Convergence and Language Shift in a Linguistic Minority
(A Sociolinguistic Study of Tamils in Bangalore City)



1.1.            History and Migration of the Community

During the British period most of the key positions in the Government offices were occupied by the Tamil Brahmins and it was Brahmins who brought Mudaliars from Tamilnadu to help them in administration.  Most of the Mudaliars living at present in Bangalore have come from Arcot District of Tamilnadu.  Even now it is found that many houses of Mudaliars are named as ‘Arcot House’.  During the course of time, many Mudaliars have migrated from Tamilnadu to Bangalore and they were offered generally the lower posts by the then British administration.


            Presently, Mudaliars are found in Bangalore in different employments starting from professionals to business people.  We can however find among Mudaliars more persons involved in business.


1.2.            Language Use by the Mudaliars

Mostly bilingualism prevails among Mudaliars.  That is, they are bilinguals in Tamil and Kannada.  Among the early settlers whom the present study covers both Tamil and Kannada are extensively used.  A broad two-way categorization can be made as far as the language use by the Mudaliars in Bangalore are concerned.  They are: (i) Language use in the family domains which includes the communal meetings and while interacting with the other Tamil speakers and (ii) Language use in other context not included under the category (i).  Since the scope of the present study is not pertaining to language use, much details on micro level language use is not explored.  However, it is observed that unlike Iyengars, Mudaliars distinctly demarcate the choice of their language while they are interacting in the two situations mentioned above.  For example, in home domain irrespective of the social class or the educational background a speaker may belong to, the choice of the code is mostly Tamil and at times with English depending upon the educational background of the interlocutors in the speech situation.  Whereas in the other domains, that is, in office, market place and other areas the use of Kannada and English are predominant due to the fact that Kannada is the official and dominant language of the area and also due to the fact that Mudaliars whom the present study covers are bilinguals.  In addition to the situations mentioned above, whenever the situation demands the language choice will be made by the Mudaliars starting from Tamil to English and Kannada.  In public places the language choice by the Mudaliars depends mainly on the interlocutors.  In short, the conditioning factor in public places for language choice is not the domain involved but the person with whom the interaction takes place.  For example, it is observed that two persons from the same community (Mudaliar) while talking in a public place, mainly Tamil is used.  Whereas, if a Mudaliar meets a Kannada mother tongue speaker known to him or a stranger, the language used is only Kannada or English.  It is also important to note that while interacting with a stranger either in Kannada or in English if the stranger starts the conversation in Tamil there will not be any hesitation to continue the conversation in Tamil by the Mudaliars.  This type of linguistic fluidity in language use obviously shows that the Mudaliars are intensively bilinguals and have adopted the language of the area to a greater extent while at the same time maintaining their mother tongue.  It is relevant here to observe that the children are compulsorily taught Tamil either at home, school or with the help of the private teacher even in the case of children studying through either English medium or Kannada medium schools.  The knowledge of Tamil and its use is further improved and shaped mainly in the domain of family.  It is clear by the fact that most of the middle class and higher class people are subscribing to Tamil magazines and dailies as well as taking active part in the activities of Tamil Sangham where plenty of reading materials in Tamil are available for the members.  It is indubitably discernible from the language use and behaviour of the community that there is a full linguistic participation with the dominant linguistic group.  Also, the language loyalty to Tamil is strictly adhered resulting in the maintenance of the ancestral language simultaneously.  This type of functionally differentiated language use and code choice among Mudaliars is found throughout the cross section of the community as well as those who live in concentrated groups.  An observation of the linguistic interaction by Mudaliars in formal functions, like native marriage ceremony, temple festivals, death ceremony of the dominant group, etc., would further substantiate our claim.  In such places it is commonly observed that the Mudaliars freely and constantly switch from Tamil to Kannada in the same setting while interacting with their family members and Kannada native speakers respectively.  It is evident from this linguistic behaviour that the community under study possesses a verbal repertoire of two languages, viz., Tamil a minority language and Kannada a dominant language.  Also, the effective use of these languages in specific situations are maintained at ease.


Observations on the basis of across generations also revealed the same language use situation.  As mentioned earlier, the children are invariably taught Tamil and since Tamil is used in the domain of family the peer group does not have any difficulty in maintaining it.


