Madras bashai anyone???

Now that I’ve got a few people who regularly visit this spot to have some fun, here goes my take on the lingo popularly called Madras Bashai (lingo spoken in Madras, or Chennai, as you probably know it by now).

Madras bashai (also known as Madras Tamil and informally as Tanglish) is a language spoken in the city of Chennai, India. It is a loose polyglot blend of Tamil and English, with some loan words from Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. The term literally means “Madras language” in Tamil.

What Madras bashai is not

Madras bashai is not a dialect of Tamil. It is not classified as such by Ethnologue. It uses too many loan words, and it does not have an exclusive written form. Madras bashai is not English. It is not the result of an unsuccessful attempt to speak correct English. No attempt is even made to conform to rules of English grammar.

What Madras bashai is

Madras bashai is an extreme instance of diglossia in the Tamil language. It may currently be an early stage of a pidgin language.

Now since this subject is so vast and so engrossing, I’ve decided to replace my regular footnote, ie, Dilbert-speak with a few words from this amazing lingo for the next few days.

Many thanks to my good friend, NH Krishnan, for having provided me with his lovely source for this vast pool knowledge.


Madras bashai word of the day: Allo Hey, there… English, Used to draw attention, from the English “Hello”.

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