From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Spoken in:||India and Sri Lanka, with significant minorities in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Mauritius, Fiji, Réunion, Trinidad and South Africa, and emigrant communities around the world|
|Total speakers:||66 million native, 77 million total|
|Ranking:||20, 16, 15(native speakers)|
|Official language of:||India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore|
|Regulated by:||Various academies and the Government of Tamil Nadu|
|Tamil is written in a non-Latin script. Tamil text used in this article is transliterated into the Latin script according to the ISO 15919 standard.|
Tamil (தமிழ் tamiḻ; IPA /t̪ɐmɨɻ/) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamils in India and Sri Lanka, with smaller communities of speakers in many other countries. It is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and also has official status in Sri Lanka and Singapore. With more than 77 million speakers, an ancient history, a rich and continuous literature, and an international and modern presence, Tamil is one of the major languages of the world.
Like the other Dravidian languages, Tamil is characterised by its use of retroflex consonants but it also uses a unique liquid l (ழ்). Tamil employs agglutinative grammar, where suffixes are used to mark noun class, number, and case, verb tense and other grammatical categories. The metalanguage of Tamil, such as the technical linguistic terms used to describe the language and its structure themselves, is also Tamil, unlike most of the other Indian languages. Like many languages with long tradition, Tamil is also characterised by a marked diglossia, with three basic styles and a continuum of intermediate styles which combine features from one or more of the basic styles.
Tamil literature has an unbroken literary tradition of more than two millennia. The earliest epigraphic records date to around 200 BCE, and the oldest literary works in Tamil to 200 BCE – 300 CE. Tamil was declared a classical language by the Government of India in 2004..
The origins of Tamil, like the other Dravidian languages, but unlike most of the other established literary languages of India, are independent of Sanskrit. Tamil has the oldest literature amongst the Dravidian languages, but dating the language and the literature precisely is difficult. Literary works in India were preserved either in palm leaf manuscripts (implying repeated copying and recopying) or through oral transmission, making direct dating impossible. External chronological records and internal linguistic evidence, however, indicate that the oldest extant works were probably compiled sometime between the 2nd century BCE and the 3rd century CE, with estimates of the precise dates varying within this broad timeframe. The earliest extant literary text is the Tolkāppiyam, a work on poetics and grammar which describes the language of the classical period, dated on linguistic grounds to the 1st or 2nd century BCE.
Tamil scholars categorise Tamil literature and language into the following periods:
- Sangam (200 BCE to 300 CE),
- post-Sangam (300 to 700 CE)
- Bhakthi period (700 to 1200 CE),
- Medieval Period (1200 to 1800 CE)
- Modern (1800 to the present).
Tamil was little influenced by Sanskrit up to the early mediaeval period. During the late medieval period, a number of Sanskrit loan words were absorbed by Tamil, reflecting the increased Sanskritisation of the ruling classes in the Tamil country. A number of authors of the late mediaeval period tried to resist this trend, culminating in the puristic movement of the 20th century, led by Parithimaar Kalaignar and Maraimalai Adigal, which sought to remove the accumulated influence of Sanskrit on Tamil. This movement was called taṉit tamiḻ iyakkam (meaning pure Tamil movement). As a result of this, Tamil in formal documents, public speeches and scientific discourses is largely free of Sanskrit loan words.
Tamil belongs to the southern branch of the Dravidian languages. It is sometimes classified as being part of a Tamil language family, which alongside Tamil proper, also includes the languages of about 35 ethnoliguistic groups such as the Irula, Kaikadi, Betta Kurumba, Sholaga, and Yerukula languages (see SIL Ethnologue). This group is a subgroup of the Tamil-Malayalam languages, which falls under a subgroup of the Tamil-Kodagu languages, which in turn is a subgroup of the Tamil-Kannada languages.
 Geographic distribution
Tamil is the first language of the majority in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India, and in the North Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. The language is also spoken by small groups of minorities in other parts of these two countries, most notably in the Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, and in Colombo and the hill country of Sri Lanka.
