by Jennifer Kumar, Cross-Cultural Coach
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
Programs In American Universities
University of California at Berkeley. South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley
Other language programs offered: Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi, Sanskrit.
University of Chicago. Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Other language programs offered: Bengali, Hindi, Pali, Sanskrit, and Urdu.
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.
Tamil Studies, Internationally (Outside India and US)
I have found these pages in English. The native languages should also be available.
I know there are other international resources, but the links I had have expired. If you have anything to add here, contact me (email links below).
Tamil Studies in India
Kolkata University of Calcutta --- Degrees: M.A., Ph.D. and diploma programs
Madras Institute of Asian Studies --- Tamil Page --- Highly reputed place to study Tamil culture.
Other cultures studied: Japanese, Kannada, and Telugu.
Various Locations Studyabroad.com India Portal -- check here for all India related programs
Tamil Language Resources on the Internet
Learn Tamil Through English
Learn Tamil on the Internet. Web Assisted Learning and Teaching of Tamil (WALTT) This is a REALLY GREAT Site! You can learn to read Tamil by script and with sound files! Very easy to understand!
Tamil Language Resources
Tamil Language Resources from Worldlanguage.com (stuff to buy!)
Other Tamil Sources on the Internet
Learn Tamil Online Through Interactive Games - Kids One (Also, Hindi and Telugu)
Tamil Nadu Maps
Tamil Radio Online
Canadian Tamil Radio Great connection!
Tamil Alphabets - You Tube
See also: Malayalam Studies in India, USA and Internationally
Updated July 2011. This page was initiated in August 2001 on my tripod site.
If you liked this post, consider subscribing to complementary Alaivani RSS feed and my Yahoo group (files, photos, newsletters and more not on the site).
Thank you for reading and visiting Alaivani.com.