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{{Use British English|date=June 2012}}
{{q|தமிழ் நாட்டில் உள்ள நாட்டின் மொழி தமிழ்|karunanithi (கருணாநிதி)}}
{{Use dmy dates|date=June 2012}}
{{q|ஆமாம், தமிழ் எங்கள் தேசிய மொழிதான்|TN Government}}
{{Infobox language
{{q|Enna naina.|TN citizen}}
|name = Tamil
|nativename = தமிழ் ''{{transl|ta|ISO|tamiḻ}}''
|pronunciation = {{IPA-ta|t̪ɐmɨɻ|}}
|states = [[India]], [[Sri Lanka]], [[Malaysia]], [[Singapore]], [[Mauritius]], [[Réunion]].<ref name="e16">61 million in India, per the [[List of languages by number of native speakers]], and 4 million elsewhere, per {{ethnologue|tam}}</ref>
|speakers = 85 million
70 million(Tamil Nadu), ~2 Million(Rest of India)~1.5 Million(Sri Lanka),~ 5 Million All over the world.
|speakers2 = 8 million as a second language<ref>{{ethnolink|tam}}</ref>
|familycolor = Dravidian
'''Tamil''' (தமிழ்) is a <strike>funny</strike> beautiful language of eastern India. It is the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu, has quasi-official status in several districts of other states in which the people wish not to be understood, and is found in Andhra Pradesh and other places outside India in which work papers are not checked very carefully.
|fam2 = [[Southern Dravidian languages|Southern]]
|fam3 = [[Tamil–Kannada languages|Tamil–Kannada]]
|fam4 = [[Tamil–Kudagu languages|Tamil–Kudagu]]
|fam5 = [[Tamil–Malayalam languages|Tamil–Malayalam]]
|fam6 = [[Tamil languages]]
|script = [[Tamil script]]
|nation = {{Flagu|India}}n states: [[Tamilnadu]]<ref name="TN">{{Citation |url=|title=Official languages of Tamilnadu|accessdate=1 May 2007 |work=Tamilnadu Government}}</ref> and [[Andaman and Nicobar Islands]] [[Puducherry]],<ref name="india_os">{{Citation |url=|title=Official languages |accessdate=10 May 2007 |work=UNESCO}}</ref><br /> {{Flagu|Sri Lanka}},<ref name="srilanka">{{Citation |url=|title=Official languages of Srilanka|accessdate=1 May 2007 |work=State department, US}}</ref> and <br />{{Flagu|Singapore}}.<ref name="singofficiallang">{{Citation|url= |title=Official languages and national language |accessdate=22 April 2008 |work=Constitution of the Republic of Singapore |publisher=Government of Singapore }}</ref>
|iso1 = ta
|ld1=Modern Tamil
|ld2=Old Tamil
|lingname=Old Tamil
|mapcaption=Distribution of Tamil speakers around the World
{{Tamil transliteration}}
'''Tamil''' ({{indic|lang=ta|indic=தமிழ்|trans=tamiḻ|indicipa=t̪ɐmɨɻ|indicaudio=Tamil.ogg|showlang=false|showhelp=true}}, alternative spelling: '''Thamizh''') is a [[Dravidian language]] spoken predominantly by [[Tamil people]] of South India and North-east Sri Lanka. It has [[Official language|official status]] in the [[States and territories of India|Indian state]] of [[Tamil Nadu]] and in the [[States and territories of India|Indian union territory]] of [[Pondicherry|Puducherry]]. Tamil is also a national language of [[Sri Lanka]]<ref>{{cite web|title=Department of Official Languages|url=|publisher=Govt. of Srilanka|accessdate=20 July 2012}}</ref> and an official language of [[Singapore]]. It is one of the 22 [[Scheduled languages of India|scheduled languages of India]] and is the first language that was declared a [[Classical language of India|classical language]] by the [[government of India]] in 2004. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in [[Malaysia]], [[USA]] and [[Mauritius]] as well as emigrant communities around the world.
The beauty of Tamil is that most words end with ''kal'' (that is, stupidity). For example, the language's home is often called Tamil-Nadu, as its nickname is the Land of stupidity. This endearing obsession with intimate apparel characterizes the speakers of the language.
Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world according to available evidence. It is also the only Indian language other than [[Sanskrit]] to be considered to be ancient and authentically original in its form and rich literature<ref name="Circulation and the Historical Geog" /><ref>Steever, Sanford B. ''"The Dravidian languages"'', First Published (1998), pp. 6–9. ISBN 0-415-10023-2</ref> It has been described as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past"<ref name="richestClassical">Kamil Zvelebil, ''The Smile of Murugan'' Leiden 1973, p11-12</ref> and having "one of the richest literatures in the world".<ref name="richestLiterature">George L. Harte and Hank Heifetz, ''The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan'' University of California Press, 1988, p1</ref> [[Tamil literature]] has existed for over 2000 years.<ref name="companion">{{Harvnb|Zvelebil|1992|p=12}}: "...the most acceptable periodisation which has so far been suggested for the development of Tamil writing seems to me to be that of A Chidambaranatha Chettiar (1907–1967): 1. Sangam Literature – 200BC to AD 200; 2. Post Sangam literature – AD 200 – AD 600; 3. Early Medieval literature – AD 600 to AD 1200; 4. Later Medieval literature – AD 1200 to AD 1800; 5. Pre-Modern literature – AD 1800 to 1900"</ref> The earliest [[Epigraphy|epigraphic]] records found on rock edicts and ''[[hero stone]]s'' date from around the 3rd century [[Common Era|BCE]].<ref name="Maloney1970">{{Harvnb|Maloney|1970|p=610}}</ref> The earliest period of Tamil literature, [[Sangam literature]], is dated from the 300 BCE – 300 CE.<ref>[ Classical Tamil, Government of India]</ref><ref>{{Harvnb|Abraham|2003}}</ref> [[Tamil Brahmi|Tamil language inscriptions]] written c. 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE have been discovered in Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand.<ref name="Foreign locations">{{cite news|url=|title=An epigraphic perspective on the antiquity of Tamil|last=Mahathevan|first=Iravatham|date=24 June 2010|work=The Hindu |publisher=The Hindu Group|accessdate=13 September 2010|location=Chennai, India}}</ref> The two earliest manuscripts from India,<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=The I.A.S. Tamil Medical Manuscript Collection | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Saiva Manuscript in Pondicherry | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref> to be acknowledged and registered by [[Memory of the World Programme|UNESCO Memory of the World register]] in 1997 and 2005 were in Tamil.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Memory of the World Register: India | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref> More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the [[Archaeological Survey of India]] are in the Tamil language.<ref>{{Citation |title= Students get glimpse of heritage |url= |author= Staff Reporter |work=The Hindu |date = 22 November 2005 |accessdate=26 April 2007 |location=Chennai, India}}</ref> According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.<ref>''India 2001: A Reference Annual 2001''. Compiled and edited by Research, Reference and Training Division, Publications Division, New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.</ref> It has the oldest extant [[Tamil literature|literature]] amongst other [[Dravidian languages]].<ref name="Circulation and the Historical Geog">{{Citation | first= Burton |last=Stein | year = 1977 | month = November | title = Circulation and the Historical Geography of Tamil Country | journal = The Journal of Asian Studies | volume = 37 | issue = 1 | pages = 7–26| doi = 10.2307/2053325 | jstor=2053325}}</ref> The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to its being described as "one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world".<ref>Hart, George L. [ Statement on the Status of Tamil as a Classical Language], University of California Berkeley Department of South Asian Studies – Tamil</ref>
== Written Tamil==
Tamil has 9999 letters, including 12 ''vowels,'' 18 ''true letters'' (மெய்யெழுத்து), and a bunch of other letters that represent entire syllables, though some of these turn out to be ink blots and food stains on the paper. The key to fluency with the ''கள்'' is that they all sound alike.
== Classification ==
In computers, Unicode has assigned Tamil the range 0C00-0C7F. This set of 246 characters is utterly inadequate to represent all the letters of Tamil. In a pinch, you can slip in some English, which every Tamil speaker with a computer will understand, or at least claim to.
{{Main|Dravidian languages}}
Tamil belongs to the [[Southern Dravidian languages|southern]] branch of the [[Dravidian languages]], a family of around 26 languages native to the [[Indian subcontinent]].<ref>{{Harvnb|Krishnamurti|2003|p=19}}</ref> It is also classified as being part of a [[Tamil languages|Tamil language family]], which alongside Tamil proper, also includes the languages of about 35 ethno-linguistic groups<ref>Perumal, A. K. ''Manorama Yearbook'' (Tamil) 2005, pp.302–318.</ref> such as the [[Irula language|Irula]], and [[Yerukala language|Yerukula]] languages (see [[SIL Ethnologue]]).
The closest major relative of Tamil is [[Malayalam]]. Until about the 9th century, Malayalam was a dialect of Tamil.<ref name="freeman-1998">{{Harvnb|Freeman|1998|p=39}}</ref> Although many of the differences between Tamil and Malayalam demonstrate a pre-historic split of the western dialect,<ref name="malayalamorigin">{{Harvnb|Menon|1990}}</ref> the process of separation into a distinct language, [[Malayalam]], was not completed until sometime in the 13th or 14th century.<ref name="andronov">{{Harvnb|Andronov|1970|p=21}}</ref>
=== Grammar ===
[[File:Cynomolgus monkey.jpg|thumb|left|[[monkey]] a native speaker of Tamil was.]]
Tamil its own grammar has. Tamil is easy to understand, once you its odd word order master. The most famous Tamil grammar is, ''avatar-am''.
== History ==
Tamil nouns have a bewildering number of grammatical cases. More than half of these are accounted for by the tendency of Tamil speakers, in the middle of pronouncing a noun, to stutter, digress, say something else, or just give up.
