Malayalam lessons

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Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-07-28, 4:45

I posted some information on Malayalam a few times on TAC Meera 2013. Here are the links to those posts just for reference:
viewtopic.php?f=119&t=39410&p=857746#p857746
viewtopic.php?f=119&t=39410&p=858602#p858602
viewtopic.php?f=119&t=39410&p=859206#p859206
viewtopic.php?f=119&t=39410&p=859625#p859625
viewtopic.php?f=119&t=39410&p=860699#p860699

And now I'm starting this thread to add more Malayalam lessons. (Thanks to Bijlee for suggesting this!).

Today, I'll talk about the various ways to say "you" in Malayalam. How you say "you" in Malayalam varies depending on the social status of the person you're talking to. Age is an important part of this "social status," but it's not the only factor.

If you're talking to someone who is equal to you or lower than you in social status, then the word that you would use is the pronoun നീ nii. You can use this word with people who are the same age as, or younger than, you. For example, if you wanted to ask a little kid how they were, you could say നീ എങ്ങനെ ഇരിക്കുന്നു? nii engngane irikkunnu? If you use it with anyone who's older than you, you risk insulting them.

If you're talking to someone older, or someone who you want to show some respect to, you might instead use നിങ്ങള്‍ ningngaL, which is also the plural pronoun (compare vous in French).* But IME the approach Malayalees most commonly use (provided they know the person well enough that this is possible) is to use their name, an appropriate title, or both. If you're talking to someone older than you, you need to have the title in there.

If you're talking to an older family member, then you just use their title. For instance, if you want to ask your mom (അമ്മ amma) how she is, you'd say അമ്മ എങ്ങനെ ഇരിക്കുന്നു? amma engngane irikkunnu? (which also means "how is Mom?").

With other older people or social superiors (especially employers), you might simply use the English terms "sir" (or സാര്‍ saar, which also means 'sir') or "madam." Otherwise, if you're talking to a guy who is not a family member but is at least one generation above you, then you'd probably use the term "uncle." If you're talking to a lady instead, then you'd probably use "auntie" or its Malayalam equivalent കൊച്ചമ്മ kochchamma (literally 'little mother').

If you're talking to someone who's only slightly older than you, or to someone who's older than you but otherwise socially inferior (e.g. an older servant/maid), then you'd use the terms for 'older sister' or 'older brother'. (Practically the entire set of kinship terms varies from one family to the next, but for me, 'older sister' is ചേച്ചി chEchchi, and 'older brother' is അച്ചാച്ചന്‍ achchaachchan).

*There's another pronoun താന്‍ thaan, which my dad says can be used with people you don't know, but I've also seen it being used in an insulting way, so it may not be the best option. (Perhaps it's insulting to use that pronoun with people you do know, because you're effectively denying that you know them? I'm not sure). Anyway, നിങ്ങള്‍ seems to work just as well. There's also താങ്ങള്‍ thaangngaL, which means 'Your Majesty' (it's a pronoun you might use to address a monarch).

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Meera » 2013-07-28, 21:11

Awesome, Thanks Vijay!
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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-07-29, 3:41

No problem! I'll be glad to keep posting here.

Just now, I realized that I've kind of talked about how to say 'yes' before, but there's a bit more I can say on how to say 'no'. There's one word that is just the negative form of the 'to be' verb: അല്ല alla. It means 'am not', 'aren't', and 'isn't'. This is the word you use to say 'no' to any question that includes the 'to be' verb.

Here's an example of how you could use it: If you remember that little clip of a scene I posted from Chemmeen, Pareekkutty begins by asking Karuthamma a question that means 'aren't all the fish in the boat for me?'. If Karuthamma could have worked up the nerve to say 'no' at that point (which is, in fact, the truth!), she would have said, "അല്ല alla."

You might remember that there's another word I mentioned at the very end of that post that literally means 'there isn't/aren't' but also is used to negate verbs, which is ഇല്ല illa. I said that it:
literally means 'there isn't' or 'there aren't', but it's also the expression you generally use to form the negative form of a verb.


