Quote for the day!


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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cuts and bruises

The other day my mom told me she was using some മുറിവെണ്ണ. I found it a bit funny since we can split മുറിവെണ്ണ in two ways.

One is മുറിവെണ്ണ = മുറി + വെണ്ണ meaning a piece of butter :-)
Of course, the correct split is മുറിവെണ്ണ = മുറിവ് + എണ്ണ meaning oil for a cut.

We see the same root മുറി in other common words like തേങ്ങാമുറി = a half of a coconut. A "room" is called മുറി - of course, you 'cut the house' into rooms.

The mallu word for bruise is പരുക്ക് . I don't really know the etymology of that. May be it is related to പരുപരുത്ത, meaning "rough". Perhaps, പരുക്ക് refers to the scar left behind after a bruise. Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can you drink with your feet?

There are a number of words that use one-letter suffixes to create new meanings. Invariably, most of these came from Sanskrit.

പം means 'That which drinks'. Thus we have ദ്വിപം 'that which drinks twice' or an elephant. (Of course, it first 'drinks' into its trunk and then drinks into its mouth :-) Similarly we have പാദപം 'that which drinks with its feet' or a tree.

ജം is another common suffix. It means 'that which is born from'. For example, ജലജം 'that which is born of water' or a lotus.

ദം means 'that which gives'. Hence ജലദം 'that which gives water' or a cloud.

ഗം means 'that which goes or that which goes through or by'. For example, ഖഗം 'that which goes through the sky (ഖ)' or a bird. ഉരഗം 'that which goes using its body' or a snake.

There are also some other lesser known one-letter suffixes even though they are part of some common words. An example is ത്രം which means, 'that which protects from'. We see it in the common word പുത്രന്‍ meaning 'one who protects from പു (one of the hells)'. (I think the idea was that having a son born is so lucky it will protect you from the hell പു ). Or ആതപത്രം 'that which protects from sunshine' or an umbrella.

ധി means 'a collection of'. As in, വാരിധി 'a collection of water' or ocean.

Of course, we can combine them produce new words. For example:
അബ്ധിജം = അപ് + ധി + ജം = that which is born from a collection of water (അപ് ) = that which is born from sea = lotus

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Ran into the online version of കേരള പാണിനീയം. Especially the one on roots.

Check it out!