The Language of the Week: Tamil

I have realized that there are tens of languages that we’re not aware of… We only know the ones which are widely used- and it is quite normal. In my opinion, if we are not aware of a language, we are also not aware of this very culture. Culture begins with language…

I will try to write a blog post about “other” languages every week. I hope, this new series will be beneficial for you and we can learn new languages and cultures together. 🙂

You may have heard of the languages that I will write here, you can support my posts with your knowledge about these languages. 🙂

Who speaks Tamil?

Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of South India and North-east Sri Lanka. Tamil is also a national language of Sri Lanka and an official language of Singapore and Mauritius. It is also chiefly spoken in the states of Kerala,Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands as one of the secondary languages. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was declared a classical language by the government of India in 2004. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in Malaysia, Canada, South Africa, Fiji, Germany, USA, Netherlands, and Réunion as well as emigrant communities around the world.

The long history of Tamil

Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world. It has been described as “the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past” and having “one of the richest literatures in the world”. Tamil literature has existed for over 2000 years.

The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts andhero stones date from around the 3rd century BCE. The two earliest manuscripts from India, to be acknowledged and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005 were in Tamil.

Satavahana_Bilingual_Coin

Grammar

Tamil employs agglutinative grammar, where suffixes are used to mark noun class, number, and case, verb tense and other grammatical categories. Tamil’s standard metalinguisticterminology and scholarly vocabularly is itself Tamil, as opposed to the Sanskrit that is standard for most other Dravidian languages.

Letters

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One response to this post.

  1. Great to see this simple and lucid post of a Language Heritage of the humans of the past.
    Yes Tamil can be singled out for antiquity and that apart it has continuous literature for over 2000 years and has tradition of lost literature recorded in 8th century that speaks of literary academy to an archaic 16000 years…though unsupported by the exact works in the current.Tamil epigraphy accounts for 50% of the entire corpus available today in India.
    Over and above its Grammar work which is extant can at minimum be assigned to 2300 years before now.
    Tamil literature talks heavily about sunken land as an evidence of destruction of huge volume of works and consequent migration.Its reference to kumari kandam has risen above conjecture into scientific reality with evidence of broken land mass skethced below the sea around Tamil Nadu.
    Reference to Tsunami as Kadal Kol and occurences of the incidence thrice is sktched in various works.
    The Syllable structure seems to be the most scientific and rational and primordial among some old languages.
    Read an Extract Below:
    Primordial Status of Tamil Language Structure.

    While it is very difficult to point out which language stands first in antiquity or whether humans started with a language structure or a language was a derivative of a group of spoken words in each community,it is definitely possible to pin-point the antiquity of a particular language structure from literary perspective.

    To share with you my perception of why i feel that Tamil could have been the primordial language or the syllable structure of Tamil could have guided, future development of encryption in other languages including and probably Sanskrit.

    The reason i believe are simple:

    1.Tamil structure of sound or syllable encryption recognises Vowel and consonent clustre in the first order.

    2.Tamil has Aytham which syllable has helped in development of encrypting consonents order probably in sanskrit and other indic languages.

    3.Tamil grammar as schematized in Tolakaapiyam do not restrain a length of a vowel or degree of a consonent and as has aptly been clarified by the Author that the restriction of Maththirai is to Iyar Tamizh and not to the Isai Tamizh which has unlimited exponentiation.

    4.If Tamil syllable encryption structure was not primordial,then it would have followed the course of other languages(including other dravidian)in encrypting orders by inter-extrapolating probably the Aytham.

    5.While restricting encryption to the first order- syllable for iyar tamizh, the phonetic values based on conventional positions have been adduced by language users.Thus while a word begins in the first order consonent,it goes to the second order anywhere else appearing in the word which can be reduced to first order by placing a preceding meyezhuttu.

    6.The sequencing of Alphabets as Uyir(Vowel)Mey(1/2consonent)and the combination of uyir and mey as a full consonent is simply fantastic simulation of a scheme which is lacking in any other alphabet series.

    7.While Sanskrit is considered as perfect for developing consonental orders,it could still not encrypt all the permutation and combination of pronounciations and sound production which is infinite.Thus if one goes into the dynamics of sound production(Vocal Chord Differentiation) and encryption it will be difficult to contain those consonental sound delivery within the four orders without erring in the encryption of sound produced and simply this has been taken by the Tolkaapiyar as isai tamizh which need not be subject to encryption.Thus Tamil scheme of things did recognise that limitation of encryption of phonetics,which is not limited to writing but emanates from speeches varied through vocal chord dynamics.The neuter(Ha)Aytham took care of the softening and hardening but remained primordial discovery to be implemented through Sanskrit scheme of things for encryption.

    8.Added to this confusion remains in framing words with the right kind of syllables,and questioning why a particular order cannot be placed instead of chosen order of a consonant for the particular syllable in a word.

    Reply

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