So for example, the next thing Pareekkutty said in that clip meant 'won't you talk to me?' If she wanted to say 'no' to that, then she would have said, "ഇല്ല illa." This is also how she would have said 'no' to a question like "are there any fish in the boat?" (Or "do you have a child?" or "is there a God?" or any other such existential question :mrgreen:)

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Bijlee » 2013-07-30, 1:44

Thanks for the lessons! It is especially useful to have these when there are so few resources for Malayalam. Keep it up! :mrgreen:

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-07-31, 3:27

Thanks again, Bijlee! I'll try to keep it going as long as I can. I love doing this :P

Now that we've talked about how to say 'you' in Malayalam, let's take a look at a few of the other pronouns. We've already seen the second person plural pronoun നിങ്ങള്‍ ningngaL, so let's start with that. Remember, that's the pronoun that means 'y'all' (or whatever your second person plural pronoun of choice is in English :P).

ഞാന്‍ njaan means 'I', and അവര്‍ avar means 'they', so അവര്‍ is the pronoun you'd use to talk about more than one person.

Finally, there are two words for 'we', because Malayalam distinguishes between "inclusive" and "exclusive" 'we'. നമ്മള്‍ nammaL is the inclusive pronoun, and ഞങ്ങള്‍ njangngaL is the exclusive pronoun. (If you're reading this, you might already know that many other Dravidian languages, e.g. Tamil, make the same distinction).

So (just in case you didn't get it) what does that mean? It means that if I use the word നമ്മള്‍ nammaL when talking to you, I'm necessarily talking about both you and me (and possibly one or more other people as well). But if I say ഞങ്ങള്‍ njangngaL, then I mean me + at least one other person, but not you. For example, if I say that നമ്മള്‍ nammaL are learning Malayalam, that means you and I are learning it. But if I say that ഞങ്ങള്‍ njangngaL are learning Malayalam, that means somebody else and I are learning it, but not that you are.

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Meera » 2013-08-01, 2:37

I love these lessons :mrgreen:
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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-08-01, 5:05

Always glad to hear that, Meera! :mrgreen:

OK, so the only pronouns that are left now are the third person singular pronouns (that is, the pronouns that mean he/she/it). There are quite a few such pronouns in Malayalam.

Let's start with probably the easiest one: 'it'. There are two words for 'it', and they're basically the words that also mean 'this' and 'that'. The word for 'this' in Malayalam is ഇത് ith(u), and it also means 'it' when you're talking about something relatively close to you (compare yeh in Hindi/Urdu). The word for 'that' is അത് ath(u) and can mean 'it' when you're talking about something further away, but it's also just the word that you use by default when you want to say 'it'. (Again, compare woh in Hindi/Urdu).

Note, by the way, that the only difference between these two pronouns is the first vowel. From now on, the i- at the beginning of any pronoun means 'this', and the a- at the beginning of any pronoun means 'that'.

So that's not too bad. The words for 'it' are just the words for 'this' and 'that'. But once you get into 'he' or 'she', it gets more complicated.

IME, books teaching Malayalam usually teach you that the word for 'he' is അവന്‍ avan and that the word for 'she' is അവള്‍ avaL. There's also ഇവന്‍ ivan for 'he' and ഇവള്‍ ivaL for 'she'. Again, the difference between ഇവന്‍ ivan and അവന്‍ avan (and between ഇവള്‍ ivaL and അവള്‍ avaL) is that the first word in each pair (ഇവന്‍ or ഇവള്‍) means 'this person', whereas the other one means 'that person' but is also the default pronoun.

Now, a pretty important piece of information that the books may not tell you is that you should only use these pronouns (ഇവന്‍/അവന്‍/ഇവള്‍/അവള്‍) if you're talking about someone who is socially inferior to you, or if you really mean to talk about someone condescendingly, because otherwise you'll be insulting the person you're talking about! So you can use them to talk about someone who's much younger than you (a kid, for example) or a servant or something, or you can use them to talk about someone badly :P But you definitely shouldn't use them to talk about someone you respect!

By the way, there's also a pair of gender-neutral pronouns which have the same social implications as ഇവന്‍, etc. These are ഇയാള്‍ iyaaL and അയാള്‍ ayaaL. Literally, they mean 'this person' and 'that person', respectively, although using a term for 'person' that's not terribly respectful (ആള്‍ aaL).

So how do you use a pronoun to talk about somebody without potentially insulting them? You have to use a gender-neutral pronoun. You might use ഇവര്‍ ivar or അവര്‍ avar, which also mean 'they'. (This is a bit like singular "they" in English, except I'd say these Malayalam pronouns are used more frequently since they are necessary for conveying at least a little respect).

