Tamil is a member of the Dravidian language family, a group of languages spoken throughout India and southeast Asia, as well as countries such as Pakistan and Nepal. Tamil is mainly spoken in southern India and is an official language in spoken chinese through tamil pdf Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore, and is widely used in Malaysia. There are about 65 million Tamil speakers worldwide. Tamil has been spoken for over 2,500 years and has a long, rich literary tradition of poetry and philosophy. Learning Tamil can open up a whole world of possibility! Become familiar with the Tamil script.
12 vowels, 18 consonants, and one character known as an āytam that is neither a consonant nor a vowel. Many of these are written by adding diacritical marks to the basic 31 letters to indicate changes. Tamil is written from left to right in horizontal lines, just like English. The Tamil script has 12 vowels, which are written as independent letters when they appear at the beginning of a syllable. They alter their form depending on whether they are paired with a consonant and whether they are short or long vowels.
Long vowels are held about twice as long as short vowels. In some cases, diacritic marks are added to the end of the consonants to represent vowels, but in others, marks are added to other locations. There are some non-standard consonant-vowel combinations in Tamil that don’t follow these rules. Some consonants in Tamil don’t have direct equivalents in English, so it’s important to listen to them pronounced if possible. These sounds are often found in modern spoken Tamil, but less so in classical written Tamil. Listen to a recording of the Tamil vowels and consonants.
The University of Pennsylvania has a website with audio recordings of all the Tamil vowel and consonant sounds. If you can find a native Tamil speaker to help you by saying these sounds with you, that’s even better. Find some foundational materials to start your lessons. There are several online resources that can help you as you begin to learn Tamil. You’ll also want to find a good dictionary. The Oxford English-Tamil Dictionary, published by the India branch of the Oxford University Press, is considered the standard dictionary for Tamil learners and has over 50,000 entries.
The University of Chicago also has an extensive free online Tamil dictionary through its Digital Dictionaries of South Asia project. The University of Pennsylvania has a set of 36 lessons on Tamil grammar and sentence construction. The University of Texas at Austin has a set of lessons on Tamil language and culture. The Central Institute of Indian Languages has online lessons in Tamil script, grammar, and sentence structure. Polymath has an extensive set of lessons on the Tamil language, including a wide list of vocabulary words and lessons on pronouns, verb tenses, and common questions. Language Reef has a set of 14 simple Tamil lessons. Once you get more advanced, the University of Michigan has 11 free lessons in Intermediate Tamil, including audio files to accompany each lesson.
Much of the content is free, although some is also available for purchase. Obtain a good book or two. Schiffman, Professor Emeritus of Dravidian Linguistics and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. If you want to speak Tamil, this is the book to purchase, as spoken Tamil is very different from written Tamil, which has remained largely the same since the 13th century. Tamil and includes audio for its lessons. It can go a bit fast for beginners but is widely recommended. DVD with videos of filmed dialogue by native Tamil speakers.