2.3.  Sampling Technique and Variables

            Linguistic data consist of total 12 samples.  Each sample has 500 sentences 300 words and conversation with the community members.  The variables selected for the present study are

1)      Period of stay,

2)      Economic status and

3)      Education.


1)  Period of Stay

            The data were collected from those Mudaliars whose ancestors have migrated to Bangalore at least two generations ago.



2)  Economic Status

            Economic status was divided into three categories, namely lower (income less than Rs.250/- p.m.), middle (income less than Rs.1,000/- and above Rs.500/- p.m.) and higher strata (income above Rs.1,000/- p.m.).


3)  Education

            Education upto 10th Standard was considered as one category and above matriculation as other category.


2.4.  Area of Data Collection

            Though Mudaliars found to be living in different localities of the city, in cantonment and Ulsoor they are found living in a fairly large number.  Areas, such as Malleswaram, Seshadripuram, Jayanagar, etc., the Mudaliars population is scattered.  Data were collected from the Mudaliars living in concentrated localities as well as in the localities, where they are settled in a sporadic manner in order to find out whether the neighbourhood has any impact on the Tamil used by the Mudaliars.


2.5.            Problems of Data Collection

Since most of the informants, the researcher met, are either in business or working in the offices it was difficult to get them during the day time for the data collection.  Most of the time the data could be collected only in their house after the office hours or during the holidays.  In spite of their busy life, the informants were much co-operative in sharing their knowledge of Tamil with the investigator.  Since the knowledge of Tamil with most of the informants are considerably good, they were not shy or reluctant to speak even while recording the conversations or sentences.


2.6.            Analytical Technique and Methodology

The transcribed Tamil data were compared with the Tamil spoken in Tamilnadu and the convergent features identified in all the linguistic levels, viz., phonological, morphological, lexical and grammatical were listed separately to identify the source of the new item.  In addition to this, any innovative features, addition or reduction at grammatical, morphological or phonological levels owing to the influence of the dominant language (Kannada) were also listed separately.  The linguistic data obtained from an informant listed under a certain variable were compared with the informants coming under other variable in order to find any variation in use.


2.7.            Extent of Interference and Convergence

As stated earlier in the section on language use, the Mudaliars, in the context of the dominant linguistic situation they are embedded in, have the capacity to appropriate selection of linguistic code with reference to the relationship of interlocutors, topic, setting, etc.  In essence, Mudaliars are fully aware of the ‘ecology of language’, that is, they know the relationship of language to its social environment.  At the same time they are maintaining their mother tongue also.  In prelude to the linguistic behaviour of the community and the less affected nature of their mother tongue, it is not incorrect to say that Mudaliars have more language loyalty and are contributing their might to maintain and cultivate their mother tongue.  As a result of this type of positive attitude towards both their mother tongue as well as the dominant language of the area the convergent features and interference from the dominant language (Kannada) are found to be minimal in their Tamil.  However, the period of stay in the dominant language situation and the impact and exertion of socio-political and economic pressure on the migrated community by the dominant linguistic group have resulted in the interference and convergence in the language of the minority group to a lesser degree.  Mostly this type of features are observed at the phonological, lexical and to some extent at the grammatical levels.


2.7.1.      Phonological Level

At the phonological level though not much deviation from the Tamil of Tamilnadu is noticed in the speech of Mudaliars, at times certain features from Kannada do interfere.  For example, intervocalic voiced stops in Tamilnadu Tamil lose its voiced nature in some instances.  This phenomenon of devoicing is not uniformly observed.  However, it is noticed in the fast speech of the Mudaliars.  Moreover, it is observed either in the words which are common to both the language or in the borrowed lexical items from Kannada.


