Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Adhu But Aanal What Enna Meaning Artham?

Before we get into what this intriguing title means, have you availed our Madras Day offer yet? 3 bilinguals for Rs.275 and 5 picture books (Tamil) for Rs.450! Quickly send your order to and then come back and read this post with your kaapi and kozhukattais. 

As part of Madras Week celebrations, Tulika conducted a Madras kweezzz on Twitter (you don’t know what a kweezzz is? Tells us you haven’t been following our blog closely! Pffftttt.)  A pioneer in bringing out bilingual picture books for children in India, Tulika has always delighted in the aviyal of cultures that makes up our country. Our bilingual titles are in English paired with one other regional language- Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Bangla. Our single language titles too are published in all nine languages. While we ensure that in translation the meanings and connotations are accurate, we are open to different ‘styles’ of language and not just what is ‘correct’ and accepted as ‘right’ in children’s books.  Colloquial usages that children hear all around them appear in the text with no apology. Using as many common and conversational words helps the reader enter the new world with confidence. To put it in Madras bashai, this is no place to put scene, even if the purists do feel-pannufy!

So for Madras Day, in keeping with the spirit of Tulika's multilingual tradition, we decided to celebrate all things Madras, including its beloved dialect. Here's a sample!

Q.  In case you miss the bus, there’s always ________________ service.(Fill up with the most appropriate Madras bashai)

A: Nataraja

If you are not from Madras, you will probably require an explanation. The word 'Nataraja' here has nothing to do with the God of Dance. It's simply a fundoo way to say 'nada' (which means 'to walk')! Bewildering? It wasn't for the bunch of enthu cutlet Madrasis who tweeted away with great gusto! Those away from their home city went on a nostalgic trip and started dreaming of Buhari Otel Biryani even! Feelings, pa.

The senti responses show how much a dialect can mean to people- it's not just about speech but about memories, places, and incidents. Every language in India comes with so many dialects that even if you are a master at one, you may still be left clueless when listening to another! Languages borrow generously from others and even turn the word on its head to mean something else altogether.It is this rich, sometimes even comic, diversity that makes it so much fun for us to explore them. In future, we plan to do many more dhool bilingual kweezzzes in many more languages. Watch this space and brush up your bashai

And really, if you don't have a Twitter handle by now, you are a maha wasteu!


  1. True! Being in Hyderabad away from my home town Delhi, I miss the language as much as I miss my people. Known for all bad reasons, Delhi is still a place I love to be! The Punjabicised Hindi there n the Urdish Hindi here (hyd), both have their own flavors and I am sure we all love the typicalities of our languages, however silly they might sound to the ones outside of the place.

  2. @Megha - Exactly :) and language gives readers a sense of place, moulded by the landscape, the history, the culture, the people and more.


Comments? Feedback? Opinions?