<!-- Deleted image removed: [[Image:Vasishtiputra Sri Satakarni.jpg|thumb|350px|Silver coin of king [[Vashishtiputra Sātakarni]] (c. 160 CE).<br />
'''Obv:''' Bust of king. [[Prakrit]] legend in the [[Brāhmī script|Brahmi]] script: "Siri Satakanisa Rano ... Vasithiputasa": "King Vasishtiputra Sri Satakarni"<br />
'''Rev:''' Ujjain/Sātavāhana symbol left. Crescented six-arch chaitya hill right. River below. Early Tamil legend in the [[Tamil-Brahmi|Tamil Brahmi]] script: "Arah(s)anaku Vah(s)itti makanaku Tiru H(S)atakani ko" – which means "The ruler, Vasitti's son, Highness Satakani" – '''-ko''' being the royal name suffix.<ref>{{Citation|last=Nagaswamy|first=N|title=Roman Karur|publisher=Brahad Prakashan |year=1995|oclc=191007985|url=}}</ref><ref>{{Harvnb|Mahadevan|2003|pp=199–205}}</ref><ref>{{Citation|last=Panneerselvam|first=R|year=1969|title=Further light on the bilingual coin of the Sātavāhanas|journal=Indo-Iranian Journal|volume=4|issue=11|pages=281–288}}</ref><ref>{{Citation|last=Yandel|first=Keith|title=Religion and Public Culture: Encounters and Identities in Modern South India |publisher=Routledge Curzon|year=2000|page=235|isbn=0-7007-1101-5}}</ref>]] -->As a Dravidian language, Tamil descends from [[Proto-Dravidian]]. Linguistic reconstruction suggests that Proto-Dravidian was spoken around the third millennium BC, possibly in the region around the lower [[Godavari]] river basin in peninsular India. The material evidence suggests that the speakers of Proto-Dravidian were the culture associated with the [[Neolithic]] complexes of [[South India]].<ref>{{Harvnb|Southworth|2005|pp=249–250}}</ref> The next phase in the reconstructed proto-history of Tamil is Proto-South Dravidian. The linguistic evidence suggests that Proto-South Dravidian was spoken around the middle of the second millennium BC, and that proto-Tamil emerged around the 3rd century BC. The earliest [[Tamil Brahmi|epigraphic]] attestations of Tamil are generally taken to have been written shortly thereafter.<ref>{{Harvnb|Southworth|2005|pp=250–251}}</ref> Among Indian languages, Tamil has the most ancient non-Sanskritised Indian literature.<ref>Sivathamby, K (December 1974) [ Early South Indian Society and Economy: The Tinai Concept], Social Scientist, Vol.3 No.5 Dec 1974</ref>
Scholars categorise the attested history of the language into three periods, Old Tamil (300 BCE 700 CE), Middle Tamil (700–1600) and Modern Tamil (1600–present).<ref name="Lehmann 1998 75">{{Harvnb|Lehmann|1998|p=75}}</ref>
Tamil is as adaptable to American words as Tamil speakers are to American spouses and jobs.
=== Etymology ===
The exact period when the name "Tamil" came to be applied to the language is unclear, as is the precise etymology of the name. The earliest attested use of the name is found in [[Tholkappiyam]], which is dated as early as 1st century BCE.<ref>{{Harvnb|Zvelebil|1992|p=x}}</ref> Southworth suggests that the name comes from {{IAST|tam-miḻ}} > {{IAST|tam-iḻ}} 'self-speak', or 'one's own speech'.<ref>{{Harvnb|Southworth|1998|pp=129–132}}</ref><small>(see Southworth's derivation of [[Sanskrit]] term for "others" or [[Mleccha]])</small>.[[Kamil Zvelebil]] suggests an etymology of {{IAST|tam-iḻ}}, with {{IAST|tam}} meaning "self" or "one's self", and "{{IAST|-iḻ}}" having the connotation of "unfolding sound". Alternatively, he suggests a derivation of {{IAST|tamiḻ}} < {{IAST|tam-iḻ}} < *{{IAST|tav-iḻ}} < *{{IAST|tak-iḻ}}, meaning in origin "the proper process (of speaking)".<ref>{{Harvnb|Zvelebil|1992|p=ix–xvi}}</ref>
The Tamil Lexicon of University of Madras defines the word 'Tamil' as 'sweetness'.<ref>{{Citation | author=University of Madras | title=Tamil lexicon | publisher=University of Madras | place=Madras | year=1924–36 | url=| accessdate=26 February 2012 | postscript=.}} (Online edition at the University of Chicago)</ref> S.V Subramanian suggests the meaning 'sweet sound' from 'tam'- sweet and 'il'- 'sound'.<ref>{{Citation|last=Subramanian|first=S.V|title=Heritage of Tamils; Language and Grammar|year=1980|publisher=International Institute of Tamil Studies|pages=7–12}}</ref> A metaphysical meaning was given by [[Vallalar]]. Vallalar explains the word Thamizh having 5 units of measure Th+a+m+i+zh as the Natural Truth process of Divine essence involving ('Th+a'), manifesting in the physical body as human being and evolving into the Supramental Being ('m+i') to experience the Perfect Oneness Delight ('zh').<ref>{{cite web|last=Kothandaraman|first=Rajesh|title=The Metaphysical meaning of Tamil by Saint Ramalingam|url=|accessdate=2012}}</ref> This metaphysical meaning indirectly leads to the meaning of Sweetness or Compassion.
=== Old Tamil ===
The earliest records in Old Tamil are short inscriptions from around the 2nd century BCE in caves and on pottery. These inscriptions are written in a variant of the [[Brahmi script]] called [[Tamil Brahmi]].<ref>{{Harvnb|Mahadevan|2003|pp=90–95}}</ref> The earliest long text in Old Tamil is the [[Tolkappiyam|Tolkāppiyam]], an early work on Tamil grammar and poetics, whose oldest layers could be as old as the 1st century BC.<ref name="Lehmann 1998 75"/> A large number of literary works in Old Tamil have also survived. These include a corpus of 2,381 poems collectively known as [[Sangam literature]]. These poems are usually dated to between the 1st and 5th centuries AD,<ref>{{Harvnb|Lehmann|1998|p=75}}. The dating of Sangam literature and the identification of its language with Old Tamil have recently been questioned by [[Herman Tieken]] who argues that the works are better understood as 9th century [[Pandyan dynasty|Pāṇṭiyan dynasty]] compositions, deliberately written in an archaising style to make them seem older than they were ({{Harvnb|Tieken|2001}}). Tieken's dating has, however, been criticised by reviewers of his work. See e.g. {{Harvnb|Hart|2004}}, {{Harvnb|Ferro-Luzzi|2001}}, {{Harvnb|Monius|2002}} and {{Harvnb|Wilden|2003}}</ref> which makes them the oldest extant body of secular literature in India.<ref>{{Harvnb|Tharu|Lalitha|1991|p=70}}</ref> Other literary works in Old Tamil include two long epics, [[Cilappatikāram]] and [[Maṇimēkalai]], and a number of ethical and didactic texts, written between the 5th and 8th centuries.<ref>{{Harvnb|Lehmann|1998|pp=75–6}}</ref>
Old Tamil preserved many features of Proto-Dravidian, including the inventory of consonants,<ref>{{Harvnb|Krishnamurthi|2003|p=53}}</ref> the syllable structure,<ref>{{Harvnb|Krishnamurthi|2003|p=92}}</ref> and various grammatical features.<ref>{{Harvnb|Krishnamurthi|2003|pp=182–193}}</ref> Amongst these was the absence of a distinct present tense – like Proto-Dravidian, Old Tamil only had two tenses, the past and the "non-past". Old Tamil verbs also had a distinct negative conjugation (e.g. ''{{IAST|kāṇēṉ}}'' (காணேன்) "I do not see", ''{{IAST|kāṇōm}}'' (காணோம்) "we do not see")<ref>{{Harvnb|Steever|1998|p=24}}</ref> Nouns could take pronominal suffixes like verbs to express ideas: e.g. ''{{IAST|peṇṭirēm}}'' (பெண்டிரேம்) "we are women" formed from ''{{IAST|peṇṭir}}'' (பெண்டிர்) "women" and the first person plural marker ''-{{IAST|ēm}}'' (ஏம்).<ref>{{Harvnb|Lehmann|1998|p=80}}</ref>
Despite the significant amount of grammatical and syntactical change between Old, Middle and Modern Tamil, Tamil demonstrates grammatical continuity across these stages: many characteristics of the later stages of the language have their roots in features of Old Tamil.<ref name="Lehmann 1998 75"/>
=== Middle Tamil ===
