By David Shulman

Spoken by way of 80 million humans in South Asia and a diaspora that stretches around the globe, Tamil is without doubt one of the nice global languages, and one of many few historic languages that survives as a mom tongue for therefore many audio system. David Shulman provides a complete cultural background of Tamil language, literature, and civilization emphasizing how Tamil audio system and poets have understood the original gains in their language over its lengthy historical past. Impetuous, musical, whimsical, in consistent flux, Tamil is a residing entity, and this is often its biography.

Two tales animate Shulman s narrative. the 1st matters the evolution of Tamil s detailed modes of talking, pondering, and making a song. the second one describes Tamil s significant expressive topics, the lovely poems of affection and conflict referred to as Sangam poetry, and Tamil s impression as a shaping strength inside Hinduism. Shulman tracks Tamil from its earliest strains on the finish of the 1st millennium BCE throughout the classical interval, 850 to 1200 CE, while Tamil-speaking rulers held sway over southern India, and into late-medieval and glossy occasions, together with the deeply contentious politics that overshadow Tamil today.

Tamil is greater than a language, Shulman says. it's a physique of information, a lot of it intrinsic to an historical tradition and sensibility. Tamil can suggest either understanding find out how to love within the demeanour of classical love poetry and being a civilized individual. it's therefore one of those grammar, now not simply of the language in its spoken and written types yet of the artistic strength of its audio system.

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30 Thus the daily courtesy phrase, saukkiyamā, “How are you? ” derived from Skt. saukhyam, “happiness,” “goodness,” is sometimes transformed into nalamā, from Tamil nalam, “goodness”—so, “Is there goodness? ” But the purists have failed completely. One cannot get along in Tamil without Sanskrit words. They were there at the beginning, and they are there today. We will have occasion to speak further of Sanskrit-in-Tamil in the following chapters. Indeed, the long and complex relations between these two languages is a major theme throughout this book; this theme is still clearly alive and full of passion in current debates about language and culture in the Tamil world, and there is, I think, room for a historical and scholarly perspective on it.

Indeed, there may well be more straight Sanskrit in Tamil than in the Sanskrit-derived north Indian vernaculars. 27 Possibly this last meaning has generated the Tamil one of a dreamlike state, a lack of awareness. We can also define specific occasions or motivations for using a full-fledged Sanskrit expression in a Tamil sentence (indeed, in a much wider sense, an author’s choice of Sanskrit or Tamil always reflects the particular, respective expressive advantages of the two languages, including issues of tone, intensity, emphasis, resonance, intimacy, and so on).

43 In my view, the proposed links with Elamite are tenuous in the extreme. 44 Unfortunately, we have no idea what languages these people spoke, though it is more than tempting, for many reasons, to imagine them using an early form of Dravidian (which is not to say that they were the purely fictive “Dravidians”). C. 46 Still, we have the persistent problem of identifying a plausible dating sequence for Dravidian speech. I want to avoid boring the reader with yet more fragile reconstructions based on sparse linguistic evidence.

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