Common Vocabulary:

            Tamil                           Mudaliar         Kannada                     Gloss

            ku-d-umbam                ku-t-umpa        ku-t-umba                    ‘family’

            ka-d-e                          ka-t-e               ka-t-e                           ‘story’

Tamil Words with Deviant Pronunciation:

            Tamil                           Mudaliar Tamil                                   Gloss

            Sami-battula                 sami-pattula                  ‘in the near future’

            ma-h-an                       ma-k-an                       ‘son’

            pa-h-al                         pa-k-al                         ‘day time’

            ku: -d-e                        ku: -t-e                         ‘basket’


2.7.2.      Word Initial Voicing

Certain lexical items which are common to both Kannada and Tamil differe only in their word initial sounds.  That is, in Tamil such words are prnounced with word initial voiceless sound whereas Kannada it becomes voiced.  In MT, such words are pronounced with word initial voicing.  Though only a few examples are found in MT where the dissimilar lexical inclusions are pronounced in Kannada at the same way as pronounced by the Mudaliars.  As a result of this it is difficult to say whether this is a phenomenon of word initial voicing or simply lexical borrowing.  On seeing some of the items used in MT, like da:ndu ‘to cross over’ where word initial voicing has taken place, one can however infer that it may be due to the influence of Kannada, because in Kannada the word used is da:ttu ‘to cross over’.  Tamilnadu Tamil uses ta:ndu.



Word Initial Voicing (Identical Words):

            Tamil                           Kannada                      MT             Gloss

            ku:ndu/ku:du                 gu:du                            gu:ndu              ‘cage’

            pu:cci                           bu:cci                           bu:cci                ‘insect’


Non-identical Words:

            kili                                gini                               gili                ‘parrot’

            ta:ndu                           da:ttu                            da:ndu          ‘to cross over’


2.7.3.      Loss of Word Final –m

It is interesting to observe that most of the nouns used by Mudaliars where word final –m is present in Tamil have lost that final –m in the speech of Mudaliars.  However, the same words are used in Kannada without this word final –m.  Although MT does not employ the word final –m in such nouns, it is incorrect to say that they have lost it completely as compared to the Tamil speech of Iyengars.  To indicate the situation it is commonly observed that Mudaliars in general are conscious about this phenomenon.  That is, while they are consciously speaking to a Tamil native speaker from Tamilnadu, it is found that they are pronouncing the word final –m very clearly; but losing it while conversing in a relaxed manner with their own community people.  As a repercussion to such controlled usage, one could clearly understand that the phonological repertoire of Mudaliars has in it the complete phonological structure of the lexical item involving word final –m.  The deletion and inclusion of this phonological phenomenon is conditioned by the circumstances in which the speaker is involved, say the presence of a Tamil native speaker.  Such type of functional diversity is lacking among Iyengars.  This has direct relevance with the language attitude of the community as a whole towards their mother tongue.


Words Involving Word Final –m:

            Tamil                           Kannada                      MT *                             Gloss

            marõ                            mara                             mara                             ‘tree’

            pustakõ                        pustaka                        pustaka                        ‘book’

            pal                              hannu                           pala                              ‘fruit’

            ka:yõ                            ga:ya                            ga:ya                            ‘wound’

            ni:lõ                              ni:li                               ni:la                              ‘blue’


2.7.4.      Lengthening of Word Final –a:

Interrogative pronoun found in Tamilnadu Tamil ennĂ what’ has been pronounced with an unusual lengthening of the final vowel a.  Moreover, in Tamilnadu Tamil the final vowel observed in the interrogative pronoun ennĂ is the lower mid back unrounded variety Ă .  Whereas MT observes always the low back unrounded variety with extra length.  The vowel changes from Ă to a:  in this interrogative pronoun is uniformly observed among the Mudaliars and also the vowel difference in such usage predominantly affects the phonological system of the language at least from the listener’s point of view once it is used in a full sentence.  In other words, there is a demarcating difference between the word pronounced both in Tamilnadu Tamil and MT.  Owing to the lengthening of this vowel, it is observed that the intonation also considerably changes when compared to the intonation pattern of Tamilnadu Tamil specifically where this particular word comes.  Because of the presence of the long vowel at the end of this interrogative pronoun, more stress is placed at the vowels.  In Tamilnadu Tamil wherever the interrogative marker –aa comes similar type of stress is observed.

