Suriyani Malayalam

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Suriyani Malayalam
Languages Malayalam, East Syriac
Time period
c. 500 to the present
Parent systems

Suriyani Malayalam, also known as Karshoni or Syriac Malayalam, is a traditional system of writing Malayalam language in a variant form of Syriac script which was popular among the Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasranis) of Kerala in India.[1][2][3] It is a blend of Malayalam grammatical base, East Syriac script with special orthographic features, and vocabulary from Malayalam and East Syriac. This originated in the South Indian region of the Malabar Coast (modern day Kerala). Until the 19th century, the script was widely used by Syrian Christians in Kerala.


There were many problems to write Malayalam using letters covering East Syriac, a Semitic language. Only 22 letters were available from East Syriac orthography to render over 53 phonemes of Malayalam. It was overcome by creating additional letters.

Over the centuries, several East Syriac words used in Suriyani Malayalam came to be assimilated to the Malayalam language. A few of them are given below:

Word Meaning Original Form
Amma Mother Emma[4]
Appan Father Aba
Nasrani Follower of Jesus Nasraya, Nasrani
Pesaha Passover Pesaha[3]
Malakha Angel Malaka[2]
Kudasha Sacrament Qudasha[2]
Mamodisa Baptism Mamodisa[2][3]
Sliva Cross Sliba
Easow Jesus Iso'[2]
Qurbana Eucharist (for Holy Mass) Qurbana[2]
Mishiha Anointed Mishiha[2][3]
Dukrana Remembrance Dukrana
Kathanar Syrian priest Kasnar
Mar Lord,Sir Mar
Rooha Holy Spirit Ruha
Shliha Apostle Shliha


Vedatharkam written by Kariattil Mar Ousep Malpan is one of the famous books written in Suriyani Malayalam.[1] Large number of documents written in Suriyani Malayalam are found among the Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis of Kerala.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Suriyani Malayalam, Nasrani Foundation
  2. ^ a b c d e f g A sacred language is vanishing from State, The Hindu
  3. ^ a b c d Prayer from the Past, India Today
  4. ^ Mar Thomma Margam by Fr. Varghese Pathikulangara