Language facts: Tamil
Tamil is spoken in southern India, Sri Lanka and Singapore and by many migrant groups in Malaysia, South Africa, and even Canada, USA and parts of West Europe. It is the official language in Sri Lanka, the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry, with around 85 million native speakers. It is also one of the official languages of Singapore.
Tamil is based on the Dravidian vocabulary and has received strong impact from Sanskrit, however, the pure Tamil movement in the 20th century has sought to remove this influence, and there is now a movement to build expressions and words on Tamil roots, while in this process also replacing many loan words from English and other languages.
One of the longest surviving languages
In India, Tamil is one of the 22 scheduled languages and as such, like the other languages, the tongue is subject to official measures to further develop the language. Tamil has existed for more than 2,000 years and can be traced back to the 3rd century B.C. It is regarded as one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world, and as such offers a wealth of classical traditions. There is a huge variety of literature written in Tamil script, moreover the earliest manuscripts found in India were in Tamil. Thanks to Christian missionaries, who published a book of Tamil prayers, it has become also the first Indian language to be printed. Modern Tamil was also influenced by contacts with European culture (e.g. use of European-style punctuation or consonant clusters, or a more rigid word order, which resembles the syntax of English – due to understandable historical reasons).
அ ஆ இ ஈ உ ஊ எ ஏ ஐ ஒ ஓ ஔ
க் ங் ச் ஞ் ட் ண் த் ந் ப் ம் ய் ர் ல் வ் ழ் ள் ற் ன்
Tamil numerals (0 to 10)
௦ ௧ ௨ ௩ ௪ ௫ ௬ ௭ ௮ ௯ ௰