History of the Tamil Language: Everything You Need to Know

India is home to several languages and one of the longest surviving classical languages is the Tamil language. Not only in India, but Tamil language is one of the oldest languages in the world. Tamil language has a fascinating history that clearly reflects on the evolution of Southern India over the centuries.

Tamil is the first and official language of Tamil Nadu and also one of the official languages of the 2 union territories, Pondicherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Tamil language is also spoken in the northeastern part of Sri Lanka and therefore, gained an official status in India, Sri Lanka as well as in Singapore.

There are about 60 million Tamil speakers in the world and it is also accepted as one of the 23 nationally accepted languages in the Indian Constitution.

It became the first Indian language to earn ‘classical language’ status by the Government of India, in 2004.

The Tamil language has well-known status in society and businesses focusing on great global business expansion use Tamil language to serve the Tamil audience.

The expert translator who has studied the evolution of the Tamil language can deliver the best results in terms of translation.

Origin Of Tamil Language

When talking about the Dravidian language family, Tamil language is classified as a Southern Dravidian language (Teṉ tirāviṭa moḻi – தென் திராவிட மொழி).

This classified based on the geographical distribution of the language and also upon the unique linguistic features that distinguish the Tamil language from other Dravidian languages.

This makes it part of Southern Dravidian languages that are spoken primarily in the regions of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Puducherry in India, as well as in Northern Sri Lanka and Singapore.

The origins of the Tamil language is still a mystery and there is a need to be able to clearly understand a language.

As per experts it is believed to have evolved from a proto-Dravidian language spoken by ancient people in the region in the early history that can be traced back to the Sangam period.

Tamil Language Evolution

From the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE, Tamil can be found in literature, poetry, and religious texts.

With time the language underwent significant changes in grammar and vocabulary.

From the early Sangam period to recent times, all the changes brought up in Tamil are because of the Tamil scholars.

The Tamil language is classified into 3 periods define the history of the Tamil language:

● Early Tamil – 6th century B.C. and 6th century A.D.

● Mediaeval Tamil –6th and the 12th century

● Modern Tamil – 12th century to the current period

The exact period in which the language was named “Tamil” is not yet known.

Interestingly, the language seems to be old but the origin is still a mystery.

However, only skillful language translators with years of experience can guarantee the best Tamil translation.

1- Old Tamil or (Paḻaiya tamiḻ – பழைய தமிழ்)

Old Tamil is also well known as Sangam Tamil.

It is the earliest form of Tamil that dates back to around 450 BCE to 700 CE.

During this time, the Tamil language-speaking people were organized into three kingdoms:

● Chera (Cēra cāmrājyam – சேர சாம்ராஜ்யம்)

● Chola (Cōḻa cāmrājyam – சோழ சாம்ராஜ்யம்)

● and Pandya (Pāṇṭiya pēraracu – பாண்டிய பேரரசு)

This time, Sangam literature comes into play giving rise to a huge collection of Tamil poems and songs.

2- Middle Tamil or (Naṭuttara tamiḻ – நடுத்தர தமிழ்),

The period after the old Tamil is the Middle Tamil which spanned from the 7th to the 16th century.

This is considered a significant time when there were changes in Tamil grammar and vocabulary.

The Chola dynasty rose to prominence and with this, Tamil literature flourished a lot.

During this period, there was the introduction of Sanskrit words.  

So, when you hire translation solutions near me, always prefer to hire the local translation company.

The native language translators have rich knowledge of Tamil vocabulary that comes under a unique form of Tamil-Sanskrit hybrid language called Manipravalam.

3- Modern Tamil or (Navīṉa tamiḻ – நவீன தமிழ்)

After the period of Middle Tamil, there was the consolidation of Tamil as a literary language and this is where there was the emergence of standard dialects.

The Vijayanagara Empire ruled over the large Tamil-speaking regions of South India during this time.

This led to the language undergoing further changes to adapt to the changing social and political landscape.

Now, Modern Tamil is characterized and has become much more easy due to its simplified grammar.

Also, loanwords from European languages and the adoption of a standardized script has contributed too.

Difference Between Colloquial Tamil Vs. Literary Tamil

Very few people know, the Tamil language has two main variants:

● Literary Tamil

Literary Tamil is the name for the written Tamil that is used in academic writing, literature, and other purposes.

When businesses look for ways how to increase customer retention and engage the audience, translators work best in the Tamil language and strictly follow grammatical rules and syntax.

Literary Tamil has the essence of classical and contemporary Tamil literature that comes in academic and scientific writing.

● Spoken Tamil or Colloquial Tamil

The spoken Tamil is the form of the language that people speak every day and this variant of Tamil has evolved naturally over time.

The changes were due to social and cultural norms followed in the Tamil-speaking regions.

Despite the great differences with time, both spoken Tamil and literary Tamil still carry the essence of the rich cultural heritage of Tamil-speaking people.

So, there have been changes adapted with the time without forgetting the roots of the Tamil language.


The Tamil language has a syllabic script just like any other South Asian language and it dynamic and contemporary as the modern Indian languages.

However, dealing with the Tamil language can be challenging if you don’t choose the right translators.

You must look for true translation solutions in Chennai that have skilled Tamil translators.

Working with talented Tamil translators ensures getting accurate Tamil translations. If you are looking for the best Tamil language translation solutions, contact us at +91-8527599523 or quickly send us a instant quote.

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