Chennai is a place where the inhabitants known as the Tamilians came from the Dravidian civilization and used Tamil as the primary language for communication. Thus, Tamil became the mother tongue of the Chennaites and also the legitimately known language of Chennai. However, being the cosmopolitan city many other languages are spoken there including English and Hindi. Apart from Tamil language, English also falls in the category of the official language. It is also widely spoken by the people and is mainly used in business, education and other white-collar professions. But local people of the capital city prefer to talk in Tamil, which reflects love and affection towards their mother tongue.
Another language which is very common and popular among the inhabitants of the city is Madras Bashai, an idiomatic slang of Tamil. It is mainly used by auto rickshaw drivers and fishermen from the northern parts of the city and developed during the past three centuries, originating when the city was set up by the British East India Company in 1640. The word 'Bashai' comes from Sanskrit language which stands for 'language'. The language is a mix of Tamil, Telugu, English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi-Urdu and many more languages. Its strong influences are from Telugu, English and Urdu and on the other hand lesser influences from Hindi and Kannada. Some of the other sources of Madras Bashai words include languages such as Dutch, Portuguese and French. It also has a very nice blend of grammar rules, suffix and prefix of the other languages which forms new and unique words. After 1950, Madras Bashai was used in many Tamil movies and some of the best movies with Madras Bashai include Maharasan, May Madham, Vasool Raja MBBS, Chennai 600028, etc. It is also used in an exclusive form of music in kollywood movies known as gaana paattu. The Madras Bashai and the gaana pattu are similar to the relation between hip hop music and hip hop slang.
In the conventional and traditional areas of the city, people still use Tamil language whereas in modern and developed parts of Chennai, people belong to different places and as a result they speak various languages including Malayalam, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, etc. Minority of the Chennaites use Telugu language. Thus, one can say that Chennai is a place which has seen many changes in various fields, including language. Earlier, there was only the mother tongue in which people used to communicate but, now after being a well-developed city, there are various languages which are spoken and understood by the people.
The language spoken by the majority of people in Chennai is Tamil. But being a metropolitan city, other languages are also spoken in Chennai.