Influence of Tamil

I had always heard a saying “wherever you go, you’ll find a sardarji there”. They will always be the first Indian or of Indian origin to arrive at a place and open a shop or earning their livelihood.

But I was wrong. The more places I visit, the more I am convinced that its Tamilians and not Sardarji’s. From Singapore, Europe, USA to Indonesia, Malaysia. They are everywhere. 🙂

Some cities of Malaysia have been greatly influenced by the dynasties of Portuguese & British who ruled there for decades or even centuries. The buildings, the architecture and the names of roads or buildings are testimonies to that. Still, Tamilians have influenced the local culture in more than one way.

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For example, I do not understand why a word as simple as ‘shop‘ which is easier to read, write or speak, could not make it’s way into Malay dictionary and instead ‘Kedai‘, Tamil word for shop became popular leaving behind Chinese or local Malay.

The Tamil form 10% (15% in KL) of total population in that country, not that large number, yet we could see many Tamil words in day to day usage.

I am not a historian but a simple observant to notice it. In another post just to let you know, I’ll write down some words and their usage that we came across in that country.

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11 thoughts on “Influence of Tamil

  1. Its “Kadai” in Tamil … probably taken local lingo …..

    The places you’ve visited //From Singapore, Europe, USA to Indonesia, Malaysia. They are everywhere.// have all been (along with some minority in Gulf countries) have always been trade links of Tamils in the early century along with Ceylon (Srilanka) / Burma & South East Asia ……. probably less in Europe (now slightly more thanks to software pro’s)

  2. Mridula,
    I also thought so !

    Ram,
    I totally agree with you. It’s because of trade factor. Tamilians does not mean only Indians, they could be Sri Lankans as well. There are many in Australia too.

    Yes, I was told the correct word is ‘kadai’ and not kedai. Probably it’s localized but pronunciation was correct.

  3. Tamil influence is huge in S E Asia. Probably from the scores of plantation workers that were taken there to work on the Rubber. Another place where I saw a lot of Tamil influence was in Paris next to the North station. Again because of the Migration from Pondicherry and surroundings.
    A highly recommended book – The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh that traces the generations of the Burmese Dynasty and is set in Burma/Malaysia/India if you are historically inclined.

  4. hehe – i know!!! i just loved being able to find good tam food in singapore. i also love they have subway announcements in tam, was kicked hearing rehman’s melody on a road from a truck, and love that tamizh is an official language…

    actually, there is so much reference to India and Indians in singapore, in terms of the little world war II memorials they have, i was quite touched…

  5. There are Murugan temples in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh city which are I believe are least 150 years old.They were built by tamil settlers around 1800

  6. Sanka,
    I am not aware of it. Does that mean there are Tamil speakers as well like in Malaysia and Singapore ?

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