(Side) Effects of the Chennai English

You listen to Chennai-waasis (especially the youth of Chennai) speak English and you will invariably find at least one of the following three, if not all, in what is spoken:

  • Sentence starts with the word “Man”
  • Sentence ends with the word “no” or “right” (In fact “right” is common to people from other parts of the country too)
  • Use of “I can’t able to”

Now that I am a Chennai-waasi myself, the words “Man” and “no” have started finding their place regularly in what I speak.

Here is what happened yesterday in the coffee shop at my office. One of my colleagues went and gave the following order: “1 Tea. No sugar. 1 Coffee”. Here is what the guy at the counter understood: “1 Tea No . Sugar. 1 Coffee”. It wouldn’t be a surprise to know that my colleague got tea with sugar in it while what he wanted was tea without sugar. The word “no” was just redundant.

Lesson learnt: If one wants to use the word “no”, he/she must treat it like an “escape character”. An ideal way to place the order would probably have been the following: “Man. 1 Tea no. No Sugar no. 1 Coffee no. You got it right no“.

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