Three Reasons Tamil Literature is Important

December 1, 2015 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

Palm-leaf manuscript

Palm-leaf manuscript

Tamil is a language native to the Indian subcontinent and is part of the Dravidian language family. It is spoken primarily in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia. Tamil has is both an official and national language of Sri Lanka, and is recognized as a regional language in many Indian states. It also happens to be one of the oldest of all of the classical languages.

Being a classical language, Tamil has a huge body of literature that goes back to ancient times. Here are three things that make Tamil literature unique:

1. It has existed for over 2,000 years

Though the oldest works of Tamil literature show many signs of an evolution that must have started years before, the oldest evidence of literature in the language dates back to 300 BC. This was the beginning of the first period of Tamil literature, the Sangam period, which was full of poetry anthologies that dealt with every topic related to life, from love and war to religion. After that was the Post-Sangam period, which included a didactic age where the most popular topics were ethics, morality, grammar, and lexicography. From there, the Hindu devotional period came about as a result of a Hindu revival after centuries of oppression. This was followed by Medieval literature, the Vijayanagar and Nayak period, and finally the age of modern Tamil literature.

2. Literature of the Sangam period was extremely complex

The majority of literature in the Sangam period was divided into two categories based on the subject matter. “Subjective” literature was anything that dealt with emotions and human relationships, things that the individual has to experience for themselves. “Objective” literature dealt with everything else, basically. It was common for subjective literature to have as a backdrop specific scenery or a specific landscape as a way to subtly mirror the mood of the piece. In fact, there were five different types of landscapes that were used: mountains, forests, farmlands, the seashore, and wastelands.

3. One Medieval poet’s work is still taught in schools today

The Medieval period of Tamil literature was full of religious texts, poetry, and texts about Tamil grammar. All of this was possible thanks to the relative stability of the period, as well as the interactions between different cultures that were finally able to take place. In Tamil literature, the name “Avvaiyar” can refer to more than one female poet. One lived during the Sangam period, and another during the Medieval period. The Avvaiyar of the Medieval period was known for four main works, two of which were meant for young children, and the other two for older children. All of them are still taught today in schools, as they include moral lessons about how one should behave and be a good citizen.

At Alpha Omega Translations, Tamil and other Dravidian languages are considered just as important as English, French, and other languages with many speakers. This is a translation, interpretation, and desktop publishing company that does not underestimate the cultural contributions every language can make if its literature, texts, movies, and more, are translated into other languages for the rest of the world to learn from.

 For an overview of our translation expertise, visit our legal translation service page.

Category: Foreign Language

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