The evolution of Old Tamil into Middle Tamil, which is generally taken to have been completed by the 8th century,<ref name="Lehmann 1998 75"/> was characterised by a number of phonological and grammatical changes. In phonological terms, the most important shifts were the virtual disappearance of the aytam (ஃ), an old phoneme,<ref>{{Harvnb|Kuiper|1958|p=194}}</ref> the coalescence of the alveolar and dental nasals,<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|pp=132–133}}</ref> and the transformation of the alveolar [[plosive]] into a [[Rhotic consonant|rhotic]].<ref>{{Harvnb|Kuiper|1958|pp=213–215}}</ref> In grammar, the most important change was the emergence of the present tense. The present tense evolved out of the verb ''{{IAST|kil}}'' (கில்), meaning "to be possible" or "to befall". In Old Tamil, this verb was used as an [[Grammatical aspect|aspect marker]] to indicate that an action was micro-durative, non-sustained or non-lasting, usually in combination with a time marker such as ''{{IAST|ṉ}}'' (ன்). In Middle Tamil, this usage evolved into a present tense marker – ''{{IAST|kiṉṟ}}'' (கின்ற) – which combined the old aspect and time markers.<ref>{{Harvnb|Rajam|1985|pp=284–285}}</ref>
Middle Tamil also saw a significant increase in the Sanskritisation of Tamil. From the period of the [[Pallava dynasty]] onwards, a number of [[Sanskrit]] loan-words entered Tamil, particularly in relation to political, religious and philosophical concepts.<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|pp=173–174}}</ref> Sanskrit also influenced Tamil grammar, in the increased use of cases and in declined nouns becoming adjuncts of verbs,<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|pp=153–154}}</ref> and phonology.<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|pp=145–146}}</ref> The Tamil script also changed in the period of Middle Tamil. Tamil Brahmi and [[Vaṭṭeḻuttu]], into which it evolved, were the main scripts used in Old Tamil inscriptions. From the 8th century onwards, however, the Pallavas began using a new script, derived from the [[Grantha script|Pallava Grantha script]] which was used to write Sanskrit, which eventually replaced Vaṭṭeḻuttu.<ref>{{Harvnb|Mahadevan|2003|pp=208–213}}</ref>
Middle Tamil is attested in a large number of inscriptions, and in a significant body of secular and religious literature.<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|p=119}}</ref> These include the religious poems and songs of the [[Bhakti movement|Bhakthi]] poets, such as the [[Tēvāram]] verses on [[Saivism]] and [[Nālāyira Tivya Pirapantam]] on [[Vaishnavism]],<ref>{{Harvnb|Varadarajan|1988}}</ref> and adaptations of religious legends such as the 12th century [[Ramavataram|Tamil Ramayana]] composed by [[Kambar (poet)|Kamban]] and the story of 63 [[Nayanmars|shaivite devotees]] known as Periyapurāṇam.<ref>{{Harvnb|Varadarajan|1988|pp=155–157}}</ref> [[Iraiyaṉār Akapporuḷ]], an early treatise on love poetics, and [[Naṉṉūl]], a 12th century grammar that became the standard grammar of literary Tamil, are also from the Middle Tamil period.<ref>{{Harvnb|Zvelebil|1992|p=227}}</ref>
=== Modern Tamil ===
The [[Nannul]] remains the standard normative grammar for modern literary Tamil, which therefore continues to be based on Middle Tamil of the 13th century rather than on Modern Tamil.<ref>{{Harvnb|Shapiro|Schiffman|1983|p=2}}</ref> Colloquial spoken Tamil, in contrast, shows a number of changes. The negative conjugation of verbs, for example, has fallen out of use in Modern Tamil<ref>{{Harvnb|Annamalai|Steever|1998|p=100}}</ref> – negation is, instead, expressed either morphologically or syntactically.<ref>{{Harvnb|Steever|2005|pp=107–8}}</ref> Modern spoken Tamil also shows a number of sound changes, in particular, a tendency to lower high vowels in initial and medial positions,<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|p=125}}</ref> and the disappearance of vowels between plosives and between a plosive and rhotic.<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaran|1965|pp=122–123}}</ref>
Contact with European languages also affected both written and spoken Tamil. Changes in written Tamil include the use of European-style punctuation and the use of consonant clusters that were not permitted in Middle Tamil. The syntax of written Tamil has also changed, with the introduction of new aspectual auxiliaries and more complex sentence structures, and with the emergence of a more rigid word order that resembles the [[Theta role|syntactic argument structure]] of English.<ref>{{Harvnb|Kandiah|1978|pp=65–69}}</ref> Simultaneously, a strong strain of [[linguistic purism]] emerged in the early 20th century, culminating in the [[Pure Tamil Movement]] which called for removal of all Sanskritic and other foreign elements from Tamil.<ref name="thaniththamizh">{{Harvnb|Ramaswamy|1997}}</ref> It received some support from [[Dravidian parties]] and [[Tamil nationalism|nationalists]] who supported [[Tamil independence]].<ref>{{Harvnb|Ramaswamy|1997}}: "Dravidianism, too, lent its support to the contestatory classicist project, motivated principally by the political imperative of countering (Sanskritic) Indian nationalism... It was not until the DMK came to power in 1967 that such demands were fulfilled, and the pure Tamil cause received a boost, although purification efforts are not particularly high on the agenda of either the Dravidian movement or the Dravidianist idiom of tamiḻppaṟṟu."</ref> This led to the replacement of a significant number of Sanskrit loanwords by Tamil equivalents, though many others remain.<ref name="Krishnamurti 2003 p=480">{{Harvnb|Krishnamurti|2003|p=480}}</ref>
== Geographic distribution ==
[[File:Tamil distribution.png|thumb|Distribution of Tamil speakers in South India and Sri Lanka (1961).]]
Tamil is the first language of the majority of the people residing in [[Tamil Nadu]] in India and [[Northern Province, Sri Lanka|Northern Province]], [[Eastern Province, Sri Lanka|Eastern Province]], Sri Lanka. The language is also spoken among small minority groups in other states of India which include [[Karnataka]], [[Andhra Pradesh]], [[Kerala]], [[Maharashtra]] and in certain regions of Sri Lanka such as [[Colombo]] and [[Central Province, Sri Lanka|the hill country]]. Previously Tamil had a wider distribution in India than its current state. Tamil or dialects of it were used widely in the state of Kerala as the major language of administration, literature and common usage until the 12th century CE. Tamil was also used widely in inscriptions found in southern [[Andhra Pradesh]] districts of [[Chittoor district|Chittoor]] and [[Nellore district|Nellore]] until the 12th century [[AD]].
There are currently sizeable [[Tamil diaspora|Tamil-speaking populations]] descended from colonial-era migrants in [[Malaysia]], [[Singapore]], [[Mauritius]],((Seychelles)), [[Asians in South Africa|South Africa]], Indonesia,<ref>Ramstedt 243</ref> Thailand,<ref>Kesavapany 60</ref> [[Burma]], and [[Vietnam]]. A large community of Tamil speakers exists in [[Karachi]], [[Pakistan]], which includes Tamil-speaking Hindus<ref name="TNP">{{Citation |url=|title=Strangers to Their Roots and Those Around Them|accessdate=August 20, 2012 |work=The News (Pakistan)}}</ref><ref name="PHP">{{Citation|url=|title=Tamil Hindus in Karachi|accessdate=August 20, 2012 |work=Pakistan Hindu Post}}</ref> as well as Christians and Muslims - including some Tamil-speaking Muslim refugees from Sri Lanka.<ref name="HBL">{{Citation |url=|title=Osama's shadow on Sri Lanka?|accessdate=August 20, 2012 |work=The Hindu Business Line}}</ref> Many in [[Réunion]], [[Guyana]], [[Fiji]], [[Suriname]], and [[Trinidad and Tobago]] have Tamil origins,<ref name="ucberkeleydiaspora">{{Citation|url= |title=Overview of the South Asian Diaspora |accessdate=23 April 2008 |last=McMahon |first=Suzanne |publisher=University of California, Berkeley }}</ref> but only a small number speak the language. In Reunion where Tamil language was forbidden to be learnt and used in public space is now being relearnt by students and adults.<ref name="ucberkeleydiaspora1">{{Citation|url= |title= Indentured immigration and social accommodation in La Réunion |accessdate=8 January 2010 |last= Ghasarian |first=Christian |publisher=University of California, Berkeley }}</ref> It is also used by groups of migrants [[Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora|from Sri Lanka]] and India in [[Canada]] (especially [[Toronto]]), [[USA]] (especially [[New Jersey]] and [[New York City]]), [[Australia]], many Middle Eastern countries, and some Western European countries.
