Tamil vs Sanskrit: Difference and Comparison

Language plays a vital role for human beings as it allows them to communicate their feelings, and expressions via speech, writing, sign or gesture.

Language has a structure that consists of grammar and vocabulary.

Languages are mostly spoken widely, but it also has its writing part. Because if language is written, it becomes crucial for the coming generations.

According to different cultures, regions, times, epochs etc., many languages have been created and have become extinct. At present, linguists have estimated that over 5000 to 7000 languages exist.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tamil is a Dravidian language primarily spoken in India, Sri Lanka, and Singapore, while Sanskrit is an ancient Indo-Aryan language with historical and religious significance in India.
  2. Sanskrit has a highly structured grammar system, whereas Tamil has a more straightforward grammar with fewer rules.
  3. Tamil is a living language with millions of speakers, while Sanskrit is a classical language with limited contemporary use.

Tamil vs Sanskrit

Tamil and Sanskrit differ because Tamil belongs to the Dravidian family. It is considered one of the oldest languages in the world, which the people still speak. It is one of the classical languages. Tamil 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 sacred as it forms an integral part of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy.

Tamil vs Sanskrit

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 become diverging around the 9th century AD.

According to a legend, the Tamil language is considered to have been created by Lord Shiva himself. Tamil 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.

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It has the same root word called as Proto-Indo European Language. The Sanskrit language is also considered sacred as it plays a vital role in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

It also acted as a link language between different nations of southern Asia.

Sanskrit is an important cultural heritage of India, and it is also included in the Indian Constitution under Eighth Schedule.

Comparison Table

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 is believed to be spoken around the 3rd century BC in the Godavari region of Peninsula India. Tamil is an Indian language.

Scholars have divided Tamil language into specific periods to know more about it.

Old Tamil from 300 BC to 700 AD. Middle Tamil from 700 to 1600 and Middle Tamil from 1600 to present.

According to the speakers of the Tamil language or Tamilians, it is believed that the language was brought to them by Murugan, the Tamil god and sage Agastya to the ordinary people.

Old Tamil is written in Brahmi script called Tamil-Brahmi.

Many of the Old Tamil period’s poems and grammar have survived and are collectively termed 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 changes. These changes can be seen in two different high and low registersw.

Even Tamil dialects are differentiated due to the shift in sounds and phonological changes from Old Tamil. Loan words are also taken into Tamil from the Malayalam language.

Tamil in Sri Lanka is taken from Dutch, English and Portuguese.

What is Sanskrit?

Sanskrit is made from two words, sáṃ and kṛta, meaning a work that is well prepared, pure and perfect, polished, and 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.

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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 between Latin and Greek languages with Sanskrit in grammar and vocabulary.

The earliest form of Sanskrit found in the classical era was called Vedic Sanskrit. The earliest text that was written in Vedic Sanskrit was Rig Veda.

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.

sanskrit

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 challenging 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), and parts of Southeast Asia.
  5. There are 75 million native speakers of Tamil. There are no known native speakers of Sanskrit.
Difference Between Tamil and Sanskrit
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

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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7 thoughts on “Tamil vs Sanskrit: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I particularly appreciate the thoroughness of the comparison table to highlight the discrepancies in family, vowels, consonants, and regions of influence.

    Reply
  2. The roots of both Sanskrit and Tamil provide a rich understanding of the development and structure of the languages throughout history.

    Reply
  3. Interesting comparison, it’s clear the origins and influences play a major part in the differences between Sanskrit and Tamil.

    Reply

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