMalaysgu),Chinese(forexample,campn"skiff"fromChinesesanpan)and
Greek(forexample,orafromGreek).Inmoremoderntimes,TamilhasimportedwordsfromUrdu
andMarathi,reflectinggroupsthathaveinfluencedtheTamilareaatvariouspointsoftime,andfrom
neighbouringlanguagessuchasTelugu,Kannada,andSinhala.Duringthemodernperiod,wordshavealso
beenadaptedfromEuropeanlanguages,suchasPortuguese,French,andEnglish.[121]

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ThestrongestimpactofpurisminTamilhasbeenonwordstakenfromSanskrit.Duringitshistory,Tamil,
alongwithotherDravidianlanguageslikeTelugu,Kannada,Malayalametc.,wasinfluencedbySanskritin
termsofvocabulary,grammarandliterarystyles,[122][123][124][125]reflectingtheincreasedtrendof
SanskritisationintheTamilcountry.[126]TamilvocabularyneverbecamequiteasheavilySanskritisedas
thatoftheotherDravidianlanguages,andunlikeinthoselanguages,itwasandremainspossibletoexpress
complexideas(includinginscience,art,religionandlaw)withouttheuseofSanskritloan
words.[127][128][129]Inaddition,Sanskritisationwasactivelyresistedbyanumberofauthorsofthelate
medievalperiod,[130]culminatinginthe20thcenturyinamovementcalledtaittamiiyakkam(meaning
"pureTamilmovement"),ledbyParithimaarKalaignarandMaraimalaiAdigal,whichsoughttoremovethe
accumulatedinfluenceofSanskritonTamil.[131]Asaresultofthis,Tamilinformaldocuments,literature
andpublicspeecheshasseenamarkeddeclineintheuseSanskritloanwordsinthepastfewdecades,[132]
undersomeestimateshavingfallenfrom4050%toabout20%.[73]Asaresult,thePrakritandSanskrit
loanwordsusedinmodernTamilare,unlikeinsomeotherDravidianlanguages,restrictedmainlytosome
spiritualterminologyandabstractnouns.[133]
Inthe20thcentury,institutionsandlearnedbodieshave,withgovernmentsupport,generatedtechnical
dictionariesforTamilcontainingneologismsandwordsderivedfromTamilrootstoreplaceloanwords
fromEnglishandotherlanguages.[71]

Influence
WordsofTamiloriginoccurinotherlanguages.Anotableexampleofawordinworldwideusewith
Dravidian(notspecificallyTamil)etymologyisorange,viaSanskritnragafromaDravidianpredecessor
ofTamilnartanky"fragrantfruit".AnacondaiswordofTamiloriginanaikondrameaningelephant
killer[134]ExamplesinEnglishincludecheroot(churuumeaning"rolledup"),[135]mango(from
mangai),[135]mulligatawny(frommiakutair,"pepperwater"),pariah(fromparaiyan),curry(from
kari),[136]andcatamaran(fromkaumaram,"bundledlogs").[135]Congee(fromKanjiriceporridgeor
gruel)[137]

Seealso
ListofcountrieswhereTamilisanofficiallanguage
Listoflanguagesbyfirstwrittenaccounts
Tamilpopulationbynation
Tamilpopulationbycities
Tamildiaspora
Tamilkeyboard
TamilThai
SiddhaMedicine

