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).
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. 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". 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.
Tanglish is increasingly used in advertising aimed at consumers in Tamil Nadu, particularly for promotion of international products. For example, Pepsi has mixed English with Tamil in its slogan "ullam kekkuthae more". 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." 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.
A characteristic of Tanglish or Tamil-English code-switching is the addition of Tamil affixes to English words. 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". English nouns often are combined with Tamil case markers, as in "journeyai", "driverkku" (dative case, used to mean "for the driver"), and "teacheroda". 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 "paNNu" is added to the English verb "drive", resulting in "drive paNNu", used to mean "do the driving". 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., maatify, Kalaachify).
- Indian English
- Regional differences and dialects in Indian English
- Madras Bashai, a related, but distinct, language variant, a slang form of Tamil used in Chennai that is a blend of Tamil with Indian English, Telugu and Hindustani
- 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
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- Rangarajan, Malathi (21 February 2004), "Konjam Tamil Konjam English", The Hindu
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- "Dhanush: Never expected 'Kolaveri di' to become such a rage", Times of India, 29 November 2011
- "Why this 'Why this Kolaveri'?", The Hindu, 23 November 2011
- Steven Baker (26 October 2015), Ten surprising expressions in Indian English, British Council
- Vinesh, Derrick (2 October 2011), "Penang's link with ocean made waves", The Star, archived from the original on 8 December 2011 Cite uses deprecated parameter
- 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.
- 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 2012-06-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Rao, Mallika (28 November 2011), "'Why This Kolaveri Di': India's Latest Viral Hit", Huffington Post
- Music composed by D.Imman "Fy Fy Fy Kalaachify" by Remya Nambeesan from "Pandiya Naadu" Tamil Movie