My parents are Tamilian, though my mother's family has been in Karnataka since the 11th century. Probably for the weather. My father, having moved out of Madras in the 60s, speaks Tamil like an orthodox Kumbhakonam vaadiyar. So no help there. Plus, my dad had a transferable job which made us relocate to Kerala and Andhra during my childhood. I spent my wonder years swearing at my brother in Trivandrum gutter-malayalam, and my teens up a jamoon tree in Nellore, from where I conducted several conversations with passing cows in villager-Telugu. Resultantly, I murder all these languages with the ease of a college canteen chef.
My zealous quest for a South Indian Esperanto, has however, made me stumble on many charming crossover languages, spoken by small cut-off communities that migrated centuries ago from one linguistic region to another, each with it's own little nuances. This post is about them. For my sanity alone, Ive grouped them by crossover-category, with example crossover sentences, as follows:
Widely spoken all over Karnataka. Ancient tamil words, completely out of use in mainstream Tamil, are combined with contemporary Kannada idiom, resulting in a machine-gun-like, super-efficient, hilarious set of languages that are a riot to listen to.
Mandyam Iyengar Tamil: "Vaaron, vaaron. Coffee utkolreera?" "Anne ma, ippo thaa theerthamaadyoot vandhe." "Innu sheth podhle utkore."
(Do come, respected person. Would you partake of some coffee? Nay, mother, I just suffused myself in hot water. I shall partake of some in a while)
Hebbar Iyengar Tamil: "Kitki ella muchyoodu pa, sheegron." "Inge solle kaaton jaasthi ikkarna."
(Close all the windows quickly. We have a mosquito menace)
Bangalore Iyer Tamil: "Yennango, tiffin acha?" "Hoonungo." (Well, did you have your tiffin? Yes.)
Bangalore Cantonment Tamil: "Masth bejaan male vandhitkeedhu love-raj. 'Naathk ivlo vardhne therley." (It's raining a lot. Don't know why)
The settling of Shettys and several other sub-castes from Andhra in Bangalore, saw the evolution of a peculiar brand of Kannada-Telugu, that has the melifluousness of Telugu combined with the cadences of Kannada.
"Em bava, mayintki vachnara ninna?" "Hoon ra, nee intlo naa beegam-chei marchpoi vachesthi." "Oh adh meedh beegum-cheina bava, adhe yevrdhani alochna cheskon undmi ."
("Hey brother in law, did you come home yesterday?" "Yes. I had left my keys behind." "Oh were they yours? I was wondering whose they were.")
Spoken extensively in the Hubli-Dharwad and Gulbarga area. Completely the territory of the legendary Thoppai Mama. Kindly oblige :)
Aye bai, parghihann esht kotti? (Hey lady how much are those sweet-tart peppercorn-like fruit that contain large pips?)
Spoken in Karkala, Mangalore and its environs. Almost perfect Konkani, but a completely Kannada numeric system. Originally evolved to confuse family members from the Konkani diaspora about the ages of their female children.
Malayalam-Konkani crossovers (Konngani)
Mostly malayalam, except for a few key Konkani words
"Genabadhy Bhattarey, enganey undu? Ithra divasam veetilaayirunno?" "Nakko Nakko, njaan Kodihaaluvare poyathaa."
("Mr Ganapathy Bhat, how are you? Were you home all these days?" "No,no. I was in Mangalore")
Tamil-Malayalam crossovers (or Talayalam)
Another significant branch, with a large section hailing from Palghat. Other large populations exist in Trivandrum, Nagercoil and Trichur.
Trivandrum: "Kuzhandhaai, paal ambudum kudichutaaya. Bhesh, bhesh. Naalikku choakLayyte kondu vaaarein kaettiya?" (Child, did you drink all your milk? Very good. I'll bring you a chocolate tomorrow.)
Nagarcoil: "Enna chechi, unga veettile cabLe TV vandhittaa?" (Yo sista, did you just get cable?)
Trichur: "Ee ende pennnnil innnngu theeeeeeeraaRaayi. Ramaswamy maamayindeduththu ichchiri medichondu vaadi." (Mostly malayalam) (My pen is out of ink. get some from Ramaswamy mama)
Palghat: "Ennadi Kamalai, yedhukku indha neraththulai choarukku oda-oda resaththa vittu nanna chappitindirukaai?" "Yaen maami pandhrendu aachallo." "Aiyo Illai dee, paththumaNi aakkum. Enna, un cLoakku sariya nadakkalaiya?"
("Hey kamala what sort of time is this to eat rice and runny rasam?" "But maami, it's 12 after all." "No dee, it's ten. Isn't your clock working?")
And finally: The South Indian Esperantos..
Kodava takk: A charmingly perfect Kannada-Tamil-Malayalam crossover,with a sprinkling of Telugu (debatable). Spoken by people in Coorg, a border district in Karnataka.
"Kaveri kunjavva, engane ulliraa? Undit aacha?" "Oh gauji madiyand ullo." "NingaLa kandittu naaku bhari khushi aachi."
("Aunty kaveri, how are you? Did you eat?" "Oh I'm in great spirits." "I am very happy to see you."
Sanketi: This wonderful quadruple-crossover language is spoken by Sanketi Brahmins, orginally from Shenkottah in Kerala, but now settled in Bangalore and Mysore. The language seamlessly blends in Tamil grammar with Kannada and Malayalam phrases, and throws in a small sprinkling of Telugu words and case-endings. The language is not spoken outside the community, so I never had a chance to learn it properly. I will, however, attempt to write a conversation that I overheard a long time ago. Corrections are welcome:
"Ay Harsha, Raju koowde. Attathle rotti vechikkrani. Vandh sawda cholle." "Raju paai yerinji orangikyund ikraani." "Aiyo, orangikyund irundhaa yendhirpi vaaNaa. Yendhpinne neegl rend perko kalyanathe kurichi vivaramuga chollrani."
("Hey Harsha, call Raju. I've kept some roti on the shelf, tell him to come and eat it." "Raju is fast asleep on a mat on the floor." "Oh if he's asleep then don't wake him. When he's up, I'll tell you both in detail about the wedding.")
So, yeah. Now you know why I'm like this only.