There are currently sizeable Tamil-speaking populations descended from colonial-era migrants in Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, and Mauritius. Many people in Guyana, Fiji, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have Tamil origins, but the language is spoken only by a small number there. Groups of more recent migrants from Sri Lanka and India exist in Canada (especially Toronto), USA, Australia, many Middle Eastern countries, and most of the western European countries.
 Legal status
Tamil is the official Language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and one of the official languages of the union territories of Puducherry and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It is also one of 23 nationally recognised languages in the Constitution of India. Tamil is an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore, and has constitutional recognition in South Africa, Mauritius and Malaysia.
In addition, with the creation in 2004 of a legal status for classical languages by the government of India, Tamil became the first legally recognised classical language following a campaign by several Tamil associations supported by academics from India and abroad, most notably Professor George L. Hart, who occupies the Chair in Tamil Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The recognition was announced by the President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, in a joint sitting of both houses of the Indian Parliament on June 6, 2004.
Tamil dialects are mainly differentiated from each other by the fact that they have undergone different phonological changes and sound shifts in evolving from Old Tamil. Thus the word for "here" - iṅku in Centamil (the classic variety) - has evolved into iṅkū in the Kongu dialect of Coimbatore & Erode, inga in the dialect of Thanjavur, iṅkane in the dialect of Tirunelveli, iṅkuṭṭu in the dialect of Ramanathapuram, iṅkale and iṅkaṭe in various northern dialects and iṅkai in some dialects of Sri Lanka.
Although most Tamil dialects do not differ very 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, and use many other words slightly differently. The dialect of the Iyers of Palakkad has a large number of Malayalam loanwords, has also been influenced by Malayalam syntax and also has a distinct Malayalam accent. Finally, Hebbar and Mandyam dialects, spoken by groups of Tamil 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.
Tamil dialects vary according to both region and community. Several castes have their own sociolects which most members of that caste traditionally used regardless of where they come from, and it is often possible to identify a person's caste by their speech.
The Ethnologue lists twenty-two current dialects of Tamil, including Adi Dravida, Aiyar, Aiyangar, Arava, Burgandi, Kasuva, Kongar, Korava, Korchi, Madrasi, Parikala, Pattapu Bhasha, Sri Lanka Tamil, Malaya Tamil, Burma Tamil, South Africa Tamil, Tigalu, Harijan, Sankethi, Hebbar, Tirunelveli, Tamil Muslim and Madurai.
 Spoken and literary variants
In addition to its various dialects, Tamil also exhibits a strong diglossia, characterised by three styles: a classical literary style modelled on the ancient language (caṅkattamiḻ), a modern literary and formal style (centamiḻ), and a modern colloquial form (koṭuntamiḻ). These styles shade into each other, forming a diglossic continuum. It is, for example, possible to write centamiḻ with a vocabulary drawn from caṅkattamiḻ, or to use forms associated with one of the other variants while speaking koṭuntamiḻ.
In modern times, centamiḻ is generally used in formal writing and speech. It is, for example, the language of textbooks, of much of Tamil literature and of public speaking and debate. In recent times, however, koṭuntamiḻ has been making inroads into areas that have traditionally been considered the province of centamiḻ. Most contemporary cinema, theatre and popular entertainment on television and radio, for example, is in koṭuntamiḻ, and many politicians use it to bring themselves closer to their audience. The increasing use of koṭuntamiḻ in modern times has led to the emergence of unofficial 'standard' spoken dialects. In India, the 'standard' koṭuntamiḻ is based on 'educated non-brahmin speech', rather than on any one dialect, 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
Tamil is written using a script called the vaṭṭeḻuttu, an abugida belonging to the Brahmic family. The Tamil script consists of 12 vowels, 18 consonants and one special character, the āytam. The vowels and consonants combine to form 216 compound characters, giving a total of 247 characters. As with other Indic scripts, all consonants have an inherent vowel a, which, in Tamil, is removed by adding an overdot, called a puḷḷi, to the consonantal sign. Unlike most other Indic scripts, the Tamil script does not distinguish between voiced and unvoiced plosives. Instead, plosives are articulated with voice or unvoiced depending on their position in a word, in accordance with rules of Tamil phonology, as discussed below.