== Legal status ==
Tamil is the [[official language]] of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the [[Languages with official status in India|22 languages under schedule 8 of the constitution of India]]. It is also one of the official languages of the union territories of [[Pondicherry]] and the [[Andaman & Nicobar Islands]].<ref>{{citation | last = Ramamoorthy | first = L | publisher = Language in India | url = | date = 2004-2 | title = Multilingualism and Second Language Acquisition and Learning in Pondicherry | accessdate =16 August 2007}}</ref><ref>{{citation | format = PDF | last = Sunwani | first = Vijay K | publisher = Language in India | url = | date = 2007-2 | title = Amazing Andamans and North-East India: A Panoramic View of States, Societies and Cultures | accessdate =16 August 2007}}</ref> Tamil is also one of the official languages of Sri Lanka and Singapore. In Malaysia, 543 primary education [[Education in Malaysia#Stages|government schools]] are available fully in Tamil medium.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Language Shift in the Tamil Communities of Malaysia and Singapore: the Paradox of Egalitarian Language Policy | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref>
In addition, with the creation in October 2004 of a legal status for classical languages by the [[Government of India]] and following a political campaign supported by several Tamil associations,<ref name="dmkpolitics2">{{Citation | url= | title= Classic case of politics of language | accessdate =20 April 2007 |work=The Telegraph |location=Kolkota, India | place = [[Kolkata]] | quote= Members of the committee felt that the pressure was being brought on it because of the compulsions of the Congress and the UPA government to appease its ally, M. Karunanidhi's DMK. | location=Calcutta, India | first=Sujan | last=Dutta | date=28 September 2004}}</ref><ref name="historyofdemand">{{Citation |url= |work=The Hindu |first= SS | last= Vasan |title=Recognising a classic |accessdate=14 May 2007}}</ref> Tamil became the first legally recognised [[Classical language]] of India. The recognition was announced by the then [[President of India]], [[Abdul Kalam]], in a joint sitting of both houses of the [[Parliament of India|Indian Parliament]] on 6 June 2004.<ref name="LanguageInIndia">{{Citation |last= Thirumalai |first= MS |year= 2004 | month = November | title = Tradition, Modernity and Impact of Globalization&nbsp;– Whither Will Tamil Go? | journal = Language in India | volume = 4 |url= |accessdate=17 November 2007}}</ref><ref name = "BBC Classical language">BBC. [ India sets up classical languages]. 17 August 2004. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.</ref><ref name = "The Hindu Classical language">[ "Sanskrit to be declared classical language"]. ''The Hindu''. 28 October 2005. Retrieved on 16 August 2007.</ref>
{{See also|States of India by Tamil speakers}}
== Dialects ==
=== Region specific variations ===
The [[Socio-linguistics|socio-linguistic]] situation of Tamil is characterised by [[diglossia]]: there are two separate registers varying by social status, a high register and a low one.<ref>{{citation | last = Arokianathan | first = S | url = | title = Writing and Diglossic: A Case Study of Tamil Radio Plays | accessdate =16 August 2007}}</ref><ref>Britto, Francis. "Diglossia: A Study of the Theory, with Application to Tamil", ''Language'', Vol. 64, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 152–155. {{doi|10.2307/414796}}</ref> Tamil dialects are primarily differentiated from each other by the fact that they have undergone different phonological changes and sound shifts in evolving from Old Tamil. For example, the word for "here"—''{{IAST|iṅku}}'' in ''Centamil'' (the classic variety)—has evolved into ''{{IAST |iṅkū}}'' in the Kongu dialect of [[Coimbatore]], ''inga'' in the dialect of [[Thanjavur]], and ''{{IAST |iṅkai}}'' in some [[Sri Lankan Tamil dialects|dialects of Sri Lanka]]. Old Tamil's ''{{IAST|iṅkaṇ}}'' (where ''{{IAST|kaṇ}}'' means place) is the source of ''{{IAST |iṅkane}}'' in the dialect of [[Tirunelveli]], Old Tamil ''{{IAST |iṅkaṭṭu}}'' is the source of ''{{IAST |iṅkuṭṭu}}'' in the dialect of [[Madurai]], and ''{{IAST |iṅkaṭe}}'' in various northern dialects. Even now, in the Coimbatore area, it is common to hear "{{IAST|akkaṭṭa}}" meaning "that place". Although Tamil dialects do not differ significantly in their vocabulary, there are a few exceptions. The dialects spoken in Sri Lanka retain many words and grammatical forms that are not in everyday use in India,<ref>Lehmann, Thomas. "Old Tamil" in Sanford Steever (ed.), ''The Dravidian Languages'' Routledge, 1998, p. 75; E. Annamalai and S. Steever, "Modern Tamil" in ibid., pp. 100–28.</ref> and use many other words slightly differently.<ref>Zvelebil, Kamil. "Some features of Ceylon Tamil", ''Indo-Iranian Journal'' 9:2 (June 1996) pp. 113–38.</ref> According to [[Kamil Zvelebil]], the Tamil dialects can be segregated on the following 'Centers of Prestige': [[Madras Bashai|Madras Tamil]], [[Madurai Tamil]], [[Kongu Tamil]], [[Nellai Tamil]], Kanyakumari Tamil, [[Central Tamil dialect|Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli]] Tamil, Jaffna or Yazhpanam Tamil, Triconmalee or Tiruconamalai Tamil, Batticaloa or Mattakkalappu Tamil.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Tamil Variation | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref>
==== Loanword variations ====
{{See also|Indo-Aryan loanwords in Tamil|Loan words in Sri Lankan Tamil}}
The dialect of the district of [[Palakkad]] in Kerala has a large number of [[Malayalam language|Malayalam]] loanwords, has been influenced by Malayalam's syntax and also has a distinctive Malayalam accent. Similarly, Tamil spoken in Kanyakumari District has more unique words and phonetic style than Tamil spoken at other parts of Tamil Nadu. The words and phonetics are so different that a person from [[Kanyakumari district]] is easily identifiable by their spoken Tamil. [[Hebbar Iyengars|Hebbar]] and [[Mandyam]] dialects, spoken by groups of Tamil [[Vaishnavism|Vaishnavites]] who migrated to [[Karnataka]] in the 11th century, retain many features of the ''Vaishnava paribasai'', a special form of Tamil developed in the 9th and 10th centuries that reflect Vaishnavite religious and spiritual values.<ref>Thiru. Mu. Kovintācāriyar, ''{{IAST|Vāḻaiyaṭi vāḻai}}'' Lifco, Madras, 1978, pp. 26–39.</ref> Several [[caste]]s have their own [[sociolect]]s which most members of that caste traditionally used regardless of where they come from. It is often possible to identify a person's caste by their speech.<ref name="EB 2007">{{Citation
| url =
| title = Tamil dialects
| accessdate =28 March 2007
| work = Encyclopædia Britannica Online ''See'' Tamil language.}} [subscription required]</ref>
Tamil in Sri Lanka incorporates [[Loan words in Sri Lankan Tamil|loan words]] from Portuguese, [[Dutch Language|Dutch]], and English.
== Spoken and literary variants ==
In addition to its various dialects, Tamil exhibits different forms: a classical literary style modelled on the ancient language (''{{IAST|sankattamiḻ}}''), a modern literary and formal style (''{{IAST|centamiḻ}}''), and a modern [[colloquial]] form (''{{IAST|koṭuntamiḻ}}''). These styles shade into each other, forming a stylistic continuum. For example, it is possible to write ''{{IAST|centamiḻ}}'' with a vocabulary drawn from ''{{IAST|caṅkattamiḻ}}'', or to use forms associated with one of the other variants while speaking ''{{IAST|koṭuntamiḻ}}''.<ref>Schiffman, Harold. "[ Diglossia as a Sociolinguistic Situation]", in Florian Coulmas (ed.), ''The Handbook of Sociolinguistics''. London: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1997 at pp. 205 et seq.</ref>
In modern times, ''{{IAST|centamiḻ}}'' is generally used in formal writing and speech. For instance, it is the language of textbooks, of much of [[Tamil literature]] and of public speaking and debate. In recent times, however, ''{{IAST|koṭuntamiḻ}}'' has been making inroads into areas that have traditionally been considered the province of ''{{IAST|centamiḻ}}''. Most contemporary cinema, theatre and popular entertainment on television and radio, for example, is in ''{{IAST|koṭuntamiḻ}}'', and many politicians use it to bring themselves closer to their audience. The increasing use of ''{{IAST|koṭuntamiḻ}}'' in modern times has led to the emergence of unofficial ‘standard' spoken dialects. In India, the ‘standard' ''{{IAST|koṭuntamiḻ}}'' is based on ‘educated non-Brahmin speech', rather than on any one dialect,<ref name="Standard restandard">{{Citation | last1 = Schiffman | first1 = Harold | year = 1998 | title = Standardization or restandardization: The case for 'Standard' Spoken Tamil | url = | journal = Language in Society | volume = 27 | issue = 3| pages = 359–385 |doi=10.1017/S0047404598003030 | postscript = .}}</ref> but has been significantly influenced by the dialects of [[Thanjavur]] and [[Madurai]]. In Sri Lanka, the standard is based on the dialect of [[Jaffna]].
== Writing system ==
{{Main|Tamil script|Tamil braille}}
{{See also|Vatteluttu|Grantha script}}
[[File:Jambai Tamil Brahmi.jpg|thumb|[[Athiyamān Nedumān Añci|Jambai Tamil Brahmi inscription]] dated to the early Sangam age]]After [[Tamil Brahmi]] fell out of use, Tamil was written using a script called the ''{{IAST|vaṭṭeḻuttu}}'' amongst others such as [[Grantha script|Grantha]] and [[Pallava script]]. The current Tamil script consists of 12 [[vowel]]s, 18 [[consonant]]s and one special character, the ''[[āytam]]''. The vowels and consonants combine to form 216 compound characters, giving a total of 247 characters (12 + 18 + 1 + (12 x 18)). All consonants have an inherent vowel ''a'', as with other [[Indic scripts]]. This inherency is removed by adding a tittle called a ''{{IAST|puḷḷi}}'', to the consonantal sign<!--, whereas no such distinction is there in other Indic scipts-->. For example, {{lang|ta|ன}} is ''ṉa'' (with the inherent ''a'') and {{lang|ta|ன்}} is ''ṉ'' (without a vowel). Many Indic scripts have a similar sign, generically called [[virama]], but the Tamil script is somewhat different in that it nearly always uses a visible ''puḷḷi'' to indicate a ''dead consonant'' (a consonant without a vowel). In other Indic scripts, it is generally preferred to use a ligature or a half form to write a syllable or a cluster containing a dead consonant, although writing it with a visible virama is also possible. The Tamil script does not differentiate voiced and unvoiced [[plosive]]s. Instead, plosives are articulated with voice depending on their position in a word, in accordance with the rules of [[Tamil phonology]].
In addition to the standard characters, six characters taken from the [[Grantha script]], which was used in the Tamil region to write Sanskrit, are sometimes used to represent sounds not native to Tamil, that is, words adopted from Sanskrit, Prakrit and other languages. The traditional system prescribed by classical grammars for writing loan-words, which involves respelling them in accordance with Tamil phonology, remains, but is not always consistently applied.<ref>{{Citation|last=Fowler|first=Murray|title=The Segmental Phonemes of Sanskritized Tamil|journal=Language|volume=30|number=3|pages=360–367|doi=10.2307/410134|year=1954|jstor=410134|issue=3|publisher=Linguistic Society of America}} at p. 360.</ref>
== Sounds ==
{{Main|Tamil phonology}}
Tamil phonology is characterised by the presence of [[retroflex consonant]]s and multiple [[Rhotic consonant|rhotics]]. Tamil does not distinguish phonologically between voiced and unvoiced consonants; phonetically, voice is assigned depending on a consonant's position in a word.<ref>{{Citation | last1=Schiffman | first1=Harold F. | last2=Arokianathan | first2=S. | contribution=Diglossic variation in Tamil film and fiction | editor1-last=Krishnamurti | editor1-first=Bhadriraju | editor1-link=Bhadriraju Krishnamurti | editor2-last=Masica | editor2-first=Colin P. | editor2-link=Colin Masica | title=South Asian languages: structure, convergence, and diglossia | year=1986 | publisher=Motilal Banarsidass | place=New Delhi | isbn=81-208-0033-8 | pages=371–382}} at p. 371</ref> Tamil phonology permits few consonant clusters, which can never be word initial. Native grammarians classify Tamil phonemes into vowels, consonants, and a "secondary character", the āytam.
=== Vowels ===
Tamil vowels are called ''{{IAST|uyireḻuttu}}'' (''uyir'' – life, ''{{IAST|eḻuttu}}''&nbsp;– letter). The vowels are classified into short (''{{IAST|kuṟil}}'') and long (''{{IAST|neṭil}}'') (with five of each type) and two [[diphthong]]s, /ai/ and /au/, and three "shortened" (''{{IAST|kuṟṟiyl}}'') vowels.