These are pretty safe pronouns to use. They convey some respect towards the person being discussed, but they don't overdo it, either. You could use them to talk about people who are a bit older than you, or somewhat respectfully about people who are about your age or even younger.

But sometimes, you might have to talk about people who you're really obliged to respect! For example, if you're talking about an older person (especially one with high social standing), then you should probably use a pronoun that indicates even more respect. So the pair of pronouns that can be used to convey even more respect is ഇദ്ദേഹം iddEham and അദ്ദേഹം addEham, literally meaning 'this body' and 'that body'! When you use these pronouns, there's no question that you're trying to convey respect towards the person you're referring to.

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-08-08, 4:03

I think I'll go over the case system for nouns today. Like other Dravidian languages, Malayalam has a lot of cases.

Let's start with nominative case (which is also a sort of default case). There's not much to say here; it's the case that subjects have. For example, രാമന്‍ raaman is a name (Raman) in nominative case.

All the other cases are expressed through suffixes, and these suffixes generally follow this pattern:
a. They generally begin with a vowel.
b. However, if a noun ends in ഉ u (or maybe ഊ uu, ഒ o, or ഓ O), you have to add a v between that noun and the suffix.
c. If the noun ends in any other vowel, then you add y instead.

Accusative case is used for direct objects, but only if they're animate. In other words, accusative case can only be used on living things (including humans). It's formed by adding a suffix to the noun, specifically:
a. -വെ -ve after ഉ/ഊ/ഒ/ഓ,
b. -യെ -ye after any other vowel,
c. -എ -e in all other cases.

So Raman in accusative case would be രാമനെ raamane, Raghu in accusative case would be രഘുവെ raghuve, and the word for "mother" (അമ്മ amma) would be അമ്മയെ ammaye in accusative case. But an inanimate noun can't take the accusative case ending; if it's a direct object, it still has the nominative case form. For example, a book isn't a living thing, so the word for 'book' can't take the ending -എ.

This means if I wanted to say, "I saw Raman," I'd have to use the accusative case form to show that Raman is the direct object here. (Same for "I saw Raghu" or "I saw (my) mother"). But if I wanted to say, "I saw a book," I'd just use the nominative case form (പുസ്തകം pusthakam).

Malayalam also has a locative case. The locative suffix means "in" or "at." The locative case suffix is -ഇൽ -il (or -വിൽ -vil or -യിൽ -yil). However, if a noun ends in അം am, you replace the m with -ത്തിൽ -ththil. So തമിഴിൽ thamizhil means "in Tamil," and പുസ്തകത്തിൽ pusthakaththil means "in the book." മഴ mazha means "rain," so മഴയിൽ mazhayil means "in the rain." Finally, നടു naTu means "middle," so നടുവിൽ naTuvil means "in the middle."

There's also an instrumental case, although I don't hear it being used very often (there's another way to express the same meaning. I'm sure I'll get to that in a later lesson!). The instrumental suffix means "because of." This suffix is -ആൽ -aal (or -വാൽ/-യാൽ -vaal/-yaal). So, for example, രാമനാൽ raamanaal means "because of Raman."

The other cases in Malayalam are a bit more complicated.

Genitive case (or "possessive case") is used to mean "of," so if it's marked on some word X, then it means "of X." Forming the genitive case form of a noun is a bit complicated:

a. If the noun ends in അൻ an, then you replace the n with -ന്റെ -nte. For example, "of Raman" would be രാമന്റെ raamante which, by the way, is pronounced exactly like the Japanese phrase ラーメンで raamen de meaning "in the ramen" lol.
b. If it ends in അർ ar or അൾ aL, then you add -ഉടെ -uTe, e.g. അവരുടെ avaruTe means "their" (or his/her!) and അവളുടെ avaLuTe means "her."
c. If it ends in ഉ/ഊ/ഒ/ഓ u/uu/o/O, then you add -വിന്റെ -vinte, e.g. രഘുവിന്റെ raghuvinte means "of Raghu."
d. If it ends in any other vowel, you add -യുടെ -yuTe, e.g. മഴ mazha means "rain," and മഴയുടെ mazhayuTe means "of (the) rain."
e. If it ends in അം am, you replace the m with -ത്തിന്റെ -ththinte, e.g. മരം maram means "tree," and മരത്തിന്റെ maraththinte means "of the tree."
f. Otherwise, you add -ഇന്റെ -inte, e.g. തേൻ thEn means "honey," and തേനിന്റെ thEninte means "of honey."

