Who's correct?

Disclaimer: Only Tamil-knowing people might appreciate the below post.

Among other differences that Hubby and I have, is the language difference. Well, OK we both speak Tamil. But the Tamil I speak is very different from his. He speaks the Chennai lingo and I speak the Mumbai lingo. What, you don't know what Mumbai lingo is? If you have spoken to Tamilians from this corner of the country, you would know. You might assume that person hails from Kerala. Like many have assumed so for me. Some have even asked if I am a mallu. I have that huge an influence of palakkad tamil in my way of speaking. Why, you ask? Just blame it on the number of actual Palakkadus I was surrounded by when I was growing up. Also I use the pure version of Tamil like "vango, pongo, aatuku vango" as opposed to the chennai lingo of "vanga, ponga, veetuku vaanga".

Once Hubby said, with reference to some joke, that it was "chance e illa". It was the initial period of marriage and was not conversant with his way of words and I had confusion writ on my face for why the joke didn't stand a chance??? Now, how was I to know it meant "too good"???
Soon I learned new words like "sooper, kalaikittai, semma (nothing in relation to semiya or sevvaiya), naasti (has got nothing to do with being nasty), thalaivar-thalaivi, and vetti" ( I thought it was veshti mispronounced) among others that were a part of Hubby's vocabulary. I rolled my eyes each time the words were uttered because in my opinion they are not the part of "correct" language. I am the authority you see. Of course hubby doesn't agree but nevertheless, I decide the pureness of the language. Never mind the fact that I use Hindi and English  sometimes liberally to fill the void when "correct" Tamizh (see Tamil is actually Tamizh) words fail to strike me at the right time. But..authorities enjoy the exemption of being under scrutiny, you see.

Hubby and I have healthy fights debates over who speaks the correct language, without expecting the other to admit defeat. He is also wise enough not to suggest that I make the necessary linguistic tweaking. Only when I once spoke to a auto fella in Chennai did he warn me quite strongly that when you deal with auto guys in Chennai, you need to either speak like one of "the locals" or shut up.

I had no idea how much the lingo mattered until the question of "neenga palakkadaa?" became so common that I would almost be apologetic at this question and proceed to explain why inspite of not being a palakaddu, I was being mistaken for one. The lengthy answer sounded tiresome to my own ears. I have tried to summon all my acting skills and get into the skin of a thorough Chennaiite to speak the tongue, even using all the keywords. I have, at these times, provided comic relief to the hubby. Trust me, it is like learning a new language.


  1. i think there are as many dialects as the people:) even then, its not difficult to pick a palakkadu person:) i love the dialect and well, have led ppl believe i'm one too:) just for the heck of it!

  2. haha I hear you Ummaaaaa,....all my Tamil friends at KGP burnt my ears with the same lingo (although I secretly like it :D its street tamil...super cool :D)

    as they would say in Chennai :
    Super post machi ! :D


  3. Very true uma. I too have experience of the way mumbai people speak tamil :) I grew up in north india whereas my husband grew up in bangalore and in interior tamil nadu. so our languages are indeed very different with me having a healthy whiff of chennai in my tamil! Even yesterday we had a small argument about some word that I had used which S insisted was not even tamil!!!

  4. Hi Uma,

    Savikiyama?? is sau ki-ama?? just tried to learn some lines in tamil!! :)

  5. Vidya: True about the dialects.
    Palakkad accent reminds me of Kamal's character in MMKR..super performance there!

    Arv: :-DDD Nanri, nanri..:-)

    Aparna: LOL..which word was that?
    Very often hubby complains of never having heard of the word I use..Hmpf! :-S

    Radhika: yes yes Saukyam. You trying to learn Tamil..that's so sweet of you..:-D

  6. Yeah, Mumbai is totally Palakkad-ized and some of my relatives speak palakkad tamil because they've been in Mumbai for so long.

  7. Sailing in sort of same boat..only thing is i dont speak with palakkad accent but acc to my husband/others it is not proper tamil! BTW by any chance you from sion/ matunga??
    Firsttime here.

  8. LOL Uma.. another sooper entertainer from you :).. I am an Iyer who's lived in Chennai for most of my school life now married to a Mallu Christian, so I sympathize ;)..

    But during my schooling I did have the best of both the worlds you describe, the Aathukku vaango at home, and voottukku variya outside :D

  9. Bhargavi: Yup..:-)

    Timepass: haha..same story everywhere..No, though I am familiar with the area. I was in Chembur for a while and then shifted to Thane..you from Sion/Matunga?
    Welcome here and hope to see you around..:-)

    Aparna: LOL..thanks..:-)

    wow..you were/are able to switch with finesse then..:-)

  10. What? I speak only Gujarati Tamizh...thats actually Palakkadishly converted into Mumbaiyya Tamizh spoken with a Gujju accent...my dad can speak your husband's tamizh...they have such typical way of speaking na...I mean chadam is sadam and stuff!

  11. RM: LOL RM @ "Palakkadishly converted into Mumbaiyya Tamizh spoken with a Gujju accent"..that must sound gr8..:-)
    ya I know--sadam, sollu..:-)

  12. @Uma,
    I have learnt a few lines... n i can always reply to a person who speaks to me in tamil....... "Purreeela".... right??? ;)

  13. LOL LOL.. I bookmarked this post to read it with help of Hubby because I could not understand the Tamizh humour :D
    He laughed out so much, and explained to me patiently drawing parallels with Kannada.
    I loved reading this post Uma.

  14. Sahana: LOL..glad you liked it!! :-)
    Your hubby understands Tamizh, is it?

  15. He is a TamBrahm who was born and brought up in Bangalore. Though "we" speak kannada at home, they talk in a different dialect of Tamil called as "KanDaramanikyam Tamizh". Probably, you or your husband will wonder what they have done to Tamizh. Still, he has learnt different dialects on his own interest.

  16. Sahana: oh I had difficulty in pronouncing the dialect..:-)
    Wow..learning different dialects is an art I would say..cool..:-)


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