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Tamil Language

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Topics: Tamil language
Tamil /ˈtæmɪl/[8] (தமிழ், tamiḻ, [t̪ɐmɨɻ] ?) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of South India and North-east Sri Lanka. It has official status in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Tamil is also a national language of Sri Lanka[9] and an official language of Singapore[10] It is legalized as one of the languages of medium of education inMalaysia along with English, Malay and Mandarin.[7][11] It is also chiefly spoken in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh andAndaman and Nicobar Islands as one of the secondary languages. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was the first Indian language to be declared a classical language by the Government of India in 2004. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities inMalaysia, Mauritius, Canada,[12] South Africa,[13] Fiji,[14] Germany,[15] Philippines, United States, Netherlands,[16] Mauritius,Indonesia,[17] and Réunion as well as emigrant communities around the world.
Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world.[18][19] It has been described as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past."[20] and having "one of the richest literatures in the world".[21] Tamil literaturehas existed for over 2000 years.[22] The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and hero stones date from around the 5th century BC.[23] The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BC – AD 300.[24][25] Tamil language inscriptionswritten c. 1st century BC and 2nd century AD have been discovered in Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand.[26] The two earliest manuscripts from India,[27][28] to be acknowledged and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005 were in Tamil.[29] More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in the Tamil language.[30]According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.[31] It has the oldest extantliterature amongst other Dravidian languages.[18] The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to its being described as "one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world".[32]
Contents
[hide]
1 Classification
2 History
2.1 Etymology
2.2 Old Tamil
2.3 Middle Tamil
2.4 Modern Tamil
3 Geographic distribution
4 Legal status
5 Dialects
5.1 Region-specific variations
5.1.1 Loanword variations
6 Spoken and literary variants
7 Writing system
8 Phonology
8.1 Vowels
8.2 Consonants
8.3 Āytam
8.4 Numerals and symbols
9 Grammar
9.1 Morphology
9.2 Syntax
10 Vocabulary
11 Influence
12 See also
13 Footnotes
14 References
15 External links
Classification[edit]
Main article: Dravidian languages
Tamil belongs to the southern branch of the Dravidian languages, a family of around 26 languages native to the Indian subcontinent.[33] It is also classified as being part of a Tamil language family, which alongside Tamil proper, also includes the languages of about 35 ethno-linguistic groups[34] such as the Irula and Yerukula languages (see SIL Ethnologue).
The closest major relative of Tamil is Malayalam. Until about the 9th century, Malayalam was a dialect of Tamil.[35] Although many of the differences between Tamil and Malayalam demonstrate a pre-historic split of the western dialect,[36] the process of separation into a distinct language,Malayalam, was not completed until sometime in the 13th or 14th century.[37]
History[edit]

Silver coin of king Vashishtiputra Sātakarni (c. AD 160).
Obv: Bust of king. Prakrit legend in the Brahmi script: "Siri Satakanisa Rano ... Vasithiputasa": "King Vasishtiputra Sri Satakarni"
Rev: Ujjain/Sātavāhana symbol left. Crescented six-arch chaitya hill right. River below. Early Tamil legend in the Tamil Brahmi script: "Arah(s)anaku Vah(s)itti makanaku Tiru H(S)atakani ko" – which means "The ruler, Vasitti's son, Highness Satakani" – -ko being the royal name suffix.[38][39][40][41]
As a Dravidian language, Tamil descends from Proto-Dravidian. Linguistic reconstruction suggests that Proto-Dravidian was spoken around the third millennium BC, possibly in the region around the lower Godavari river basin in peninsular India. The material evidence suggests that the speakers of Proto-Dravidian were the culture associated with the Neolithic complexes of South India.[42] The next phase in the reconstructed proto-history of Tamil is Proto-South Dravidian. The linguistic evidence suggests that Proto-South Dravidian was spoken around the middle of the second millennium BC, and that proto-Tamil emerged around the 3rd century BC. The earliest epigraphic attestations of Tamil are generally taken to have been written shortly thereafter.[43] Among Indian languages, Tamil has the most ancient non-Sanskritised Indian literature.[44] Scholars categorise the attested history of the language into three periods, Old Tamil (300 BC – AD 700), Middle Tamil (700–1600) and Modern Tamil (1600–present).[45]
Etymology[edit]
The exact period when the name "Tamil" came to be applied to the language is unclear, as is the precise etymology of the name. The earliest attested use of the name is found in Tholkappiyam, which is dated as early as 1st century BC.[46] Southworth suggests that the name comes fromtam-miḻ > tam-iḻ 'self-speak', or 'one's own speech'.[47](see Southworth's derivation of Sanskrit term for "others" or Mleccha)Kamil Zvelebil suggests an etymology of tam-iḻ, with tam meaning "self" or "one's self", and "-iḻ" having the connotation of "unfolding sound". Alternatively, he suggests a derivation of tamiḻ

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