Footnotes
1. MikaelParkvall,"Vrldens100strstasprk2007"(TheWorld's100LargestLanguagesin2007),in
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2. Tamillanguage(http://archive.ethnologue.com/16/show_language.asp?code=tam)atEthnologue(16thed.,2009)
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Singapore),retrieved22April2008
5. "OfficiallanguagesofTamilNadu",TamilNaduGovernment,retrieved1May2007
6. Officiallanguages,UNESCO,retrieved10May2007
7. Nordhoff,SebastianHammarstrm,HaraldForkel,RobertHaspelmath,Martin,eds.(2013)."ModernTamil".
Glottolog.Leipzig:MaxPlanckInstituteforEvolutionaryAnthropology.
8. Nordhoff,SebastianHammarstrm,HaraldForkel,RobertHaspelmath,Martin,eds.(2013)."OldTamil".
Glottolog.Leipzig:MaxPlanckInstituteforEvolutionaryAnthropology.
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10. RepublicofSingaporeIndependenceAct,s.7
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paradigmsforceduponusbytraditional,indigenousandEuropeangrammars,especiallyoftheliterarylanguages.
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119. Ramaswamy,S.(2009)."En/genderingLanguage:ThePoeticsofTamilIdentity".ComparativeStudiesinSociety
andHistory35(4):683.doi:10.1017/S0010417500018673.
120. Krishnamurti2003,p.480.
121. Meenakshisundaran1965,pp.169193
122. "LiteratureinallDravidianlanguagesowesagreatdealtoSanskrit,themagicwandwhosetouchraisedeachof
thelanguagesfromalevelofpatoistothatofaliteraryidiom"(Sastri1955,p.309)Trautmann,ThomasR.
(2006).Languagesandnations:theDravidianproofincolonialMadras.Berkeley:UniversityofCalifornia
Press."TheauthorendeavourstodemonstratethattheentireSangampoeticcorpusfollowsthe"Kavya"formof
Sanskritpoetry"Tieken2001,p.18.
123. Vaidyanathan,S.(1967)."IndoAryanLoanWordsintheCvakacintmai".JournaloftheAmericanOriental
Society87(4):430.doi:10.2307/597587.JSTOR597587.
124. Caldwell1974,pp.8788
125. Takahashi,Takanobu.(1995).Tamillovepoetryandpoetics.Brill'sIndologicalLibrary,v.9.Leiden:E.J.Brill,
pp.16,18.ISBN9004100423.

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126. Pollock,Sheldon(1996)."TheSanskritCosmopolis3001300:Transculturation,vernacularisationandthe
questionofideology"inJanE.M.Houben(ed.),TheideologyandstatusofSanskrit:Contributionstothe
historyoftheSanskritlanguage.E.J.Brill,Leiden.pp.209217.ISBN9004106138.
127. Trautmann,ThomasR.(1999),"HullabalooAboutTelugu",SouthAsianResearch19(1):5370,
doi:10.1177/026272809901900104atp.64
128. Caldwell1974,p.50
129. Ellis,F.W.(1820),"Notetotheintroduction"inCampbell,A.D.,AgrammaroftheTeloogoolanguage.
Madras:CollegePress,pp.2930.
130. SeeRamaswamy'sanalysisofonesuchtext,theTamiviututu,inRamaswamy,S.(1998)."Languageofthe
PeopleintheWorldofGods:IdeologiesofTamilbeforetheNation".TheJournalofAsianStudies57:66.
doi:10.2307/2659024.JSTOR2659024.
131. Varadarajan,M.AHistoryofTamilLiterature,transl.fromTamilbyE.Sa.Viswanathan,SahityaAkademi,
NewDelhi,1988.p.12:"Sincethenthemovementhasbeenpopularlyknownasthetanittamiliyakkamorthe
PureTamilmovementamongtheTamilscholars."
132. Ramaswamy,Sumathy(1997),"Laboringforlanguage",PassionsoftheTongue:LanguageDevotioninTamil
India,18911970,Berkeley:UniversityofCaliforniaPress,ISBN0585106002,"Nevertheless,even
impressionisticallyspeaking,themarkeddeclineintheuseofforeignwords,especiallyofSanskriticorigin,in
Tamilliterary,scholarly,andevenbureaucraticcirclesoverthepasthalfcenturyisquitestriking."
133. Meenakshisundaram,T.P.(1982)AHistoryofTamilLanguage,SarvodayaIlakkiyaPannai.(translated)pp.
2412
134. Wall,Frank(1921)Ophidiataprobanicaor,ThesnakesofCeylon
(https://archive.org/stream/ophidiataprobani00wall#page/48/mode/1up).H.R.Cottle,govt.printerinColombo.
135. "OxfordEnglishDictionaryOnline",OxfordEnglishDictionary,retrieved14April2007
136. "curry,n.2",TheOxfordEnglishDictionary.2nded.1989.OEDOnline.OxfordUniversityPress.14August
2009
137. "congee".academic.ru.