The Tamil script evolved from a variant of the Asokan Brahmi script, called Tamil-Brahmi or Tamili, which differed from Asokan Brahmi in a number of ways. By the 9th century, Tamil-Brahmi had evolved into more rounded characters, called vatteluttu (meaning curved letters), from which the modern script evolved. In the 18th century, some changes were made to the script by the Italian missionary Constanzo Beschi, known in Tamil as Veeramamunivar, to make it easier to print. These included placing vowel markers in both left and right of consonants. Around 1935, E.V.Ramaswamy Periyar suggested some further changes to make it amenable to printing. Some of these suggestions were incorporated by the M.G. Ramachandran government in 1978.
In addition to the standard characters, six characters taken from the Grantha script, which was used in the Tamil country to write Sanskrit, are sometimes used to represent sounds not native to Tamil in words borrowed from Sanskrit, Prakrit and other languages. The traditional system of writing loan-words, which involved respelling them in accordance with Tamil phonology, also remains in use.
Tamil phonology is characterised by the presence of retroflex consonants, and strict rules for the distribution within words of voiced and unvoiced plosives. Tamil phonology also permits few consonant clusters, which can never be word initial.
Tamil phonemes are classified by native grammarians into vowels, consonants, and a "secondary character", the āytam.
Tamil vowels are called uyireḻuttu (uyir - life, eḻuttu - letter). The vowels are classified into short (kuṟil) and long (five of each type) and two diphthongs, /ai/ and /au/, and three "shortened" (kuṟṟiyal) vowels.
The long (neṭil) vowels are about twice as long as the short vowels. The diphthongs are usually pronounced about 1.5 times as long as the short vowels, though most grammatical texts place them with the long vowels.
Tamil consonants are known as meyyeḻuttu (mey—body, eḻuttu—letters).The consonants are classified into three categories with six in each category: valliṉam—hard, melliṉam—soft or Nasal, and iṭayiṉam—medium.
Unlike most other Indian languages, Tamil does not have aspirated consonants. In addition, the voicing of plosives is governed by strict rules in centamiḻ. Plosives are unvoiced if they occur word-initially or doubled. Elsewhere, they are voiced, with a few becoming fricatives intervocalically. Nasals and approximants are always voiced.
|Stop||p (b)||t̪ (d̪)||t (d)||ʈ (ɖ)||c (ɟ)||k (g)|
The sounds /ʂ/, /ɕ/ 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.
Classical Tamil also had a phoneme called the āytam, written 'ஃ', which Tamil grammarians of the time classified as a special character (cārpeḻuttu), but which is very rare in modern Tamil. The rules of pronunciation given in the Tolkāppiyam, a grammar of Classical Tamil, suggest that the āytam could have glottalised the sounds it was combined with. It has also been suggested that the āytam was actually used to represent the voiced implosive (or closing part or the first half) of geminated voiced plosives inside a word.
Much of Tamil grammar is extensively described in the oldest available grammar book for Tamil, the Tolkāppiyam. Modern Tamil writing is largely based on the 13th century grammar Naṉṉūl which restated and clarified the rules of the Tolkāppiyam, with some modifications. Traditional Tamil grammar consists of five parts, namely eḻuttu, col, poruḷ, yāppu, aṇi. Of these, the last two are mostly applicable in poetry.
Tamil, like other Dravidian languages, is an agglutinative language. Tamil words consist of a lexical root to which one or more affixes are attached. Most Tamil affixes are suffixes. Tamil suffixes can be derivational suffixes, which either change the part of speech of the word or its meaning, or inflectional suffixes, which mark categories such as person, number, mood, 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, which would require several words or a sentence in English.
Tamil nouns (and pronouns) are classified into two super-classes (tiṇai)—the "rational" (uyartiṇai), and the "irrational" (aḵṟiṇai)—which include a total of five classes (pāl, which literally means 'gender'). Humans and 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.
Suffixes are also used to perform the functions of cases or postpositions. Traditional grammars tried to group the various suffixes into 8 cases corresponding to the cases used in Sanskrit. These were the nominative, accusative, dative, sociative, genitive, instrumental, locative, and ablative. Modern grammarians, however, argue that this classification is artificial, and that Tamil usage is best understood if each suffix or combination of suffixes is seen as marking a separate case. Tamil nouns can also take one of four prefixes, i, a, u and e which are functionally equivalent to demonstratives in English.
