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Tanglish (Tamil: தமிங்கிலம்) is the mixing or code-switching of the Tamil and English languages.

The name is a portmanteau of the names of the two languages and has been variously composed. The earliest form is Tamilish (dating from 1972), then Tinglish (1974), Tamglish (1991), Tamlish (1993), Thanglish (1997), and Tanglish (1999).[1]


Tamil Nadu[edit]

The use of Tanglish has been common in Chennai, possibly due in part to the use of English in education. Also, the influx to the city of speakers of other languages (such as Telugu, Gujarati, and Kannada) has increased the importance of English as the language that people have in common.[2] In The Hindu in 2010, a student in Chennai told of the widespread use of Tanglish by teenagers in her city. She said Tanglish was "something almost every teenager in Chennai uses", but noted that her mother said Tanglish was "murdering the [Tamil] language".[3] That same year, a Tamil teacher in a matriculation school in Chennai reported that few of her students had a large enough Tamil vocabulary to be able to speak Tamil without including some words of English.[2]

Tanglish is increasingly used in advertising aimed at consumers in Tamil Nadu, particularly for promotion of international products.[4] For example, Pepsi has mixed English with Tamil in its slogan "ullam kekkuthae more".[5] In 2004, The Hindu commented on a mobile phone advertising campaign in Chennai that used slogans that combined Tamil and English, such as "Konjam Samaiyal... Konjam Serial", "Konjam Advice... Konjam Udaans", and "Konjam Kadhal... Konjam Modhal."[4] It also is common for advertising to use the Tamil language rendered in the English alphabet, a trend that leads to concern that people are losing the ability to read Tamil script.[4]

The Tanglish lyrics of the film song "Why This Kolaveri Di", which went viral on Internet social networking sites in November 2011, have been identified as a factor in the song's popularity.[6][7][8]

Tamil diasporas[edit]

Use of Tanglish has been reported among Tamil-speaking immigrant populations in Malaysia and Canada, particularly by young people.[9][10] Singaporean rapper Yung Raja is known for his extensive use of Tanglish in his lyrics.[11]


A study of code switching in everyday speech in Tamil Nadu found that English words are commonly inserted into sentences that otherwise follow Tamil syntax.[12]

A characteristic of Tanglish or Tamil-English code-switching is the addition of Tamil affixes to English words.[12] The sound "u" is added at the end of an English noun to create a Tamil noun form, as in "soundu" and the words "girl-u heart-u black-u" in the lyrics of "Why This Kolaveri Di".[12][13] English nouns often are combined with Tamil case markers, as in "journeyai" (accusative case), "driverkku" (dative case, used to mean "for the driver"), and "teacheroṭa" (of the teacher, genitive case). Verbs and some nouns from the English language are converted to Tamil verb forms by adding Tamil verbalizers that indicate verb tense. For example, the Tamil verb "paṇṇu" is added to the English verb "drive", resulting in "drive paṇṇu", used to mean "do the driving".[12] Another pattern that has been noted by speakers or observers of Tanglish is the addition of the syllable "fy" at the end of a Tamil word (e.g., maattify, Kalaachify).[3][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 31-32. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
  2. ^ a b Vasundara, R (21 June 2010). "Tanglish rules the roost in Tamil Nadu". The Times Of India Chennai. p. 2.
  3. ^ a b Narayanan, Hiranmayi (21 April 2010). "Enter, Tanglish". The Hindu. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Rangarajan, Malathi (21 February 2004), "Konjam Tamil Konjam English", The Hindu, archived from the original on 16 April 2014
  5. ^ Hasuria Che Omar, ed. (2009). The Sustainability of the Translation Field. p. 459. ISBN 978-983-42179-6-9.
  6. ^ "Dhanush: Never expected 'Kolaveri di' to become such a rage", The Times of India, 29 November 2011, archived from the original on 6 October 2013
  7. ^ "Why this 'Why this Kolaveri'?", The Hindu, 23 November 2011
  8. ^ Steven Baker (26 October 2015), Ten surprising expressions in Indian English, British Council
  9. ^ Vinesh, Derrick (2 October 2011), "Penang's link with ocean made waves", The Star, archived from the original on 8 December 2011
  10. ^ Das, Sonja Neela (2008). Between text and talk: Expertise, normativity, and scales of belonging in the Montreal Tamil diasporas (Dissertation). University of Michigan. ISBN 978-0-549-98093-3.
  11. ^ "Yung Raja Is Bringing His Brand Of "Tanglish" Rap To America".
  12. ^ a b c d Kanthimathi, K. (2009). "Tamil-English Mixed Language Used in Tamilnadu" (PDF). The International Journal of Language Society and Culture (27): 48–53. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2012.
  13. ^ Rao, Mallika (28 November 2011), "'Why This Kolaveri Di': India's Latest Viral Hit", Huffington Post
  14. ^ Music composed by D.Imman "Fy Fy Fy Kalaachify" by Remya Nambeesan from "Pandiya Naadu" Tamil Movie