Quick dictionary for Non-Kannadgias in Bangalore

With close to 3 years of moving into Bangalore I’m beginning to take pride in my Kannada speaking abilities. The first Kannada word I remember learning was the ubiquitous “maadi”. From asking the bus driver to “door open maadi sir” to asking colleagues “mail check maadi” in office everything that required an action or a verb meant “maadi”.

learning kannada

Well I haven’t got that far as deciphering the Kannada Script…only swalpa swalpa speaking and understanding 🙂

The next word that got added to my Kannada vocab was “illa”. I really like how ‘illa’ is such a versatile word in the sense that it collectively denotes the meanings of no, nothing, empty and over.
Here are some of the important Kannada words/phrases I think non-kannadigas should (and can) pick up easily. 

  • Jaasti: More or extra. You want more of red chutney in your masala dosa? Just ask them “red chutney jaasti”
  • Tagondu baa: Go get it. The warden in our PG says “Plate Tagondu baa” meaning get your plates as the food is ready.
  • Illa: It’s pronounced as I-L-L-A. Double ‘Ls’. Mind ya! It means no. Or anything close to it. Hehe
  • Idiya: In Hindi it translates to “hai”. Suppose you want to ask if you’ve still got some tea remaining, you say “Tea idiya?” When asked in a rising tone it’ll imply “Is tea there?” And when said in a flat tone it’ll mean “Tea is there.”
  • Beka: Want. Whatever you want you beka. Tea beka?
  • Banni: Come/comes. Helpful when you want to ask if the bus is going to a particular destination. For e.g. you want to head to Jayanagar – you ask the bus conductor “Jayanagar banni?” He replies “Banni banni banni”. And you climb up the bus immediately.
  • Kannada gothiilla: I don’t know Kannada. Perhaps the most important word! Just tell people “Kannada gothiila” and most will readily ask “Hindi? English? Telugu? ”. J
  • Howda-howdu: Is it? It is. You express surprise will “Howda?” Translates in English to “Is it?”. Howdu is the most usual reply to howda. It means yes it is so.
  • Kodi: Give. You tell the auto driver and again the bus conductor “change kodi sir” for him to return you the change for the money. Someone’s standing in your way? You say “side kodi please”. Side implying excuse.
  • Utta aitta: Had food? You ask your colleagues in the afternoon “utta aitta?”.
  • Neera: Water. You ask the waiter “Neer kodi” when you want him to give you some water.
  • Yestu: How many?
  • Wondu, yeradu, muru, nalaka, aidu: One, Two, Three, Four, Five
  • Swalpa adjust maadi: Adjust a little. Where swalpa = little. The guy standing behind you is pushing and cribbing in that packed to suffocation BMTC bus? You ask him “Swalpa adjust maadi mate. Hopefully people will get down at the next stop.”
  • Yen smachara guru?: What’s the news boss? Where yen = what, samachara = news, guru= boss. You ask that office boy when meeting him in the morning “Yen samachara guru?”;)
kannada gothilla

20 years down the lane you don’t want this to happen.

Wow! Am quite good at it, no? 🙂 Feel free to correct me!
Updated: 24/04/14 ( As per Jyothsna’s comment :))
Updated: 13/11/17 (As per Rocky’s comment :))

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13 thoughts on “Quick dictionary for Non-Kannadgias in Bangalore

  1. Meenakshi says:

    THANKS.this is really helpful 🙂

  2. jyothsna1112 says:

    quite interesting to know what you learnt.. I do find little similarities with my experiences and have now reached a point that I can comfortably converse in kannada. So little inputs for you: ..
    1. Banni – is not go/ goes to. It means come.
    2. Utta itta – Was there food?
    3. And 3 would be ‘Muru’
    Hope that helps.. All the best..

  3. Mothers Day SMS says:

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your site is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Anusha says:

    Thankyou for the helpful article! I have a correction though…It’s spelt “Telugu”!!! 🙂

  5. Really helpful please add some more phrases

  6. Rocky says:

    It’s not ‘takamba’. There is no word called takamba in Kannada. Guess your warden was an immigrant to Karnataka too.
    The actually word is ‘Tagondu’.
    Simplest usage – tagondu baa – means go get it

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