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Tamil (தமிழ் tamiḻ) is the language closest to Proto-Dravidian among the Dravidian language family. Spoken predominantly by Tamils in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore, it has smaller communities of speakers in many other countries. As of 1996, it was the eighteenth most spoken language, with over 74 million speakers worldwide. It is one of the official languages of India, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world. It has been described as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past" and having "one of the richest literatures in the world". Tamil literature has existed for over 2000 years. The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and hero stones date from around the 3rd century BCE. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BCE – 300 CE. Tamil language inscriptions written c. 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE have been discovered in Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The two earliest manuscripts from India, to be acknowledged and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005 were in Tamil. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in the Tamil language. According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies. It has the oldest extant literature amongst other Dravidian languages. The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to its being described as "one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world."

Tamil is spoken in many different dialects throughout Tamil Nadu and the Tamil-speaking parts of Sri Lanka. The dialect spoken in Thanjavur is generally regarded as the standard.

Tamil is closely related to Malayalam, and more distantly related to Kannada and Telugu. It is not related to the languages spoken in northern India.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Vowels[edit]

a
like 'a' in "apple", 'a' in "cake", "a" in "amen"
e
like 'e' in "magazine", 'e' in "bed" (often silent at the end of a word)
i
like 'i' in "pine", 'i' in "fin"
o
like 'ow' in "low", like 'o' in "top"
u
like 'oo' in "hoop", like 'u' in "cup"

Consonants[edit]

b
like 'b' in "bed"
c
like 's' in "supper", 'k' in "kid"
d
like 'd' in "dog"
f
like 'ph' in "phone"
g
like 'g' in "go", 'j' in "jello"
h
like 'h' in "help" (often silent in the UK and other Commonwealth countries)
j
like 'dg' in "edge"
k
like 'c' in "cat"
l
like 'l' in "love"
m
like 'm' in "mother"
n
like 'n' in "nice"
p
like 'p' in "pig"
q
like 'q' in "quest" (with "u", almost always)
r
like 'r' in "row", like 'r' in "feather" (often silent in the UK and other Commonwealth countries at end of word)
s
like 'ss' in "hiss", like 'z' in "haze"
t
like 't' in "top"
v
like 'v' in "victory"
w
like 'w' in "weight"
x
like 'cks' in "kicks", like 'z' in "haze" (at beginning of a word)
y
like 'y' in "yes", like 'ie' in "pie", like 'ee' in "flee"
z
like 'z' in "haze"

Common diphthongs[edit]

ay
like 'ay' in "say"
ai
like 'ay' in "say"
au
like 'awe'
ee
like 'ee' in "see"
ei
like 'ay' in "say"
ey
like 'ay' in "say", like 'ee' in "see"
ie
like 'ee' in "see"
oi
like 'oy' in "boy"
oo
like 'oo' in "food", like 'oo' in "good"
ou
like 'ow' in "cow", like 'oo' in "food", like 'o' in "cot"
ow
like 'ow' in "cow"
oy
like 'oy' in "boy"
ch
like 'ch' in "touch"
sh
like 'sh' in "sheep"
th
like 'th' in "this", like 'th' in "those"
gh
like 'f' in "fish"
ph
like 'f' in "fish"

