Tamil

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A language of India

Alternate Names
Damulian, Tamal, Tamalsan, Tambul, Tamili
Population

60,700,000 in India (2001 census). L2 users: 8,000,000 in India. Total users in all countries: 75,832,790 (as L1: 67,832,790; as L2: 8,000,000).

Location

Tamil Nadu; Karnataka, Chamarajana district; Andhra Pradesh, Chittoor and Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore districts; eastern Puducherry enclaves; south Kerala, assorted border areas.

Language Maps
Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial language in Tamil Nadu State; union territories Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1950, Constitution, Schedule VIII).

Dialects

Adi Dravida, Aiyar, Aiyangar, Arava, Burgandi, Kongar, Madrasi, Madurai, Tamil, Sri Lanka Tamil, Malaya Tamil, Burma Tamil, South Africa Tamil, Tigalu, Harijan, Sanketi, Hebbar, Mandyam Brahmin, Secunderabad Brahmin. Burgandi are nomadic. Aiyar and Aiyangar are Brahmin dialects. Southern dialect around Madurai is literary standard. Eastern dialect is colloquial standard (Zvelebil 1998). Sanketi dialect in Karnataka used by immigrants from Madurai and Shenkotta in Tamil Nadu. Lexicon greatly influenced by Kannada.

Typology

SOV; postpositions; gender (rational, non-rational); no articles; case-marking (8 cases); verb affixes mark person, number, gender of subject; passives (affective, effective); tense; no comparatives; 17 consonant and 10 vowel phonemes; non-tonal; stress on first syllable; inclusive/exclusive pronouns.

Language Use

All also use Kannada [kan] (Gowda 1976). Used as L2 by Alu Kurumba [xua], Attapady Kurumba [pkr], Eravallan [era], Irula [iru], Jennu Kurumba [xuj], Kadar [kej], Kanikkaran [kev], Kannada Kurumba [kfi], Kota [kfe], Malankuravan [mjo], Malasar [ymr], Muthuvan [muv], Paliyan [pcf], Paniya [pcg], Saurashtra [saz], Toda [tcx], Vaagri Booli [vaa].

Language Development
Taught in primary and secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1727–2002.
Writing

Braille script [Brai]. Tamil script [Taml], primary usage.

Other Comments

Officially recognized language. Hindu, Muslim.

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