1) ennĂ sa:ppiduRa                            ‘what you eat’ (TNT)

 1    2

enna :   sa:ppiduRa (MT)


2)  õ pe:ru ennĂ                                  ‘what is your name’ (TNT)

   1           2    3

on pe:ru enna:     (MT)


            The Kannada equivalent for this interrogative pronoun is e:nu ‘what’.  It is interesting to note that the usage of these two interrogative pronouns found in these two languages by Mudaliars are not at all lucid.  In the strict sense some flexibility is observed in the usage.  For example, the same person while talking to his own community members in Tamil will use e:nu at one instant and enna at the other.  The following sentence may be noted as example:

1)      ni:    e:nappa   eppavu   an*geye        po:Ra onakku ave   enna:  kodukkuRa

you why           always  there only go    you for       he      what        give

‘Why you are always going there?  what he is giving to you’

            In the course of conversation the following sentence is also observed.

2)      enna:ppa ave kedakuRa

what           he     lie

‘what is there? let him go to hell !’


            By seeing these two sentences it is not possible to say that e:nappa of sentence (1) is only a lexical borrowing from Kannada because Kannada has this type of usage with long initial vowel.  In sentence (2) the length of vowel is shifted to the final vowel of the interrogative pronoun which is not common to Kannada and thus coming to the phonological pattern of Tamil.  This can be the result of ‘eye pronunciation’.  As stated earlier, Mudaliars are able to read and write but at the same time are not frequently exposed to the actual pronunciation of Tamil prevalent in Tamilnadu.  Tamil orthography does not distinguish the difference between the lower mid unrounded vowel Ă with low back unrounded vowel a.  Orthographically only the latter variety is represented.  A an impact of this type of writing system, Mudaliars have adopted the second variety of the vowel exclusively in the final position without aware of the fact that in Tamilnadu Tamil the same vowel changes its quality in certain environments.  Moreover, the interrogative marker a: which is a morphological category and also a long back unrounded vowel in Tamil.  Thus the Mudaliars have combined both the interrogative marker –a: with the interrogative pronoun ennĂ along with the orthographic way of pronouncing the word final vowel.  

2.7.5.      Quality of the Word Final Diphthong –ai

Another instance of eye pronunciation is the retention of the word final –ai as such in the speech of Mudaliars.  Tamil has in its writing system only one orthographic representation to denote –ai; but while pronouncing Tamilnadu Tamil employs always the front lower mid open vowel E at the word final position.  For example:

                        Tamil                                       Gloss

            (Written)          (Spoken)

            malai                mĂlE                          ‘mountain’

            kalai                 kĂlE                           ‘art’

            talai                  tĂlE                            ‘head’

            valai                 vĂlE                           ‘net’

The above mentioned words are pronounced by the Mudaliars with a final diphthong.  In addition to the influence of eye pronunciation, this phenomenon may also be viewed with reference to the phonological structure of Kannada.  In Kannada only mono-syllabic words, such as bai ‘scold’, kai ‘hand’, mai ‘body’ have diphthongised pronunciation.  These words are also written by using a secondary symbol of y and pronounced as ai, whereas the other words are pronounced as well as written by using the symbol E.

                        Kannada                                 Gloss

            (Written)          (Spoken)

            mĂlE              mĂlE                          ‘mountain’

            kĂlE               kĂlE                           ‘art’

            tĂlE                tĂlE                            ‘head’

            bĂlE               bĂlE                           ‘net’

As it is found in Kannada, in Tamil also the mono-syllabic words involving word final diphthong are pronounced as such though Tamil does not make any orthographic distinction, like Kannada.  Interestingly it is observed that Mudaliars in their Tamil speech make no distinction in pronouncing the work final diphthong.  Moreover, lexical items common to both Kannada and Tamil, like the one cited above involving the word final diphthongs are pronounced by the Mudaliars as a diphthong at the word final position while speaking in Tamil and as an epsalone while speaking in Kannada.  This type of duality in pronunciation further proves that Tamil orthography is playing a dominant role in deciding the criterion for pronunciation.


2.7.6.      Pronunciation of Vowel ‘o’

Similar to the situations explained in section 2.8.4. and 2.8.5, another phonological feature which is retained as per the orthographic representation in Mudaliars Tamil is the high back rounded vowel u.  At the word initial position, especially in the oblique base of the second person non-honorific pronoun un written Tamil employs the symbol u to denote the initial vowel whereas during pronunciation always o is used.  For example:

                                    Tamilnadu Tamil


            adu unnudaya pen

            that you(non-hon.)dat. Pen


            adµ onnudĂya           pEn

            that   is your                  pen

But, in Mudaliar’s Tamil speech, only the vowel u is adopted in this place even during pronunciation.