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

Hello.
வணக்கம்
Vaṇakkam
Hello. (informal)
ஹாய் (hāy) (Hi) (as used in English)
How are you?
எப்படி இருக்கீங்க?
Eppaṭi irukkīṅka?
Fine, thank you.
நல்லா இருக்கின்றேன்
Nallā irukkinṟēn
What is your name?
உங்க பெயர் என்ன ?
ungGa pEyaru enna?
My name is ______ .
என் பெயர் ______
en pEyaru ______
Nice to meet you.
தங்களை சந்தித்தது மிக்க மகிழ்ச்சி
ThanGala santhithadhu mikka magizhcchi
Please.
தயவு செய்து
thayavu Seithu
Thank you.
நன்றி.
nandri.
You're welcome.
Nalvaravu
நல்வரவு
Yes.
Āmām. ஆமாம்
No.
Illai. இல்லை
Excuse me. (getting attention)
mannikkavum. மன்னிக்கவும்
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
thayavu seithu. தயவு செய்து
I'm sorry.
Ennai mannikavum. என்னை மன்னிக்கவும்
Goodbye
pOi varukirEn. போய் வருகிறேன்
Goodbye (informal)
varEn. வரேன்
See you tomorrow
nalai parkalam. நாளை பார்க்கலாம்
I can't speak Tamil [well].
ennaal ?????? Uraiyada Iyalaadhu. (formal)
என்னால் ?????? உரையாட இயலாது
enakku ?????? pesa theriyaathu (informal)
எனக்கு ?????? பேச தெரியாது
Do you speak English?
AangilathiL UraiyaaduveergaLa?
Is there someone {here/around-here} who speaks English?
ingGe evaravathu AangilathiL UraiyaaduveergaLa?
Help!
uthavi veNdum உதவி வேண்டும்.
Look out!
Sariyaaga paar. சரியாக பார்
Good morning.
kaalai vaNakkam. காலை வணக்கம்
Good evening.
maalai vaNakkam. மாலை வணக்கம்
Good night (to sleep)
nalliravu
Secret.
Ragasiyam ரகசியம்
I'm looking forward to...
Naan yethirparthu konde irukirEn நான் எதிர்பார்த்து கொண்டு இருக்கிறேன்
Have a pleasant journey.
Ungal payanam nandraaga amayattum. உங்கள் பயணம் நன்றாக அமையட்டும்
I wish you have a nice day
Intha Nal Iniyia Nalaga Malarum இந்த நாள் இனிய நாளாக மலரும்
I don't understand. explain clearly / again
Puriyalavillai. thelivaaga KuurungaL/ thirumbavum KuurungaL புரியவில்லை தெளிவாக கூறுங்கள்/திரும்பவும் கூறுங்கள்
Where is the toilet?
Toilet/Kazhivarai/othukkam engGe irruku டாய்லெட்/கழிவறை/ஒதுக்கம் எங்கே இர்ருக்கு
what to do now?
ippozhuthu enna seyya இப்போது என்ன செய்ய
Eagerly waiting for your arrival
Thangalin Varugaiyai Avaludan ethirparkirEn! தங்களின் வருகையை ஆவலுடன் எதிர்ப்பார்க்கிறேன்!

At this point, the fake phoneticizations of English are going to stop, and be replaced by ellipses.

Problems[edit]

Leave me alone.
ennai thaniyaaga vidungaL.
Don't touch me!
ennai thodaathe;(informal) ennai thodaatheergaL (Formal)
I'll call the Police.
Kavalthuraiyai azhaipEn
I need your help.
ungGaL udhavi vEndum. (formal) ; ungGaLudaiya Udhavi vEndum -(Informal)
It's an emergency.
migavum nerukadiyana nilai
I don't know where I am
naan engee erukiren endru theriyalavillai ( equal to I'm lost)
I lost my bag.
en paiyai ThulaithuvittEn
I missed my "Bag"
En pai Thulainthuvittathu.
I lost my wallet.
en Pana Paiyai ThulaithuvittEn.
I'm sick.
en odambu sariyaga illai.
I've been injured.
enakku kaayam ErpattuLLathu.
I need a doctor.
enakku oru Maruthuvar vEndum
Can I use your phone?
ungaL Kaipeesiyai naan PayanpaduthikoLLaLaama?

Eagerly waiting

Kaaththirukkiren

Numbers[edit]

1
one ஒன்று (ondru)
2
two இரண்டு (irendu)
3
three மூன்று (moondru)
4
four (naangu)
5
five (ainthu)
6
six (aaru)
7
seven (yEzhu)
8
eight (yettu)
9
nine (onbathu)
10
ten (pathu)
11
eleven (pathinondru)
12
twelve (pannirendu)
13
thirteen (pathimoondru)
14
fourteen (pathinaangu)
15
fifteen (pathinainthuu)
16
sixteen (pathinaaru)
17
seventeen (pathinEzhu)
18
eighteen (pathinettu)
19
nineteen (patthonbathu)
20
twenty (irupathu)
21
twenty one (irupatthu onnu)
22
twenty two (irupatthu rendu)
23
twenty three (irupatthu moonu)
30
thirty (mup-ppathu)
40
forty (naar-pathu)
50
fifty (iam-pathu)
60
sixty (aru-pathu)
70
seventy (ezhu-pathu)
80
eighty (en-pathu)
90
ninety (thonnooru)
100
one hundred (nooru)
200
two hundred (iru nooru)
300
three hundred (mun nooru)
1000
one thousand (aayiram)
2000
two thousand (rendaayiram)
100,000
hundred thousand (noorayiram) {Indian system}
1,000,000
one million (pathu noorayiram)
10,000,000
ten million (oru kOdi) {Indian system}
1,000,000,000
one thousand million in UK, one billion in USA (Nigarputham)
1,000,000,000,000
one billion in UK, one trillion in USA (Karpam)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
number _____ (...)
half
half (arai)
less
less (kuraivu/ kuraivaaga)
more
more (athigam)

Time[edit]

now
ippO(...)
later
appuram(...)
before
munnaadi(...)
after
pinnaadi(...)
morning
kaalai(...)
afternoon
mathiyam / mathiyaanam(...)
evening
malai / saayingkalam(...)
night
iravu / raatthiri(...)