Vocative case is used to address somebody, e.g. if you wanted to say "o Raman!" or "hey Raman!" or just "Raman!" This case is a little complicated in Malayalam. I think I'll save the details about this for another lesson, too, but basically, depending on how far away the person you're calling is, or how emphatically you're trying to call them, you might have to use different forms.

For now, I'll just talk about how you call someone who's nearby. You basically just use the nominative case form unless the name (or word) you're calling out ends in അൻ an. With most names (and words), you change that അൻ an to -ആ -aa, e.g. രാമാ raamaa "Raman!" BUT, there are some names that end in അൻ (like മോഹൻ mOhan) where you instead just ADD -ആ -aa to the end of the name: മോഹനാ mOhanaa means "Mohan!" (You wouldn't say *mOhaa!).

There's also one case that is (as far as I can tell) unique to Malayalam. In English, I think it's sometimes called the "sociative" case. In Malayalam, you use this case to indicate who you said something to. The suffix for this case is -ഓട് OT(u) (or -വോട് /-യോട് -vOT(u)/-yOT(u)).

Finally, Malayalam also has a dative case. The dative suffix means "to" or "for" and shouldn't be confused with the sociative case. Forming the dative case is just as complicated as forming the genitive case (although if you compare those two cases, you might be able to see a sort of pattern!):

a. If the noun ends in അൻ an, then you replace the n with -ന് -n(u). For example, "to/for Raman" would be രാമന് raaman(u).
b. If it ends in അർ ar or അൾ aL, then you add -ക്ക് -kk(u), e.g. അവർക്ക് avarkk(u) means "to/for him/her/them" and അവൾക്ക് avaLkk(u) means "to/for her."
c. If it ends in ഉ/ഊ/ഒ/ഓ u/uu/o/O, then you add -വിന് -vin(u), e.g. രഘുവിന് raghuvin(u) means "to/for Raghu."
d. If it ends in any other vowel, you add -യ്ക്ക് -ykk(u), e.g. അമ്മയ്ക്ക് ammaykk(u) means "to/for (my) mother." I think it really sounds more like "-kky(u)," though.
e. If it ends in അം am, you replace the m with -ത്തിന് -ththin(u), e.g. മരം maram means "tree," and മരത്തിന് maraththin(u) means "to/for the tree."
f. Otherwise, you add -ഇന് -in(u), e.g. തേൻ thEn means "honey," and തേനിന് thEnin(u) means "to/for honey."

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Meera » 2013-08-09, 4:50

Great lesson, Vijay!
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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-08-10, 6:59

Thanks! Actually, I forgot to give a straightforward explanation of the difference between sociative and dative case, and there's another word for "you" that I forgot to mention earlier as well :oops: :lol: But I think that'll be the next lesson! :P

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-08-22, 0:31

OK, so it's about time I tied up those loose ends :lol: As I said before, there's another word for 'you' I forgot to mention earlier, and then I need to explain what the difference is between the sociative and dative cases.

One other word for 'you' in Malayalam is അങ്ങ് angng(u). അങ്ങ് literally means something like 'over there', but it can also be a polite way of saying 'you'. It's a pretty handy word when you can't or don't want to use a title to address someone politely.

In fact, words for 'there' may be used sometimes in Malayalam to mean 'you' or 'your'. (For example, there's a Malayalam movie song version of the Lord's Prayer where the words are slightly altered; instead of "hallowed be thy name" and "thy kingdom come," this song has lines that more literally translate to "please cause the name there to be blessed" and "may the kingdom there come").

So now that I've explained that, I guess I can get back to sociative vs. dative. The dative suffix means 'to' or 'for' and is used with most verbs. However, when you want to talk about speaking to somebody, then you have to use sociative case instead of dative case. In other words, you'd use the sociative case with verbs like "say," "speak," "tell," "ask," etc. but the dative case with all other verbs.

