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Tamil language

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தமிழ் Tamiḻ
Word Tamil.svg
Pronunciation[t̪ɐmɨɻ]; Loudspeaker.png pronunciation (info • help)
Native toIndia
Sri Lanka
EthnicityTamil people
Native speakers75 million  (2011–2015)[1][2]
L2 speakers: 6 million[1]
Language family
Early forms:
Writing systemTamil (Brahmic)
Tamil-Brahmi (historical)
Grantha (historical)
Vatteluttu (historical)
Pallava (historical)
Kolezhuthu (historical)
Arwi (Abjad)
Tamil Braille (Bharati)
Latin script (informal)
Official status
Official language in Canada
 Sri Lanka
Recognised minority language in Malaysia[6]
 South Africa[8]
Language codes
ISO 639-1ta
ISO 639-2tam
ISO 639-3Either:
tam – Modern Tamil
oty – Old Tamil
Linguist Listoty Old Tamil
Idioma tamil.png

Tamil is a Dravidian language.[9] It is spoken in the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry states of India and parts of Sri Lanka. Many people in Singapore and Malaysia also speak it. Many people speaking Tamil live in various places around the world.

The Tamil language is part of the Dravidian language family, which includes Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. According to a survey, 1863 newspapers are published in the Tamil language only every day..[10][11] The oldest text found in Tamil is Tolkāppiyam. Tamil has a long literary history, and is spoken by almost 90 million people.

Tamil script

The script of the language is very old. It has 12 consonants, 18 vowels, and the āytam , which is neither a consonant nor a vowel. The āytam can be used with other letters to represent sounds not in the Tamil script, such as 'f'. The consonants and vowels can mix to form compound letters. Altogether, there are 247 sounds/sets of sounds in the Tamil script. Tamil, like English, is written from left to right.

It is a Brahmi script, and it has been said that most of the other Indian scripts are basically derived from the letters of Tamil. In a few cases, the words themselves were used in other Indian languages for better understanding. Tamil numbers have certainly shaped the numbers in other Dravidian language family.

Tamil is the dominant language in Tamil Nadu, India, and Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is also spoken in places like the United States, Germany, Fiji, Indonesia, France, Africa and Thailand. This is because of the Tamil diaspora.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Template:E22
  2. "Scheduled Languages in descending order of speaker's strength - 2011". Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. 
  3. "Official languages of Tamil Nadu", Tamil Nadu Government, archived from the original on 21 October 2012,, retrieved 1 May 2007 
  4. Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India: 50th report (delivered to the Lokh Sabha in 2014), National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India, p. 155, archived from the original on 8 July 2016,, retrieved 8 June 2017 
  5. Languages of ASEAN,, retrieved 7 August 2017 
  6. School languages, LINGUAMON, archived from the original on 2 September 2015,, retrieved 26 March 2016 
  7. Tamil on Mauritian Currency, TVARAJ.COM, 2014-10-07,, retrieved 7 October 2014 
  8. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 – Chapter 1: Founding Provisions, South African Government, 
  9. /ˈtæmɪl/ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  10. Stein, Burton (1977), "Circulation and the Historical Geography of Tamil Country", The Journal of Asian Studies 37 (1): 7–26, doi:10.2307/2053325 , JSTOR 2053325  
  11. Steever, Sanford B. "The Dravidian languages", First Published (1998), pp. 6–9.

    Template-specific style sheet:

    ISBN 0-415-10023-2

Other websites

Tamil at Wikibooks