Malayalam grammar

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Malayalam is one of the Dravidian languages and as such has an agglutinative grammar. The word order is generally subject–object–verb, although other orders are often employed for reasons such as emphasis. Nouns are inflected for case and number, whilst verbs are conjugated for tense, mood and causativity (and also in archaic language for person, gender, number and polarity). Malayalam adjectives, adverbs, postpositions and conjunctions do not undergo any inflection; they are invariant. Being the linguistic successor of the macaronic Manipravalam, Malayalam grammar is based on Sanskrit too.

Nouns[edit]

The declensional paradigms for some common nouns and pronouns are given below. As Malayalam is an agglutinative language, it is difficult to delineate the cases strictly and determine how many there are, although seven or eight is the generally accepted number. Alveolar plosives and nasals (although the modern Malayalam script does not distinguish the latter from the dental nasal) are marked with a macron below, following the convention of the National Library at Kolkata romanization.

Pronouns[edit]

There are three persons - first, second and third. The first person has three forms - singular, inclusive plural (i.e. speaker, listener, and possibly others) and exclusive plural (i.e. speaker and others, but not the listener). The second person has three forms - singular informal, singular formal and plural. Of these, the singular formal and plural forms are similar. A fourth form ('respectful' or 'official') is sometimes used in certain official documents and announcements.

The third person has eight forms - proximal and distal forms of singular masculine, singular feminine, singular neutral and plural. The masculine and feminine genders are used for humans and anthropomorphised non-humans. Non-living objects, plants and most animals take the neutral gender. The plural form is used for multiple objects of any gender. The plural form can also be used for a single person, either to show respect, or because the gender is unknown or irrelevant.

Personal Pronoun
singular plural
1st person Exclusive

ഞാൻ

ñjān

ഞാൻ

ñjān

I

ഞങ്ങൾ

ñaṅṅaḷ

ഞങ്ങൾ

ñaṅṅaḷ

we

Inclusive

നാ൦

nām

/

/

നമ്മൾ

nammaḷ

നാ൦ / നമ്മൾ

nām / nammaḷ

we

2nd person Informal

നീ

നീ

you

നിങ്ങൾ

niṅṅaḷ

നിങ്ങൾ

niṅṅaḷ

you (all)

Formal

നിങ്ങൾ

niṅṅaḷ

നിങ്ങൾ

niṅṅaḷ

you

'Respectful' / 'Official'

താങ്കൾ

thāngal

താങ്കൾ

thāngal

you

3rd person Proximal Masculine

ഇവൻ

ivan

ഇവൻ

ivan

(this) he

ഇവർ

ivar

ഇവർ

ivar

(that) it

Feminine

ഇവൾ

ival

ഇവൾ

ival

(this) she

Neutral

ഇത്

ithu

ഇത്

ithu

(this) it

Distal Masculine

അവൻ

avan

അവൻ

avan

(that) he

അവർ

avar

അവർ

avar

(that) they

Feminine

അവൾ

avaḷ

അവൾ

avaḷ

(that) she

Neutral

അത്

athu

അത്

athu

(that) it

Cases[edit]

Vocative forms are given in parentheses after the nominative, as the only pronominal vocatives that are used are the third person ones, which only occur in compounds.

Singular
Case

വിഭക്തി

1st person 2nd person 3rd person (distal)[note 1]
informal formal masculine feminine neutral
Nominative

സംബോധന

ഞാൻ

ñān

തീ

നിങ്ങൾ

niṅṅaḷ

അവൻ

avan (voc. avanē)

അവൾ

avaḷ (voc. avaḷē)

അത്

athu (voc. athinē)

