Difference Between Tamil and Sanskrit (With Table)

Language forms an important role for human beings as it gives humans a way to communicate their feelings, expressions via speech, writing, sign or gesture. Language has a structure that consists of grammar and vocabulary.

Languages are mostly spoken widely, but it has its writing part as well. Because if language is written, then it becomes very crucial for the coming generations. According to different cultures, regions, times, epochs etc., there have been many languages that have been created and have become extinct. At present, linguists have estimated that over 5000 to 7000 languages exist.

Tamil vs Sanskrit

The main difference between Tamil and Sanskrit is that Tamil belongs to the Dravidian family. It is considered as one of the oldest languages in the world, which is still spoken by the people. It is one of the classical languages. The Tamil language is spoken in many regions, including India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia etc. Sanskrit belongs to the Indo European family. It is believed to be originated in southern Asia. Earlier, this language was transmitted orally somewhere around the 1st century BC. The Sanskrit language is the sacred language as it forms an important part of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy.

Tamil belongs to the family of Dravidian languages. Dravidian language is the southern branch that consists of twenty-six other languages, including Tamil. Tamil is one of the oldest surviving languages in the world. Dravidian language is also referred to as the Tamil language family. The closest relative of the Tamil language is Malayalam because these two becomes diverging around the 9th century AD. according to a legend, the Tamil language is considered to have been created by Lord Shiva himself. The Tamil language is one of the main languages in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. It is also the official language of Sri Lanka.

The Sanskrit language belongs to the family of Indo-European family. It is considered the mother of all languages in the world. It is one of the earliest languages that was documented first. It has the same root word called as Proto-Indo European Language. The Sanskrit language is also considered as sacred as it plays an important role in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. It also acted as a link language between different nations of southern Asia. Sanskrit functions as an important cultural heritage of India, and it is also included in the Indian Constitution under Eighth Schedule.

Comparison Table Between Tamil and Sanskrit

Parameters of ComparisonTamilSanskrit
FamilyDravidianIndo European
Vowels and Consonants12 vowels and 18 consonants16 vowels and 32 consonants
LanguageAgglutinativeFusional
RegionTamil Nadu, Northern and Eastern Provinces.South Asia (ancient and medieval), parts of Southeast Asia
Native Speakers75 millionNo known native speakers of Sanskrit.

What is Tamil?

The Tamil language is believed to be a Proto language that is ascended from the ancestral language. It belongs to the family of Dravidian, and it is believed to be spoken around the 3rd century BC in the Godavari region of Peninsula India. Tamil is an Indian language. Tamil language by scholars has been divided into certain periods to know more about it.

Old Tamil from 300 BC to 700 AD. Middle Tamil from 700 to 1600 and Middle Tamil period from 1600 to present times. According to the speakers of Tamil language or Tamilians, it is believed that the language was brought to them by Murugan, Tamil god and sage Agastya to the common people.

Old Tamil is written in Brahmi script called Tamil-Brahmi. Many of the poems and grammar of the Old Tamil period has survived and is termed collectively as Sangam, Literature. Legally, Tamil is one of the official languages of India under schedule 8th. It is also the official language of Andaman and Nicobar Island, Puducherry, Singapore, Sri Lanka etc.

Tamil has gone through a lot of change. These changes can be seen in two different registers that are high and low. Even Tamil dialects are also differentiated due to the shift in sounds and phonological changes from Old Tamil. Loan words are also taken into Tamil from the Malayalam language. For Tamil in Sri Lanka, it is taken from Dutch, English and Portuguese.

What is Sanskrit?

The term Sanskrit is made from two words, sáṃ and kṛta, meaning a work that is well prepared, pure and perfect, polished, sacred. Sanskrit as a language competed with many Indian languages called Prakritic languages. The relationship between Sanskrit and Prakrit has also been found that is date back to the 1st millennium CE. Sanskrit is an Indo Aryan language belonging to the family of indo-European. It is one of three languages of ancient times that was documented. 

Scholars have found a close resemblance of Latin and Greek languages with Sanskrit both in grammar and vocabulary. The earliest form of Sanskrit that was found in the classical era was called Vedic Sanskrit. The earliest text that was written in Vedic Sanskrit was RigVeda. 

Vedic Sanskrit was spoken as well as it was the literary language in ancient India. Sanskrit flourished from the 1st century till the 12th century. In the 13th century, there was a decline in the Sanskrit language due to the establishment of the Mughal Empire. Sanskrit has been adopted in Central and South Asia since the 1st millennium by monks, priests, merchants etc.

Main Differences Between Tamil and Sanskrit

  1. Tamil belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. Sanskrit belongs to Indo European family and is a branch of Indo-Aryan.
  2. There are 12 vowels and 18 consonants in Tamil. There are 16 vowels and 32 consonants in Sanskrit.
  3. Tamil is Agglutinative and contains complex and difficult words. Sanskrit is a fusional language where suffixes work differently.
  4. Tamil is spoken in the regions like Tamil Nadu, Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. Sanskrit is sp;oken in the regions of South Asia (ancient and medieval), parts of Southeast Asia.
  5. There are 75 million native speakers of Tamil. There are no known native speakers of Sanskrit.

Conclusion

Both Tamil and Sanskrit are one of the oldest languages in the world. Both have many common words in them. It is difficult to tell that between the two, which is the oldest. Sanskrit was one of the prominent languages of ancient India, but it lost its charm in the 13th century. While the Tamil language belongs to the Dravidian family. It is among the other twenty-two languages of India. Sanskrit is considered the mother of all languages. Because of its versatility to speak the sentence using minimum words.

Sanskrit has a resemblance with many languages like Latin, Greek etc. Tamil is one of the oldest classical languages that was written in Brahmi script called Tamil Brahmi. Which one of the two came first is very difficult to tell. But Tamil, since ancient times, is still spoken and has native speakers around the world.

References

  1. https://www.tamiluniversity.ac.in/english/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/paper_09-PDF.pdf
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-southeast-asian-studies/article/medieval-tamillanguage-inscriptions-in-southeast-asia-and-china/AE040EECE2065D89B3E37C5B52D9DF42

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