Tamil is a Dravidian classical language that unify millions of Tamils living in India and abroad. Tamil is an official language in Singapore and Sri Lanka and spoken by significant minorities in Malaysia and Mauritius. Tamil literature is considered to be existed for over 2000 years. Other South Indian languages like Malayalam were considered to be dialects of Tamil and gained separate identity in the last seven to eight hundred years.
Over the years Tamil language has been losing its old charm. The trend to insert English words into Tamil speech has become pervasive. This has changed spoken Tamil to a patch work of two languages. But this culture is evident in other Indian languages too. If we look at the history of languages, it becomes evident that this process of loaning words from other languages only enhanced vocabulary. In the middle Tamil period, Tamil language has undergone the Sanskritization . It only enhanced the wider acceptance of the language. The pure Tamil movement of early 20th century focused on removing foreign language elements from Tamil. The emergence of such a movement denotes the pride a generation of Tamils placed on their culture and language. There are a sizable Tamil speaking population in former European colonies like Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa and Burma. Tamil migrants on those days valued their culture and language to an extent that they preserved and passed it to the coming generations.
But the situation has changed considerably in recent years. The second generation Tamils of migrant parents living in Western countries like Australia, Canada and US have found to jettison the Tamil language. Many among the Gen Y, unable to speak or understand the language. In Singapore , where Tamil is an official language and taught in Schools , lost its charm because of the economic backwardness of the Tamil community . The language is mostly associated with poverty. The social and attitudinal factors are believed to adversely affect the wider acceptance of the language among the Tami community.
Even in India, Tamil parents prefer English language education for their children to
further their professional opportunities in this era of globalisation. No wonder a language that was kept close to the heart by generations of Tamils for last three thousand years, lost its charm .
The migrant Tamil communities around the globe owes a responsibility towards their forefathers , who contributed and passed on a great culture and language .This debt can only be cleared , if today’s generation put some effort to pass the great Tamil language to their children by teaching them to speak and write. Once the language is lost, the cultural identity also goes with it. Soon Tamil language will become ‘That Tamil ‘from ‘Our Tamil’ for migrant Tamil communities around the globe.
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