Languages of Tamil Nadu


Tamil Nadu is a state in southern India. Chennai is its capital city and the language spoken is Tamil. It is the seventh most populated state in the country and eleventh in terms of area. Tamil Nadu has been inhabited by the Tamil people since almost 500 BC and the Tamil language has been found in scriptures and literature works since the last 2000 years.

The state is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and is one of the most urbanized states. Tamil Nadu has numerous sites of historic relevance and eight of them which are listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The state’s existence can be traced back to the prehistoric times. The Archeological Survey of India excavated many human skulls, bones and skeletons in a place called Adichanallur; the remains are said to be around 3800 years old.

Tamil Language

The Tamil language is spoken mainly in Southern India. It is a member of the Dravidian language family, a group of about thirty languages (~225 million speakers in total) concentrated in southern India, but also in Pakistan as well. The Dravidian language family is distinct from the Indo-European language family (which includes Hindi and many other Indian languages, Farsi, and the Germanic and Romance languages among others). Of all Tamil speakers (totaling about 65 million) Over ninety percent live in Tamil Nadu, one of India’s four southern states. However, Tamil is also spoken in neighboring states as well as both a first and second language. Northern Sri Lanka, located across the Palk Bay from Tamil Nadu, has a sizable Tamil speaking minority numbering 20% of the population (3-4 million). However, Tamil is not confined to South Asia. It is also spoken by sizable populations in South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji) as well as in South Africa and parts of East Africa, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, and Trinidad, Guyana, Mauritius. It is an official language in India, Sri Lanka, and Singapore.

History of Tamil Language

Ancient Indian literature has great values, the Vedas and Sangam literature of Tamil gives the moral of life. Tamil language is the oldest and beautiful Dravidian language. The literary tradition of Tamil language is more than 2,200 years; the most remarkable thing is secular poetry extant in India.
Sanskrit and Prakrit (600 BC-600AD), are the other two pre-Aryan languages. Age of Tamil language can not be calculated. However, if we see the evolutionary story of Dravidian language and script are controversy among Language research scholars even today.

History of Tamil Language – The Sangam composition

The Sangam compositions are anthologies of poems grouped into two

  • The Eight Collections called Ettuttokai in Tamil and
  • Ten Idyls called Pattup-pattu in Tamil.

And some individual long poems in Tamil called Kavyas. These poems are based on two themes, akam the romantic and puram the martial, the poems are explained with imageries of seasons, places, plants and animals, enabling scholars to know the world of these ancient poets. Tamil literary output up to 500AD is simply amazing with largest collection of Tamil poems.

History of Tamil Language – Modern Tamil Literature

In 19th century a modern trend in Tamil literature was emerged by a group of Tamil writers influenced by English language. Vedanayakam Pillai wrote the first original novels in Tamil and dramas in Tamil in 1824-1889.Tamil literary giant of the 20th century were Subramania Bharathiyar, the freedom fighter. Subramania Bharathiyar songs and poems are patriotic and well known. Though there was some improvement in Tamil poems the growth of Tamil prose has been pretty slow, the Romantic novels of C R Srinivasa Aiyangar. Social novels like Padmavati and Vijaya Marttandam of writer A.s Madhavayya, Kamalambal in tamil by Rajam Iyer and S. Venkataramani’s Murugam are very popular. V V S Iyer and Rajaji, wrote short stories in Tamil and Dramas in Tamil.


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