The long vowels are about twice as long as the short vowels. The [[diphthong]]s are usually pronounced about 1.5 times as long as the short vowels, though most grammatical texts place them with the long vowels.
{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center;"
!rowspan="2"| !!colspan="3"| [[Vowel length|Short]] !!colspan="3"| Long
! [[Front vowel|Front]] !! [[Central vowel|Central]] !! [[Back vowel|Back]] !! [[Front vowel|Front]] !! [[Central vowel|Central]] !! [[Back vowel|Back]]
! rowspan=2|[[Close vowel|Close]]
| {{IPA|i}} || || {{IPA|u}} || {{IPA|iː}} || || {{IPA|uː}}
|| இ || || உ || ஈ || || ஊ
! rowspan=2|[[Mid vowel|Mid]]
| {{IPA|e}} || || {{IPA|o}} || {{IPA|eː}} || || {{IPA|oː}}
|| எ || || ஒ || ஏ || || ஓ
! rowspan=2|[[Open vowel|Open]]
| || {{IPA|a}} || || {{IPA|(ai)}} || {{IPA|aː}} || {{IPA|(aw)}}
|| || அ || || ஐ || ஆ || ஒள
=== Consonants ===
Tamil [[consonants]] are known as ''{{IAST|meyyeḻuttu}}'' (''mey''—body, ''{{IAST|eḻuttu}}''—letters). The [[consonant]]s are classified into three categories with six in each category: ''{{IAST|valliṉam}}''—hard, ''{{IAST|melliṉam}}''—soft or [[Nasal stop|Nasal]], and ''{{IAST|iṭayiṉam}}''—medium.
Unlike most Indian languages, Tamil does not distinguish [[aspiration (phonetics)|aspirated and unaspirated]] consonants. In addition, the voicing of [[plosive]]s is governed by strict rules in ''{{IAST|centamiḻ}}''. Plosives are unvoiced if they occur word-initially or doubled. Elsewhere they are voiced, with a few becoming [[fricative]]s [[:wiktionary:intervocalic|intervocalic]]ally. [[Nasal stop|Nasals]] and [[Approximant consonant|approximants]] are always voiced.<ref>''See e.g.'' the pronunciation guidelines in G.U. Pope (1868). ''A Tamil hand-book, or, Full introduction to the common dialect of that language''. (3rd ed.). Madras, Higginbotham & Co.</ref>
Tamil is characterised by its use of more than one type of [[coronal consonant]]s: like many of the other languages of India, it contains a series of [[retroflex consonant]]s. Notably, the Tamil retroflex series includes the [[retroflex approximant]] {{IPA|/ɻ/}} (ழ) (example Tami'''l'''; often transcribed 'zh'), which is absent in the Indo-Aryan languages. Among the other Dravidian languages, the retroflex approximant also occurs in [[Malayalam language|Malayalam]] (for example in 'Ko'''zh'''ikode'), disappeared from spoken [[Kannada language|Kannada]] around 1000 CE (although the character is still written, and exists in [[Unicode]]), and was never present in [[Telugu language|Telugu]].<ref name="retroflex_consonants">{{Citation
| url =
| title = A Reference Grammar of Classical Tamil Poetry: 150 B.C.-Pre-Fifth/Sixth Century A.D |first= V. S. | last= Rajam
| accessdate =1 June 2007
| publisher = American Philosophical Society
| isbn = 978-0-87169-199-6
| year = 1992}}</ref> [[Dental consonant|Dental]] and [[alveolar consonant]]s also historically contrasted with each other, a typically Dravidian trait not found in the neighbouring Indo-Aryan languages. While this distinction can still be seen in the written language, it has been largely lost in colloquial spoken Tamil, and even in literary usage the letters {{lang|ta|ந}} (dental) and {{lang|ta|ன}} (alveolar) may be seen as [[allophonic]].<ref>{{Citation | first=Harold F. | last=Schiffman | title=Phonetics of Spoken Tamil | url = | pages =12–13 | year=1995 | accessdate=28 August 2009|work=A Grammar of Spoken Tamil}}</ref>
A chart of the Tamil consonant [[phoneme]]s in the [[Help:IPA|International Phonetic Alphabet]] follows:<ref>E. Annamalai and S.B. Steever, "Modern Tamil" in S.B. Steevar (Ed.), ''The Dravidian Languages'', London and New York, Routledge 1998, p100-128</ref>
{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center;"
! !! [[Labial consonant|Labial]] !! [[Dental consonant|Dental]] !! [[Alveolar consonant|Alveolar]] !! [[Retroflex consonant|Retroflex]] !! [[Palatal consonant|Palatal]] !! [[Velar consonant|Velar]]
! rowspan= 2 |[[Plosive consonant|Plosives]]
| {{IPA|p (b)}} || {{IPA|t̪ (d̪)}} || {{IPA|t (d)}} || {{IPA|ʈ (ɖ)}} ||{{IPA|tʃ (dʒ)}} || {{IPA|k (ɡ)}}
|| ப || த || ற || ட || ச || க
! rowspan =2| [[Nasal stop|Nasals]]
| {{IPA|m}}|| {{IPA|n̪}}|| {{IPA|n}} || {{IPA|ɳ}} || {{IPA|ɲ}} || {{IPA|ŋ}}
|| ம || ந || ன || ண ||ஞ || ங
! rowspan = 2|[[Tap consonant|Tap]]
| || {{IPA|ɾ̪}} || || || ||
|| || ர || || || ||
! rowspan = 2|[[Trill consonant|Trill]]
| || || {{IPA|r}} || || ||
|| || || ற || || ||
! rowspan=2 |[[Central consonant|Central]] [[Approximant consonant|approximants]]
| {{IPA|ʋ}} || || ||{{IPA|ɻ}} || {{IPA|j}} ||
|| வ || || || ழ || ய ||
! rowspan=2 |[[Lateral consonant|Lateral]] approximants
| || || {{IPA|l̪}} || {{IPA|ɭ}} || ||
|| || || ல || ள || ||
Phonemes in brackets are [[Voice (phonetics)|voiced]] equivalents. Both voiceless and voiced forms are represented by the same character in Tamil, and voicing is determined by context. The sounds {{IPA|/f/}} and {{IPA|/ʂ/}} are peripheral to the phonology of Tamil, being found only in loanwords and frequently replaced by native sounds. There are well-defined rules for [[elision]] in Tamil categorised into different classes based on the phoneme which undergoes elision.
=== Āytam ===
Classical Tamil also had a phoneme called the ''[[Āytam]]'', written as ‘ஃ'. Tamil grammarians of the time classified it as a dependent phoneme (or restricted phoneme<ref name="krishnamurti">{{Citation |last=Krishnamurti |first=Bhadriraju |title=The Dravidian Languages |publisher=[[Cambridge University Press]] | series = Cambridge Language Surveys |year=2003 |isbn=0-521-77111-0 |page=154}}</ref>) (''{{IAST|cārpeḻuttu}}''), but it is very rare in modern Tamil. The rules of pronunciation given in the ''Tolkāppiyam'', a text on the grammar of Classical Tamil, suggest that the ''āytam'' could have [[Glottal stop|glottalised]] the sounds it was combined with. It has also been suggested that the ''āytam'' was used to represent the [[Implosive consonant|voiced implosive]] (or closing part or the first half) of geminated voiced plosives inside a word.<ref>Kuiper, F. B. J. "Two problems of old Tamil phonology", ''Indo-Iranian Journal'' 2:3 (September 1958) pp. 191–207.</ref> The Āytam, in modern Tamil, is also used to convert ''pa'' to ''fa'' (not the retroflex ''zha'' {{IPA|[ɻ]}}) when writing English words using the Tamil script.
=== Numerals and symbols ===
{{Main|Tamil numerals}}
Apart from the usual numerals, Tamil also has numerals for 10, 100 and 1000. Symbols for day, month, year, debit, credit, as above, rupee, and numeral are present as well.
{| class=wikitable style="text-align: center;"
! 0 || 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9 || 10 || 100 || 1000
|- style="font-size: 150%"
| ௦ || ௧ || ௨ || ௩ || ௪ || ௫ || ௬ || ௭ || ௮ || ௯ || ௰ || ௱ || ௲
{| class=wikitable style="text-align: center;"
! day || month || year || debit || credit || as above || rupee || numeral
|- style="font-size: 150%"
| ௳ || ௴ || ௵ || ௶ || ௷ || ௸ || ௹ || ௺
== Grammar ==
{{Main|Tamil grammar}}
Tamil employs [[Agglutination|agglutinative]] grammar, where suffixes are used to mark [[noun class]], [[grammatical number|number]], and [[Grammatical case|case]], verb [[grammatical tense|tense]] and other grammatical categories. Tamil's standard [[metalanguage|metalinguistic]] terminology and scholarly vocabularly is itself Tamil, as opposed to the [[Sanskrit]] that is standard for most other [[Dravidian languages]].<ref name="metalanguage_zvelbil">{{Citation
| url =
| title = ''The Smile of Murugan'' |accessdate=22 May 2007 |first= Kamil |last = Zvelebil
| publisher = BRILL
| isbn = 978-90-04-03591-1
| year = 1973}}</ref><ref>Ramanujam, A. K.; Dharwadker, V. (ed.), ''The collected essays of A.K. Ramanujam'', Oxford University Press 2000, p.111.</ref>
Much of Tamil grammar is extensively described in the oldest known grammar book for Tamil, the ''[[Tolkāppiyam]]''. Modern Tamil writing is largely based on the 13th century grammar ''{{IAST|Naṉṉūl}}'' which restated and clarified the rules of the ''Tolkāppiyam'', with some modifications. Traditional Tamil grammar consists of five parts, namely ''{{IAST|eḻuttu}}'', ''col'', ''{{IAST|poruḷ}}'', ''yāppu'', ''{{IAST|aṇi}}''. Of these, the last two are mostly applied in poetry.<ref name="five_parts_grammar">{{Citation
| url =
| title = Five fold grammar of Tamil
| accessdate =1 June 2007}}
Tamil words consist of a [[lexeme|lexical root]] to which one or more [[affix]]es are attached. Most Tamil affixes are [[suffix]]es. Tamil suffixes can be ''[[Derivation (linguistics)|derivational]] suffixes'', which either change the part of speech of the word or its meaning, or ''[[inflection]]al suffixes'', which mark categories such as [[Grammatical person|person]], [[Grammatical number|number]], [[Grammatical mood|mood]], [[Grammatical tense|tense]], etc. There is no absolute limit on the length and extent of [[agglutination]], which can lead to long words with a large number of suffixes.
