Health of the Tamil language: American and French Perspectives ((Mixing English Words into Tamil)
TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2004 (ID. 2004-04-01); Updated 2017-02-01
1. An American Perspective (by Gerard A. Pelletier)
In September 2002 and again in January 2003 I went to Chennai (Madras) to participate in volunteer projects, for a total of six weeks. I had studied Tamil in preparation for these trips, but I did not really have a sense of it as a living language because I only knew it from books and language instruction tapes. When I got to Chennai, I was thrilled to see signs in Tamil everywhere, to hear it spoken by ordinary people, and to try speaking it myself (I found the most difficult part was understanding what people said back to me).
However, I was a little shocked to realize the encroachment English had made into Tamil. For example, while reading street names and billboards, I realized that many of them were actually English, but written using the Tamil alphabet. I was also "corrected" on a number of occasions when I tried to use what I considered to be the correct Tamil word, and was told to use an English word instead! All living languages borrow words from other languages, so I am not suggesting that Tamil speakers attempt to purge Tamil of all words that are not "pure" Tamil (which is probably impossible in any case). But I would caution that a point comes when a language begins to lose integrity if its core grammar and vocabulary are subjected to too much "borrowing". I hope the Tamil people realize that their language and its literature are a precious possession, and that they do everything possible to preserve it.
2. A French Perspective (by Nathalie Dedella)
I am a French born Tamil student brought up and living in France. I am 21.
13. Editor's Response
We are extremely glad to hear from an American gentleman who lived in Tamil Nadu a short time and a French-born lady with Tamil heritage. We agree with both that Tamil people are mixing too many English words with Tamil. These perspectives from abroad add to our understanding of how people see us from the outside. They look at it from their own experience living in another culture and we can learn from it.
(SUMMARY: An American temporary resident in Tamil Nadu and a French lady of Tamil ancestry concerned about mixing English words into Tamil. An interesting discussion.)
1. Hidden History of Tamil Nadu (South Indian History Ignored in Indian History Books) (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2004 (17 KB)
2. Anglicization of Internet Tamil (by Inia Pandian), TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 1999 (9 KB)
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