vijayjohn wrote:This is basically what reading Malayalam literature (especially novels) is like for me. It takes forever, it gets harder the less often I read (it even gets harder to speak Malayalam the less often I read), and it's often difficult to figure out who's who.
Yeah, Prichard eschews quotes (although he generally identifies speakers) so it often takes me a moment to figure out that something is direct speech--not helped by the fact that his Welsh makes frequent use of fronting and periphrastic verbs. This means that a sentence will often start out with only verb-nouns (which are non-finite) and only later do you find out the TAM (which is an important indicator whether this is part of the narration or not)[*].
vijayjohn wrote:That last point is also true of older (pre-1980s or maybe even pre-1990s) Malayalam movies, especially since all the men in those movies wear the same clothes and moustaches.
The characters are identified almost solely by nicknames, which combine extremely abbreviated given names (e.g. "Emrys" > "Em", "Owen" > "Now") with family relationships and professions, yielding forms like "Tad Wil Bach Plisman" ("Father [of] Little Will [the] Policeman"), "Yncl Now Moi" ("Mo[rris]'s Uncle O[wen]"), and "Em Brawd Mawr Now Bach Glo" ("Em[rys] [the] Big Brother [of] Little O[wen] [of the] Coal". They all make sense eventually, but at the beginning they're bewildering and easily confused.
vijayjohn wrote:Some of the novels I read have dialogues written in some form representing a variety of Malayalam I've had little or no exposure to, so that slows me down a lot. Even English loanwords slow me down especially when they're loanwords I've never seen in a Malayalam text before (frequent issue I encounter with Mathrubhumi).
Prichard is from Bethesda in North-West Wales and uses spellings based inthe local dialect throughout the novel. Many of the conventions are quite transparent (e.g. <e>, <au>, or <ai> in a final syllable almost invariably become <a>) but some are a bit baffling, particularly when initial syllables are dropped or contracted (e.g. efallai "maybe" > falla, cyfarfod "meet" > cwarfod). And the English borrowings can be hard to recongise and false-friendly, e.g. pitcher > pisar, slow > slofi, clean > clên "kindly, pleasant".
[*] Here's a sentence that, while not from Prichard (I don't have my copy handy), illustrates this sort of syntax:
Ac i ti gael dallt, dim ond i'r ysgol sentral aeth Arthur.
and to you get understand, nothing but i the school central went Arthur
"And for you to understand, Arthur only went to central school."
The finite form aeth (3s.PST) is literally the second-to-last word in the sentence.