- Person and number are indicated by suffixing the oblique case of the relevant pronoun (ēn in the above example). The suffixes to indicate tenses and voice are formed from grammatical particles, 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 simple suffixes, and a series of perfects, indicated by compound suffixes. Mood is implicit in Tamil, and is normally reflected by the same morphemes which mark tense categories.
Tamil has no 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.
In the first person plural, Tamil makes a distinction between inclusive pronouns நாம் (nām) (we), நமது (namatu) (our) that include the addressee and exclusive pronouns நாங்கள் (nāṅkaḷ) (we), எமது (ematu) (our) that do not. The bifurcation of the First Person Plural pronoun (we in English) into inclusive and exclusive versions can also be found in a few more languages.
Tamil is a consistently head-final language. The verb comes at the end of the clause, with typical word order Subject Object Verb (SOV). Tamil has postpositions rather than prepositions. Demonstratives and modifiers precede the noun within the noun phrase. Subordinate clauses precede the verb of the matrix clause.
At the same time, however, Tamil also exhibits extensive scrambling (word order variation), so that all other surface permutations of the SOV order are possible - with different pragmatic effects.
Tamil is a null subject language. Not all Tamil sentences have subjects, verbs and objects. It is possible to construct valid sentences that have only a verb—such as muṭintuviṭṭatu ("completed")—or only a subject and object, without a verb such as atu eṉ vīṭu ("That, my house"). Tamil does not have a copula (a linking verb equivalent to the word is) and a word is included in the translations only to convey the meaning.
Modern Tamil is characterised by a strong linguistic purism. Much of the modern Tamil vocabulary is derived from classical Tamil, and governmental and non-governmental institutions, such as the Government of Sri Lanka, the Tamil Virtual University, and Annamalai University have generated technical dictionaries for Tamil containing neologisms and words derived from Tamil roots to replace loan words from English and other languages. Since mediaeval times, there has been a strong resistance to the use of Sanskrit words in Tamil and, as a result, the Prakrit and Sanskrit loan words which are used in modern Tamil are, unlike in some other Dravidian languages, restricted mainly to some of the spiritual terminology and some abstract nouns. Besides Sanskrit, there are a few loan words from Persian and Arabic implying trade ties in ancient times. In addition, many loan words from Portuguese and Dutch and English were introduced into colloquial as well as written Tamil during the colonial period.
There are also many instances of words of Tamil origin in other languages. Popular examples in English are cash (in the sense of a small Asian coin), cheroot (curuṭṭu meaning "rolled up"), mango, mulligatawny (from miḷaku taṉṉir meaning pepper water) and catamaran (from kaṭṭu maram, கட்டு மரம், meaning "bundled logs"). Tamil has also contributed many loan words to Sinhala, Malay and Indonesian amongst other South and Southeast Asian languages.
 See also
- Languages of India
- List of national languages of India
- List of Indian languages by total speakers
 Modern works
- Asher, Ron and E. Annamalai (2002) Colloquial Tamil: The Complete Course for Beginners Routledge. ISBN 0415187885
- Hart, George L. (1975), The poems of ancient Tamil : their milieu and their Sanskrit counterparts. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0520026721
- Kāṅkēyar (1840). Uriccol nikaṇṭurai. Putuvai, Kuveṟaṉmā Accukkūṭam.
- Lehmann, Thomas (1989). A Grammar of Modern Tamil. Pondicherry, Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture.
- Mahadevan, Iravatham (2003). Early Tamil Epigraphy from the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D. Cambridge, Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674012275
- Natarajan, T. (1977), The language of Sangam literature and Tolkāppiyam. Madurai, Madurai Publishing House.
- Pope, GU (1862). First catechism of Tamil grammar: Ilakkaṇa viṉaviṭai - mutaṟputtakam. Madras, Public Instruction Press.
- Pope, GU (1868). A Tamil hand-book, or, Full introduction to the common dialect of that language. (3rd ed.). Madras, Higginbotham & Co.