For example, if you wanted to say "I told Raman a story" in Malayalam, that would be ഞാൻ രാമനോട് ഒരു കഥ ചൊല്ലി njaan raamanOT oru kathha cholli. Here, "Raman" is in sociative case (because the verb has to do with saying something). But if you wanted to say "I gave Raman a book," that would be ഞാൻ രാമന് ഒരു പുസ്തകം കൊടുത്തു njaan raaman oru pusthakam koThuththu, where "Raman" is in dative case.

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Meera » 2013-08-29, 20:23

Thanks Vijay! :mrgreen:
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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-09-24, 3:22

No problem! Sorry I took so long to post a new lesson :P

Now that we've gone over how to decline (add case suffixes to) nouns, today, I'll go over how to decline some of the personal pronouns in Malayalam. I say "some" because most of them are pretty straightforward; for example, അവൻ avan takes the same suffixes that any noun ending in -അൻ -an takes. But there are a few pronouns that are not so straightforward.

For one thing, there's a pronoun for which the genitive case form can be (and most often is) contracted. This pronoun is നമ്മൾ nammaL, the inclusive "we" (that is, including you as well as me). Technically, the genitive case form is നമ്മളുടെ nammaLuTe, which is what you'd expect because it ends in -അൾ -aL and it takes the suffix that nouns ending the same way would. However, it's usually contracted to just നമ്മുടെ nammuTe.

In addition, there are three pronouns that are irregular when they're declined: ഞാൻ njaan (which, as we saw earlier, means 'I'), നീ nii, and താൻ thaan (and as we saw earlier, these other two mean 'you'). These are the nominative case forms, of course, and the vocative case forms are variable (just like they are for nouns); basically, either they're identical to the nominative or they take an emphatic suffix. Besides, you probably won't use the vocative all that much (but for that matter, you probably won't use the instrumental or locative forms much either). So I'll just discuss the forms for all the other cases.

Here's how ഞാൻ njaan 'I' is declined:

Accusative: എന്നെ enne 'me'
Sociative: എന്നോട് ennOT(u) 'to me'
Genitive: എന്റെ ente 'my'
Dative: എനിക്ക് enikk(u) 'to/for me'
Instrumental: എന്നാൽ ennaal 'because of me'
Locative: എന്നിൽ ennil 'in me'

Here's നീ nii. Remember, this is the informal pronoun for 'you', which you use only with somebody who is on an equal social level as, or lower social level than, you:

Accusative: നിന്നെ ninne 'you'
Sociative: നിന്നോട് ninnOT(u) 'to you'
Genitive: നിന്റെ ninte 'your'
Dative: നിനക്ക് ninakk(u) 'to/for you'
Instrumental: നിന്നാൽ ninnaal 'because of you'
Locative: നിന്നിൽ ninnil 'in you'

And finally, താൻ thaan, which also means 'you', but might be either more formal or more rude, I'm not really sure which (see the lesson where I discussed the words for 'you') :lol: In fact, I hope I got these forms right; I don't even hear them all that often, so I might not be remembering them all correctly :oops:

Accusative: താനെ thaane 'you'
Sociative: തന്നോട് thannOT(u) 'to you'
Genitive: തന്റെ thante 'your'
Dative: തനിക്ക് thanikk(u) 'to/for you'
Instrumental: താനാൽ thaanaal 'because of you'
Locative: താനിൽ thaanil 'in you'

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Meera » 2013-09-28, 15:49

Thanks Vijay. :D
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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-10-22, 3:15

You're welcome again, Meera, and thanks :D Time for another one of my (now monthly, it seems :oops:) Malayalam lessons!

Today, I'll go over the present tense form of the verb 'to be' and how to give somebody your name (and get theirs), in that order.

In Malayalam, the equivalent of 'am', 'are', or 'is' is the word ആണ് aaN(u). Very often, it is attached to the previous word. For example, 'I am Malayalee' in Malayalam could be ഞാൻ മലയാളി ആണ് njaan malayaaLi aaN(u), but it could also be - and is probably more commonly written as - ഞാൻ മലയാളിയാണ് njaan malayaaLiyaaN(u). In spoken/colloquial Malayalam, it's just a suffix -ആ -aa, which is always attached to the previous word. So people would very often say ഞാൻ മലയാളിയാ njaan malayaaLiyaa to mean 'I'm Malayalee'.

All right, so now that we know that and we know the genitive case forms of all the pronouns (because we know all the case forms of all the pronouns! :lol:), we can start going over introductions. If you want to say what your name is, you say:

എന്റെ പേര് ...ആണ് ente pEr(u)...aaN(u) (or ente pEr(u)...aa) 'my name is...'

