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Monday, March 15, 2010

Appa, she is kusu vutting!

Now that translates word for word from Tamlish to:

Daddy, she is farting!

When you have a household that speaks a mixed tongue, where words that are neither here nor there make up more than 30% of the vocabulary, life gets to be interesting.

The English speaking folks can only understand part of the conversation. The grand parents and relatives in India look puzzled in the video chats over the weekend because they are not sure if they heard things right. The only people who understand the kids and the parents in conversations are other kids raised in America or parents raising their kids in America who have the exact same mother tongue.

Yes. A tamlish kid speaks a different dialect than a Kannadlish or Telugish kid.

Much like a North Indian will perceive all south Indian languages to be similar sounding and lump them all as one, a Hindlish parent or kid might lump all these dialects as one.

That said, it is really funny when the parents also start talking like the kids!

Why we do it is beyond me. Maybe we think it will be easier to get through to them? We think it is cute? It makes sense being Tamil speaking people in America and somehow optimizes the total number of words that have to be spoken to convey the meaning in both languages simultaneously?!

We speak sentences like

"Appa, can you come pal thEch me?" = Daddy, can you come teeth brush me?

"Appa, the meen is kutty pOtting!" = Daddy, the fish is baby dropping!


Nakking (licking), kudiching (drinking), thodaching (wiping dry), etc. are one set of variants where the verb starts of in Tamil but ends up as some kind of gerund with the "ing" ending.

Then there are the variations like "doneaa?" which gets a response "donnu!" where the english word gets the Tamil ending added to it to convey question vs. answer, active or passive voice, or tense!

doneaa = are you done ?
Donnu = yes I am!

This is how a tamizh concept gets ported over to Tamlish

There is one more variant.

"Daddy, can you kadichy saap my tummy?" which kind of translates to :
"Daddy, can you bite eat my tummy?" which is their way of saying
"Daddy, can you blow raspberries on my tummy?"

Note that Kadichy is close to Kadichu (or bitten), but saap is shortened for Saaptu (eaten). Now when two action words are chained back to back, the second one gets chopped. An English concept now gets carried over to Tamlish!

Sometimes, we are misunderstood, but mostly we get the best of both worlds!


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I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 2:06 AM, Anonymous Deepa wrote...

hahahahhahaha, i can understand this dialect fully........lolllllllllllllllll!!

another one from me - appa, she is killllling me (pinching)!!!!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...


i, like, totally dig this one. :-) in kannada, for instance, the sentence for a request to brush teeth is:

"amma (or appa, whoever is the favourite parent of the moment), can you come hull ooj me?"

- s.b.

p.s.: tmi in the title ;-)

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:51 AM, Anonymous rrmom wrote...

can totally relate to this. My little one asks 'nee inga come pannariya' or complaining about her brother 'amma, he is pichching the paper'

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Vidhya wrote...

:) its also funny how your vocab changes and includes baby words once the kids start talking. I have sometimes spoken those baby words to other adults by habit and they look puzzled :)...well i have still not come to the tamil + 'ing' phase, but sure sounds fun :))

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

Can totally relate - one of my daughters' classmates' mother came to me with a concerned look and said:

Why is S afraid that her sister will "kill" her?

I had to explain that kill was pinch in Tamil!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Revathi wrote...

Totally enjoyed it Sundar.

Once I asked a friend of mine if she would "thachi mummum" or "parupu mummum" and she was in total shock.

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

Ditto everyone. Been through all of the above. Lesson taught in Tamil Nadu schools by peers, "Adding 'fying' to a Tamil word makes it English". Now repeat after me.......paduthufying, kottufying, sollufying, adichufying, mattufying.....

The 'fying' changes to plain old 'ing' when used outside India, I suppose. Priya


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