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Tamil

A language of India

ISO 639-3tam

Population  61,500,000 in India (1997). Population total all countries: 65,675,200.
Region  Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. Also in Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Germany, Malaysia (Peninsular), Mauritius, Netherlands, Qatar, Réunion, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.
Alternate names   Damulian, Tamal, Tamalsan, Tambul, Tamili
Dialects  Adi Dravida, Aiyar, Aiyangar, Arava, Burgandi, Kongar, Madrasi, Madurai, Pattapu Bhasha, Tamil, Sri Lanka Tamil, Malaya Tamil, Burma Tamil, South Africa Tamil, Tigalu, Harijan, Sanketi, Hebbar, Mandyam Brahmin, Secunderabad Brahmin. Burgandi are nomadic. Aiyar and Aiyangar are Brahmin dialects. Southern dialect around Madurai is literary standard. Eastern dialect is colloquial standard (Zvelebil 1998). Sanketi dialect in Karnataka used by immigrants from Madurai and Shenkotta in Tamil Nadu. Their lexicon is greatly influenced by Kannada.
Classification  Dravidian, Southern, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Tamil
Language use  Official language. 8,000,000 L2 speakers. Also use Kannada [kan].
Language development  Taught in primary and secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1727–2002.
Writing system  Tamil script.
Comments  State language of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands. SOV. Hindu, Muslim.

Also spoken in:

Malaysia (Peninsular)

Language name   Tamil
Population  Ethnic population: 1,396,480 (2000).
Language use  Also use Malay [zlm] or English.
Comments  Plantation workers.
 

Mauritius

Language name   Tamil
Population  31,000 in Mauritius (Johnstone and Mandryk 2001).
Language use  Government, politics.
Comments  Hindu.
 

Réunion

Language name   Tamil
Population  Including L2 speakers: 120,000 in Réunion (1991 Froise).
Comments  90% describe themselves as of Indian origin. Hindu.
 

Singapore

Language name   Tamil
Population  90,000 in Singapore (1985). Ethnic population: 111,000 (1993).
Language use  Official language. Some also use English.
Comments  Hindu.
 

Sri Lanka

Language name   Tamil
Population  3,770,000 in Sri Lanka (2007).
Region  North and northeast coasts, a few pockets in the south.
Language map  Sri Lanka
Language use  National language.
Comments  Hindu, Muslim.