Madras Bashai

Madras bashai combines words, suffixes and grammar rules of several languages to make new words. The most common sources are English, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Telugu, Hindi, and Kannada.
When it comes to borrowing words from other languages ‘Madrassukku nigar Madrasse’ (No one can beat Madras in this). English words can be used in any context without feeling alien. ‘wrongu,’ ‘rightu,’ ‘yechuse me,’ ‘adjist,’ ‘abase,’ ‘abscond,’ ‘beetiful,’ ‘super,’ ‘fruitu,’ ‘pilim,’ ‘figureu,’ ‘escaaape,’ ‘akkisdu'(accused) and so on. Hindi has its contributions like ‘bejaar’ (பேஜார்), ‘naastha’ (நாஸ்தா), etc. Telugu: ‘naina’ (நைனா), ‘baava’ (பாவா), ‘eppudu’ (எப்புடு), ‘cheppu’, dabbu, duddu(?) etc.



The following examples give an idea of how different languages are combined to give a new word or phrase in Madras bashai. In addition, several words and phrases from conventional Tamil are used with different meanings. Chennai being a port city, has been exposed to a lot of languages since British colonial times. So, we can see a lot more other language words in Madras Tamil than the other dialects of Tamil. More often words from languages like Hindi, Urdu, English are used in Madras Tamil.

Aapu adchichu (ஆப்பு அடிச்சு) – To result in failure – Tamil aapu (ஆப்பு) is a thin triangular wedge (usually made of metal) used in carpentry to split wood or hold half-split wood. adchichu(அடிச்சு) means to hit. So this phrase literally means “hit/split by a wedge” implying a failure .

AaaKoa (ஆக்கோ) Over enthusiastic. Tamil aarva kolaaru (ஆர்வக் கோளாறு – over enthusiasm).

Adan kokka makka (அடாங் கொக்க மக்கா) “your sister’s son or daughter”. Tamil Ada un akka magan / magal

Aaf-Paayil (ஆஃப் பாயில்) Half-boiled egg. Vendhum vegathathu. English Half boiled .

Aathaadi (ஆத்தாடி) Oh my Lady!!. Tamil Aatha referring to mother;’di’is a suffix that is always added when referring to female while ‘da’ is used for males.

Abase panradhu To steal. English abase and Tamil panradhu (to do). Also used as English loot and Tamil udradhu (உட்றது), sudradhu (சுடுறது) and amukardhu (அமுக்குறது).

A-haan (ஆஹாங்) yes English A-Haa. (When one has just discovered or remembered something)

Asalta (அசால்டா) To do something very easily. Etymology not known for certain. Possibly from Hindi ‘Aasaan’ easy or from English(assault).

Bigilu Whistle. English Language From “Bugle” – taken most probably from the music of the army.

Baeku Imbecile. Urdu bevkoof (stupid).

Daar Torn English ‘Tear’. Example usage: “Mavane, Daaraiyiduve”

Es agurudhu -To escape English From first syllable of the English word ‘escape’

Free-a-Vidu Literally “let it free”. Figuratively, “let bygones be bygones”. Pronounced as Pree-a-vudu. English “free”.

Galiju – Dirty, Can be used in any context. Widely used to refer to bit(matter) Kannada, meaning dirty.

Goiya,Goyyala – A form of address similar to “Machi”. But it can be interpreted as dumb or useless person also. Possibly from Tamil for ‘guava’ .

Jagaa vaangaradhu To escape from the scene. Hindi jagah (space, room) and Tamil vaangaradhu (to buy, to get). Literally means “to get room [to escape]”.

OB adikaradhu – To waste time. OB is pronounced as the individual letters O and B. Etymology not known for certain. Possibly from “Off Beat”, old British military term meaning “off duty”. Also possibly from “Out of Business” or from “O’l Bhajanai” (local slang for “doing nothing”).

Porambokku – Unoccupied, usually unusable or fallow land. Derogatively and dismissively, a person without identity, a nobody. Mispronunciation of ‘Pembroke’, as in Lord Pembroke, who stated that land belonging to no one would belong to the government.


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