How Old is the Tamil language in Years?

How old is the Tamil language in years?
Tamil Language

How Old is the Tamil language in Years?

The origin of Tamil dates back to over 5000 years, though this remains a topic of debate until now. However, it is evidently demonstrated by the researchers that Tamil still remains one of the oldest languages in the world. Perhaps, the real pride lies in Tamil being recognized as the oldest surviving language to date. Whether you are residing in a Tamil-speaking country, and finding it difficult to learn Tamil, or you have migrated to a foreign country and would wish to help your kids learn Tamil, online Tamil class is a boon. No matter where you are, learning Tamil languages at home, and the native language would help your kids establish a better bond with the rich culture and heritage of the Tamil language.

Amazing facts about Tamil language

When we traverse back centuries and ages to those times when there existed no civilization, government institutions, and regulatory norms, men communicated using hand gestures and primitive oral sounds. The concept of languages then emerged to pave the way for an evolution that has led us to where we are at the moment. Historical remains and archaeological studies on the languages suggest that Tamil remains one of the world’s oldest languages. Looks like we traversed a magnificently long term of 10,000 years to reach this course of humanity. Magnificent evolution, isn’t it?

What originated as the very first language still remains a hot debate throughout the world. For the rich culture it carries, the Tamil language has received international recognition. Tamil remains the mother of several languages that have originated in the latter part. Tamil is a proto-language and was spoken around the third millennium BC. It was first spoken around the lower Godavari river basin in peninsular India. The short old Tamil inscriptions from 905 BC to 696 BC remain the earliest records, and they were collected from Adichanallur. These shreds of evidence suggest that Tamil speakers had a culture associated with neolithic complexes of South India.

Did you know that there are more than 80 million Tamil speakers around the globe? 

Tamil as a spoken language dates back to more than 2,500 years. The Tamil speaking population is spread across various countries including India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, etc.

Thus, it is clear that Tamil is one of the longest surviving, classical languages in the world. Its literature and ethnic culture have stood the test of time. Beyond being the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry, it is also an official language in Sri Lanka and Singapore.

The Tamil culture is very rich and holds a prominent attachment with the language. To understand the Tamil culture and heritage one must learn the Tamil language.

Tamil is the Oldest Language in the World

Scholars and Tamil literary writers categorize the evolution of Tamil and put them forth under three periods.

Old Tamil (600 BC-AD 700)

The old Tamil period spans from the 10th century BC to the 8th century AD. Tholkappiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்) by Tholkappiyar (தொல்காப்பியர்) is the earliest long text from the old Tamil period, they are too ancient that they date back to the 2nd century BC. It is a work on Tamil grammar and poetry. Another literary work from old Tamil is the Sangam Literature which is a corpus of 2,831 poems written between the 1st century BC and 5th century AD.

Middle Tamil (700-1600)

Old Tamil underwent phonological and grammatical changes in the 8th century and evolved into middle Tamil. The virtual disappearance of aytam (ஆய்தம்) and the emergence of the present tense were the changes respectively.

Modern Tamil (1600-present)

Colloquial speaking has undergone a lot of modifications and alterations, particularly sound changes. The tendency to lower high vowels in initial and medial positions and the disappearance of vowels between plosives and between a plosive (sounds associated with p, t, k; b, d, j)  and rhotic (r-like sounds) has evolved. Under the influence of European languages, the syntax of written Tamil also underwent a change. Nannul (நன்னூல்) is the standard normative grammar for modern Tamil.

The emergence of linguistic purism at the start of the 20th century called for a replacement of Tamil alternatives for Sanskrit words. Despite this, many remain. Tamil has the most ancient non-Sanskritic literature among all Indian languages.

It has now become easier than ever to attend online classes in Tamil and learn Tamil online from anywhere, anytime. The evolution of the language, as well as the digital mediums, have brought us to where we are at the moment.

Evidence for Tamil, the oldest language in the world

  • Tamil Brahmi inscriptions from the first century BC were excavated at Quseir-Al-Qadim in November 2007.
  • As stated by John Guy, Tamil was the lingua franca, which means the bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language for the early maritime traders from India.
  • Skeletons dated to 1500 BC were found in research held at Manipur University in 2018. It was later proven that these samples date back to the period between 905 BC to 696 BC through the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry dating method. These researches were held at Beta Analytic in Miami, Florida.
  • Earthenware urns with skeletons buried in them were found at Adichallanur in 2004. The urns even contained Tamil origin skeletons and Tamil Brahmi scripts.
  • Out of 5,820 artifacts excavated in Keezhadi, one sample was dated back to around 580. It also contained Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.
  • Among all the discovered attestations, the oldest is the presence of Tamil words in Biblical Hebrew. They date back to the period that is 500 BC.

Did you know that Tamil was given classical language status?

The Tamil language was conferred the ‘Classical Language’ status by UNESCO in 2004. This declaration was done based on certain grounds like original literary tradition, antiquity, and rich and varied ancient text.


The Beauty of the Tamil Language

The word Tamil is not just the name of a language. It also means beauty, sweetness, and naturality. The correct pronunciation of Tamil is actually Tamizh (Ta-mirth) and not Tamil (Ta-mil). Tamil is personified as a God, where there is a ‘Tamil Thai’ (தமிழ் தாய்) temple at Karaikudi. The temple defies the Tamil language as a mother which is a rarity in the world. This exclusive personification is applied to Tamil, the world’s oldest language.

Online Tamil classes from Powerkid Academy

Do you live abroad and are looking forward to helping your kids learn Tamil? Here, we from Powerkid Tamil Academy provide one-on-one, online Tamil classes to help children and adults learn the Tamil alphabet, and spoken and written Tamil in levels from basic to advanced levels. Learn Tamil online in levels. We help children learn the basics of the Tamil language, while also training them to read and write short sentences. We also help learners to build a basic conversation. We teach children to read poems, comprehensions, and Tamil texts like Thirukkural (திருக்குறள்), Aathichudi (ஆத்திசூடி), Kondrai Vendan (கொன்றை வேந்தன்), Moodurai ( மூதுரை), Nazhvazhi (நல்வழி) poems, etc.

Learn Tamil online, easily and effortlessly, from anywhere, anytime through Powerkid Tamil Academy.

Expand your Tamil learning horizon by signing up for your online Tamil classes at to learn written and spoken Tamil through English. We provide fully customised, one-on-one, and highly interactive sessions. The online class in Tamil is held in levels and we provide unlimited study resources and tools. Learn Tamil through online class in Tamil from native Tamil-speaking, well-qualified teachers.

By attending an online class in Tamil to learn Tamil from Powerkid Tamil Academy, you open up a whole world of possibilities. Learn Tamil online through our online Tamil classes with direct interaction and engagement from native Tamil-speaking tutors.


Comments (2)

  1. […] you are wondering how old is Tamil language, the answer is more than 5000 years. It is one of the oldest languages and has survived the plights […]

  2. […] acts as an anchor to pass on the Tamil values, laws and cultural norms. If you have wondered how old is the Tamil language, its origin dates back to 5000 years? Astonishing! Isn’t […]

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