Clock time[edit]

one o'clock AM
kaalai oru mani (...)
two o'clock AM
kaalai rendu mani (...)
noon
mathiyam / mathiyaanam (...)
one o'clock PM
mathiyam / mathiyaanam oru mani (...)
two o'clock PM
mathiyam / mathiyaanam rendu mani (...)
midnight
nalliravu / nadu-raatthiri (...)

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s)
_____ nimisham (...)
_____ hour(s)
_____ mani (...)
_____ day(s)
_____ naal(...)
_____ week(s)
_____ vaaram (...)
_____ month(s)
_____ maasam (...)
_____ year(s)
_____ varusham, aandu (...)

Days[edit]

today
indru / innaikki
yesterday
netru / nEtthaikki
tomorrow
naalai / naalaikki
this week
intha vaaram
last week
pona vaaram
next week
adutha vaaram
Sunday
nyaayiru
Monday
thingGal
Tuesday
sevvaai
Wednesday
puthan
Thursday
vyaalan
Friday
velli
Saturday
sani

Months[edit]

All dates provided below are approximate, varying by one or two days in the Gregorian Calendar depending on adjustments made to the calendar each year, to bring it in alignment with astronomic observations.

January
15th January to 15th February (Thai)
February
15th February to 15th March (Maasi)
March
15th March to 15th April (Panguni)
April
15th April to 15th May (Chiththirai)
May
15th May to 15th June (Vaikasi)
June
15th June to 15th July (Aani)
July
15th July to 15th August (Aadi)
August
15th August to 15th September (Aavani)
September
15th September to 15th October (Purattasi)
October
15th October to 15th November (Aippasi)
November
15th November to 15th December (Kaarthikai)
December
15th December to 15th January (Margazhi)

The year starts on the first day of the month of Chiththirai, usually the 15th of April.

Writing time and date[edit]

Give some examples how to write clock times and dates if it differs from English.

Colors[edit]

black
karuppu (...)
white
vellai (...)
gray
saambal (...)
red
sivappu (...)
blue
neelam (...)
yellow
manJal (...)
green
pachai (...)
orange
narantam (...)
purple
kathatipu, oodha (...)
brown
manniram/pazhuppu (...)

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

How much is a ticket to _____?
_____ ku ticket evlavu? (...)
One ticket to _____, please.
_____ ku oru ticket kudunga, please. (...)
Where does this train/bus go?
intha train/bus engae p'O'guthu? (...)
Where is the train/bus to _____?
_____ ku train/bus engae? (...)
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
intha train/bus _____ la nikkumaa? (...)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
_____ ku train/bus epp'O' kelambum? (...)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
epp'O' train/bus _____ vanthu sErum? (...)
let's embark on ship?
kappalill earalama?
but let's -------- on bus?
buslill earalama? please everyone fill that one.


Directions[edit]

how to go there ? : anga eppadi povathu ?

How do I get to _____ ?
_____ ku eppadi pOvathu? (...)
...the train station?
...pugai vandi nilayam (...)
...the bus station?
... paerunthu nilayam (...)
...the airport?
...vimaana nilayam (...)
...downtown?
...downtown (...)
...the youth hostel?
...illaingar viduthi(...)
...the _____ hotel?
...thangum veduthi (...)
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate?
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British thootharagam(...)
Where are there a lot of...
enga niraiya... (...) irukkum?
...hotels?
thangum viduthi? (...)
...restaurants?
unavagam (...)
...bars?
mathu arundhum idam (...)
...sites to see?
...paarkum idam? (...)
Can you show me on the map?
Map la kaata mudiyumaa? (...)
street
theru (...)
Turn left.
idathu pakkam thirumbungGa. (...)
Turn right.
valathu pakkam thirumbungGa. (...)
left
idam (...)
right
valam (...)
straight ahead
nEraa (...)
towards the _____
_____ pakkam (...)
past the _____
_____ thaandi (...)
before the _____
_____ munnaadi (...)
Watch for the _____.
_____ ku paarunga. (...)
intersection
intersection (...)
north
vadakku (...)
south
therku (...)
east
kilakku (...)
west
mErku (...)
uphill
mEdu (...)
downhill
pallam (...)

