(Last Updated on : 19-05-2014)
Tamil Language is the official language of two states: Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Tamil Language is one of 22 scheduled languages of India and the first Indian language to be declared as a classical language by the government of India in 2004. This language is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world.
Tamil language belongs to the southern branch of the Dravidian languages. This language descends from Proto Dravidian. Tamil has the most ancient non-Sanskritised Indian literature among all Indian languages. Scholars have categorized the history of the language into three periods, Old Tamil (300 BCE - 700 CE), Middle Tamil (700-1600) and Modern Tamil (1600-present).
The Tamil dialects are:
1) Madras Tamil
or Kongu Tamil
or Nellai Tamil
5) Kanyakumari Tamil
6) Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli Tamil
7) Jaffna or Yazhpanam Tamil
8) Trincomalee or Tiriconamalai Tamil
9) Batticaloa or mattakkalappu Tamil
The earliest records in Old Tamil are short inscriptions from around the 2nd century BC. These inscriptions are written in Tamil Brahmi. The earliest text in Old Tamil is the Tolkappiyam
. Other works in Old Tamil include two long epics, Cilappatikaram
and Maniimekalai as well as number of ethical and didactic texts that have been composed between the 5th and 8th centuries.
The evolution of Old Tamil into Middle Tamil had been completed by the 8th century. It was characterized by several phonological and grammatical changes. The most important change was the emergence of the present tense as far as grammar was concerned.
Middle Tamil also witnessed considerable increase in the Sanskritisation of Tamil.
Several religious poems and songs of the Bhakti poets like the Tevaram verses on Saivism and Nalayira Tivya Pirapantam on Vaishnavism have been composed in Middle tamil.
Nannul is the standard normative grammar for modern literary Tamil. Colloquial Tamil shows several changes. The negative conjugation of verbs has fallen out of use in Modern Tamil. Several sound changes have also occurred. Changes in written Tamil include the use of European-style punctuation. The syntax has also changed as new aspectual auxiliaries have been introduced. Several Sanskrit loanwords have been replaced by Tamil equivalents.