            The variations found at the phonological level are cited below.

1)      Word initial voicing.

2)      Loss of word final –m.

3)      Lengthening of word final –a.

4)      ‘Eye pronunciation’ of word final diphthong –ai.

5)      Pronunciation of vowel o.



2.8.            Grammatical Level

Under this section some of the grammatical features used by the Mudaliars in their Tamil speech which has similarity with Kannada but deviated by the Tamil pattern are given.  it is argued that these resultant grammatical features have converged into the Tamil system from Kannada due to the impact of the latter.  Following are some of the features discussed.

1)      Usage of exclusive and inclusive pronouns.

2)      phenomenon of pronominalization.

3)      Notion of future.

4)      Use of affirmation and interrogation.

5)      Verb conjugation

6)      Negation.  

2.8.1.      Exclusive and Inclusive Pronouns

The exclusive and inclusive pronouns used in Tamil are na:n*ga and na:ma respectively.  Present day Kannada does not make this distinction and it uses only na:vu to express both the exclusive and inclusive notion.  Only the context can make the meaning explicit.  However, old Kanda, had this distinction and the forms used were na:m with inclusive denotation and nan*gaļu with exclusive denotation.  Mudaliars in their form of Tamil speech often seem to be using the pronoun nammaļ or na:mba extensively to convey both the meanings.  The selection of the pronoun among these two are arbitrary.  So far no conditioning factor is observed.   However, it is observed that those who are in the lower economic strata often prefer to use na:mba rather than nammaļ.  However the validity of this statement can be ascertained only after a thorough investigation.  It is interesting to note that most of the Mudaliars are aware that Tamil demarcate between these two pronominal categories.  However, the demarcating usage is not practiced.  Probably this type of simplicity in usage may be due to the constant impact of the contact language where this distinction is not maintained.  Following examples will give the usage of both these pronouns in Tamil, Kannada and Mudaliars Tamil.



1)      na:n*ga      ella:ru)    sinima:kku           po:Rõ

we(excl.)     all       cinema(dat.)    go (P.T)

      ‘we are all going to cinema’


2)      na:ma     ellaru)   sinima:kku     po:la:ma:?

we(incl.)  all     cinema(dat.)   go shall we?

      ‘shall we go to cinema?’


3)      na:ma           sinima:kku          po:la:ma:?

we(incl.)   cinema(dat.)    go shall we?

      ‘shall we go to cinema?’



4)      na:vu                      ella sinima:kku hogutteve

we(incl.) (excl.)    all cinema(dat.)                go shall we?

      ‘shall we all go to cinema?’


5)      na:vu                      sinima:kku         hogutteve

we(incl.) (excl.)   cinema(dat.)    go (P.T)

      ‘we are going to cinema’


                              Mudaliar Tamil

6)      na:mba/nammaļ   alsurile       irukkuRo

we(incl.)                   ulsur(loc.)    there(P.T)

‘we are in Ulsur’


7)      nammaļ                   kiţţe        e):      ke:kkale

we(incl.) (excl.)                   why      ask-neg.

      ‘why you did not ask us?’


8)      nammaļ                   ellaru)   sinima:kku           po:Ro

we(incl.) (excl.)    all           cinema(dat.)   go (P.T)

      ‘we are going to cinema’


9)      nammaļ                   ellaru)    sinima:kku          po:kalama:?

we(incl.) (excl.)     all      cinema(dat.)    go shall we

      ‘shall we go to cinema’



            From the above examples, sentences (8) and (9) very closely indicate the exclusive and inclusive notion of the same pronoun nammaļ.  That is, sentence (8) reveals the nature of the pronoun only through the context whereas sentence (9) explicitly shows that it includes the listener because that is the question put to the listener for his willingness to join the speaker to go to the movie with him.  Exactly similar situation prevails in Kannada when we look at the following Kannada sentence.