So പേര് pEr(u) means 'name' in Malayalam. And if you want to ask for somebody else's name, then you may use the word എന്ത് enth(u) to ask something like:

നിങ്ങളുടെ പേര് എന്താണ്? ningngaLuTe pEr enthaaN(u)? 'What is your name?'

(Or നിന്റെ പേരെന്താ ninte pErenthaa, സാറിന്റെ പേര് എന്താണ് saarrinte pEr enthaaN(u) (meaning 'what is your name, sir?'), or something like that, depending on which translation of the word 'your' is most appropriate in the given context :D).

You could also ask (especially in a relatively casual conversation):

പേരെന്താ? pErenthaa? or പേര് എന്താണ് ? pEr enthaaN(u)?

This allows you to avoid the complication of translating the second person singular pronoun altogether :)

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby Meera » 2013-10-22, 3:22

Thanks Vijay! These are always great to read.
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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-12-05, 7:18

Always a pleasure! That being said, though...

Yikes! :lol: It's been a really long time since I posted a lesson here! Hmm, hopefully I can fix that little problem in the next few...weeks? Months? I dunno. Well, we'll see. :P

Anyway, tonight (or this morning, technically :lol:), I'll just post a short lesson about the word for "where" and how you ask someone where they're going. As you probably know already, it's pretty common to ask this question not only to autorickshaw-drivers or whatever but also to ordinary people, just as a sort of "greeting."

The word for 'where' in Malayalam is എവിടെ eviTe. However, there's another word that also means something like 'where', but it's rarely (or at least not so commonly) used all on its own: എങ്ങ് engng(u).

To say 'where to?' in Malayalam, you say എങ്ങോട്ട്? engngOTT(u)? -ഓട്ട് -OTT(u) is a sort of suffix meaning 'to', but specifically indicating direction. (It's not generally considered a case suffix AFAIK).

So if you want to say 'where are you going?' you just say:

എങ്ങോട്ടാണ്? engngOTTaaN(u)? (literally, 'where is (it) to?' or 'where are (you going) to?')

or, more informally, you can use the slightly shorter expression:

എങ്ങോട്ടാ? engngOTTaa?

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-12-06, 7:04

OK, this time, I'm not going to allow a gap of more than a day between the last lesson I posted and this one. :D

Tonight, I'll talk about how you tell someone where you're going (i.e. how to actually respond to the question I introduced in the last lesson :P). Next time, I think I'll go over how to ask someone where they're from and how to answer that.

If somebody asks you where you're off to, you could respond by using the location you're going to in locative case. For example, if you were going to a store/shop (കട kaTa), you could say:

ഞാൻ കടയിൽ പോകുന്നു. njaan kaTayil pOkunnu. 'I am going to the store.'

Or, more informally:

ഞാൻ കടയിൽ പോകുകയാ. njaan kaTayil pOkukayaa. 'I'm going to the store.'

പോകുകയാ actually sounds more like പൊവ്വാ povvaa (and is sometimes written that way in cartoons and dialogs).

You could also drop the pronoun at the beginning of the sentence. In fact, that's probably what most Malayalees would do:

കടയിൽ പോകുന്നു. kaTayil pOkunnu.
കടയിൽ പോകുകയാ. kaTayil pOkukayaa. 'Going to the store.'

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-12-07, 4:19

As promised, I'll go over asking someone where they're from and how to tell them where you're from in this lesson. :D The last lesson (which I posted earlier today :mrgreen:) included a few different present progressive forms of a verb that I hadn't mentioned before: the verb meaning 'to go' (although we did see it in the expression ഞാൻ പോകട്ടെ njaan pOkaTTe, which I believe I translated as 'I'll get going'). So next time, I think I'll introduce that verb and the present progressive. :wink:

As I said in the last lesson, when asking someone where they're going, you use a form of the word എങ്ങ് engng(u), meaning 'where'. But there's another word that means 'where' and is more commonly used: എവിടെ eviTe, and that's the word you use when asking someone where they're from (and the word they'd use to find out where you're from). Specifically, you might use the expression:

നിങ്ങൾ എവിടൂന്നാണ്? ningngaL eviTuunnaaN(u)? 'Where are you from?'

