American woman living in Chicago uses Twitter to learn Tamizh

Chennai: Samantha is an ardent fan of Vijay Sethupathi and Vijay. She likes Tamizh (as she says) and lives for Tamilnadu food.

Well, if you think it is Samantha Akkineni, you are wrong. This is Samantha Ryan, a native of Chicago, who has been learning Tamil and can often be seen interacting in Tamil with Twitteratis.

There goes a Tanglish tweet and immediately you can spot a few people helping her out.

News Today speaks to her to know how her love for the classical language and more about the US-vaasi.

“I began studying Tamizh last year on my fiancé’s request. He is from Tamilnadu and encouraged me to study so that I’ll be able to manage when we shift there after a few years,” says Samantha.

However, she does not stop just there but has also made her English parents to embrace the language. “Though they are not learning, I’ve forced them to try to say a few basic phrases like ‘Vanakkam, Eppadi Irukkeenga’,” adds the psychology graduate.

So, how does she learn? “Originally, I began the training from Karthika via Skype who helped to lay a great foundation. Later, I switched over to self-study and also through films,” says Samantha.

She further says that social media platforms have been of tremendous help in clearing her queries. “The Tamizh school here welcomed me with open arms when I wanted to learn the language and community people on Twitter have been incredibly helpful in making me reach the next level,” she adds.

To gain fluency, Samantha speaks Tamizh with her fiance every Friday.

Speaking about movies, she said she watches a lot of Tamil films and “am almost always at the first day first show of anything that opens in my place. I absolutely love anything with Vijay Sethupathi and Vijay. I have huge respect for Rajinikanth and enjoy his movies and manage to catch the first show”.

Her first Tamil movie was Sillunu Oru Kaadhal and she says she loved the song Munbe Vaa. ” I learned how to sing it without knowing the meaning of even a single word when I heard it. The year 2018 was amazing for Tamil movies. I loved 96, Ratchasan, Sarkar, Petta, 2.0, Kaala, Mercury, Vada Chennai, Nadigaiyar Thilagam, and so many others,” lists out Samantha.

However, she does not know only Tamizh but has also studied Hindi in the past.

“I have been to India seven times and visited Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Kodaikanal and other places in the country where I worked as a teacher. During my stay six years ago, I studied Hindi but do not remember much above the basics,” she shares, and adds, “I always feel at home when I’m in Kerala or Tamilnadu.”

When asked to point out the striking feature about the language from her limited knowledge, she says, “My favorite part of Tamil is that the alphabet is phonetic, unlike English. So, if I see ‘aa’ in Tamizh, I know that it is a short A, whereas in English, if there is an ‘A’ it could be one of eight different sounds. I also like that the nouns don’t have genders like in Hindi and many European languages. The differentiation of ‘we’ (namma vs naanga) is quite helpful and something I wish English had. I also think how each region of Tamilnadu has a different dialect but all are united in written Tamil which is really beautiful.”

Her passion is so deep-rooted that she has ordered the Tamizh version Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets to learn the language.

Is it even a conversation if we do not discuss food? Well, Samantha has a lot to say about our cuisine. “I just love Tamizh cuisine and have tasted dosai and idli with sambar. I’ve had a lot more than these, but I don’t always catch the names and I have not had anything I did not like,” she says, and signs off with “Mikka Nanri.”