MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Narian Chengiah Naidoo
Comments: 1
Article views: 679
Latest Badges:

View all Narian Chengiah Naidoo's badges.

The Tamil Language

17 March 2014, 16:07

Tamil is the oldest of the living (i.e. spoken) languages of the world.  According to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1969 edition), “The Tamil language is one of the principal Dravidian languages spoken in South India and perhaps the only example of an ancient classical tongue which has survived as a spoken language for more than 2500 years with its basic structure almost unchanged.”

Research scholars in the Dravidian languages have not been able to identify the Tamil race with any one race so far classified by them nor have they been able to fix any area as the original home of this race.  Their location ranges from Finland in the northernmost part of Europe to Australia in the southernmost part of the world where traces of Tamil contact have been discovered.  Consequently they have labelled the Tamils as “a mystery people of the world.”  There is no mystery if it is conceded at the outset that they do belong to Peninsular India.

The remarks of Dr. Gilbert Slater in this regard may be quoted here with advantage.  “We have here a language system, structurally entirely alien to the Indo-Germanic languages, one which belongs to a more ancient type of language; for the study of inflections in the Indo-Germanic languages shows that these are the degenerate remains of separable additions to roots or stems, and in Tamil such linguistic decay has not taken place.  The fact that the present day spoken and literary Tamil perpetuated a much more ancient stage in the evolution of language than that represented by even the most ancient Sanskrit seems to suggest that the Tamil language became fixed in its literary character at an extraordinarily ancient date, and points to an extraordinarily ancient Dravidic civilization” (Sir Ashutosh Mukerjee Silver Jubilee volume).

Of the two forms spoken and written, the written form is the standard form which generally does not change much, because here the language had been developed fully and standardized for more than three millennia and successive grammatical treatises have contributed to the fixity of the structure. Within limits the language has a flexibility which enables the spoken form always to refer back to the written or standard form and this element has through all the centuries imposed a restraint on the spoken form so that it does not have a very marked variance with the written form. 

The earliest book on the Tamil language and literature is considered to the Tolkappiyam.  Ignoring many fantastic claims for its date as some thousand years before Christ, we may be factually correct if we assume that its date was somewhere between 500BC and 300BC.  That Tolkappiyar postulates many linguistic theories and discusses at length the subject matter of poetry, poetics, rhetoric and the like and says that the thoughts were expressed by earlier grammarians, signifies that the language and literature were in a highly developed state long before him.  The only language which can claim to have a very ancient past, as that claimed for Sanskrit, is Tamil.  All the north Indian languages of today branched off from Prakrit, the spoken form of Sanskrit, much later in point of time.  The three main South Indian languages, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam branched off probably from a parent stock long after Tamil.  Malayalam branched off directly from Tamil, less than a thousand years ago.  Local variations and the proportion of the admixture of Sanskrit are responsible for the variations in these languages. 

Sanskrit influence has pervaded the Tamil country even in the days ofTolkappiyam, in which also its influences are traceable.  The Tamil language possesses more effective vowels and a lesser number of consonants.  The latter may perhaps be inadequate to express some aspirated and softened sounds as in Sanskrit, but they had proved quite adequate to express Tamil sounds and thoughts.  The language of the days of Tolkappiyam and days earlier had proved through the centuries adequate enough to express all thoughts which the Tamilian thinker had the need to think and express.  In short, the Tamil language had enough vitality, depth and width to stand on its own, along with any ancient living language of the world, with the power of expressing the most subtle thoughts of the human mind.  Technology is something new to every language and terms are invented in the stride of science.  Such terms can also be absorbed and adapted here and also invented in the Tamil language as occasion demands. 

A large admixture of Sanskrit words found its way into the spoken and the written language by the 11th century AD through the exponents of the Vaishnava philosophy and later by those of the Jain school.  Muslim invasions and the British domination had their own share in infiltrating foreign words and forms into the language.  But Tamil has absorbed them all and still today marches ahead without, in any way, losing any part of its native genius and vitality.  The Tamil language is an agglutinative language, case endings for nouns and verbal inflexious for tense, place, gender and number are added on to the root, which remains almost the same.  Syntax has not changed.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Kenya: Splitting hairs

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga deepened the country’s ongoing political crisis with the surprise announcement that he’s backing out of the nation’s do-over presidential elections. Read more...

0 comments 431 views
Submitted by
Louis van Schalkwyk
Springboks' November tour: no eas...

Being a Springbok supporter is hard. The relationship ranges from the team being the distant cousin you don’t like to talk about to the shining beacon of light that drives our optimism. Read more...

0 comments 447 views
Submitted by
Solomon Mathebula
Is government able to hold offici...

It is the right and responsibility of the public to ensure that those who have committed misconduct in the public offices are dealt with decisively so as to account for their duty deeds. Read more...

0 comments 185 views
Submitted by
Vincent Matjila
They wanted to sacrifice me

That so-called bishop had hired people to monitor me and abuse me emotionally and verbally. Read more...

0 comments 301 views
Submitted by
Justin van Noort
Baphi Abelungu? The DA is no long...

I've seen plenty of pictures from some of the recent marches and have been really heartened to see black, white, coloured, etc all participating. Read more...

0 comments 912 views
Submitted by
Dan Sutherland
KPMG report to be used as basis f...

Tom Moyane still stands vehemently by the findings of the KPMG report, whilst Moyane's boss and brother in law, Zuma783, wants to use KPMG's withdrawal of the report as a basis for fresh representations to Shaun the Sheep. Read more...

0 comments 998 views


RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2017 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.