About Tamil…. The Ancient Language !!
Tamil (தமிழ் tamiḻ; IPA: [t̪ɐmɨɻ]) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamils in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore where it has an official status; with significant minorities in Malaysia, Mauritius, and Réunion, and emigrant communities around the world. It is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, classical language in India, and has official status in India , Sri Lanka and Singapore. With more than 77 million speakers, Tamil is one of the widely spoken languages in the world.
Tamil has a known literary tradition of over two thousand years. The earliest epigraphic records found date to around 300 BC and the Tolkāppiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்), oldest known treatise in Tamil, has been dated variously between second century BC and tenth century AD. Tamil was declared a classical language of India by the Government of India in 2004 and was the first Indian language to have been accorded the status.
Tamil employs agglutinative grammar, where suffixes are used to mark noun class, number, and case, verb tense and other grammatical categories. Unlike other Dravidian languages, the metalanguage of Tamil, the language used to describe the technical linguistic terms of the language and its structure, is also Tamil (rather than Sanskrit). According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.
Tamil is one of the ancient languages of the world with a 2200 year history. The origins of Tamil are not transparent, but it developed and flourished in India as an independent language with a rich literature. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions, about 55,000, found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India are in Tamil language Unlike the neighbouring Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where early inscriptions were written in Sanskrit, the early inscriptions in Tamil Nadu used Tamil exclusively. Tamil has the oldest extant literature amongst the Dravidian languages, but dating the language and the literature precisely is difficult. Literary works in India were preserved either in palm leaf manuscripts (implying repeated copying and recopying) or through oral transmission, making direct dating impossible. External chronological records and internal linguistic evidence, however, indicate that the oldest extant works were probably compiled sometime between the 2nd century BC and the 10th century AD.
Epigraphic attestation of Tamil begins with rock inscriptions from the 2nd century BC, written in Tamil-Brahmi, an adapted form of the Brahmi script. The earliest extant literary text is the Tolkāppiyam, a work on poetics and grammar which describes the language of the classical period, dated variously between the 1st BC and 10th AD.
Tamil scholars categorise the Tamil literature and language into the following periods:
- Sangam (100 BC to 300 AD)
- Post-Sangam period (300 to 600 CE)
- Bhakthi period (600 to 1200 CE)
- Mediaeval Period (1200 to 1800 CE)
- Modern (1800 to the present)
The Sangam literature contains about 50,000 lines of poetry contained in 2381 poems attributed to 473 poets including many women poets. Many of the poems of Sangam period were also set to music. During the post-Sangam period, important works like Thirukkural, and epic poems like Silappatikaram, Manimekalai, Sīvakacintāmani were composed. The Bhakthi period is known for the great outpouring of devotional songs set to pann music. Of those 9,295 Tevaram songs on Saivism and 4,000 songs on Vaishnavism are well known. The early mediaeval Period gave rise to one of the best known adaptations of the Ramayana in Tamil, known as Kamba Ramayanam and a story of 63 Nayanmars known as Periyapuranam.
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