Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Dravidian F word!

Since I have nothing enlightening to say this Diwali, np epiphanic moment nor enlightenment, I'll talk about the Dravidian F word.
I mean, it is not REALLY the F word in the way we think of it in English and anyway I would not be writing about those kind of things on my avowedly sanitised site. But birathers and Sis-ters of Dravida Naadu, if you think about this the way I do, you are likely to come up with gems that shine better than these do.
In Dravidian land, the quintessential Dravidian (read Tamilian) has the unique ability of ignoring the letter "P" in the English alphabet. So when they see "P" they say "F." The inverse of what happens in Laloo land, where they say "PH" when they actually see "F".
For instance, the other day, having come into the hall a few minutes after a function started, I decided not to disturb the proceedings by walking to the front row, where seats are usually reserved for the media, and instead took a seat in the last row.
A khaki-clad man (Obviously working for the organisers) kept looking at me for a long while before he made bold to come up to me and loudly whisper, "Madam, fress-a?" Initially, I wondered if he was asking me if I had had my bath. I even began to think he was sniffing at me, but I could have imagined that.
Turns out I did, cause I soon figured soon that he meant "Was I a member of the Press?" But nothing he said prepared me for what was to come next: "Madam, fuff?" FUFF?!! And then he produced this tray that contained the oiliest PUFF I'd ever seen. I din't take it, not because it was greasy, but because I knew I'd have choked on the Fuff.
I later came to realise that this is not really a class thing, it is indeed all pervasive. Was at a function where a Minister was delivering the Fresidential address. There was much sniggering in the ladies' quarter when the Honorable Minister volunteered information that the government had given away for free hundreds of "Face-makers."

'F'ardon the 'f'un, but I have not stopped laughing yet!



Blogger Nanyaar? said...

I was in for a shock when I read the title!!

Only half way through did i realized about the real deal with the F' Word!!

Should say... I have joined laughing with you ever since!!

8:48 pm

Blogger Raj said...

Ramya, in fact, the reverse is true. As there is no "F" sound in the Tamil language, Tamilians tend to say "p" for F". Example, kapi for coffee, etc. Also, there are no separate letters for "P" and "B" . So poori could be pronounced as boori, etc.

8:56 pm

Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:51 am

Blogger whencatrawman said...

fant = pant
fass = pass
flumber = plumber
pees = fees [he...he...he]
peesicks or peejicks = physics
peelasopy = philosophy
echakala d = H.O.D [my college lingo]
debartment = department
govurmentu = government [ada ithukku idhudhan spelling'a]
Obiser [long O] = officer
bomb oil = palm oil [ada paavigala!]
wiphu = wife [vadivelu jargon]
teasell = diesel
dumler = tumbler

And the "all time greats":
rolly = lorry
lubber = rubber

The list may continue......

he.....he...he ROTF....Thanks so much Ramya...had a hearty laping [ =laffing = laughing]

10:40 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

confusion of consonants is true in many languages ; in spanish when they pronounce V you hear B ; the Germans speaking french say :fenez (come!)instead of venez .In french,
you don't have H : so "Elp !".The Arabians mix up P and B ; the japanese have a hard time using L in the place of R and vice versa.

12:00 am

Blogger ioiio said...


But I thought this is something interesting abt the Madras Tamil's initials.. the 'O' word..

12:59 am

Blogger hari said...

Hi Ramya,

Great one. I have not laughed so much as I did now, in a long time.

A very Haffy Deefawali to you and your phamily.

10:43 am

Anonymous Ravi said...

Like Hari, time for me to 'fess up too: Haven't laughed at a blog post like this since a long time. Danks, Akka! Happy Deepavali to you and yours! :)

11:38 am

Anonymous your priend said...

"in the way WE think of it in English".....


12:42 pm

Blogger Shyam said...

How about "pup"? Remember the guy in Khadi (he's prolly still there) - it was either pup or fuff. :) And the "jom" buns, too...

4:50 pm

Blogger None said...


neenga yaarunu kandupidikka mudiyama poche... tch! anyway, perhaps another time!
happy diwali!


8:21 pm

Blogger None said...


pup! indeed! yes, there is that too! and yes, the man is still there too, at that counter by the door in khadi! :)
happy diwali in Shrewsbury shyam! Cant say have a blast cause it's not guy fawkes, but have fun!


8:22 pm

Blogger None said...

Plus Ultra

yes, i agree, the reverse is ALSO true. reserving it for another post!


8:24 pm

Blogger None said...


welcome! thanks for the additions!


8:27 pm

Blogger None said...


athuthan sollitene! sanitised site-unnu!
happy diwali in new york man!


8:28 pm

Blogger None said...


thou art quite a linguist! yes, i recently discovered spaniards-speaking in english and noticed what you said.


8:30 pm

Blogger None said...


welcome back! glad you can see the bright side of it!
wish you and yours a happy diwali!


8:31 pm

Blogger None said...

ravi thambi,

happy diwali. eppo dosai kudupeenga enakku? date kudunga...illai, alwa-va?


8:32 pm

Blogger None said...

my priend,



8:33 pm

Blogger whencatrawman said...

Hi,nice to be here.
Happy Diwali!

9:31 pm

Blogger Ganesh said...

HAHA good one
that was some 'ph'un :)

BTW Happy Diwali

10:42 pm

Anonymous b a l a j i said...

I used to wonder the same way when some people say "buplic" for "public"

4:55 pm

Blogger Munimma said...

Yep, quite funny to hear localized English, in any language ;-)

Yairport, pibravari, etc in Tamil
vu-eg for veg, showrry for sorry in Bong,
trass for trash in Oriya
fix-ed(u) for fixed in telugu
O-to and lowry in mallu
And I am not even going to attempt the northern regions :-)

And here in the deep south, most vowels have a double sound. whey-yere for where, they-yer for there.

12:18 am

Anonymous nari said...

Here are some cool ones:

Saarku oru fupps kudu pa.

oui, p and f are interchangeable.

All India Radio, chennai vaanoli nilayam....
720kilogurtz, and 60.78 Mehagurtz.....

ga and ha this time.

9:34 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...


It couldnt have been fuff... it had to have been fuffs...

In Chennai you can never order oru fuff... it has to be oru fuffs...

"Fuffs onnu kudu ba!"

12:09 am

Blogger Jagan said...

isnt it the other way rnd ? its 'p'eelings and not feelings ..and its 'phi'gure and not figure .

11:08 am


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