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Influence of English in Tamil
After the British invasion in Tamil Nadu, use of English attained a prestigious and luxurious status among the Tamils. As a result, mixing English words and phrases in Tamil became very popular and common among educated speakers. Just as using Sanskrit words in one's speech was considered to be better than their corresponing Tamil words, use of English words and sentences in Tamil speech became more acceptable than the pure Tamil utterances.
A common way that English words are put to use in Tamil is through a number of verbalizers including பண்ணு, 'to do.' and அடி 'beat/hit'. These verbs can be used to turn a noun, Tamil or otherwise, into a verb. It is commonly used in assimilating English words into Tamil. For example,
அவரு workபண்ணினா ரொம்ப complainபண்ணுவாரு. 'If he does work, he complains a lot!'
நான் suddenஆ ஒரு breakஅடிச்சதுனாலெ எல்லாரும் ஒரு dive அடிச்சி கீழ விழுந்துட்டாங்க! 'As I applied break suddenly, everyone in the car dived forward and fell down.'
எல்லாரும் jump பண்ணி jump பண்ணி நேரத்தெ wasteஅடிச்சிக்கிட்டிருந்தாங்க. 'They were wasting their time just jumping up and down'.
However, this does not mean that any English word can be used. Use of English words with Tamil grammar developed a standard usage where not all combinations of English and Tamil are equally acceptable. For example, நான் chairலெ உக்காந்து ஒரு bookஐ read பண்ணிக்கிட்டிருந்தேன் 'I sat in a chair and read a book' is acceptable and very natural, but not I chairலெ sit பண்ணி study பண்ணுனேன்.
Use of Tamil case and other suffixes with English words as in சேர்லெ 'in the chair', கஸ்டமுக்காக 'for the Custom', bribeலேருந்து 'from the bribe', taalஆ 'tall', shortஆன 'short'; use of Tamil adjectives with English nouns as in ஒரு சின்ன piece of information 'a small piece of information', பெரிய presidentஉண்ணு நெனப்பா உங்களுக்கு 'do you think you are the great president?' etc. are very common in Tamil speech.
In fact, for many, mixing English words and phrases in one's speech is considered more natural and sophisticated than trying to use only pure Tamil words. Following are some commonly used expressions that one hear in Tamil speech.
நீங்க ஹோட்டலுக்கு ரீச்சான ஒடனே எனக்கு ஒரு போன் பண்ணி inform பண்ணிடுங்க. 'As soon as you reach the hotel, inform me with a phone call'.
Morning nine o'clockலேருந்து factoryலெ work பண்ணிட்டு evening five o'clockகுக்கு வீட்டுக்கு வந்தா wifeஓட பெரிய nuisance. அது mistake இது mistakeண்ணு complain பண்ணி ஒரே head acheதான் போங்க! 'I work from the morning nine o'clock until five o'clock in the evening in a factory. But, when I return home from work, my wife complains about so many things not being right. She is such a nuisance. I get all but headache!
Recent attempts of the government and other Tamil development organizations resisted upon the use of English and proposed Tamil equivalents for many words and phrases. Even though such words have attained popularity at only level of 'comprehension', they are yet to replace completely their English equivalents in speech. Following are some of the commonly known words and phrases but are yet to be very common in 'speech'.
மிதி வண்டி நிலையம் 'Cycle/bike shop'
புகை வண்டி நிலையம் 'Train station'
பேரூந்து நிலையம் 'Busstand'
விமன நிலையம் 'Airport'
நடத்துனர் 'Bus conductor'
கோப்பு 'File as in folder'
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