BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

23 September 2014
Accessibility help
Your Voice

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Elsewhere on BBCi
World Service in Tamil
Elsewhere on the web
Wikipedia - Tamil
Origin of the Tamil script
Learn Tamil

In Your Area
What do you think about your local accent?
Talk about Voices in your area

Did You Know?
If you speak more than one language, scientists suggest you're less likely to develop Alzheimer's.
Being bilingual 'protects brain'

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Web sites.

Your comments

Shamala Maheswaran
I am a Tamil Singaporean. I love the idea that in country Tamil is one of the official language besides Mandarin, Malay and English. My sons learn tamil in school, watch tamil movies and songs and generally enjoy all that the culture offers in a small south east asian country like Singapore. They call me "amma" and I wake up every morning to that sweet Tamil word which means mum.

pulikeshi from London
My mother tongue is kannada. I have read the history stating that kannada is 3rd oldest language after sanskrit and tamil. But there is unconfirmed reports to sayt that kannada is older than tamil. Kannada rulers always defeated their neighbours whihc is well documented in the history. If vijayanagara kingdom did not come to existence there would have been no trace of hindusm left, as said by Balagangadhar Thilak to our maharashtra brothers.

Mookkan ambalam Solaimalai Mumbai, India
Ancient Tamil people's valour may be observed from the Purananooru poems of Sangam era. This valour may also be seen in the present day tamils' traits also. As you people know that bravery is different from valour. Valour is a quality of fighting for justice heroicaly. Normally tamils are tolerant and amicable but if their tolerance and amicablity is mistaken for submissiveness and mischief continued to exceed the tolerant limit then tamils will show their mighty valour. I am M.Solaimalai

Kamala from London
I do not know whether Tamil is the root language of Telugu or not, bcos there are many common words with Hindi as well just like with Tamil. I think that the root language is definitely Sanskrit for all the languages, not Tamil.

senthilkumar sivagnanam from Germany
Tamil is my mother tongue...of course it sounds like honey each time i hear some one speaking it ..especially when iam abroad. Tamil has been the medium of thoughts and ideas for some of the famous people (world wide). The Notable Tamils include - Ramanujam - the Maths genius CV Raman- The great physicist Abdul Kalam - Aerospace Scientist and Pres. of India Chandra Sekar - Famous physicist (nobel laureate-1983). MS Swaminathan - 'Father of Indian Green Revolution' - Agriculture Scientist. Shiv nadar - HCL ,India. Billionaire bussiness man. Dr.Mohammed rela - liver transplant surgeon Tatparanandam Ananda Krishnan, or TAK, - one of Malaysia's richest person Vijay amritraj - Tennis star , hollywood producer. Viswanathan anand - chess pro. Muttiah Muralitharan - Srilankan cricket star (Bowler) Tamil enru sollada , thalai nimirthu nillada.. (Feel Proud that you are Tamil an).

Rishan Fiaz , Melbourne aust
No matter where You are and what ever language You speak!!( so called circumtances) still speaking tamil gives me pleasure, for the mind! coz every tamilian who comes from tamil speaking parents would feel the same.

vasanth from manchester
i`m from manchester of tamil nadu india..coimbatore..while speaking about tamil it is interestin to note the dialects of tamil..the dialect of our region coimbatore stresses more on respecting the listener by adding nga(neenga) sound whenever we represnt the listener rather than the dialect`s spoken slow...pulling every word adding a rhythm to the language..but to be frank i`m afraid as a pure tamilian our language though withstood aryan sanskirit, couldn`t withstand english words..because 99% of tamilians,including me speak at least one english word for every sentence..i`m afraid wether my tamil can withstand a decade before it is called as a different dialect of english! let`s pray it doesn`t happen.

Patrick Ratnaraja, Croydon
Tamil has an unbroken literary tradition dating back to the third century BC. The current writing system is believed to be about 1500 years old; 30 different letters run from left to right. There are, however, substantial differences between the spoken and the written languages. Tamil is one of the oldest written languages in the world. If he can read about Hindus valley civilisation 5000BC he can learn about tamil. Apparently it has links to Southern Iran. Tamil has 247 letters and not 30. Only the BBC can publish such nonsense.

Maithreyi, Bristol
I love speaking in Tamil whenever I can- we speak the polite respectful version at home with my son and husband, but ever so often when we talk to our friends and relatives in some distant corner of the globe, we slip into a familiar street slang and jokey phrases- it bonds us together like nothing else in the world!

