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South Asia Department

Languages of South Asia at SOAS: Tamil

Tamil is both a classical and a modern language, with a rich poetic corpus from the early centuries of the common era and a vibrant contemporary literature. It is the oldest language of the Dravidian family, which also includes Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.

The Dravidian languages are spoken across south India and are linguistically distinct from the Indo-Aryan languages spoken elsewhere in the subcontinent. Today, Tamil is spoken by approximately 60 million people, primarily in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka, but also in Singapore, Malaysia and wherever Tamils have migrated, including the UK.

Contacts:

wc3@soas.ac.uk, or the Language Centre (languages@soas.ac.uk).

Suggested reading:

  • G. L. Hart and Kausalya Hart, Tamil for beginners (2 parts), Berkeley 1992.
  • A.K. Ramanujan, Poems of love and war, New York 1985.
  • David D. Shulman, Tamil temple myths, Princeton 1980.
  • K.V. Zvelebil, Tamil literature, Wiesbaden 1974.

Please Note: Not all courses and programmes are available every year