Beginners’ Tamil: a taster course
Beginners’ Tamil: a taster course

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Beginners’ Tamil: a taster course

4 Tamil names and introductions

Tamils usually only have one name, but it can be quite long, for example, ‘Sivaloganathan’ (a male name, usually shortened, amongst family and friends, to ‘Siva’, or ‘Loga’, or ‘Nathan’). The first letter of the father’s name is then put as an initial. So, if the father of Sivaloganathan was named ‘Sriskantharajah’, Sivaloganathan would be known as ‘S. Sivaloganathan’.

Female names tend to be shorter than male names, for example, Saraswathi or Lakshmi, the name of two Hindu Goddesses. If you imagine Saras (the shortened form of Saraswathi, but which would never be used in a religious setting) to be Siva’s brother, she would go as ‘S. Saraswathi’ when filling in any paperwork.

In Tamil, as in many Asian languages, older people are addressed in respectful ways and suffixes for different categories of relatives are used. For example, your mother’s eldest brother would be your ‘Peria Maama’ (‘Peria’ means ‘most senior’; and ‘Maama’ means ‘paternal uncle’).

The Goddess Saraswathi and the Goddess Lakshmi
Figure 5 The Goddess Saraswathi, the provider of knowledge (left) and the Goddess Lakshmi, the provider of wealth (right)

Now study Table 4 alongside the audios that follow in the study note. These are some useful phrases to use when introducing yourself, such as saying where you live, where you were born and a bit about your family. Once you have listened to the phrases, have a go at Activity 4.

Table 4 Introducing yourself

Phrase in English Phrase in Tamil Pronunciation
My name is Siva எனது பெயர் சிவா. Enathu peyar Siva
I live in Milton Keynes நான் மில்டன் கீன்ஸ் இல் வாழ்கிறேன். Naan Milton Keensil Vaalkiren
I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka நான் இலங்கையின் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் பிறந்தேன். Naan Elankaiyin Yalpanathil piranthen [Here, Sri Lanka (Elankai) comes before Jaffna (Yalpanam)]
I am married நான் திருமணம் ஆனவர். Naan thirumanam aanavar
I am single நான் திருமணம் ஆகாதவர். Naan thirumanam akathavar
I have two children, a boy, and a girl எனக்கு இரண்டு குழந்தைகள், ஒரு ஆணும்,ஒரு பெண்ணும். Enakku erandu kulanthaikal, oru aanum, oru pennnum
My son’s name is … எனது மகனின் பெயர் ... Enathu makanin peyar …
My daughter’s name is … எனது மகளின் பெயர் ... Enathu makalin peyar …

New vocabulary/phrases

Download this audio clip.Audio player: My name is Siva |
Skip transcript: My name is Siva | எனது பெயர் சிவா.

Transcript: My name is Siva | எனது பெயர் சிவா.

Enathu peyar Siva.

End transcript: My name is Siva | எனது பெயர் சிவா.
My name is Siva | எனது பெயர் சிவா.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: I live in Milton Keynes |
Skip transcript: I live in Milton Keynes | நான் மில்டன் கீன்ஸ் இல் வாழ்கிறேன்.

Transcript: I live in Milton Keynes | நான் மில்டன் கீன்ஸ் இல் வாழ்கிறேன்.

Naan Milton Keensil Vaalkiren.

End transcript: I live in Milton Keynes | நான் மில்டன் கீன்ஸ் இல் வாழ்கிறேன்.
I live in Milton Keynes | நான் மில்டன் கீன்ஸ் இல் வாழ்கிறேன்.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka |
Skip transcript: I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka | நான் இலங்கையின் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் பிறந்தேன்.

Transcript: I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka | நான் இலங்கையின் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் பிறந்தேன்.

Naan elankaiyin Yalpanathil piranthen.

End transcript: I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka | நான் இலங்கையின் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் பிறந்தேன்.
I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka | நான் இலங்கையின் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் பிறந்தேன்.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: I am married |
Skip transcript: I am married | நான் திருமணம் ஆனவர்.

Transcript: I am married | நான் திருமணம் ஆனவர்.

Naan thirumanam aanavar.

End transcript: I am married | நான் திருமணம் ஆனவர்.
I am married | நான் திருமணம் ஆனவர்.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: I am single |
Skip transcript: I am single | நான் திருமணம் ஆகாதவர்.

Transcript: I am single | நான் திருமணம் ஆகாதவர்.

Naan thirumanam akathavar.

End transcript: I am single | நான் திருமணம் ஆகாதவர்.
I am single | நான் திருமணம் ஆகாதவர்.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: I have two children, a boy, and a girl |
Skip transcript: I have two children, a boy, and a girl | எனக்கு இரண்டு குழந்தைகள், ஒரு ஆணும்,ஒரு பெண்ணும்.

Transcript: I have two children, a boy, and a girl | எனக்கு இரண்டு குழந்தைகள், ஒரு ஆணும்,ஒரு பெண்ணும்.

Enakku erandu kulanthaikal, oru aanum, oru pennnum.

End transcript: I have two children, a boy, and a girl | எனக்கு இரண்டு குழந்தைகள், ஒரு ஆணும்,ஒரு பெண்ணும்.
I have two children, a boy, and a girl | எனக்கு இரண்டு குழந்தைகள், ஒரு ஆணும்,ஒரு பெண்ணும்.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: My son’s name is … |
Skip transcript: My son’s name is … | எனது மகனின் பெயர் ...

Transcript: My son’s name is … | எனது மகனின் பெயர் ...

Enathu makanin peyar …

End transcript: My son’s name is … | எனது மகனின் பெயர் ...
My son’s name is … | எனது மகனின் பெயர் ...
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: My daughter’s name is … |
Skip transcript: My daughter’s name is … | எனது மகளின் பெயர் ...

Transcript: My daughter’s name is … | எனது மகளின் பெயர் ...

Enathu makalin peyar …

End transcript: My daughter’s name is … | எனது மகளின் பெயர் ...
My daughter’s name is … | எனது மகளின் பெயர் ...
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Activity 4

Select one. In what situation(s) would ‘Vanakkam’ be used?

a. 

When speaking on the telephone


b. 

When meeting someone face-to-face


c. 

When communicating by electronic media


d. 

All of the above.


The correct answer is d.

Unlike in many other societies, Tamils often just have one name.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

Guest users do not have permission to interact with embedded questions.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
TAM_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371