Taxi[edit]

Taxi!
Taxi! (...)
Take me to _____, please.
_____ ku kooti ponga, please. (...)
How much does it cost to get to _____?
_____ ku evalo aagum? (...)
Take me there, please.
anga kooti ponga, please. (...)

Lodging[edit]

Do you have any rooms available?
Room irukkaa? (...)
How much is a room for one person/two people?
oru / rendu aalukku room evlavu aagum? (...)
Does the room come with...
... roomOda varumaa? (...)
...bedsheets?
...pOrvai (...)
...a bathroom?
...kuliyalarai (...)
...a telephone?
...tholaipesi (...)
...a TV?
...tholaikaatchi (...)
eg
Does the room come with bedsheets? ; pOrvai roomOda varumaa?
May I see the room first?
muthalla rooma pakkalamaa? (...)
Do you have anything ....?
itha vida ..... vEra irukkaa? (...)
...quieter?
...amaithiyaa (...)
...bigger?
...perusaa (...)
...cleaner?
...sutthamaa (...)
...cheaper?
...kuraivaa (...)
OK, I'll take it.
seri, eduthukarEn. (...)
I will stay for _____ night(s).
_____ iravu(kal) thangGuvEn. (...)
Can you suggest another hotel?
vEra hotel Ethaavathu sollunga? (...)
Do you have a safe?
locker irukkaa? (...)
Is breakfast/supper included?
kalai-tiffin/night-saapadu saEtthaa? (...)
What time is breakfast/supper?
kalai-tiffin/night-saapadu eththanai manikku? (...)
Please clean my room.
Room suththam pannunga. (...)
Can you wake me at _____?
enna _____ maniku eluppi vida mudiyumaa? (...)
I want to check out.
Check out panrEn. (...)

Money[edit]

Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?
Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? (neengGa america/austhiralia/canadia naattu dollar-gala yEtrukkolveergalaa?)
Do you accept British pounds?
Do you accept British pounds? (neengGa british pounds-a yEtrukolveergalaa?...)
Do you accept credit cards?
Do you accept credit cards? (neengGa credit card-a yEtrukkolveergalaa?)
Can you change money for me?
Can you change money for me? (ennOda paNatthukku chillarai maatthi thara mudiyumaa?)
Where can I get money changed?
Where can I get money changed? (engGa enakku chillarai kadaikkum?)
Can you change a traveler's check for me?
Can you change a traveler's check for me? (neengGa yenakkaaga payanigal check-a maatthi thara mudiyyumaa?)
Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? (payanikal check-a ennala engGa maattha mudiyum)
What is the exchange rate?
What is the exchange rate? (Exchange Rate yenna?)
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM) (nearby)?
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? ((pakkatthula) ATM enGa irukku?)

Eating[edit]

A table for one person/two people, please.
oru maejai oru nabarukku allathu irandu paerukku, thayavusaithu
Can I look at the menu, please?
naan intha menuvai parkkalama, thayavuseithu...
Can I look in the kitchen?
intha samayyal arayyinai naan parkkalaamaa?...
Is there a house specialty?
Ethavathu speciala irruka
I'm a vegetarian.
Naan saivam
I don't eat pork.
Naan pork/panrikari sappida maattaen.
I don't eat beef.
Naan beef/maattukkari sappida maattaen
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard)
Ennna koriva uthunga
fixed-price meal
Allavu saapaadu
unlimited meal
Mulu saapaadu
à la carte
à la carte (...)
breakfast
breakfast/kaaLai saapaadu
lunch
lunch (madhiam saapaadu)
tea (meal)
tea (theyneer)
supper
supper (maalai unavu)
I want _____.
Ennaku _____ vendum
I want a dish containing _____.
I want a dish containing _____. (...)
chicken
chicken (kozhi kunju)
beef
beef (maatirachi)
fish
fish (meen)
ham
ham (...)
sausage
sausage (...)
cheese
cheese (Paalkatti)
eggs
eggs (muttai)
salad
salad (pachai kaikari)
(fresh) vegetables
pachai kaikari
(fresh) fruit
pazham
bread
bread (bannu)
toast
toast (muru murunu)
noodles
noodles (...)
rice
satham
beans
beans (avarai)
May I have a glass of _____?
Ennakku oru glass ______ vennum.
May I have a cup of _____?
Ennakku oru cup ______ vennum.
May I have a bottle of _____?
Ennakku oru bottle ______ vennum.
coffee
coffee (...)
tea (drink)
teh / tea (...)
juice
pazharasam / juice (...)
(bubbly) water
thanni
water
thanni
beer
beer (...)
Toddy
"KALLU"
red/white wine
red/white wine (...)
May I have some _____?
May I have some _____? (...)
salt
uppu
black pepper
milagu
butter
vennai (This some times can be a insulting word.)
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
Excuse me, waiter? (...)
I'm finished.
I'm finished. (naan mudithu vitean)
It was delicious.
Rusiya irunthathu
Please clear the plates.
Plate clear panirunga
The check, please.
The check, please. (...)

