“This language is older than Urdu and Hindi and it was used for more than 1,000 years for Maritime purposes. The language came into existence because of the trade between Arabs and Tamil-speaking Muslims in the state. After the Maritime phase, people stopped using this language and now Arwi Tamil is on the verge of extinction. You can find a lot of stone artefacts with Arwi Tamil across Tamil Nadu from Pulicat to Keelakarai. Now, only two people in Pulicat know the language,” Xavier Benedict, who has been working in the Pulicat region for more than a decade, tells DT Next.
He points out that the language was also used as a ‘secret’ language by many traders. “We have a recording that Arwi Tamil was used against British at one point. It was a very popular language among a particular group and they did a lot of secretive discussions in this language. Unfortunately, it is on the brink of extinction and nobody is keen on preserving it. Even though I wanted to preserve it, more people should show interest,” he adds.