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There are more than 75 million speakers of Tamil, which is spoken in Tamil Nadu, India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and among Indian diaspora. Tamil is a Dravidian language, closely related to Malayalam and heavily influenced by Sanskrit. The Tamil script consists of twelve vowels, eighteen consonants, and one special character. The vowels and consonants combine to form 216 compound characters, giving a total of 247 characters. Tamil is the only modern vernacular language with a literary tradition that reaches back to the classical period (2nd century B.C.E.). Important Tamil writers include: C.S. Lakshmi (also known as Ambai), Sundara Ramaswamy, and Ashokamitran.
First, second, and third year Tamil language courses are offered each year. It is possible to major in Asian Cultures and Languages with a Tamil specialization or minor in Tamil.