Madras Tamil

Madras Tamil

Madras Tamil or Madras bashai ( _ta. மெட்ராஸ் பாஷை), is a type of mixed language spoken in the city of Chennai, India (previously known as Madras). It is a loose polyglot blend of Tamil and English, with loanwords from Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. The term therefore is Tamil for "Madras language"

Madras bashai has its strong influences from English and Telugu, with weaker influences from Hindi and Kannada. After this dialect became somewhat common in Madras, it became a source of satire for early Kollywood movies from the 1950s, in the form of puns and double entendres. Subsequent generations in Chennai identified with it and absorbed English constructs into the dialect, making it what it is today.


Madras bashai can be thought of as either of the following:

*A mixed language, using extreme amounts of code-switching between Tamil and English.
*Madrasi Tamil heavily infused with English influences and loanwords from other Indian languages.

Some consider "Tanglish" to be distinct from "Madras bashai", in that "Tanglish" is considered to be English with Tamil influences and loanwords, while "Madras bashai" is considered the opposite. The Madrasi dialect is however not a type of Engrish, since it is not the result of trying to speak English correctly and then failing.

:"See also: English language, Madurai Tamil"


Madras bashai favours Tamil syntactic structures, with heavy use of English words.

The following examples illustrates the heavy use of English words, even for basic concepts:

However, phrases like "Late-aa?" and "Ready-aa?" are usually used by the younger generation, and phrases of "Madras Bashai" in the above column are never used in polite form, and are usually used as "street Tamil."

Verbalifying and nounification

Many Tamil verbs are informally 'translated' to English by taking the verb root and suffixing "ify" or "ification". Verbifying and nounification are used in a jocular sense, only with people one knows well, and only if they speak Tamil. Using these forms in formal situations or with strangers is considered very juvenile, analogous to using emoticons in a high school essay. Some observers classify this practice as Tanglish rather than 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.

Examples of Madras Bashai in cricket

Like in the rest of India, the game of cricket is akin to religion in Madras too, and has its own vocabulary, many adapted from English in extremely unique, sometimes funny ways:


A large part of Madras bashai is dedicated to exhibiting road rage and starting street fights.The most common is machaan or machi meaning brother-in-law as in "Saala" in Marathi/Hindi or malaka in Greek. Most common word to describe almost anyone.

* Naina! Vootle solltiya? Saavugraaki! By calling the other person "naina" and asking him whether he has taken leave of his loved ones, the speaker indicates that his interlocutor is driving in a very unsafe manner. The speaker uses "saavugraaki" to emphasise the point, thus asserting his superior driving skills in the situation.

* Yaru theaterla yaru padam ootra...keenjidum screenu....bemani! It is used to indicate that other person is trying to show off at a place he does not belong to.

* Bajarlai ushara illaina nijara kalatidu vaanga Have to be careful in public place or you will lose your underpants. Basically, this is to indicate that we have to be careful with our belongings in public places since pocket picking menace is very common and widely prevalent in Chennai and neighborhood.

* Bikki kuduthutta Usually used in the context when a girl ditches a guy whimsically

* Sevulu avul aiyidum or Sevulu keenjidum Used to indicate that a slap will reduce one's cheeks to powder.

* Illatha kadaiyila tea aathathe Acting smart to impress a figure (implies a woman with good figure). (Literally, "Don't make tea in a store that's not there.")

* Bulb adichaan da Goofed up and caught red-handed.

* Nee Saavarthukku En Vandidhan Kadichidha??? Didn't you find any other vehicle other than mine to die. Often told by lorry, bus and car drivers to the person who crosses their path.

* Un moonchile en peechang kaiye vaikka I'll put my left hand on your face. A threat, as a person's left hand is regarded as unclean. (This is due to the historic lack of toilet paper in rural areas.)

* Aiyya monjiya paru Literally meaning "Look at that face" implying that it is unsightly to behold. Commonly used, especially by females to insult males.

* Po da badu A common slur used to insult someone

However, not all of Madras Bashai is used predominantly for cursing. The Madras Bashai uses the English language in a very interesting manner.

* Enna Machi, Nalla Keeriya Machi technically means Brother-in-law, but it is very commonly used to address friends. In present day English, this might translate to - "Hey Dude, Whassup?"

* Enna Friend-ae. Romba naala kandukkavae illayae? Note the interesting usage of the word Friend in its literal sense. The sentence translates to - "Hello Mate, Haven't heard from you in a while?"

* Figura paathu frienda cut panradhu Used to refer to a friend who chooses his girlfriend as a higher priority than his friend (platonic friend).

* Vaailey vada suda tha Used to refer somebody who talks a lot but in reality they can never make a step towards what they have said (or) asking some one to avoid false commitments (panchamirutham friend).

* Machi naa eggurren Meaning "Dude i'm leaving home" (panchamirutham friend).

* Uttalakkadi goanya uzunthu ezunthu vaaya Used to refer some one who took a wrong way and struggling to find the right way (panchamirutham friend).

* Daavukku kannu dokku Meaning "Love is blind" here daavu refers to love, kannu refers to eye and dokku refers to blindness (panchamirutham friend).

* kootar adiccha korangu Used to refer crazy or maniacs who likes to annoy others. here kootar refers to (250 ml or quarter of alcohol) and korangu refers to monkey (panchamirutham friend).

* Gourava baal Used to refer some who does things for the sake of prestige (panchamirutham friend).

* Laadu labbaku dhas or Laadu langotta , Used to refer some who thinks that they are always Laadu refers to 'Lord' (panchamirutham friend).

* Judgeju jamakkaalam, Used to refer some who confidently criticize others and they tend to do things always wrong .here Judgeu refers to 'Judge' (panchamirutham friend).

* Vakeel varavajeee, Used to refer some who talks about rights,law for every thing. (panchamirutham friend).

* Goii used to express cheers or to wish a splendid performance.

See also

* Street cricket

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