Bars[edit]

Do you serve alcohol?
(madhu inga kidaikkuma?)
Is there any table servicer?
(YaravaDhu table servicer irukaanGala?)
A beer/two beers, please.
(oru beer/rendu beers, dhayavu seidhu.)
A glass of red/white wine, please.
(oru glass sivappu/vellai wine, dhayavu seidhu.)
A pint, please.
(oru pint, dhayavu seidhu.)
A bottle, please.
(oru bottle, dhayavu seidhu. )
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
(_____ matrum _____, dhayavu seidhu.)
whiskey
whiskey (...)
rum
rum ("...")
water
("thanni")
club soda
club soda (...)
tonic water
tonic water (...)
orange juice
orange juice (...)
Coke (soda)
Coke (...)
Do you have any bar snacks?
Do you have any bar snacks? ('inga snacks irukka thanni adikka')
One more, please.
innumonu , dhayavu seidhu
please,one more
dhayavu seidhu,innumonu
Another round, please.
(innum oru round, dhayavu seidhu )
When is the closing time?
(entha manikku muduvinga? (or) mudum neram enna?)

Shopping[edit]

Do you have this in my size?
(Unga kitta indha madhiri en size/aalavu iruka)
How much is this?
(idhu yevalavu? (or) idhu/idhan vilai enna/yevalavu)
That's too expensive.
aadhu romba vilai athigam.
Would you take _____?
_____ nengal eduppingala?
expensive
athigam
cheap
koranjadhu
I can't afford it.
naan kuduka mudiyadhu.
I don't want it.
ennaku idhu vendaam.
You're cheating me.
nee ennai yemathikkitu irrukirai.
I'm not interested.
enakku viruppam illai.
OK, I'll take it.
sari, naan idhai eduthu kolgiren.
Can I have a bag?
ennaku oru pai thara mudiyuma.
Do you ship (overseas)?
neengal kadal kadanthu payanippavara.
I need...
ennaku theyvai
...toothpaste.
pal podi
...a toothbrush.
...a toothbrush. (...)
...tampons.
...tampons. (...)
...soap.
...soap. (...)
...shampoo.
...shampoo. (...)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
vali nivarani marundhu.
...cold medicine.
...Jalathosha marunthu. (...)
...stomach medicine.
vayiru vali marundhu.
...a razor.
...a razor. (...)
...an umbrella.
kudai. (...)
...sunblock lotion.
...sunblock lotion. (...)
...a postcard.
...oru Anjal Attai. (...)
...postage stamps.
...postage Anjal Thalai. (...)
...batteries.
...batteries. (...)
...writing paper.
Ezhuthum thaal.
...a pen.
Ezhuthukol.
...English-language books.
...aangila putthagam.
...English-language magazines.
aangila ithaz
...an English-language newspaper.
aangila Seydhithaal.
...an English-English dictionary.
aangila-angilam agaraadhi.

Driving[edit]

I want to rent a car.
Vaadagaikku oru car venum. (...)
Can I get insurance?
Enakku kaapidu kidaikumA? (...)
stop (on a street sign)
Nillu (...)
one way
oru vazhi paadhai (...)
yield
vilaichal(...)
no parking
vaaganam nirkka thadai(...)
speed limit
vega thadai (...)
gas (petrol) station
erivayu nilayam (...)
petrol
petrol (...)
diesel
diesel (Diesel is the name who found Diesel...so it should be same in Tamil too)

Authority[edit]

I haven't done anything wrong.
Naan oru thappum seyya villai
It was a misunderstanding.
Neenga thappa ninachuteenga. (...)
Where are you taking me?
Ennai enga kootikittu poreenga
Am I under arrest?
Ennai kaithu seyringala'
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
naan oru America/Australia/British/Canadia kudimagan. (...)
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
naan America/Australia/British/Canadia embassy/consulate kitta pesanum. (...)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
Naan valakaringarodu pesa vendum
Can I just pay a fine now?
Naan ippothu abaratham kattalaama?
This Tamil phrasebook is a usable article. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.