Tamil Alphabet

History of the Tamil Alphabet

The history of the Tamil alphabet dates back to 500 BC, when the symbols, now called letters, were written on palm leaves and curved so as not to rip the leaves when writing. The alphabet now makes up a language that is spoken by up to 75 million people in the world, making it one of the world’s most widely used languages. Today, the Tamil alphabet is used and spoken in Sri Lanka the most, but is also spoken in France, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Those that use this alphabet for language are recognized as Tamils, and the alphabet is known as Tamil script. It is the official language in Sri Lanka, and the secondary language in Malaysia and South Africa. It is a complex language with a complex formula in its alphabet. The Tamil alphabet has 12 vowels, 18 consonants, a formula of 12 vowels by 18 consonants, one unique character, for a total of 247 letters in the alphabet.

How to Write the Tamil Alphabet

The Tamil alphabet in writing is written much like many other languages, from left to right. The alphabet is largely written with consonant and vowel combinations, but vowels are written independently when they begin a syllable. Consonant and vowel combinations in the Tamil language can be compared to consonant and vowel combinations in other languages, but in the Tamil language they are used as one pairing.

For example, in both the French and English languages, the letters “q” and “u” are paired, with the consonant “q” rarely being used without the vowel “u” in either language. Were this the Tamil language and alphabet, the combination of the consonant and vowel of “qu” would be one letter, and the letters “q” and “u” would be additional separate letters.

The Tamil Language By the Country

There are a number of countries that use the Tamil language, and it is considered to rank 20 in the world for spoken languages. The Tamil language and its alphabet are used by approximately 1.06 percent of the world. It is a powerful trade language as well.

The countries that use the Tamil language and alphabet are as follows:

  • Singapore (First Language): Approximately 688,591 speak and write Tamil
  • Sri Lanka (First Language): Approximately 5,007,003 speak and write Tamil
  • Puducherry, India (First Language): Approximately 1.2 million speak and write Tamil
  • Tamil Nadu, India (First Language): Approximately 72 million speak and write Tamil
  • South Africa (Second Language): Approximately 600,000 speak and write Tamil
  • Malaysia (Second Language): Approximately 4.8 million speak and write Tamil
  • Mauritius (Second Language): Approximately 72 thousand speak and write Tamil