10)  na:vu          sinima:kke        hogonava?

we              cinema(dat.)     go shall we

      ‘shall we go to cinema?’

Although pronoun used in sentence (10) clearly includes the listener, the exact meaning of the pronoun uses in sentence (5) is context bound.


2.8.2.      Pronominalisation

The impact of the dominant contact language (Kannada) is noticed if one observers the frequency of usage of the pronominalised forms by the Mudaliars in their Tamil speech.  To cite an illustration, the pronouns with possessive case marker d-udaya is extensively used in Tamilnadu Tamil.

            avanudaya                    ‘his’

            ennudaya                      ‘mine’

            unnudaya                      ‘yours’

            adanudaya                    ‘its’

Although this is the widely accepted standard Tamil usage, in different parts of Tamilnadu, in colloquial usage such constructions are used in the pronominalised form, viz.,

                        avandu             ‘his’

                        endu                             ‘mine’

                        undu                             ‘yours’

                        adandu             ‘its’

In the above cited pronominalised usage, the morpheme –du is the corresponding pronominal termination or personal termination.  As explained earlier, though this type of usage is prevalent in Tamilnadu, it is less frequent and generally not observed in the standard spoken variety of Tamil.

            In the place of the above Tamil categories, spoken Kannada frequently uses the following forms.

            avandu             ‘his’

            nandu               ‘mine’

            nindu                ‘yours (non-hon.)’

            nimdu               ‘your (hon.)’

            adandu             ‘its’  

Written Kannada has






with an explicit possessive case marker.


            In MT, it is always noted that the pronominalised usage is in practice which is totally on par with the usage observed in Kannada.  As stated earlier, though Mudaliars are affluent with the Tamil written system and writings, they have adopted the simplified pronominal usage which may be due to the direct influence of the dominant contact language.


2.8.3.      Notion of Future

The notion of future too has some distinctive characters between Kannada and Tamil.  In modern Kannada, there is no overt marker to denote the notion of future.  Instead only present is denoted.  Whereas in Tamil all the three tenses are explicitly marked.  Following examples may be considered for comparison.



1)      na) :    ne:RRu         vande)

I       yesterday        came (P.T)

      ‘I came yesterday’



2)      na) : ippa    varRe)

I     now    come (P.T)

      ‘I am coming now’


3)      na) :     na:ļe              varuve)

I     tomorrow     come (P.T)

      ‘I will come tomorrow’




4)      ninne          na:nu      bande

yesterday    I          came (P.T)

      ‘I came yesterday’


5)      na:nu          i:ge       bartini

I                 now      came (P.T)

      ‘I am coming now’


6)      na:nu   na:ļe             bartini

I       tomorrow       come (P.T)

      ‘I will come tomorrow’


            However, in spoken Tamil sometimes it is observed that if an assertion, like ‘I will come tomorrow’ is made, both future and present tenses are used by the same speaker.  But the selection is arbitrary one.  Both the type of sentences, such as,


7)      na) :      na:ļe      varuve): (future)

I      tomorrow   come  (P.T)




na) :     na:ļe      varRe   (Present)

I       tomorrow       come  (P.T)


are accepted by the Tamil speaker as grammatical. But in Mudaliar’s Tamil, future tense is never used in such circumstances.  The expression is made only in present tense.  Also in the other type of expressions also future is totally merged with the present tense.  Thus making a common non-past category on par with Kannada.

                                                            Mudaliar Tamil

8)      na:ļe           na)    varRe)

tomorrow     I   come (P.T)

      ‘tomorrow I will come’


9)      adutta ma : sõ  na:    avane pa:kRe)

next    month      I      he(acc.)   see (P.T)

      ‘I will see him next month’


10)  e)     sakotare)    varRa)

my  brother     come (P.T)

      ‘my brother will come’


Another phenomenon which has shown direct impact of the dominant contact language over Mudaliar’s Tamil is the type of answering.  In Mudaliar’s Tamil the answer to a call is made in past even before the action is actually started.  This of course shows the certainty of the listener’s acknowledgement of the call and simultaneous action.  This type of usage involving past tense before the completion of the action is commonly observed in Kannada and totally absent in Tamil.  Examples:  

                                    Mudaliar’s Tamil

1)      A :       ra:ma:      in*ge   va:                  ‘come here Rama’

            o: Rama  here  come

B :       vande       (past)

            come ( P. T )




2)      A :       ra:ma:      in*ge    va:

B :       varRe)              (Present)

            come ( P.T )




3)      A :       ra:ma :  ba:

B :       bande               (past)

            came (P.T)


            Kannada uses both the forms bartini (present) and bande (past).  The selection of a particular form depends on the urgency of the action followed.  For instance, if the past form is used the action is followed immediately, whereas for a delayed action bartini is used.  But Tamil never used the past tense in the similar situation.


