Monday, May 11, 2009

'Ambadayaan', 'Aathukaari', 'Shaddagar' , 'Kozhunthan' and 'Naathanaar'

First: A note of apology to followers commenting on this blog...especially Priya, Vaani (my wife!), Vijay and Chittur Venkat (Rema).....due to my rather poor understanding of how blogs work, and my mediocre ambitions of just having fun with this blog, I never expected to see your comments and hence missed them. It was only today that I saw them and was delighted. Bowled over. Bheiysh! Bheiysh!! Romba Pramadham.

Today, we will explore Palagattan relationships.

'Ambadayaan' is Palagattan for husband. And usually senior Palagattan 'paatimaas' (grandmas) or 'paatas' (grandpas) ask young brides in the family about their husbands by addressing them as 'ambadayaans'. "Onnodu amabadayaan vanthurkane illoyo?" "Your husband has come, hasn't he?" In the good old Palagattan traditions, men would not visit their wives' families so often. This, I deduced much later in life, had to do with the ego quotient that menfolk had in a Palagattan community. Therefore, the senior Palagattan's query was always loaded and led to snide or sarcastic remarks by other members of the girl's (wife's) family__though never, ever in front of her own 'ambadayaan'.

And 'aathukaari' is the wife. The usage of this word is more liberal. Anyone can refer to anyone's wife and enquire of her welfare calling her so-and-so's 'aathukaari'. 'Aam' in Palagattan is home. A slight variation of this word is 'aathu', which also means home in Palagattan. So, 'aathukaari' is home-maker in Palagattan, typically, someone's wife. "Naan rendu small vishirukkennu enodu aathakaariku theriyadhu ketela?" "My wife doesn't know that I have had a couple of smalls (drinks!). Ok?". The reference to smalls/small drinks is a misnomer. Palagattans have a genetic linkage__joined at the hip (actually, at the hic!)__with Malayalis. An average Malayali or Malayalataan (for a Palagattan) will refer to having several drinks (perhaps, a full bottle of 12 60ml measures) as a couple of 'smalls'. And so a Palagattan man, who is adventurous and is not the sort who fears his wife, will swing (visharthu) a couple of drinks, bottoms up, but never openly acknowledge it to the wife.

These words are distinctly different from those meaning the same in Tamizh. Husband in Tamizh is 'veetukaran' or 'purushan'. And wife in Tamizh is 'veetukaari' or 'pondati'.

Another distinct Palagattan word is for the wife's sister's husband who is a brother-in-law in the manner of deducing a relationship. Palagattan men relate to their wives' sisters' husbands as 'shaddagars'. This word is uniquely Palagattan. And educated, inventive Palagattans have come up with the word 'co-brother' to mean 'shaddagar' in English. Purists believe the word 'co-brother' is a very Indian Palagattan usage; it does not exist in ANY English dictionary. "My co-brother, you know my 'shaddagar', my wife's sister's husband, he is an accomplished Violinist," is a declaration that will not surprise any ordinary Palagattan. Non-Palagattans are normally foxed with any reference to a 'co-brother'!!!

'Kozhunthan' is the way a wife will refer to her husband's younger brother in Palagattan. In Tamizh this relation would be a 'machinan' and in Hindi 'devar'. "Enga aathulla, ennodu kozhunthan aathukaarikkuthan ella mariyadai". "In our home, my brother-in-law's wife gets all the respect (and attention)."

The husband's sister is referred to as 'naathanaar' by the wife. I have never been able to understand this. Or maybe, I am too naive. 'Naatham' in Tamzih means 'stink' and 'naar' in Tamizh refers to the strands of coir from a coconut shell or a rope. So, 'naathanaar' literally means a 'stinking rope'. Perhaps, that is an apt way to define the relationship a wife has with the husband's sister in Palagattan? "Ennodu naathanaar oru adangapiradi akkum." "My husband's sister is uncontrollable."

Palagattan is a great language. The nuances in its usage, as extolled by this blog, will make many a follower proficient. So, keep following and keep commenting....


  1. Seems to be a bit of an issue - as far as I can tell, "Pondatti" is Palagattan-speak for "Manaivi". Aathukaari is general(though more puritan) brahmin tamil.

  2. It works like this, when someone is referring to a couple in Palagattan, saying 'ambadayaan' and 'pondatti' is normal. But when you refer to your own in Palagattan, you say 'aathukaari'. That it has become a Tam Bram usage is credit to Palagattan's rise as a Universal lingo!! In Tamizh it is always, 'Kanavan-Manaivi' and in Chennai Tamizh it is 'Purushan-Ponjathi'!