(Last Updated on : 31/12/2011)
was the most prominent and earliest extant ancient Tamil grammatical works. Tolkappiyam was written and composed around 3rd century B.C. But there are almost 250 references provided in Tolkappiyam that offers substantial verification of the existence of several classical and grammatical works in Tamil language
preceding the Tolkappiyam. The Tamil grammatical work segregates Tamil words into 4 distinct categories Iyarcol, Tiricol, Ticaiccol and Vatacol
Iyarcol refers to those words that are used rather commonly; Tiricol refers particularly to those words that are used only in poetry and versification; Ticaiccol are mainly the regional words; and vatacol refers to those specific words which are loaned from the Sanskrit
language. The Sanskrit loan words were conformed strictly to the Tamil phonetic system and were used to write in the Tamil script. All these signify that there was a sound grammatical basis on which the Tamil language has gradually developed and progressed over the years.
Moreover, the Tolkappiyam also categorizes the Tamil language into 2 broad parts, Kotuntamil and Centamil. Kotuntamil refers to the colloquial Tamil language that was spoken by the general people and Centamil refers to the classical Tamil language which was used by the scholars and intellectuals in their literary works. This is evidence that even in the early period differences had evolved to such a degree that Tamil grammarians were enabled to classify the conventional Tamil language into spoken and written parts.
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