=== Morphology ===
Tamil nouns (and pronouns) are classified into two super-classes (''{{IAST|tiṇai}}'')—the "rational" (''{{IAST|uyartiṇai}}''), and the "irrational" (''{{transl|ta|ISO|akṟiṇai}}'')—which include a total of five classes (''pāl'', which literally means ‘gender'). Humans and [[deity|deities]] are classified as "rational", and all other nouns (animals, objects, abstract nouns) are classified as irrational. The "rational" nouns and pronouns belong to one of three classes (''pāl'')—masculine singular, feminine singular, and rational plural. The "irrational" nouns and pronouns belong to one of two classes: irrational singular and irrational plural. The ''pāl'' is often indicated through suffixes. The plural form for rational nouns may be used as an [[honorific]], gender-neutral, singular form.<ref name="classes_of_nouns">{{Citation
| url =
| title = Classes of nouns in Tamil
| accessdate =1 June 2007
| publisher = Trübner
| last1 = Caldwell | first1 = Robert
| year = 1875}}</ref>
Suffixes are used to perform the functions of [[Grammatical case|cases]] or [[postposition]]s. Traditional grammarians tried to group the various suffixes into eight cases corresponding to the cases used in [[Sanskrit]]. These were the [[nominative case|nominative]], [[accusative case|accusative]], [[dative case|dative]], [[sociative case|sociative]], [[genitive case|genitive]], [[instrumental case|instrumental]], [[locative case|locative]], and [[ablative case|ablative]]. Modern grammarians argue that this classification is artificial,<ref name='CaseMarkerZvelebil'>{{Citation|title=Dravidian Case-Suffixes: Attempt at a Reconstruction|journal=Journal of the American Oriental Society|date=April&nbsp;– June 1972|first=K. V.|last=Zvelebil|volume=92|issue=2|pages=272–276 |jstor=600654|quote=The entire problem of the concept of 'case' in Dravidian will be ignored in this paper. In fact, we might posit a great number of 'cases' for perhaps any Dravidian language once we departed from the familiar types of paradigms forced upon us by traditional, indigenous and European grammars, especially of the literary languages. It is, for instance, sheer convention based on Tamil grammatical tradition (influenced no doubt by Sanskrit) that, as a rule, the number of cases in Tamil is given as eight.|doi=10.2307/600654|publisher=American Oriental Society }}</ref> and that Tamil usage is best understood if each suffix or combination of suffixes is seen as marking a separate case.<ref name="Standard restandard" /> Tamil nouns can take one of four [[Prefix (linguistics)|prefixes]], ''i'', ''a'', ''u'', and ''e'' which are functionally equivalent to the [[demonstrative]]s in English.
Tamil verbs are also inflected through the use of suffixes. A typical Tamil verb form will have a number of [[suffix]]es, which show person, number, mood, tense, and voice.
* Person and number are indicated by suffixing the [[oblique case]] of the relevant pronoun. The suffixes to indicate tenses and voice are formed from [[grammatical particle]]s, which are added to the stem.
* Tamil has two voices. The first indicates that the subject of the sentence ''undergoes'' or ''is the object of'' the action named by the verb stem, and the second indicates that the subject of the sentence ''directs'' the action referred to by the verb stem.
* Tamil has three simple tenses—past, present, and future—indicated by the suffixes, as well as a series of perfects indicated by compound suffixes. Mood is implicit in Tamil, and is normally reflected by the same [[morpheme]]s which mark tense categories. Tamil verbs also mark [[evidentiality]], through the addition of the hearsay [[clitic]] ''{{IAST|ām}}.''<ref name="steeverevidentiality">{{Citation |first=Sanford B. |last=Steever | editor-last=Güldemann | editor-first=Tom | editor2-last=von Roncador | editor2-first=Manfred | contribution=Direct and indirect discourse in Tamil |title=Reported Discourse: A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains |year=2002 |pages=91–108 | place=Amsterdam |publisher=John Benjamins Publishing Company |isbn=90-272-2958-9}} at p. 105.</ref>
Traditional grammars of Tamil do not distinguish between [[adjective]]s and [[adverb]]s, including both of them under the category ''uriccol'', although modern grammarians tend to distinguish between them on morphological and syntactical grounds.<ref name="lehmann1989">{{Citation |last=Lehmann |first=Thomas |title=A Grammar of Modern Tamil |year=1989 |publisher=Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture |location=Pondicherry}} at pp. 9–11</ref> Tamil has a large number of [[ideophone]]s that act as adverbs indicating the way the object in a given state "says" or "sounds".<ref>{{Citation |last=Swiderski |first = Richard M. |title=The metamorphosis of English: versions of other languages |publisher=Bergin & Garvey |location=New York |year=1996 |page=61 |isbn=0-89789-468-5 |oclc= }}</ref>
Tamil does not have [[article (grammar)|articles]]. Definiteness and indefiniteness are either indicated by special grammatical devices, such as using the number "one" as an indefinite article, or by the context.<ref name="steeversummary">{{Citation |first=E. |last=Annamalai | first2= S.B. | last2 = Steever | editor-last = Steever | editor-first = Sanford B. | contribution = Modern Tamil |title=The Dravidian Languages |year=1998 |pages=100–128 | place = London |publisher=Routledge |isbn= 0-415-10023-2}} at p. 109.</ref> In the first person plural, Tamil makes a distinction between [[Clusivity|inclusive]] pronouns நாம் ''{{IAST|nām}}'' (we), நமது ''{{IAST|namatu}}'' (our) that include the addressee and exclusive pronouns நாங்கள் ''{{IAST|nāṅkaḷ}}'' (we), எமது ''{{IAST|ematu}}'' (our) that do not.<ref name="steeversummary"/>
=== Syntax ===
Tamil is a consistently [[head-final]] language. The verb comes at the end of the clause, with a typical word order of [[subject–object–verb]] (SOV).<ref name="SOV_language">{{Citation
| url =
| title = Tamil is a head-final language
| accessdate =1 June 2007}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url= |title=WALS - Tamil | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref> However, word order in Tamil is also flexible, so that surface permutations of the SOV order are possible with different [[pragmatics|pragmatic]] effects. Tamil has [[postposition]]s rather than [[prepositions]]. Demonstratives and modifiers precede the noun within the noun phrase. Subordinate clauses precede the verb of the matrix clause.
Tamil is a [[null subject language]]. Not all Tamil sentences have subjects, verbs, and objects. It is possible to construct grammatically valid and meaningful sentences which lack one or more of the three. For example, a sentence may only have a verb—such as ''{{IAST|muṭintuviṭṭatu}}'' ("completed")—or only a subject and object, without a verb such as ''{{IAST|atu eṉ vīṭu}}'' ("That [is] my house"). Tamil does not have a [[copula (linguistics)|copula]] (a linking verb equivalent to the word ''is''). The word is included in the translations only to convey the meaning more easily.