- Rajam, VS (1992). A Reference Grammar of Classical Tamil Poetry. Philadelphia, The American Philosophical Society. ISBN 087169199X
- Schiffman, Harold F. (1998). "Standardization or restandardization: The case for 'Standard' Spoken Tamil". Language in Society 27, 359–385.
- Schiffman, Harold F. (1999). A Reference Grammar of Spoken Tamil. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521640741
 Ancient works
- Pavaṇanti Muṉivar, Naṉṉūl Mūlamum Viruttiyuraiyum, (A. Tāmōtaraṉ; ed., 1999), International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai.
- Pavaṇanti, Naṉṉūl mūlamum Kūḻaṅkaittampirāṉ uraiyum (A. Tāmōtaraṉ ed., 1980). Wiesbaden, Franz Steiner Verlag.
- Taṇṭiyāciriyar, Taṇṭiyāciriyar iyaṟṟiya taṇṭiyalaṅkāram: Cuppiramaṇiya Tēcikar uraiyuṭaṉ. (Ku. Mutturācaṉ ed., 1994). Tarmapuri, Vacanta Celvi Patippakam.
- Tolkāppiyar, Tolkāppiyam Iḷampūraṇar uraiyuṭaṉ (1967 reprint). Ceṉṉai, TTSS.
- ^ Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People. MSN Encarta. Retrieved on April 2, 2007.
- ^ a b Top 30 Languages by Number of Native Speakers. Vistawide - World Languages & Cultures. Retrieved on April 3, 2007.
- ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.
- ^ George Weber (December 1997). "TOP LANGUAGES" (pdf). Language Today 2: 87-99. Retrieved on 2007-04-02.
- ^ Tamil. The Language Materials Project. UCLA International Institute, UCLA. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
- ^ a b Kamil Veith Zvelebil, Companion Studies to the History of Tamil Literature, pp12
- ^ a b See K.A. Nilakanta Sastry, A History of South India, OUP (1955) pp 105
- ^ a b India sets up classical languages. BBC News Online (September 17, 2004). Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
- ^ a b Statement by George L. Hart
- ^ Dating of Indian literature is largely based on relative dating relying on internal evidences with a few anchors. I. Mahadevan's dating of Pukalur inscription proves some of the Sangam verses. See George L. Hart, "Poems of Ancient Tamil, University of Berkeley Press, 1975, p.7-8
- ^ George Hart, "Some Related Literary Conventions in Tamil and Indo-Aryan and Their Significance" Journal of the American Oriental Society, 94:2 (Apr - Jun 1974), pp. 157-167.
- ^ According to Hart (1975), the oldest portions may date back to around 200 BCE
- ^ See Vaidyanathan's analysis of an early mediaeval text in S. Vaidyanathan, "Indo-Aryan loan words in the Civakacintamani" Journal of the American Oriental Society 87:4. (Oct - Dec 1967), pp. 430-434.
- ^ Sheldon Pollock, "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.
- ^ See Ramaswamy's analysis of one such text, the Tamil viṭututu, in Sumathi Ramaswamy, "Language of the People in the World of Gods: Ideologies of Tamil before the Nation" The Journal of Asian Studies, 57:1. (Feb. 1998), pp. 66-92.
- ^ Dr. M. Varadarajan, A History of Tamil Literature, (Translated from Tamil by E.Sa. Viswanathan), Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1988- "Since then the movement has been popularly known as the Tanit-Tamil lyakkam or the Pure Tamil Movement among the Tamil scholars."
- ^ Ramaswamy, Sumathy (1997). "Laboring for language", Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970. Berkeley: University of California Press. “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.”
- ^ Prof. A.K. Perumal, Manorama Yearbook (Tamil) 2005 pp.302-318
- ^ A. Govindankutty Menon (1990). "Some Observations on the Sub-Group Tamil-Malayalam: Differential Realizations of the Cluster *nt". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 53 (1): 87-99.
