Quote for the day!


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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


There is this interesting concept of various ന്യായം in malayalam.

Apparently, these are Sanskrit proverbs.

A couple of interesting ones:

ലൂതാതന്തുന്യായം - (ലൂത = spider, തന്തു = thread). Just as a spider weaves its own thread, makes the web and then destroys it, one person destroying what he himself made.

കൈമുതികന്ന്യായം (കിം ഉത) A rhetoric question that assumes knowledge without saying clearly what is known. E.g. "പിന്നെപ്പറയണമോ?"

കാകതാലീയന്യായം (കാക = crow, താലീയം = fruit of palm) "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" - after this therefore because of this. For example, the crow sat on the palm tree and coincidentally the fruit fell down does not imply that the sitting of the crow caused the fruit to fall down.

Do you know of others?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Just as നെയ്യ് comes from the Sanskrit സ്നേഹം, the word for fear, പേടി comes from the Sanskrit ഭീഷ് (meaning fearsome). (Such words are called തത്ഭവം )

That might sound like a far cry. But it is not that difficult to see. It is conceivable that ഭീ was transformed to പീ. What about the ഷ? There is this etymological rule that in some words the ഷ gets transformed into a ട. Thus, ഭീഷ് -> പീട് -> പേടി.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Land and Sea

Sometimes, even simple everyday words have very interesting etymology.

The other day I came across these two.

The common word for sea is കടല്‍. It comes from കട + അല്‍. We see കട in കടക്കുക, to cross. The അല്‍ is the same one what we see in അല്ല no. Thus കടല്‍ means "that which cannot be crossed".

On the other hand, land is കര. Originally, it means shore. It comes from the root കര that we see in കരന്നു പോവുക which means to gnaw, to dissolve, to decay. Of course, the water gnaws at the shore.

Isn't it interesting?

P.S. I finally have a copy of ശബ്ദതാരാവലി - the giant mallu dictionary! The above two tidbits are from that. Keep tuned for more :-)