From : Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.

A language of India

ISO 639-3tam

Population 61,500,000 in India (1997). Population total all countries: 65,675,200.
Region Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. Also in Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Germany, Malaysia (Peninsular), Mauritius, Netherlands, Qatar, Réunion, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.
Alternate names Damulian, Tamal, Tamalsan, Tambul, Tamili
Dialects Adi Dravida, Aiyar, Aiyangar, Arava, Burgandi, Kongar, Madrasi, Madurai, Pattapu Bhasha, Tamil, Sri Lanka Tamil, Malaya Tamil, Burma Tamil, South Africa Tamil, Tigalu, Harijan, Sanketi, Hebbar, Mandyam Brahmin, Secunderabad Brahmin. Burgandi are nomadic. Aiyar and Aiyangar are Brahmin dialects. Southern dialect around Madurai is literary standard. Eastern dialect is colloquial standard (Zvelebil 1998). Sanketi dialect in Karnataka used by immigrants from Madurai and Shenkotta in Tamil Nadu. Their lexicon is greatly influenced by Kannada.
Classification Dravidian, Southern, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Tamil
Language use Official language. 8,000,000 L2 speakers. Also use Kannada [kan].
Language development Taught in primary and secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1727–2002.
Writing system Tamil script.
Comments State language of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands. SOV. Hindu, Muslim.

Also spoken in:

Malaysia (Peninsular)

Language name Tamil
Population Ethnic population: 1,396,480 (2000).
Language use Also use Malay [zlm] or English.
Comments Plantation workers.


Language name Tamil
Population 31,000 in Mauritius (Johnstone and Mandryk 2001).
Language use Government, politics.
Comments Hindu.


Language name Tamil
Population Including L2 speakers: 120,000 in Réunion (1991 Froise).
Comments 90% describe themselves as of Indian origin. Hindu.


Language name Tamil
Population 90,000 in Singapore (1985). Ethnic population: 111,000 (1993).
Language use Official language. Some also use English.
Comments Hindu.

Sri Lanka

Language name Tamil
Population 3,770,000 in Sri Lanka (2007).
Region North and northeast coasts, a few pockets in the south.
Language map Sri Lanka
Language use National language.
Comments Hindu, Muslim.
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