TAMIL STUDIES Vanakkam
Tamil is one of the oldest living languages in the world, about 5,000 years of history is behind the script and the spoken language. Tamil is a very beautiful language, full of poetry (Thirrukkal) and meaning. Knowing how a Tamilian speaks, you can learn a lot about their culture. I lived in Chennai for two years and tried to learn Tamil. It is a very difficult language in the written sense. The written is classical, like Latin is to English. No one speaks as they write. Even some can not fully comprehend the SUN TV news as it is written in semi-classical Tamil. Written Tamil is not only different grammatically but phonetically. What you write is not what you speak! Letters are dropped out or sounds changed. English is easily sprinkled into Tamil. Hence, book Tamil is not practical on the streets of Chennai. Though Tamil is popular to Tamil Nadu, in India, Tamil is also spoken in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore, where many Tamils have relocated over the centuries. Of course, now a days, many Tamils are also in the Western world, but the Asian countries mentioned above are the roots of Tamil. The other speciality about Tamil is the "Zh" sound which is pronounced somewhere between a flat r and the L where the tongue almost touches the top of the mouth.
Due to my love for Indian and Tamil culture, I have created this web site which is dedicated to Tamil Studies and Tamil Sangams in United States and abroad!
Author and Photographer: Jennifer Kumar
University of Pennsylvania South Asia Regional Studies.
This is one of the most informative South Asian Deparment Sites I have found, offering many Indian languages.
Other languages offered: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Pali, Panjabi, Sanskrit, and Urdu.