2.8.4.      Affirmation and Interrogation

The affirmative sentence used as reply to a question is a : ma ‘yes’ in Tamil and haudu in Kannada.  On the contrary, if an affirmative or interrogative sentences expresses the listener’s doubt or if the listerner is exclaimed about the statement the usual interrogative form used in Tamil is appadiya ‘is it so’ and hauda in Kannada.  Consider the following sentences.



1)      Q :       ave) an*ge po:rana:?

he              there  go  (PT)   interr.

      A :       a : ma               ‘yes’    or    appadiya?  ‘is it so?’



2)   Q :       avanu allige hoguttana:?

                  ‘is he   going  there?’

      A :       haudu :   ‘yes’    or     hauda:?   ‘is it so?’



3)   ave tidi:runu kalya:ņõ  paņņiţţa)

      he   suddenly  marriage   did

      appadiya?    ‘is it so?’



4)      avanu idukkidage maduve ma:du koņda

‘he got married suddenly’


            All the above four sentences can follow either affirmative a : ma (Ta.) ; haudu (Ka.) expression depending upon the listener’s knowledge about the question or statement.  But, in Tamil two different forms are used, viz., a : ma to express one’s consent and appadiya to express one’s ignorance about the statement, whereas in Kannada the basic form is haaudu for both.  By adding an interrogative marker –a : to the case form haudu the sentence is transferred into an exclamatory utterance in Kannada.


            As against the pattern of usage in Tamil cited above, Mudaliar’s Tamil has only one base form a : ma thus following the Kannada structure.  While it is used to express the notion of ignorance or exclamation, the interrogative marker – a : is added to the base form as found in Kannada.  Thus the resultant form will be a:mava: with a morphophonemic change following the general morphophonemic rule

                                                            a                      &         a

            Ř                                 V

                                                            i                       &         a


common to both the languages.


2.8.5.      Verb Conjugation

A peculiar type of innovative future conjugation of Tamil verbs which take –p- as future marker is noticed in Mudaliar Tamil.  Generally all the –i and –a ending verbs in Tamil take –p- as the future marker.  Along with this some verbs ending with –r also take –p- as the future marker in Tamil.  Corresponding Kannada verbs are taking –uva as the future marker.  For example:

Tamil                           Kannada                                 Gloss

pa:ppa:n*ga                  no:duvaru                                 ‘they will see’

adippa:n*ga                  hodeyuvaru                               ‘they will beat’

pidippa:n*ga                 hidiyuvaru                                 ‘they will hold’

nadappa:n*ga               nadeyuvaru                               ‘they will walk’

padippa:n*ga                kaliyuvaru                                 ‘they will read’

nadippa:n*ga                naţisuvaru                                 ‘they will act’


In Mudaliar’s Tamil speech, all the Tamil verb roots cited above are used but the future marker resembles the Kannada pattern, while using the verbs with future notion.  However, in all the cases Tamil –pp- is replaced by –kk- with a following –u glide.  This may be due to the direct influence of Kannada where similar type of future conjugation is available.


                                                Mudaliar Tamil

                        pa:kkuva:n*ga              ‘they will see’

                        adikkuva:n*ga              ‘they will beat’

                        pidikkuva:n*ga             ‘they will hold’

                        nidikkuva:n*ga             ‘they will act’

                        nadakkuva:n*ga           ‘they will walk’

                        padikkuva:n*ga            ‘they will read’


2.8.6.      Negation

As opposed to the complicated negative formation observed in Bangalore Iyengar’s Tamil due to the influence of Kannada, Mudaliar’s Tamil retains mainly the Tamilnadu Tamil pattern with very little exception.  When we look into the negative formation of both Kannada and Tamil, we can observe that certain tenses are neutralized in these languages.  For example, in Tamil, present tense and past tense are neutralized whereas in Kannada present tense and future tense are neutralized.  Following are the examples involving past and future negative constructions found both in Kannada and Tamil.


