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.