== Vocabulary ==
{{See also|Wiktionary:Category:Tamil language|Wiktionary:Category:Tamil derivations}}
The vocabulary of Tamil is mainly Dravidian. A strong sense of [[linguistic purism]] is found in Modern Tamil,<ref>Ramaswamy, Sumathi. "En/Gendering Language: The Poetics of Tamil Identity", ''Comparative Studies in Society and History'' 35:4. (October 1993), pp. 683–725.</ref> which opposes the use of foreign loanwords.<ref>{{Harvnb|Krishnamurti|2003|p=480}}.</ref> Nonetheless, a number of words used in classical and modern Tamil are loanwords from the languages of neighbouring groups, or with whom the Tamils had trading links, including [[Munda languages|Munda]] (for example, {{IAST|tavaḷai}} "frog" from Munda {{IAST|tabeg}}), [[Malay language|Malay]] (e.g. {{IAST|cavvarici}} "sago" from Malay {{IAST|sāgu}}), Chinese (for example, {{IAST|campān}} "skiff" from Chinese san-pan) and Greek (for example, {{IAST|ora}} from Greek ὥρα). In more modern times, Tamil has imported words from [[Urdu]] and [[Marathi language|Marathi]], reflecting groups that have influenced the Tamil area at various points of time, and from neighbouring languages such as [[Telugu language|Telugu]], [[Kannada language|Kannada]], and [[Sinhala language|Sinhala]]. During the modern period, words have also been adapted from European languages, such as Portuguese, French, and English.<ref>{{Harvnb|Meenakshisundaram|1965|pp=169–193}}</ref>
The strongest impact of purism in Tamil has been on words taken from Sanskrit. During its history, Tamil, along with other Dravidian languages like [[Telugu language|Telugu]], [[Kannada language|Kannada]], [[Malayalam]] etc., was influenced by [[Sanskrit]] in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary styles,<ref name="influence">"Literature in all Dravidian languages owes a great deal to Sanskrit, the magic wand whose touch raised each of the languages from a level of patois to that of a literary idiom" (Sastri 1955, p309); Trautmann, Thomas R. 2006. ''Languages and nations: the Dravidian proof in colonial Madras''. Berkeley: University of California Press. "The author endeavours to demonstrate that the entire Sangam poetic corpus follows the "Kavya" form of Sanskrit poetry"-Tieken, Herman Joseph Hugo. 2001. Kāvya in South India: old Tamil {{IAST|Caṅkam}} poetry. Groningen: Egbert Forsten; Vaiyapuri Pillai in Takahashi, Takanobu. 1995, p18.</ref><ref>See Vaidyanathan's analysis of an early medieval text in S. Vaidyanathan, "Indo-Aryan loan words in the Civakacintamani" ''Journal of the American Oriental Society'' 87:4. (October&nbsp;– December 1967), pp. 430–434.</ref><ref name="caldwell">Caldwell, Robert. 1974. ''A comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages''. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corp, p.87–88.</ref><ref name="takahashi">Takahashi, Takanobu. 1995. ''Tamil love poetry and poetics''. Brill's Indological Library, v. 9. Leiden: E.J. Brill, p16,18</ref> reflecting the increased trend of [[Sanskritisation]] in the Tamil country.<ref>Pollock, Sheldon. "The Sanskrit Cosmopolis 300–1300: Transculturation, vernacularisation and the question of ideology" in Jan E.M. Houben (ed.), ''The ideology and status of Sanskrit: Contributions to the history of the Sanskrit language'' (E.J. Brill, Leiden: 1996) at pp. 209–217.</ref> Tamil vocabulary never became quite as heavily Sanskritised as that of the other Dravidian languages, and unlike in those languages, it was and remains possible to express complex ideas (including in science, art, religion and law) without the use of Sanskrit loan words.<ref>{{Citation|last=Trautmann|first=Thomas R.|title=Hullabaloo About Telugu|journal=South Asian Research| volume=19| issue=1 |year=1999 | pages=53–70|doi=10.1177/026272809901900104}} at p. 64</ref><ref>Caldwell, Robert. 1974. ''A comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages''. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corp, p.50.</ref><ref>Ellis, F. W. (1820), "Note to the introduction" in Campbell, A.D., ''A grammar of the Teloogoo language.'' Madras: College Press, pp. 29–30.</ref> In addition, Sanskritisation was actively resisted by a number of authors of the late medieval period,<ref>''See'' Ramaswamy's analysis of one such text, the ''{{transl|ta|ISO|Tamiḻ viṭututu}}'', in Ramaswamy, Sumathi. "Language of the People in the World of Gods: Ideologies of Tamil before the Nation" ''The Journal of Asian Studies'', 57:1. (February 1998), pp. 66–92.</ref> culminating in the 20th century in a movement called ''[[Tanittamil Iyakkam|{{IAST|taṉit tamiḻ iyakkam}}]]'' (meaning "pure Tamil movement"), led by [[Parithimaar Kalaignar]] and [[Maraimalai Adigal]], which sought to remove the accumulated influence of Sanskrit on Tamil.<ref>Varadarajan, M. ''A History of Tamil Literature'', transl. from Tamil by E. Sa. Viswanathan, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1988. p.12: "Since then the movement has been popularly known as the ''tanittamil iyakkam'' or the Pure Tamil movement among the Tamil scholars."</ref> As a result of this, Tamil in formal documents, literature and public speeches has seen a marked decline in the use Sanskrit loan words in the past few decades,<ref>{{Citation
| last = Ramaswamy
| first = Sumathy
| title = Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891–1970
| url =
| year = 1997
| publisher = University of California Press
| location = Berkeley
| chapter = Laboring for language
| chapterurl =
| quote = Nevertheless, even impressionistically speaking, the marked decline in the use of foreign words, especially of Sanskritic origin, in Tamil literary, scholarly, and even bureaucratic circles over the past half century is quite striking.
| isbn = 0-585-10600-2
}}</ref> under some estimates having fallen from 40–50% to about 20%.<ref name="Krishnamurti 2003 p=480"/> As a result, the Prakrit and Sanskrit loan words used in modern Tamil are, unlike in some other Dravidian languages, restricted mainly to some spiritual terminology and [[abstract noun]]s.<ref>Meenakshisundaram, T. P. ''A History of Tamil Language'', Sarvodaya Ilakkiya Pannai, 1982. (translated) p. 241-2</ref>
In the 20th century, institutions and learned bodies have, with government support, generated technical dictionaries for Tamil containing [[neologisms]] and words derived from Tamil roots to replace loan words from English and other languages.<ref name="thaniththamizh" />
== Influence ==
{{main|Words of Tamil origin}}
A notable example of a word in worldwide use with Dravidian (not specifically Tamil) etymology is ''[[:wikt:orange|orange]]'', via Sanskrit ''{{IAST|nāraṅga}}'' from a Dravidian predecessor of Tamil ''nartankāy'' "fragrant fruit".
Words of Tamil origin occur in other languages. Popular [[Words of Tamil origin|examples in English]] are cheroot (''{{IAST|churuṭṭu}}'' meaning "rolled up"),<ref name="OED">{{Citation
| url =
| title = Oxford English Dictionary Online
| accessdate =14 April 2007
| work = Oxford English Dictionary
}}</ref> mango (from ''mangai''),<ref name="OED"/> mulligatawny (from ''{{IAST|miḷaku taṉṉir}}'' meaning pepper water), pariah (from ''paraiyan''), curry (from ''kari''),<ref name="oed-curry">"curry, n.<sup>2</sup>", ''The Oxford English Dictionary''. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. 14 Aug 2009</ref> catamaran (from ''{{IAST|kaṭṭu maram}}'', கட்டு மரம், meaning "bundled logs"),<ref name="OED"/> pandal (shed, shelter, booth),<ref name="OED"/> tyer (curd),<ref name="OED"/> anicut (from ''{{IAST|anaikattu}}'', அணைக்கட்டு, meaning dam),<ref name="OED"/> and coir (rope).<ref name="merriam-coir">{{Citation
| url =
| title = Entry in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
| accessdate =14 April 2007
| work = Merriam-Webster Dictionary
}}</ref> Tamil words are [[Sinhala words of Tamil origin|also found in Sinhala]], Malayalam, Thai, and [[Malay language|Malay]].{{citation needed|date=July 2012}}
== Indonesia and Thailand ==
A Tamil-Brahmi inscription on pottery from the 2nd century AD has been excavated in Thailand, by a Thai-French team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Bérénice Bellina of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France and Praon Silpanth, Lecturer - Silpakorn University, Thailand. They discovered a shard of inscribed pottery during their excavations at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand. A touchstone engraved in Tamil in the Tamil-Brahmi script from about the 3rd or 4th century AD had already been found in Thailand and is in a museum in the ancient port city of Khuan Luk Pat in Southern Thailand.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Tamil Inscriptions | |date= |accessdate=2012-09-13}}</ref>
== Footnotes ==
== References ==
* {{Citation |last=Andronov |first=M.S. |title=Dravidian Languages |publisher=Nauka Publishing House |year=1970}}
* {{Citation | last=Abraham | first=Shinu | title=Chera, Chola, Pandya: Using Archaeological Evidence to Identify the Tamil Kingdoms of Early Historic South India | journal=Asian Perspectives | volume=42 | issue=2 | year=2003 | pages=207–223 | doi=10.1353/asi.2003.0031}}
* {{Citation | last1=Annamalai | first1=E. | last2=Steever | first2=S.B. | contribution=Modern Tamil | editor-last=Steever | editor-first=Sanford | title=The Dravidian Languages | publisher=Routledge | year=1998 | place=London | isbn=0-415-10023-2 | pages=100–128}}
* Caldwell, Robert. 1974. ''A comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages''. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corp.
* [[Johann Philipp Fabricius|Fabricius, Johann Philip]] (1933 and 1972), [ ''Tamil and English Dictionary'']. based on J.P. Fabricius ''Malabar-English Dictionary'', 3rd and 4th Edition Revised and Enlarged by David Bexell. Evangelical Lutheran Mission Publishing House, Tranquebar; called Tranquebar Dictionary.
* {{Citation | last=Ferro-Luzzi | first=G.E. | title= Tieken, Herman, ''Kavya in South India'' (Book review) | journal=Asian Folklore Studies | issue=June 2001 | year=2001 | pages=373–374}}
* {{Citation |last=Freeman |first=Rich |year=1998 |month=February |title=Rubies and Coral: The Lapidary Crafting of Language in Kerala |journal=The Journal of Asian Studies |volume=57 |issue=1 |pages=38–65 |doi=10.2307/2659023 |jstor=2659023 |publisher=Association for Asian Studies}}
* {{Citation | last=Hart | first=George L. | title=The poems of ancient Tamil : their milieu and their Sanskrit counterparts | publisher=University of California Press | place=Berkeley | year=1975 | isbn=0-520-02672-1}}
* {{citation | last=Hart | first=George | title=Review of Tieken's ''Kavya in South India.'' | journal=Journal of the American Oriental Institute | volume=124 | issue=1 | year=2004 | pages=180–184}}
* {{Citation | last=Kandiah | first=T. | title=Standard Language and Socio-Historical Parameters: Standard Lankan Tamil | journal=International Journal of the Sociology of Language | year=1978 | volume=16 | pages=59–75}}
* {{Citation |last=Krishnamurti |first=Bhadriraju |title=The Dravidian Languages |publisher=[[Cambridge University Press]] | series = Cambridge Language Surveys |year=2003 |isbn=0-521-77111-0 }}
* {{Citation | last=Kuiper | first=F. B. J. | title=Two problems of old Tamil phonology | journal=Indo-Iranian Journal | volume=2 | issue=3 | year=1958 | pages=191–224 | doi=10.1007/BF00162818}}
* {{Citation | last1=Kesavapany | first1=K. | last2=Mani | first2=A | last3=Ramasamy | first3=Palanisamy | title=Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia | year=2008 | place=Singapore | publisher=Institute of Southeast Asian Studies | isbn=981-230-799-0}}
* {{Citation | last=Lehmann | first=Thomas | year=1989 | title=A Grammar of Modern Tamil | place=Pondicherry | publisher=Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture}}
* {{Citation | last=Lehmann | first=Thomas | contribution=Old Tamil | editor-last=Steever | editor-first=Sanford | title=The Dravidian Languages | publisher=Routledge | year=1998 | place=London | isbn=0-415-10023-2 | pages=75–99}}
* {{Citation | last=Mahadevan | first=Iravatham | author-link=Iravatham Mahadevan | title=Early Tamil Epigraphy from the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D | series=Harvard Oriental Series vol. 62 | year=2003 | place=Cambridge, Mass. | publisher=Harvard University Press | isbn=0-674-01227-5}}
* {{Citation |last=Maloney|first=Clarence|title=The Beginnings of Civilization in South India|journal=The Journal of Asian Studies|volume=29|issue=3|year=1970|pages=603–616|jstor=2943246|doi=10.2307/2943246 |publisher=Association for Asian Studies}}
* {{Citation |last=Meenakshisundaram |first=T.P. |title=A History of Tamil Language |publisher=Deccan College | place=Poona |year=1965}}
* {{Citation | last=Monius | first=Anne E. | title=Book review | journal=The Journal of Asian Studies | volume=61 | issue=4 | year=2002 |pages=1404–1406}}
* {{Citation |last=Menon | first= A. Govindankutty | year = 1990 |title=Some Observations on the Sub-Group Tamil–Malayalam: Differential Realizations of the Cluster *nt |journal=Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London |volume=53 |issue=1 |pages=87–99 |doi=10.1017/S0041977X00021285}}
* {{Citation | last=Ramstedt | first=Martin | year=2004 | title=Hinduism in modern Indonesia | publisher=Routledge | place=London | isbn=0-7007-1533-9}}
* Pope, GU (1868). ''A Tamil hand-book, or, Full introduction to the common dialect of that language''. (7th ed. 1911). Madras, Higginbotham & Co.