- ^ Address to Parliament. The President of India (2004-07-06). Retrieved on 2007-04-03. Item 41 of President Kalam's address to a joint sitting of both houses of Indian Parliament
- ^ Thomas Lehmann, "Old Tamil" in Sanford Steever (ed.), The Dravidian Languages Routledge, 1998 at p. 75; E. Annamalai and S. Steever, "Modern Tamil" in ibid. at pp. 100-128.
- ^ Kamil Zvelebil, "Some features of Ceylon Tamil" Indo-Iranian Journal 9:2 (June 1996) pp. 113-138.
- ^ Thiru. Mu. Kovintācāriyar, Vāḻaiyaṭi vāḻai Lifco, Madras, 1978 at pp. 26-39.
- ^ The Encyclopaedia Britannica, for example, classfies Tamil dialects into two broad sociolects, Brahmin and non-Brahmin. See Tamil language. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 28, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9071110
- ^ Ananthalakshmi. "Madras bashai: What has language got to do with it", Special Story, News Today, May 4 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
- ^ Harold Schiffman, "Diglossia as a Sociolinguistic Situation", in Florian Coulmas (ed.), The Handbook of Sociolinguistics. London: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1997 at pp. 205 et seq.
- ^ Harold Schiffman, "Standardization or restandardization: The case for 'Standard' Spoken Tamil". Language in Society 27 (1998), pp. 359–385.
- ^ Alphabet Reforms. The Revolutionary Sayings of Periyar. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
- ^ As recommended in the traditional grammar, the Tolkāppiyam. See Tolkāppiyam, Nūrpā 401, "vadacol kiLavi vadavezuttu oriii"; in Tamil, "வடசொற் கிளவி வடவெழுத் தொரீஇ" This rule is in the Chapter on col ("word"), in the Section for eccaviyal;;, எச்சவியல்" ("extra items" )
- ^ 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.
- ^ See generally F. B. J. Kuiper, "Two problems of old Tamil phonology", Indo-Iranian Journal 2:3 (September 1958) pp. 191-224, esp. pp. 191-207.
- ^ Harold Schiffman, "Standardization and Restandardization: the case of Spoken Tamil." Language in Society 27:3 (1998) pp. 359-385 and esp. pp.374-375.
- ^ Sumathi Ramaswamy, En/Gendering Language: The Poetics of Tamil Identity" Comparative Studies in Society and History 35:4. (Oct. 1993), pp. 683-725.
- ^ For example Cre-A's Modern Tamil Dictionary contains 15,875 words, of which only a small percentage of words, some with Grantha letters are loan words.
- ^ Sumathi Ramaswamy, "Language of the People in the World of Gods: Ideologies of Tamil before the Nation" The Journal of Asian Studies, 57:1. (Feb. 1998), pp. 66-92.
- ^ Dr.T.P. Meenakshisundaram, A History of Tamil Language, Sarvodaya Ilakkiya Pannai, 1982 (translated) p. 241-2
- ^ Silapadhigaaram, Manimekalai, P.T.Srinivasa Iyengar's "History of the Tamils: from the earliest times to 600 AD", Madras, 1929
 External links
- Ethnologue report
- Omniglot resource
- Rosetta Project Archive
- Language Museum report
- UCLA Tamil Profile
- A brief review of its history and characteristics
- Classical Tamil Website
- International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil
- Tamil Language & Literature
- Tamil Studies Conference 2006: Tropes, Territories and Competing Realities
- A Video Essay on Tamil
 Online learning resources
- Tamil Language In Context - A project providing online Tamil lessons, including video lessons.
- Learn Tamil Through English - Lessons for learning Tamil in PDF format.
- Thamil Paadanool - Learn Tamil - A textbook for learning Tamil available both online and in PDF format.
- Web Assisted Learning and Teaching of Tamil - University of Pennsylvania's web based lessons for learning Tamil.
- Tamil alphabet, pronunciation and language - Omniglot's Tamil page.
- Languageshome - Useful Tamil phrases in English and other Indian languages.
- Learn to Read Tamil - Simple lessons for learning to read the Tamil alphabet.
- Learning & Teaching Tamil
- Tamil - The living classical Language
- Tamil Alphabets
- Tamil Virtual University - providing Internet based resources and opportunities for the Tamil Communities as well as others interested in learning Tamil.