Thangachi’s Corner – Tamil titles: yes or no?

akkaannaDecember 18, 2013 

Updated every other Wednesday, “Thangachi’s Corner” is a bi-monthly feature that discusses relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!

 Written By: Keerthana Raveendran

 I have been “Thangachi” for as long as I can remember.

In fact, my parents were so keen on my brothers and me using these kinds of respectful Tamil names that they would address us the same way, just to make sure it caught on in our young minds. It was always fun when we’d go to parties and my mom would call out ‘Anna’. While some folks would expect an older figure to respond, it was always a little boy who’d turn his head.

These names continued to stick with us as we grew up, and it came to the point in which we felt far too awkward addressing one another by name, even when we were in public or in the midst of a large crowd.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

Respectful titles for immediate family members, and tag-ons for extended family (that is, “insert name here” sithappa, and such) are very much an integral part of our Tamil culture. We use these titles to demonstrate reverence for the older generation and endearment towards the younger one. They are one-word connections with our heritage, linking us to our past even in our everyday interactions.

But I’m finding more and more in my contact with younger kids at Tamil community events that this particular tradition has been slipping.

Maybe it’s a sign that I am no longer a part of the younger generation and that I have officially become stodgy. Or maybe this just isn’t common practice in today’s age. After all, I get it—we tend to meet people in Anglophone settings and sometimes you never know right off the bat whether the person you just met is older than you.

But I daresay a ten-year age gap is fairly obvious.

And I don’t know about you, but I feel an odd sense of offense when obviously younger kids address me by my name. It’s an inexplicable sentiment, and I honestly could not tell you why I feel strongly about the use of Tamil titles, other than for an arbitrary notion of respect.

Perhaps it’s a mere exercising of what I’ve been exposed to my entire life, and it begs an answer to the question of whether we are conditioned to accept the concept of respect as practiced by our ancestors. Or are we just holding onto a tradition we shouldn’t expect our young to follow?

What do you think? Tamil titles: yes or no?

About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author whose motivation to write usually kicks in when she’s supposed to be occupied elsewhere. She is an avid procrastinator who sees potential novel ideas as movies in her head. Maybe one of these days they’ll make it onto the page. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.

Read More by Keerthana!


“Jack of All Trades”

“The Horse-Faced Princess”

“Seven Steps to Acceptance”

“Early Birds and Night Owls”

“Try, Try, Try Again”




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