A Reference Grammar of Spoken Tamil

This is a reference grammar of the standard spoken variety of Tamil, a language with 65 million speakers in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. The spoken variety is radically different from the standard literary variety, last standardized in the thirteenth century. The standard spoken language is used by educated people in their interactions with people from different regions and different social groups, and is also the dialect used in films, plays and the media. This book, a much expanded version of the author’s Grammar of Spoken Tamil (1979), is the first such grammar to contain examples both in Tamil script and in transliteration, and the first to be written so as to be accessible to students studying the modern spoken language as well as to linguists and other specialists. The book has benefited from extensive native-speaker input and the author’s own long experience of teaching Tamil to English-speakers.

• The book is designed to be accessible to students and heritage speakers as well as to linguists: it is based on the author’s 30 years of experience in teaching Tamil to English-speakers • Examples given in Tamil are authentic language taken from film, plays and other media; they are provided both in Tamil script and in transliteration • This book is a much expanded version of the author’s 1979 Grammar of Standard Tamil. The earlier book did not contain Tamil script, and had far fewer examples and much less analysis


1. Phonology and transliteration; 2. The nominal system; 3. The Tamil verb phrase; 4. Pronouns and pro-forms; 5. Adjectives; 6. Syntax: introduction; 7. Complex syntax and related topics; 8. Appendix: literary Tamil equivalents of spoken Tamil paradigms; References; Index.