Introduction I

There are a number of language families in the world. Tamil belongs to the Dravidian language family. This classical language is considered the earliest of the Dravidian languages and is spoken by more than eighty million people worldwide. Tamil is regarded as one of the four major literary languages of the Dravidian family and, in spoken form, is predominant form of communication in Tamil Nadu in south India. The literary heritage of this south Asian language is very rich. The Sangam literary classics that were written between 300 BCE and 500 CE are considered masterpieces of Tamil literature. This literary tradition embodies the richness and beauty of the Tamil language. The grammatical tradition dates to the third century BCE and is considered one of the two grammatical traditions that arose concomitantly, the other being Sanskrit.

The Tamil language reflects the cultural traditions in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu has an area of 50,193 sq. miles and holds a population of over forty-three million people. This southern state is situated at the southeastern tip of the Indian peninsula. Tamil Nadu has been referred to as a temple state because the area is rich with temples. The architecture of the temple and the sculptures that adorn the walls are both magnificent. The culture is very unique and rich in Tamil Nadu. This is a land of art, music, dance and rich language. This language is also used as a medium of instruction at different levels of education. At the higher level of education it is used along with English. Tamil is widely used in mass media, the judicial system, the sciences and areas of technology. In addition to reflecting the cultural and traditional milieu, Tamil is the language used in the state administration and is recognized as one of the official languages of India.