Madras Bashai

Madras Bashai (Tamil: மெட்ராஸ் பாஷை, lit.'Madras Language') is a pidgin language or a dialect of Tamil language influenced by Indian English, Telugu, Malayalam, Burmese and Hindustani spoken in the city of Chennai (previously known as Madras) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu; it is not mutually intelligible with any of those except for Tamil, to a certain extent.

Madras Bashai evolved largely during the past three centuries. It grew in parallel with the growth of cosmopolitan Madras. After Madras Bashai became somewhat common in Madras, it became a source of satire for early Tamil films 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 evolved largely during the past three centuries. With its emergence as an important city in the British Empire when they recovered it from the French and as the capital of Madras Presidency, the contact with western world increased and a number of English words crept into the vocabulary. Many of these words were introduced by educated, middle-class Tamil migrants to the city who borrowed freely from English for their daily usage.[1] Due to the presence of a considerable population of Telugu, Hindi–Urdu and many other language-speakers, especially, the Gujaratis, Marwaris and some Muslim communities, some Hindustani and Telugu words, too, became a part of Madras Bashai. At the turn of the 20th century, though preferences have since shifted in favor of the Central and Madurai Tamil dialects, the English words introduced during the early 20th century have been retained.[1]

Madras Bashai is generally considered a dialect of the working class like the Cockney dialect of English. Lyrics of gaana songs make heavy use of Madras Bashai.


A few words unique to Madras Bashai are given below; an Internet project, urban Tamil, has set out to collect urban Tamil vocabulary.[2]

Madras bashai Standard Tamil Meaning
Appuṟam (அப்புறம்) piṟagŭ (பிறகு) Afterwards[3]
Annāṇḍa (அந்நாண்ட) aṅgē (அங்கே) There
Gānḍŭ (காண்டு) kobam (கோபம்) Anger
Gettu (கேத்து) anavam (ஆணவம்) Swagger
Galatta (கலாட்டா) kalavaram (கலவரம்) Commotion
Merasal (மெர்சல்) accham (அச்சம்), bhayam (பயம்) Fear
Mokka (மொக்கை/மொக்க) nanṟāga Illai (நன்றாக இல்லை) Lousy
Dabāikiṟadŭ (டபாய்க்கிறது) ēmāṟṟugiṟadŭ (ஏமாற்றுகிறது) To fool
Kalāikiṟadŭ (கலாய்க்கிறது) kiṇḍal ceivadŭ (கிண்டல் செய்வது) To tease
Gujjāllŭ (குஜ்ஜால்லு) magiḻchi (மகிழ்ச்சி), santhosham (சந்தோஷம்) Happiness
Nikkarŭ (நிக்கரு) kāl caṭṭai (கால் சட்டை) Knickers
Semma (செம) arpudam (அற்புதம்) Richness; colloquially, superb
Sokkā irukīdŭ (ஸோக்கா இருகீது ) nanṟāga irukkiṟadŭ (நன்றாக இருக்கிறது) Looking sharp
Words borrowed from other languages
Madras bashai Meaning Source
Dubākkūr (டுபாக்கூர்) Fraudster From the English word dubash which, itself, is a derivative of the Hindusthani word "Do bhasha", usually, used to refer to interpreters and middlemen who worked for the British East India Company. As in the early 19th century, dubashes such as Avadhanum Paupiah were notorious for their corrupt practices, the term "dubash" gradually got to mean "fraud"[4]
Nainā (நைனா) Father From the Telugu word Nāyanāh[3]
Apīṭṭŭ (அபீட்டு) To stop From the English word, "abate"
Aṭṭŭ (அட்டு) Worst From the Burmese term အတု meaning 'worst'
Bēmānī (பேமானி) Swearword; meaning shameless Derived from the Urdu word bē imān meaning "a dishonest person"
Gabbŭ (கப்பு) Stink Derived from colloquial Telugu Gobbu
Gammŭ (கம்மு) Silent Derived from colloquial Telugu gommuni
Biscōttŭ (பிஸ்கோத்து) Sub-standard Derived from the English word "biscuit"
Kuntŭ (குந்து) Sit down Derived from ancient Tamil
Dabbŭ (டப்பு) Money Derived from Telugu[3]
Duddŭ (துட்டு) Money Derived from Kannada
Galījŭ (கலீஜு) Yucky Derived from the Urdu word "Galeez", meaning dirty
Kasmālam (கஸ்மாலம்) Dirty Derived from the Sanskrit word "Kasmalam", meaning dirty, discardable
Bējārŭ (பேஜாறு) Problem Derived from Urdu, meaning displeased
Maja (மஜா) Excitement or fun Derived from the Urdu word "Maza" meaning "enthusiasm"
O.C. (ஓ.ஸி) Free-of-cost From English. During the East India Company rule, letters posted on behalf of the East India Company did not bear postage stamps, but had the words 'On Company's Service' or 'OC' written on them. The word "O. C." gradually got to mean something which was offered free-of-cost[3][5]

In filmEdit

Madras Bashai is used in many Tamil movies after the 1950s. Actors such, Manorama, J. P. Chandrababu, Loose Mohan, Thengai Srinivasan, Janagaraj, Cho Ramaswamy, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Dhanush, Suriya, Santhanam, Vikram, Attakathi Dinesh, Vijay and Ajith Kumar are well known for using it. Representative films are Maharasan, Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Thirumalai, Vasool Raja MBBS, Attahasam, Pammal K. Sambandam, Chennai 600028, Siva Manasula Sakthi, Theeradha Vilaiyattu Pillai, Saguni, Attakathi, Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru, Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara, Ai, Madras, Kasethan Kadavulada, Anegan, Vedalam, Maari, Maari 2, Aaru, Sketch, Vada Chennai and Bigil.[6]

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Vijayakrishnan, K. G. (1995). "Compound Typology in Tamil". Theoretical perspectives on word order in South Asian languages. Centre for Study of Language. pp. 263–264. ISBN 9781881526490.
  2. ^ Developers, Open Tamil. "Open Tamil Web- Indic Language Computing Platform". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Pillai, M. Shanmugham. Tamil Dialectology. pp. 34–36.
  4. ^ Guy, Randor (15 June 2003). "Inspiration from Madras". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 November 2003.
  5. ^ "Footprints of the Company". The Hindu. 28 August 2005. Archived from the original on 7 December 2005.
  6. ^ "Language Found in Transition". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 8 June 2018.