Jaffna Tamil dialect

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The Jaffna Tamil dialect is a Tamil dialect that is native to the Jaffna Peninsula and it is also the primary dialect used in the entire North of Sri Lanka. The Jaffna Tamil dialect has very similar intonation to Malayalam ( Kerala in India) and therefore it is sometimes mistaken for Malayalam when heard in Tamil Nadu. Although, audibly, quite distinct from the spoken Tamil dialects of Tamil Nadu, it nevertheless shares the same standard written Tamil as in Tamil Nadu. If anything one could argue that the formal/ written Tamil is somewhat based on the Jaffna Tamil dialect as it was formulated and pioneered by the Jaffna Hindu Pundit Arumuga Navalar. He was much celebrated as the father of modern Tamil prose.

This dialect is largely distinct from other South Indian dialects and to a lesser extent from that of the Eastern, Western and Upcountry dialects of Sri Lanka.


Jaffna Tamil and South Indian language of Malayalam have certain common linguistic [sic] that are not found in South Indian Tamil. In fact it is an often occurrence that a person from Jaffna is mistaken for a Malayali in Tamil Nadu. Both preserve certain archaic words which have gone out of vogue in South Indian Tamil. Consequently many consider the Jaffna dialect to be a purer form of Tamil.[1]

A subdialect retained by the Paraiyar people of Kayts still retains a number of archaic words and Prakrit loans not found in any other dialects of Tamil. These drummers had historically played an important role as ritual players of drums at funerals and folk temples and as heralds and traditional weavers. They also maintained the family records of their feudal lords and even practised medicine and astrology in folk traditions[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sri Lanka: Whether there are recognizable and distinct Batticaloa and Jaffna accents of Tamil language-speakers, and whether it is possible to determine an individual's place of origin based on his/her accent". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1 April 1998: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Retrieved 14 July 2019.CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. ^ Ragupathy, Tamil Social Formation in Sri Lanka: A Historical Outline, p.1