Quote for the day!

ഉന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തു-
ന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്തുന്താളെയുന്തു്

(According to legend, the very first couplet in
മഞ്ജരി inspired by which കൃഷ്ണഗാഥ was written.)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

ങ് as an idependent phoneme

The purpose of this exercise is to investigate if -ങ് is a distinct root ending compared to -യ്

ng meaning y meaning
അടങ്  to settle down അടയ്  to close
ഇടങ്  to crowd together ഇടയ്‌  to intertwine
ഉറങ് to sleep ഉറയ്  to fix
ഒടുങ്  to end ?
കറങ്  to turn കറയ്  to stain
കുഴങ്  to become flaccid  കുഴയ്  to mix
നിരങ് to slide നിരയ്  to arrange in a line
പൊങ്  to raise up ?
മുങ്  to sink ?
മുഴങ്  to sound  മുഴയ്  to enlarge
മുടങ്  to be blocked ?
വിങ്  to ache ?
വീങ്‌  to weep വീയ്  to ferment(?)

Do you know of other such pairs?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and Pestle used to be a household staple in olden times. They are called ഉരൽ and ഉലക്ക, respectively.

ഉരൽ comes from ഉര- , to grind. But what about ഉലക്ക?

Interestingly, it also comes from the same root. One etymology is that ഉരം + കൽ = ഉരംക്കൽ -> ഉലക്ക.

(r --> l sound change has been attested in many languages and many words. )




Saturday, November 25, 2017

Two ഴs

 ഴ being a native letter of our alphabet, is present in a number of Malayalam words.

But do you know a word that has two ഴs appearing together?

It is ഏഴേഴു = ഏഴ് + ഏഴ് = seven seven, literally = seven times seven = 49.

In theory, we can now construct words with any number of consecutive ഴs in this manner. E.g.

ഏഴേഴേഴു = 7 cubed = 213.

Do you know any other words with two or more ഴs in sequence? 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

ഴ - words

The following are some common ഴ words.


  • അഴ - loosen
  • അഴി - unravel
  • അഴുക് - decay
  • ആഴു - to sink 
  • ഇഴ - slither
  • ഇഴി -
  • ഇഴു - to melt/dissolve
  • ഉഴർ - wander
  • ഉഴി - go around
  • ഉഴു - plough / till
  • ഏഴു - to be raised
  • ഒഴി - vacate / drain
  • ഒഴു - flow
  • കഴി - finish
  • കഴു - neck
  • കഴുക് - to wash
  • കിഴി - depress
  • കുഴ - to weaken, to mix
  • കുഴി - pit
  • കൊഴി - drop off
  • ചുഴി - to spiral
  • തഴ  - to discard, to pass
  • താഴു - to sink
  • തുഴ - to row
  • നാഴി - measure (n)
  • നൂഴ - sneak, trespass 
  • പഴക് - to become old
  • പഴു - to ripen 
  • പിഴ - to falter
  • പിഴി - to squeeze
  • പുഴ - river
  • പുഴു - worm
  • പുഴുങ് - to steam-cook
  • പൊഴി - to fall off
  • പൊഴു - time
  • മഴ - rain
  • മിഴി - to open the eyes
  • മുഴങ് - to resound
  • മൊഴി - to speak
  • വഴങ് - to comply
  • വഴി - to vacate, way
  • വഴു - to slip
  • വാഴു - to rule
  • വിഴുങ് - to swallow
  • വീഴു - to fall down


Is it a coincidence that a lot of these have negative meanings? 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Soil and smell

Soil is മണ്ണ്. Smell is മണം. Is there a common etymology?

It turns out that both words come from the same root, മണക്കുക to smell.

മണമുള്ളത് മണ്ണ് = Soil is that which smells.

It sounds artificial - until you look into Indian Rhetoric theory (തർക്കശാസ്ത്രം).

Accoring to തർക്കശാസ്ത്രം,  earth (പൃഥിവി) is chrarcterized as the substance or material that is differentiated by means of smell: തത്ര ഗന്ധവതീ പൃഥിവി.

I am not sure which came first - the word മണ്ണ് that inspired the characterization or the characterization that inspired the name.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kim words

One of the words for rumor is കിംവദന്തി. This comes from Sanskrit directly as കിം + വദന്തി = what are they saying?  Of course, what people say (whithout much knowledge) is a rumor.

Interestingly, there are some non-obvious കിം-based etymologies like this.

One example is കിന്നരൻ. It comes from കിം + നര = what + man? According one story in mythology, the kinnara's were heavenly singers from near the Himalaya's. Since they were all so covered up (because of the cold), only their face was visible and it was difficult to say who is a man and who is a woman. Thus, people asked - which is a man or കിം നര? And, that became their name.

A not so obvious example is കിങ്ങിണി. This word has become so adapted to Malayalam, e.g. in common sayings like
കൊച്ചിന്റച്ഛൻ വിത്തോനാണെങ്കിൽ
കൊച്ചിനു കിങ്ങിണി പലതുണ്ട്
that it is difficult to see its Sanskrit origins. In fact, it comes from കിം + കിണീ = what + sound? According to Malayalam rules, this got converted to കിങ്ങിണി.

Do you know other such കിം words?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

വിശദമായ വിവരണം - Detailed Explanation

Nowadays, we use വിശദം to mean detailed. It comes from വി + ശദം, meaning cut apart or scattered. Of course, when we detail or elaborate something we cut the main idea apart into pieces and explain it.

What about വിവരണം? As we saw in Holes in Knowledge, this comes from the root വിവൃ = to open up. Thus, വിവരണം is the act of opening up.

Putting it together, വിശദമായ വിവരണം means cutting something apart and exposing it in a detailed manner, a detailed explanation indeed.