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Useful Vocabulary

The state of Tamil Nadu has a unique history, culture and heritage. The Tamil language is an integral part of the culture of the residents here. Tamil is one of the oldest surviving classical languages of the world. Though English is understood by people here it will be helpful if travellers know a few words in Tamil.

Here are a few basic words that are good to know: 

Nandri: The word means ‘thank you’ and it should be said with a slightly long ‘dree’ sound in the end. You can add the word ‘romba’ before ‘nandri’ and it would mean ‘thank you very much’. 

Evvalavu: It means ‘how much?’. This is a useful word to remember as you go street shopping. 

Enge: It is a question which means ‘where’. This can be used as you ask for directions. 

Kudunga: This means ‘please give’. This word can be used while ordering food, or whenever you want something. As an example, saying ‘Tea kudunga’ means that you are requesting for a tea. 

Annai: It is a socially accepted way of addressing men in general. This is chosen by many to address a stranger in the street.

Saappaaadu/Thanni: The words mean food and drink respectively.

Vanakkam: A greeting that can be used 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’. 

Vendaam: This means ‘no’. This will turn out to be an especially useful word if you are in the streets and flea markets and someone is trying to sell you something you don’t want.


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