Is it hard to learn Tamil?

As soon as someone interested learns that this language has its own script and that the script has 247 letters, that is the point when they already give up, saying that the language is too difficult to learn.

But does that really mean that Tamil is a complicated language to learn?

Before we can look further into this question, we should make one thing clear: How complex learning a new language is to someone is pretty subjective. Kids usually find it easier to pick up new languages than adults do. Even among adults, some have a more challenging time than others.

Is Tamil Grammar complicated?

Tamil indeed has 247 characters, and Tamil has a lot of grammatical rules. At first glance, this might feel like Tamil is complicated to learn. But strict grammar makes understanding the language easier than languages with more liberal grammar.

Tamil is an ancient language, with the earliest records of Old Tamil dating back to 905 BC to 696 BC. Old languages were created to standardize the way people communicated. Introducing explicit and strict grammatical rules was part of that process.

The good thing is that Tamil grammar — compared to most other languages — usually has only a few exceptions to the rules. So once you understand the rules, you can re-use them almost constantly.

Differences between spoken and written Tamil

As mentioned above, Tamil is a language with a long tradition. And as tradition changes with time, Tamil also changed over the past years. So differences between written and spoken Tamil emerged. And as with many languages, regional accents and dialects appeared.

However, the good thing is that people will understand you even if you spoke written Tamil. You might sound old-school or even pretentious, but you will be able to converse with other Tamil speakers.

Over time and exposure to Tamil, you will be able to catch up on the differences. But this will not make it harder to learn the Tamil language.

So, all in all, Tamil is not really complicated to learn. One main thing when learning Tamil is to remember that it is totally different to a language like English.

English is a simplified language with little grammar. Connecting specifics of Tamil grammar to English makes it much harder to understand.

Experience in languages like Latin and its successors like German, Spanish or Italian will help connect some dots, but the easiest way would be to learn the rules of Tamil grammar as its own set.

With enough patience and practice, Tamil is definitely not a difficult language to learn.