Quote for the day!


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

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Digging into the past

Strictly speaking, this is not about etymology. In this post, I wanted to investigate how the past tenses are formed. (Why? Just out of curiosity. Also, there are some small etymological elements in the tense formation process.)

Tense, or കാലം, denotes the time of action. Whether it is past, present, future or something in between. In malayalam, forming present test is pretty straight forward - add -ഉന്നു. For example, 
പോകുക -> പോകുന്നു, 
തിരിയുക -> തിരിയുന്നു, 
ചെയ്യുക -> ചെയ്യുന്നു, 
മറയ്ക്കുക  -> മറയ്ക്കുന്നു
വേവുക -> വേവുന്നു 

Forming future tense is also pretty easy - remove the ന്നു and add -ഉം.
പോകുക -> പോകും 
തിരിയുക -> തിരിയും 
ചെയ്യുക -> ചെയ്യും 
മറയ്ക്കുക  -> മറയ്ക്കും 
വേവുക -> വേവും 

As for the past, it is an entirely different story: 
പോകുക -> പോയി 
തിരിയുക -> തിരിഞ്ഞു 
ചെയ്യുക -> ചെയ്തു 
മറയ്ക്കുക -> മറച്ചു 
വേവുക -> വെന്തു 

And I did not pick four exceptions - in each category there are many common words one can come up with. (And these are not the only categories.)

There must be some rhyme or reason to this madness, I thought. So I set out to explore.

At the outset, does any one know of a common rule that can give rise to all these forms?


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