Tamil is one of the 15 major languages of India and the
state language of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the classical languages of the
world, with rich literature spanning over 2,000 years, making it arguably
the oldest living language. The pride of many Tamilians is the language
Tamil itself. Today, there are sizable Tamil speaking populations in Sri
Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and other countries.
The Tamil community distinguishes between Brahmin and non-Brahmin dialects on one hand, and a High variety ('Centamil') and Low variety ('Kontuntamil') on the other. Modern standard Tamil is based on the High non-Brahmin dialect of central Tamil Nadu. Speakers are loyal to their heritage, and do not tolerate borrowing from either Sanskrit or English for modernization, though mixing with English is fairly common in colloquial High Tamil.
Scholars recognize Tamil to be one of India's two languages of antiquity. One of the distinguishing features of Tamil is that it has three different forms of the sound. In fact, the correct pronunciation of "Tamil" sounds like "Tamizh" for which there is no phonetic equivalent in most other languages.
Tamil, a Dravidian language of south India is comparable to Sanskrit in its antiquity and textual traditions. It is written in a derivative of the southern 'Brahmi' script (c. 250 BC) and its literary and grammatical works date from the same period. The alphabet of Tamil is unique, and is like English in that it is phonetic. That is, letters represent sounds, rather than ideas as in 'Mandarin'.
Survival Of Tamil Through Passage Of Time
It is surprising that a language as old as Tamil has survived for such a long time and is still in everyday use. It survives in two distinct forms: the spoken form and the written form. It is still spoken by 80 million Tamils all over the world. Having been assimilated the changes the language has grown with the ages. This adaptability of Tamil is unique in character. Perhaps because of its age, it has an unusually diverse literature.
As in the case of every language the socio- political climate of the period has been affecting the growth and well being of Tamil. Tamil has been successfully emerging victorious by embracing and enabling each successive generation because of its structural perfection as well as adaptability.
The literature of each period reflects the agonies and achievements, the insatiable quest for advancement in things ephemeral and spiritual etc. of the people. Foreign invasions and over lordships have shifted the steady growth some times, but poets have arisen out of the ashes to sing the praise of the indomitable 'Mother Tamil' which continues to exude her illustrious charm till date.