Of course, the subject might be something else instead of നിങ്ങൾ ningngaL (given the intricacies of how to say 'you' in Malayalam, which we went over before :P), or you could just not include a subject at all and say:

എവിടൂന്നാണ്? eviTuunnaaN(u)?

meaning exactly the same thing. A bit more casually, you could instead say: എവിടൂന്നാ? eviTuunnaa?

So how do you reply? You give the location that is your answer combined with the locative suffix (which is basically -il) followed by നിന്ന് ninn(u). നിന്ന് almost acts like a postposition here, kind of like se in Hindi/Urdu, (I think "clitic" would probably be a better technical term, now that I think about it) but it literally means 'having stood'. (It's a past participle). So if you want to say "I am from X," you say (more literally), "I am having stood in X." :lol: That sounded so weird in my head a while ago, although if you think about it hard enough, I think it actually makes sense.

For example, "Kerala" in Malayalam is കേരളം kEraLam. 'In Kerala' would be കേരളത്തിൽ kEraLaththil, and 'from Kerala' is കേരളത്തിൽനിന്ന് kEraLaththilninn(u). So if you want to say, "I am from Kerala (കേരളം kEraLam)," you'd say:

ഞാൻ കേരളത്തിൽനിന്നാണ്. njaan kEraLaththilninnaaN(u).

Or just:

കേരളത്തിൽനിന്നാണ്. kEraLaththilninnaaN(u).

without the word for 'I'.

If you want to say where you're from more informally, then there are two things you can (and perhaps must) do. One is to change -ആണ് -aaN(u) to just -ആ -aa. The other is to contract -ഇൽ-നിന്ന് -il-ninn(u) to just -ഈന്ന് -iinn(u).

So instead of കേരളത്തിൽനിന്ന് kEraLaththilninn(u) 'from Kerala', you'd say കേരളത്തീന്ന് kEraLaththiinn(u). To say "I'm from Kerala," you'd say:

(ഞാൻ) കേരളത്തീന്നാ. (njaan) kEraLaththiinnaa.

where again, the word ഞാൻ njaan meaning 'I' is optional.

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Re: Malayalam lessons

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-12-15, 0:43

Two lessons ago, we saw the verbs പോകുന്നു pOkunnu and പോകുകയാ pOkukayaa (as well as പൊവ്വാ povvaa). These are all forms of the verb പോകുക pOkuka, meaning 'to go'. Specifically, they're different ways of expressing the present progressive; that is, they all mean 'am/are/is going'.

You can form the present progressive by modifying the infinitive form slightly. In the case of the verb meaning 'go', the infinitive is പോകുക pOkuka 'to go'.

One way to form the present progressive is to simply delete the last syllable ക ka and replace it with ന്നു nnu. So to say 'am/are/is going', instead of saying പോകുക pOkuka, you say പോകുന്നു pOkunnu.

The other way is to just add the verb meaning 'am/are/is' to the infinitive form. As I said a few lessons back, the word meaning 'am/are/is' is ആണ് aaN(u) or, if you want to be more informal, just -ആ -aa. So other ways to say 'am/are/is going' are പോകുകയാണ് pOkukayaaN(u) or, more informally, പോകുകയാ pOkukayaa (usually pronounced പൊവ്വാ povvaa).

There's only one verb I can think of that's a bit irregular here, and that's the verb that means 'to come': വരിക varika. I think it's really the infinitive that's odd here, because the infinitive form usually ends in -uka, but this one ends in -ika for some reason. For this verb, not only do you have to replace the final ക ka with ന്നു nnu (if you're using that strategy), but also you have to change the vowel before that from i to u. So you get വരുന്നു varunnu, not *വരിന്നു varinnu.

Finally, just one more thing about this construction: verbs don't change depending on their subject in Malayalam. Remember, you can say ഞാൻ ആണ് njaan aaN(u) 'I am', നീ ആണ് nii aaN(u) 'you are', അവൻ ആണ് avan aaN(u), and so on, using ആണ് aaN(u) no matter who the subject is. So ആണ് means 'am', 'are', or 'is' - that is, any present tense form of the verb 'to be'. Similarly, for example, വരുന്നു varunnu can mean 'am coming', 'are coming', or 'is coming'.

Next time, I think I'll talk about the emphatic suffix in Malayalam. :)


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