Quote for the day!


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

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What is "Pure Mallu"?

In many of the posts, I refer to this "esoteric" language called "pure mallu".

What is pure mallu?

We know that Malayalam (മലയാളം) is an offspring of Sanskrit and Tamil. As the poem goes:

സംസ്കൃതഭാഷതന്‍ സ്വാഭാവികൌജ്ജസ്സും
സാക്ഷാല്തതമിഴിന്റെ സൌന്ദര്യവും
ഒത്ത്തുചെര്ന്നുള്ളൊരു ഭാഷയാനെന്ഭാഷ
മത്താടിക്കൊള്കഭിമാനമേ നീ
So there are Tamil words and Sanskrit words that are inseparable from the Mallu vocabulary and it is difficult to accurately classify a word to be "obviously" Sanskrit or "obviously" Tamil and if neither, "pure mallu".

But still, I believe, at some level we can talk about a similar, but vague notion. Consider the mallu word for "pure mallu".
  • ശുദ്ധമലയാളം is "obviously" Sanskrit
  • തനിമലയാളം is "obviously" Tamil, whereas
  • പച്ചമലയാളം is "pure mallu"!
So the definition of "pure mallu" includes not only the word roots themselves but also their stylistic connotations.

Also, there could be situations where a pure mallu counterpart is not available for an "obviously Sanskrit" or "obviously Tamil" word.

So why bother with this "incomplete", artificial "pure mallu"?

I believe looking for "pure mallu" alternatives helps in analyzing the etymology and history of mallu words. It helps us know when, if at all, they crossed over from the realm of pure Tamil or pure Sanskrit into the mallu world. Some words didn't cross over - and it is interesting to study them too. They help delineate concepts that were originally mallu from concepts that were borrowed from Sanskrit or Tamil sub-cultures.


goofy said...

so by "pure mallu" do you mean words that were not borrowed from Sanskrit or Tamil, but are derived from Proto-Tamil-Malayalam (or Proto-Dravidian or whatever it's called)?

Vinod said...

Yes. I think that would be a better characterization than the intuitive explanantion in the post.

Sriram Iyer said...

What about a word like "swalpam"? I haven't heard it in Tamil but there is a cognate word "swalpa" in Kannada. Is it Sanskrit?

Good site, by the way.

Vinod said...

Hi Sriram,

Thanks for the kind words.

സ്വല്പം = സു + അല്പം meaning to say "very little". It originally came from Sanskrit.