Monday, August 9, 2010

Name boards in Tamil - தமிழ் வளர்ப்பு?

Recently Tamil Nadu Government passed an order that all shopping establishments must have their name boards in Tamil and with the result most of the shops have come up with translation of their business names in Tamil.

Here are a few samples of the name boards in Tamil.

Imagine a car mechanic telling the car owner that "kalabani" has to be changed!


We Tamilians seem to learn some new words in our mother tongue But are we ever going to use most of these words? Can you imagine asking for "kulambi" in a hotel or even your own house? All of us are going to continue saying coffee or kaapi. On top of it, I wonder if kulambi (குளம்பி) is right or is it kuzhambi (குழம்பி)? The latter sounds better suited.

Even for people who can’t read the English board, Tamil words like vedhupagam (cakes), adumanai (bakery/snacks) are strange!

The best is this  - Panikuzhai for Icecream!


Some establishments have transliterated their names from English to Tamil. In some cases, it is okay, but banks can do translation to vangi as it is a familiar term to the public!

Is the new rule not applicable to petrol bunks? I don’t seem to have noticed any petrol bunk with nameboards in tamil - translated or transliterated!


  1. Another for your reference:--
    Ladies Needs--Tailors is translated as
    Pengal Thevaigal--Thailagam!!
    Vedhuppaham is actualy for bakery, but for cakes, What is Tamil?
    Bharathi's Quote:-- (By such acts) Mella Thamizh In Chahum.Andha Merku Mozhigal Puvi Misai Ongum!

  2. The purpose of the change should be to make it easy for those who are not knowing English.It should not be from the frying pan to fire by using hard , unintelligible and un accustomed words.Edhilum oru nalinam vendun.Thamizh oru iniya baashai.karadu muradu vaarthaigal thevai illai

  3. It could be hilarious if you don't consider the fact that the language is being raped. An excellent piece with proof in the form of photographs. This is investigative journalism for you. You have come a long way. :)

  4. srinivasan you have refered to is not my name. mine will appear L.Srinivasan M 0185

  5. Why do you say language is Raped because of translation. Sadly many people are English-bred, not limiting alone to journalists. The English-bred barely know how to read or write their 'mother tongue', but fortunately majority of population in the State are educated in Tamil medium (it may seem otherwise, but yes, that is correct). So like it or not, the language will not get raped by translation. Transliteration, actually rapes a language, Snake becomes Snake, Broker become Purogar (Pugogidhar), Patisseri in the above post has become Body Sari (good figure?), Beef stall used to be Peep Stall (for 'sight' seeing?) etc etc. Translation is the correct way to go.

    Not Tamil alone, written form of EVERY MAJOR language in the world from Chinese to Russian to Korean etc are all translated. English gets mixed in colloquial used, but transliterating English sometimes cause baffling Tamil pronunciations like above. Written translation is the best way.

    1. அவர்கள் அப்படித்தான் .........
      தமிழைப் பழிக்கும் அவர்கள் நீடு வாழ்க !

  6. The author appears to misunderstand Tamil. There is no word called "kalabani". minkalam + pani = minkalappani (instead of minkalabani). The shop signboard has a spelling error. Kallappani (without "min") is Tamil word for English word : "specialization"). Word occurs every now and then in Tamil medical magazines. There is no word call "kalabani".

  7. kalappani = களப்பணி = specialization

  8. Cake = இனியப்பம்
    Cake shop = இனியப்பகம்
    Pizza = வேகப்பம்
    Pizzeria = வேகப்பகம்

  9. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

    English to Tamil Translation