Simple Tamil words to know while travelling in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is a land that is very different from its neighbours in terms of cultural and traditional aspects. The language is much more deeply sewn into the culture and hence though English is widely understood, it certainly does help to know a few words in Tamil. The Tamil culture incorporates a sense of respect in the language and is spoken in a very polite frame. Tamil is one of the oldest surviving classical languages of the world. Here are few basic words that are good to know:

  1. Nandri: The word means ‘thank you’ and should be said with a slightly long ‘dree’ sound in the end. You could add the word ‘romba’ before ‘nandri’ and it would mean ‘thank you very much’.
  2. Evvalavu: It means ‘how much?’. This is a very handy word to remember as you go street shopping.
  3. Enge: It is a question that means ‘where’. This would be a very helpful world as you ask for directions.
  4. Kudunga: It means ‘please give’. The actual word is just ‘kudu’ , but the ‘nga’ is added to denote respect. This word can used while you order food, or just generally whenever you want something. As an example, saying ‘Coffee kudunga’ means that you are requesting for a coffee with all the due respect.
  5. Annai: Though the original meaning of the word means ‘elder brother’, it is a very socially accepted way of addressing men in general. It is the usual word chosen by many to address a stranger in the street.
  6. Saappaaadu/Thanni: The words mean food and drink respectively.
  7. Vanakkam: A greeting suited for any time of the day. For ‘good morning’, a prefix ‘kaalai’ is to be added to make it ‘kaalai vanakkam’ and for ‘good evening’, the equivalent is ‘maalai vanakkam’.
  8. Vendaam: This means ‘no’. This will turn out to be especially useful a word if you are in the streets and flea markets and someone is trying to sell you something you don’t want.

The Madurai dialect almost sounds as if the Tamil is sung! It is a very Madurai thing. The Nellai dialect is different too and the dialects keep on changing throughout the state. There is a distinct way the locals stretch and emphasize on some syllables to convey meaning. You could do some research online on the proper pronunciation of these words or you could even get our staff to help you out while you are staying with us at The Sangam Hotel, and perhaps even pick up a few more so that you can have a fun time communicating in the classic language of Tamil!

Sangam Hotels offer brilliant possibilities of experiencing Tamil Nadu. For booking and more, please visit