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Culture of Tamil Nadu - Languages

Earlier History | Culture of Tamil Nadu | Facts & Figures | Beaches in Tamil Nadu | Cuisines | Festivals | Around Tamil Nadu

Tamil is the main language of Tamil Nadu. Tamil is one of the oldest languages of India, and it is still in very much usage. The language has two forms, namely the spoken or colloquial form and the written form. It has a great literary tradition. Among the Dravidian languages, Tamil has the oldest extant literature. It is believed that Tamil language existed much before the Christian era as inscriptions in caves show that the language dated back to the second century before Christ. Tamil has been derived from the southern Brahmi script and it is a highly phonetic language, where the letters represent the sounds more than the ideas. The Tamil script comprises of 12 vowels, 18 consonants and a special character named aytam.

The Government of India has declared Tamil as the classical language of India in 2004, thereby making it the first language in India to be given such a status. Tamil is one of the eighteen official languages recognized by the government of India. It is spoken by a vast number of people not only in the state but also in the neighbouring states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, etc. However, Tamil language is spoken not only within India but also by a section of people in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Singapore. It has 77 million speakers, which makes it one of the most widely spoken languages of the globe. Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu.

As said before, Tamil literature has a long history. Tolkappiyam is the earliest known grammatical treatise of the Tamil language which is in existence today and Sangam poetry, which dates back to the Sangam period (100BC-300 AD) has eight anthologies of short verses and an anthology of long verses which are ten in number. The shortest verse contains a hundred lines.

Thirukkural is a world famous ethical literature which was composed by Thiruvalluvar, a famous saint who lived two thousand years ago. It deals with the universal principles of life which is to be lived well by people. Dharma, Artha and Kaama are the main divisions of this huge work which comprises of 1330 couplets, whose meanings are simple yet very deep, and they teach humans how to live righteously.

Other languages are also spoken in Tamil Nadu as many people coming from different states settle here. Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu and English are widely spoken. English language is the medium of instruction in most private schools and colleges, while the government schools follow the Tamil language as the medium of instruction. English is gaining popularity in the state as there are many computer companies which have opened their offices here.

Costumes of Tamil Nadu | Handicrafts of Tamil Nadu | Dances of Tamil Nadu | Languages of Tamil Nadu


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