1)      ave ne:RRu             enne      pa:kkale

he    yesterday   I(acc.)   see(neg.)

      ‘he did not see me yesterday’


2)      ave innu varale

he so far come(neg.)

      ‘he did not come so far’


3)      ave  na:ļe           enne    pa:kka ma:ţţa

he  tomorrow  I(acc.)  see   (neg.)

      ‘he will not see me tomorrow’




4)      avanu nine nannannu nodalilla

he       yesterday   I(acc.)        see(neg.)

      ‘he did not see me yesterday’


5)      illivaregu avanannu nodilla

till today  he(acc.)    see(neg.)

      ‘I have not seen him till now’


6)      na:ļe           avanu  nannanna   noduvudilla

tomorrow   he        I(acc.)               see(neg.)

      ‘he will not see me tomorrow’


The past negative construction in Tamil consists of verb stem + infinitive suffix –a and the negative suffix –le.

                        padikk-a-le                              ‘did not study’  

            Future negative in Tamil is formed by replacing the negative marker –ma:ţţ in the place of –le.

                        padikk-a-ma:ţţe                                    ‘I will not study’  

            Kannada has also the similar construction as found in Tamil.  That is, past negative construction consists of verb stem + infinitive marker –al + the negative marker –illa.

                        bar-al-illa (past)                                    ‘did not come’  

            Also, the past negative construction is formed by the adition of past participle form and the negative marker.

                        band-illa                                               ‘did not come’  

            The past negative construction found in Mudalir’s Tamil is converged to the Kannada construction, that is, the negative marker –ille is added to the past participle form.  This type of construction is not known to Tamilnadu Tamil.  However, as opposed to Iyengar’s Tamil, Mudaliar’s speech variety does not use this type of construction more frequently.  In short both the type of past negative constructions, viz., vandilla and varale are in use.  though linguistically there is no conditioning factor involved in the selection of the negative construction, one can observe certain sociological factors involved during the grammatical choice pertaining to the negative construction.  Two situation bound perspectives are identified.  They are:  

1)      Social context –

(i)                  Formal

(ii)                Informal

2)      Extent of exposure and interest of the person concerned in knowing or maintaining the mother tongue (Tamil).


1)      Social context :  It is observed that in a homogenous group involving only Mudaliars, or in the domain of family, mostly the type of construction vandilla is used with very less exception to the other construction.  Whereas while taking to a Tamilian or to a person belongs to other Tamil speaking community generally the participle + negative type of construction is avoided.  The preference is given to infinitive + negative type of construction which is more dominant in Tamilnadu Tamil.


2)      Another factor, in this kind of selection depends on the linguistic background of the person who uses.  For instance, among Mudaliars who are not having sufficient competence over the language skills (reading and writing) in Tamil always towards the selection of participle + negative construction.  Because of these sociological factors involved in the choice of the negative construction one can think that such duality in usage may be due to their exposure to the Tamil writing system and also the simultaneous exposure to the Kannada environment.


Mudaliar Tamil


1)      ave   ne:RRu      varale

he   yesterday come(neg.)

      ‘he did not come yesterday’



2)      ave ne:RRu             vandille

he    yesterday  come(neg.)

      ‘he did not come yesterday’


For this study we have considered mainly three variables.  They are:

1)      Period of Stay,

2)      Economic Status, and

3)      Education.  

Among the three variables as stated earlier informants were selected from the families whose ancestors have migrated to Bangalore at last two generation ago.  But other variables, such as economic status and education seem to have little effect on convergent feature.  The overall conditioning factor for language convergence seem to be the attitude towards the mother tongue.  In this situation, irrespective of the education and economic status of the Mudaliars, most of them have positive attitude towards their mother tongue Tamil.  As a result of that, the convergent features found in their Tamil is much less when compared to the Iyengar’s Tamil.