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Tamil language

Dravidian language native to South India and Sri Lanka / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Tamil (/ˈtɑːmɪl/;[9] தமிழ் Tamiḻ [t̪amiɻ], Loudspeaker.svgpronunciation ) is a Dravidian language natively spoken by the Tamil people of South Asia. Tamil is an official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the sovereign nations of Sri Lanka and Singapore,[10][5] and the Indian Union territory of Puducherry. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is also spoken by the Tamil diaspora found in many countries, including Malaysia, Myanmar, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and Mauritius. Tamil is also natively spoken by the Sri Lankan Moors. One of 22 scheduled languages in the Constitution of India, Tamil was the first to be classified as a classical language of India.

Quick facts: Tamil, Pronunciation, Native to, Region,...
The word "Tamil" in Tamil script
Pronunciation[t̪amiɻ]; Loudspeaker.svgpronunciation 
Native toIndia , Sri Lanka and Singapore
RegionTamil Nadu[lower-alpha 1] (India)
Northern and Eastern Provinces (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lankan Moors
Native speakers
78 million (2011–2019)[1]
L2 speakers: 8 million (2011)[1]
Early forms
Tamil (Brahmic)
Tamil-Brahmi (historical)
Grantha (historical)
Vatteluttu (historical)
Pallava (historical)
Kolezhuthu (historical)
Arwi (Abjad)
Tamil Braille (Bharati)
Latin script (informal)
Signed Tamil
Official status
Official language in
Flag_of_India.svg India

Flag_of_Sri_Lanka.svg Sri Lanka[4]
Flag_of_Singapore.svg Singapore[5]

Infobox_ASEAN_flag.svg ASEAN[6]
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1ta
ISO 639-2tam
ISO 639-3Either:
tam  Modern Tamil
oty  Old Tamil
oty Old Tamil
Glottologtami1289  Modern Tamil
oldt1248  Old Tamil
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Tamil is one of the longest-surviving classical languages of India.[11][12] A. K. Ramanujan described it as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past".[13] The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to it being described as "one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world".[14] Recorded Tamil literature has been documented for over 2000 years.[15] The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from c. 300 BC until AD 300.[16][17] It has the oldest extant literature among Dravidian languages. The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and 'hero stones' date from around the 3rd century BC.[18][19] About 60,000 of the approximately 100,000 inscriptions found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India are in Tamil Nadu. Of them, most are in Tamil, with only about 5 percent in other languages.[20] Tamil language inscriptions written in Brahmi script have been discovered in Sri Lanka and on trade goods in Thailand and Egypt.[21][22] The two earliest manuscripts from India,[23][24] acknowledged and registered by the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005, were written in Tamil.[25]

In 1578, Portuguese Christian missionaries published a Tamil prayer book in old Tamil script named Thambiran Vanakkam, thus making Tamil the first Indian language to be printed and published.[26] The Tamil Lexicon, published by the University of Madras, was one of the earliest dictionaries published in Indian languages.[27] According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.[28]