* {{Citation | last=Rajam | first=VS | title=The duration of an action&nbsp;– real or aspectual? The evolution of the present tense in Tamil | journal=Journal of the American Oriental Society | year=1985 | volume=105 | issue=2 | pages=277–291 | doi=10.2307/601707 | jstor=601707 | publisher=American Oriental Society}}
* {{Citation | last=Rajam | first=VS | title=A Reference Grammar of Classical Tamil Poetry | year=1992 | place=Philadelphia | publisher=The American Philosophical Society |isbn=0-87169-199-X}}
* {{Citation | last = Ramaswamy | first = Sumathy | title = Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891–1970 | url = | year = 1997 | publisher = University of California Press | location = Berkeley | chapter = Laboring for language | chapterurl = | isbn = 0-585-10600-2}}
* {{Citation | last1=Shapiro | first1=Michael C. | last2=Schiffman | first2=Harold F. | title=Language and society in South Asia | publisher=Foris | year=1983 | place=Dordrecht | isbn=90-70176-55-6}}
* {{Citation | last=Schiffman | first=Harold F. | title=A Reference Grammar of Spoken Tamil | publisher=Cambridge University Press | year=1999 | place=Cambridge | isbn=0-521-64074-1 | url= }}
* {{Citation | last=Southworth | first=Franklin C. | title=On the Origin of the word tamiz | year=1998 | journal=International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics | volume=27 | issue=1 | pages=129–132}}
* {{Citation | last=Southworth | first=Franklin C. | title=Linguistic archaeology of South Asia | publisher=Routledge | year=2005 | isbn=0-415-33323-7}}
* {{Citation | last=Steever | first=Sanford | contribution=Introduction | editor-last=Steever | editor-first=Sanford | title=The Dravidian Languages | publisher=Routledge | year=1998 | place=London | isbn=0-415-10023-2 | pages=1–39}}
* {{Citation | last=Steever | first=Sanford | title=The Tamil auxiliary verb system | publisher=Routledge | place=London | year=2005 | isbn=0-415-34672-X}}
* {{Citation | editor1-last=Tharu | editor1-first=Susie | editor2-last=Lalita | editor2-first=K. | title=Women Writing in India: 600 B.C. to the present – Vol. 1: 600 B.C. to the early twentieth century | publisher=Feminist Press | year=1991 | isbn=1-55861-027-8}}
* {{Citation | last=Tieken | first=Herman | title=Kavya in South India: Old Tamil Cankam Poetry | series=Gonda Indological Studies, Volume X | place=Groningen | publisher=Egbert Forsten Publishing | year=2001 | isbn=90-6980-134-5}}
* {{Citation | last=Varadarajan | first=Mu. | title=A History of Tamil Literature | publisher=Sahitya Akademi | place=New Delhi | year=1988}} (Translated from Tamil by E.Sa. Viswanathan)
* {{Citation | last=Wilden | first=Eva | title=Towards an Internal Chronology of Cankam Literature or, How to Trace the Laws of a Poetic Universe: A Revision of Herman Tieken's 'Kavya in South India' | journal=Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südostasiens | volume=46 | pages=105–133}}
* {{Citation | last=Zvelebil | first=Kamil | title=Companion studies to the history of Tamil literature | publisher=Brill | place=Leiden | year=1992 | isbn=90-04-09365-6 }}
== External links ==
*{{Commons-inline|Tamil language}}
* [ UCLA Tamil Profile]
* [ National Translation Mission's(NTM) Tamil Pages]
* [ Tamil Academy]
{{Tamil language}}
{{Dravidian languages}}
{{Languages of India}}
{{Languages of Sri Lanka}}
{{Languages spoken in Kerala}}
{{featured article}}
{{DEFAULTSORT:Tamil Language}}
[[Category:Tamil language| ]]
[[Category:Agglutinative languages]]
[[Category:Classical languages of India]]
[[Category:Dravidian languages]]
[[Category:Indian languages in Singapore]]
[[Category:Languages of India]]
[[Category:Languages of Kerala]]
[[Category:Languages of Sri Lanka]]
[[Category:Languages of Tamil Nadu]]
[[Category:Subject–object–verb languages]]
{{Link FA|de}}
[[ar:لغة تاملية]]
[[an:Idioma tamil]]
[[az:Tamil dili]]
[[bn:তামিল ভাষা]]
[[bjn:Bahasa Tamil]]
[[be:Тамільская мова]]
[[be-x-old:Тамільская мова]]
[[bg:Тамилски език]]
[[bs:Tamilski jezik]]
[[et:Tamili keel]]
[[el:Ταμίλ γλώσσα]]
[[es:Idioma tamil]]
[[eo:Tamila lingvo]]
[[fa:زبان تامیلی]]
[[hif:Tamil bhasa]]
[[ga:An Tamailis]]
[[gl:Lingua támil]]
[[gu:તમિલ ભાષા]]
[[hi:तमिल भाषा]]
[[hr:Tamilski jezik]]
[[id:Bahasa Tamil]]
[[it:Lingua tamil]]
[[jv:Basa Tamil]]
[[krc:Тамил тил]]
[[ka:ტამილური ენა]]
[[kv:Тамил кыв]]
[[ku:Zimanê tamîlî]]
[[la:Lingua Tamulica]]
[[lv:Tamilu valoda]]
[[lt:Tamilų kalba]]
[[lij:Lengua tamil]]
[[hu:Tamil nyelv]]
[[mk:Тамилски јазик]]
[[mg:Fiteny tamily]]
[[ms:Bahasa Tamil]]
[[new:तमिल भाषा]]
[[or:ତାମିଲ ଭାଷା]]
[[uz:Tamil tili]]
[[pms:Lenga Tamil]]
[[pl:Język tamilski]]
[[pt:Língua tâmil]]
[[ro:Limba tamilă]]
[[rmy:Tamilikani chhib]]
[[qu:Tamil simi]]
[[rue:Тамільскый язык]]
[[ru:Тамильский язык]]
[[sco:Taimil leid]]
[[sq:Gjuha tamile]]
[[scn:Lingua tamil]]
[[simple:Tamil language]]
[[so:Luqada Tamil-ka]]
[[ckb:زمانی تامیلی]]
[[sr:Тамилски језик]]
[[sh:Tamilski jezik]]
[[tl:Wikang Tamil]]
[[roa-tara:Lènga tamil]]
[[te:తమిళ భాష]]
[[tg:Забони томилӣ]]
[[uk:Тамільська мова]]
[[ur:تامل زبان]]
[[ug:تامىل تىلى]]
[[vi:Tiếng Tamil]]
[[yo:Èdè Tàmil]]
[[bat-smg:Tamėlu kalba]]

Revision as of 22:55, October 4, 2012

“தமிழ் நாட்டில் உள்ள நாட்டின் மொழி தமிழ்”
~ karunanithi (கருணாநிதி)
“ஆமாம், தமிழ் எங்கள் தேசிய மொழிதான்”
~ TN Government
“Enna naina.”
~ TN citizen

Tamil (தமிழ்) is a funny beautiful language of eastern India. It is the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu, has quasi-official status in several districts of other states in which the people wish not to be understood, and is found in Andhra Pradesh and other places outside India in which work papers are not checked very carefully.

The beauty of Tamil is that most words end with kal (that is, stupidity). For example, the language's home is often called Tamil-Nadu, as its nickname is the Land of stupidity. This endearing obsession with intimate apparel characterizes the speakers of the language.

Written Tamil

For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Sodabottle/Tamil.

Tamil has 9999 letters, including 12 vowels, 18 true letters (மெய்யெழுத்து), and a bunch of other letters that represent entire syllables, though some of these turn out to be ink blots and food stains on the paper. The key to fluency with the கள் is that they all sound alike.

In computers, Unicode has assigned Tamil the range 0C00-0C7F. This set of 246 characters is utterly inadequate to represent all the letters of Tamil. In a pinch, you can slip in some English, which every Tamil speaker with a computer will understand, or at least claim to.


Cynomolgus monkey

monkey a native speaker of Tamil was.

Tamil its own grammar has. Tamil is easy to understand, once you its odd word order master. The most famous Tamil grammar is, avatar-am.

Tamil nouns have a bewildering number of grammatical cases. More than half of these are accounted for by the tendency of Tamil speakers, in the middle of pronouncing a noun, to stutter, digress, say something else, or just give up.

Tamil is as adaptable to American words as Tamil speakers are to American spouses and jobs.

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