References
Andronov,M.S.(1970),DravidianLanguages,NaukaPublishingHouse
Annamalai,E.Steever,S.B.(1998),"ModernTamil",inSteever,Sanford,TheDravidianLanguages,London:
Routledge,pp.100128,ISBN0415100232
Caldwell,Robert(1974),AcomparativegrammaroftheDravidianorSouthIndianfamilyoflanguages,New
Delhi:OrientalBooksReprintCorp.
Hart,GeorgeL.(1975),ThepoemsofancientTamil:theirmilieuandtheirSanskritcounterparts,Berkeley:
UniversityofCaliforniaPress,ISBN0520026721
Krishnamurti,Bhadriraju(2003),TheDravidianLanguages,CambridgeLanguageSurveys,Cambridge
UniversityPress,ISBN0521771110
Kesavapany,K.Mani,ARamasamy,Palanisamy(2008),RisingIndiaandIndianCommunitiesinEastAsia,
Singapore:InstituteofSoutheastAsianStudies,ISBN9812307990
Kuiper,F.B.J.(1958),"TwoproblemsofoldTamilphonologyI.TheoldTamilytam(withanappendixbyK.
Zvelebil)",IndoIranianJournal2(3),doi:10.1007/BF00162818
Lehmann,Thomas(1998),"OldTamil",inSteever,Sanford,TheDravidianLanguages,London:Routledge,
pp.7599,ISBN0415100232
Mahadevan,Iravatham(2003),EarlyTamilEpigraphyfromtheEarliestTimestotheSixthCenturyA.D,Harvard
OrientalSeriesvol.62,Cambridge,Mass.:HarvardUniversityPress,ISBN0674012275
Meenakshisundaran,T.P.(1965),AHistoryofTamilLanguage,Poona:DeccanCollege
Murthy,SrinivasaRao,SurendraVeluthat,KesavanBari,S.A.(1990),EssaysonIndianHistoryandculture:
FelicitationvolumeinHonourofProfessorB.SheikAli,NewDelhi:Mittal,ISBN8170992117
Ramstedt,Martin(2004),HinduisminmodernIndonesia,London:Routledge,ISBN0700715339
Rajam,VS(1992),AReferenceGrammarofClassicalTamilPoetry,Philadelphia:TheAmericanPhilosophical
Society,ISBN087169199X
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language

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Ramaswamy,Sumathy(1997),"Laboringforlanguage",PassionsoftheTongue:LanguageDevotioninTamil
India,18911970,Berkeley:UniversityofCaliforniaPress,ISBN0585106002
Shapiro,MichaelC.Schiffman,HaroldF.(1983),LanguageandsocietyinSouthAsia,Dordrecht:Foris,
ISBN9070176556
Schiffman,HaroldF.(1999),AReferenceGrammarofSpokenTamil,Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,
ISBN0521640741
Southworth,FranklinC.(1998),"OntheOriginofthewordtamiz",InternationalJournalofDravidian
Linguistics27(1):129132
Southworth,FranklinC.(2005),LinguisticarchaeologyofSouthAsia,Routledge,ISBN0415333237
Steever,Sanford(1998),"Introduction",inSteever,Sanford,TheDravidianLanguages,London:Routledge,
pp.139,ISBN0415100232
Steever,Sanford(2005),TheTamilauxiliaryverbsystem,London:Routledge,ISBN041534672X
Tharu,SusieLalita,K.,eds.(1991),WomenWritinginIndia:600B.C.tothepresentVol.1:600B.C.tothe
earlytwentiethcentury,FeministPress,ISBN1558610278
Talbot,Cynthia(2001),PrecolonialIndiainpractice:Society,RegionandIdentityinMedievalAndhra,New
York:OxfordUniversityPress,ISBN0195136616
Tieken,Herman(2001),KavyainSouthIndia:OldTamilCankamPoetry,GondaIndologicalStudies,VolumeX,
Groningen:EgbertForstenPublishing,ISBN9069801345
Varadarajan,Mu.(1988),AHistoryofTamilLiterature,NewDelhi:SahityaAkademi(TranslatedfromTamilby
E.Sa.Viswanathan)
Zvelebil,Kamil(1992),CompanionstudiestothehistoryofTamilliterature,Leiden:Brill,ISBN9004093656

Furtherreading
Fabricius,JohannPhilip(1933and1972),TamilandEnglishDictionary
(http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/fabricius/).basedonJ.P.FabriciusMalabarEnglishDictionary,3rdand
4thEditionRevisedandEnlargedbyDavidBexell.EvangelicalLutheranMissionPublishingHouse,Tranquebar
calledTranquebarDictionary.
Freeman,Rich(February1998),"RubiesandCoral:TheLapidaryCraftingofLanguageinKerala",TheJournal
ofAsianStudies(AssociationforAsianStudies)57(1):3865,doi:10.2307/2659023,JSTOR2659023
Keane,Elinor(2004),"Tamil",JournaloftheInternationalPhoneticAssociation34(1):111116,
doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549

Externallinks
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