Umakanthan, London
I am a Tamil from India living in UK married to a Eelam Tamil born in Britain. A few years ago I met a Tamil granny from Marutius and was surpried she could speak in Tamil. She spoke a Tamil which is not spoken anymore in India. She had never been to India herself but her grandfather had told her they were from Thiruvannamaalai. She knew she belonged to the Vellala caste. I felt so glad to hear her speak in Tamil. Having had the fortune to have travelled to Sri Lanka, Eelam, Singapore and Malaysia I found that Tamil though seen as a monolithic linguistic group in terms of vocabulary, it is not. My mother cannot understand my wife's Tamil ( rustic Yazhpanam accent) nor can my wife understand my mothers Karaikudi accent. One beautiful word I like the Malaysian Tamil uses is the word 'Kootali' for friend. We don't use that in Tamilnadu though I remember hearing it used by old people when I was a child in the Sivaganga district. Just to finish of my blabbering, My mother's origin is from a village called Mahibalanpatty, its ancient name was Poongunranur the place of Kaanian Poongunranar who wrote the famous poem containg the verse" Yaadhum oore Yaavarum Keelir" (every place my country, every human my kin) If one wants to understand Tamil poetry of the ancient times A.K Ramanujams translation of the Sangam works is the most apt. In London Underground they had displayed his translation of a beautiful verse from Cempuzhapeineraar's Kuruntokai-40 yâyum ñâyum yârâ kiyarô entaiyum nuntaiyum emmuraik kêLir yânum nîyum evvali aritum cempulap peyalnîr pôla anpuTai neñcam tâmkalan tanavê What could my mother be to yours? What kin is my father to yours anyway? And how did you and I meet ever? But in love our hearts are as red earth and pouring rain: mingled beyond parting. Such is the beauty of his translation that it has launched a thousand love stories in the hearts of the ever romantic human beings! Anbudan Umakanthan S Packiyam

Renu of Middlesex
It was the sweetest thing I read in about a year. When I read Prof. Rajaratnam's note, I was reminded about the ancient origin of the language and am proud about it. I hope my children will never forget the language. Thanks to doctor.

I dont agree tamil is the root language for Kannada and telugu.May be tamil has some influence on these kanguages.In an old Tamil litrature"Cillapadikaram" there is a mention about "Kannadakkaran".The great kings Like chalukya, Rashtrakoota, Hoysala, Kadamba,Krishnadevaraya ruled the parts of south and south central parts of india.Even the kannada stone scripts were found in parts of Maharashtra and Goa.The first Kannada scriptures was found around 300 B.C. Near hassan, Karnataka, where chandragupta Maurya had spent his last days and propagate Buddism and Jainism.

gokul from chennai
Tamil is one of the old languages our world has never seen. it is believed to have written by agathiar about 5000 years ago and since then it has not lost its quality and it has also paved way for the formation of other languages like telugu,malayalam etc

Sukitha Kunnamareddi from London
Tamil is one of the oldest languages. As mentioned in one of the comments it has its one culture. When you are in a foreign coutry and when you see someone who speaks your language you feel at home. I speak Tamil at home and have subscribed Tamil tv (SUN) so that my daughter is more fluent with Mothertongue.

kannan, bury
do you any tamil people in my area.we were isolated. let me know.

Prof. S.Rajaratnam from Manchester
While the achievements of the Tamil civilisation and people are known to the older generation, the young people of Tamil origin outside their homeland seem to be unaware of the history of their forefathers. This hiatus in knowledge is understandable because of the Diaspora, the migration of Tamil people to distant worlds due to economic and political challenges.

What holds the Tamil communities together is the language and the culture borne out of the language. The Tamil language, more than any other factor, identifies the Tamil civilisation. The Tamils are known to have been living in Southern India from very early times, many centuries before the beginning of the first millennium. There is evidence of theTamil language around 300 BC found in the form of stone inscriptions. It is with the beginning of the first millennium that the Tamils create a viable civilisation of their own.

There were a number of tribes, clans, and communities of the Tamil people but it was with the creation of the kingdoms of Chera, Chola and the Pandya that the Tamils achieve their identity. By about the third century of the first millennium a well-developed Tamil literature appeared. The Cillapadikaram, Manimekalai and the ThiruKurral were the masterpieces of Tamil literature of this period. The literature of the Sangam dominate Tamil literary activity between the 1st and the 4th century AD.

The Sangam is an academy of poets and literary scholars who met frequently to evaluate their literary creations. The Tolkappiam and eight anthologies, of which the Purananuru is the best known, all appeared during the Sangam period. Tholkappiam is a study in grammar and rhetoric. The anthologies are devoted to love and praise of kings. The Pathupaddu (ten songs) is a religious poem in ten parts in praise of Vishnu, Shiva and Muruga.

The Tamils are a very tolerant people.


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy