Madras Bashai (Tamil: மெட்ராஸ் பாஷ, translit. Meṭrās pāṣa, lit. 'Madras slang') is a pidgin language or a dialect of Tamil language heavily influenced by Indian English, Urdu and Hindi language spoken in the city of Chennai (previously known as Madras) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu; it is not mutually intelligible with any of those except for Tamil, to a certain extent. The word bashai derives from the Sanskrit word bhasha, meaning "language", which means Mozhi (மொழி) in Tamil.
Madras Bashai evolved largely during the past three centuries. It grew in parallel with the growth of cosmopolitan Madras. After Madras Bashai became somewhat common in Madras, it became a source of satire for early Tamil films from the 1950s, in the form of puns and double entendres. Subsequent generations in Chennai identified with it and absorbed English constructs into the dialect, making it what it is today.
Madras Bashai evolved largely during the past three centuries. Contrary to popular belief, Madras was not founded in 1640 by the British East India Company, but by the Medeiros family of San Thome, the wealthiest merchants of the Portuguese settlement and who were locally known as the Madra family. It was that family who lent their name to the new town of Madraspatnam, founded near two fishing kuppams on a stretch of coast along which all fishing villages paid to the church and a return to the Madeiros family on the financial backing it provided them. With its emergence as an important city in the British Empire when they recovered it from the French and as the capital of Madras Presidency, the contact with western world increased and a number of English words crept into the vocabulary. Many of these words were introduced by educated, middle-class Tamil migrants to the city who borrowed freely from English for their daily usage. Due to the presence of a considerable population of Telugu, Hindi and many other language-speakers, especially, the Gujaratis, Marwaris and some Muslim communities, some Hindi words, too, became a part of Madras Bashai. At the turn of the 20th century, though preferences have since shifted in favor of the Central and Madurai Tamil dialects, the English words introduced during the early 20th century have been retained.
A few words unique to Madras Bashai are given below; an Internet project, urban Tamil, has set out to collect urban Tamil vocabulary.
|Standard Tamil||Madras bashai||Meaning|
|appuram (அப்புறம்)||Appālikā,appāllē (அப்பாலிகா, அப்பாலே)||Afterwards|
|anñkē (அங்கே)||Annanṇṭa (அந்நாண்ட)||There|
|kōpam (கோபம்)||Gaandu (காண்டு)||Anger|
|Mosamana (மோசமான)||Attu (அட்டு)||Worst (Derived from Burmese word "attu" - meaning duplicate)|
|bayam (பயம்), achham (அச்சம்)||mersu (மெர்சு)||Fear|
|nandraga Illai (நன்றாக இல்லை)||mokka (மொக்கை/மொக்க)||Derived from Burmese word "macaunbu" meaning not good|
|dhaṭavai (தடவை)||Dhabā (தபா)||times- Derived from Hindustani - Dafa (number of times)|
|ēmatṟukiṟatu (ஏமாற்றுகிறது)||Dabaikirathu (டபாய்க்கிறது)||Fooling|
|kiṇṭal seivathu (கிண்டல் செய்வது)||Kalāikirathu (கலாய்க்கிறது)||To tease- Derived from Malayalam - Kali aakunnu.|
|makizhchi (மகிழ்ச்சி)||Gūjjāallu (குஜ்ஜால்லு)||Happy|
|kaal saṭṭai (கால் சட்டை)||Nijāru (நிஜாரு)||Trouser|
|viraivil viṭṭu(விரைவில் விட்டு)||Apeetu (அபீட்டு)||To exit quickly/Vanish from the spot. Derived from English word abate|
|Nalla irukku (நல்லா இருக்கு)||Sokkha irukeethu(ஸோக்கா இருகீது )||Looking good - Derived from Urdu- Shauq- Passionate|
- Words borrowed from other languages
|Dūbaakoor (டுபாக்கூர்)||Fraudster||From the English word dubash which, itself, is a derivative of the Hindusthani word "Do bhasha", usually, used to refer to interpreters and middlemen who worked for the British East India Company. As in the early 19th century, dubashes such as Avadhanum Paupiah were notorious for their corrupt practices, the term "dubash" gradually got to mean "fraud"|
|Nainā (நைனா)||Father||From the Telugu word Nāyanāh|
|Bēmānī (பேமானி)||Swearword; meaning unclear||Derived from the Urdu word Bē Imān meaning "a dishonest person"|
|Gabbu (கப்பு)||Bad Smell||Derived from colloquial Telugu Gobbu|
|Gammu (கம்மு)||Silent, peaceful||Derived from colloquial Telugu gommuni|
|Bīscōthū (பிஸ்கோத்து)||Sub-standard||Derived from the English word "biscuit"|
|Kūnthu (குந்து)||Sit down||Derived from ancient Tamil|
|Dhūddū (துட்டு), Dabbū (டப்பு)||Money||Derived from Telugu|
|Galeeju (கலீஜு)||Yucky||Derived from the Urdu word, Galeez|
|Kasmalam (கஸ்மாலம்)||Dirty||Derived from the Sanskrit word "Kasmalam" meaning dirty, discardable|
|Yegīrī (யெகிரி)||To jump||Usual Tamil word|
|Bējār (பேஜாறு)||Problem||Derived from Hindusthani|
|Figure (பிகர்)||A beautiful girl||From English. Used by youngsters|
|Correct (கரெக்ட்) (as a verb)||To Impress A Girl.||From English. Used by youngsters|
|O. C. (ஓ.ஸி)||Free-of-cost||From English. During the East India Company rule, letters posted on behalf of the East India Company did not bear postage stamps, but had the words 'On Company's Service' or 'OC' written on them. The word "O. C." gradually got to mean something which was offered free-of-cost|
Madras Bashai is used in many Tamil movies after the 1950s. Actors such, Manorama, J. P. Chandrababu, Loose Mohan, Thengai Srinivasan, Janagaraj, Cho Ramaswamy, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Dhanush, Suriya, Santhanam, Vikram, Attakathi Dinesh, Vijay and Ajith Kumar are well known for using it. Representative films are Maharasan, Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Thirumalai, Vasool Raja MBBS, Attahasam, Pammal K. Sambandam, Chennai 600028, Siva Manasula Sakthi, Saguni, Attakathi, Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru, Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara, Ai, Madras, Kasethan Kadavulada, Anegan, Vedalam, Maari, Sketch, Vada Chennai.
- Vijayakrishnan, K. G. (1995). "Compound Typology in Tamil". Theoretical perspectives on word order in South Asian languages. Centre for Study of Language. pp. 263–264. ISBN 9781881526490.
- Developers, Open Tamil. "Open Tamil Web- Indic Language Computing Platform". www.urbantamil.com. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- Pillai, M. Shanmugham. Tamil Dialectology. pp. 34–36.
- Guy, Randor (June 15, 2003). "Inspiration from Madras". The Hindu.
- "Footprints of the Company". The Hindu. 28 August 2005.
- "Language Found in Transition". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2018-06-08.