Accusative

പ്രതിഗ്രാഹിക

എന്നെ

enne

നിന്നെ

ninne

നിങ്ങളെ

niṅṅaḷe

അവനെ

avane

അവളെ

avaḷe

അതിനെ

athine

Genitive

സംബന്ധിക

എന്റെ/എൻ/എണ്റ്റെ

enṭe/en/ennuṭe

നിന്റെ/നിൻ/നിന്നുടെ

ninṭe/nin/ninnuṭe

നിങ്ങളുടെ

niṅṅaḷuṭe

അവന്റെ/അവണ്റ്റെ

avanṭe/avanuṭe

അവളുടെ

avaḷuṭe

അതിന്റെ

athinṭe

Dative

ഉദ്ദേശിക

എനിക്ക്

enikku

നിനക്കു

ninakku

നിങ്ങൾക്കു

niṅṅaḷkku

അവനു

avanu

അവൾക്കു

avaḷkku

അതിനു

athinu

Instrumental

പ്രായോജിക

എന്നാൽ

ennāl

നിന്നാൽ

ninnāl

നിങ്ങളാൽ

niṅṅaḷāl

അവനാൽ

avanāl

അവളത്

avaḷāl

അതിനാൽ

athināl

Locative

ആധാരിക

എന്നിൽ

ennil

നിന്നിൽ

ninnil

നിങ്ങളിൽ

niṅṅaḷil

അവനിൽ

avanil

അവളിൽ

avaḷil

അതിൽ

athil

Sociative

സംയോജിക

എന്നോട്

ennōṭu

നിന്നോട്

ninnōṭu

നിങ്ങളോട്

niṅṅaḷōṭu

അവനോട്

avanōṭu

അവളോട്‌

avaḷōṭu

അതിനോട്

athinōtu

Notes:
  1. ^ For proximal form, replace the initial 'a' with an 'i'.
Plural
Case

വിഭക്തി

1st person 2nd person 3rd person
exclusive inclusive
Nominative

സംബോധന

ഞങ്ങൾ

ñaṅṅaḷ

നാം/നമ്മൾ

nām/nammaḷ

നിങ്ങൾ

niṅṅaḷ

അവർ

avar (voc. avarē)

Accusative

പ്രതിഗ്രാഹിക

ഞങ്ങളെ

ñaṅṅaḷe

നമ്മളെ

nammale

നിങ്ങളെ

niṅṅaḷe

അവരെ

avare

Genitive

സംബന്ധിക

ഞങ്ങളുടെ/ഞങ്ങുടെ

ñaṅṅaḷuṭe/ñaṅuṭe

നമ്മുടെ

nammuṭe

നിങ്ങളുടെ

niṅṅaḷuṭe

അവരുടെ

avaruṭe

Dative

ഉദ്ദേശിക

ഞങ്ങൾക്ക്/നമ്മൾക്ക്

ñaṅṅaḷkk/ñammaḷkku

നമ്മക്ക്

namukku

നിങ്ങൾക്കു

niṅṅaḷkku

അവർക്കു

avarkku

Instrumental

പ്രായോജിക

ഞങ്ങളാൽ/ഞങ്ങൾ

ñaṅṅaḷāl/ñaṅṅaḷ

നമ്മളാൽ

nammaḷāl

നിങ്ങളാൽ

niṅṅaḷāl

അവരാൽ

avarāl

Locative

ആധാരിക

ഞങ്ങളിൽ

ñaṅṅaḷil

നമ്മളിൽ

nammaḷil

നിങ്ങളിൽ

niṅṅaḷil

അവരിൽ

avaril

Sociative

സംയോജിക

ഞങ്ങളോട്

ñaṅṅaḷōṭu

നമ്മളോട്

nammaḷōṭu

നിങ്ങളോട്

niṅṅaḷōṭu

അവരോട്

avarōṭu

The mnemonic 'നിപ്രസം ഉപ്രസം ആ' created by combining the first sounds of the case names is used.

Number[edit]

The suffix -കൾ (-kaḷ), which changes to -ങ്ങൾ (-ṅṅaḷ) when the nouns ends in -അം (-aṁ), is the most common suffix for denoting plural nouns. It is used by all inanimate nouns, concrete or abstract, and most animate, non-gendered nouns. Two other suffixes, -മാർ (-mār) and അർ (-ar), are used exclusively by a few animate nouns. All suffixes follow the sandhi (സന്ധി) rules where applicable, and are not used when preceded by numeral adjectives. The following are a few examples.

Word Singular Plural
book പുസ്തകം (pustakaṁ) പുസ്തകങ്ങൾ (pustakaṅṅaḷ)
umbrella കുട (kuṭa) കുടകൾ (kuṭakaḷ)
child കുട്ടി (kuṭṭi) കുട്ടികൾ (kuṭṭikaḷ)
dog നായ (nāya) നായ്ക്കൾ (nāykkaḷ)
mother അമ്മ (amma) അമ്മമാർ (ammamār)
human മനുഷ്യൻ (manuṣyan) മനുഷ്യർ (manuṣyar)

Other nouns[edit]

The following are examples of some of the most common declensional patterns.

Word tree elephant human dog
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative maram marangaḷ āaṉa āaṉakaḷ maṉuṣyaṉ maṉuṣyar paṭṭi paṭṭikaḷ
Vocative maramē marangaḷē āaṉē āaṉakaḷē maṉuṣyā maṉuṣyarē paṭṭī paṭṭikaḷē
Accusative marattiṉe maraṅṅaḷe āaṉaye āaṉakaḷe maṉuṣyaṉe maṉuṣyare paṭṭiye paṭṭikaḷe
Genitive marathiṉṯe maraṅgalude āaṉayude āaṉakaḷude maṉuṣyaṉṯe maṉuṣyarude paṭṭiyude paṭṭikaḷude
Dative marathinu maraṅgaḷkku āaṉaykku āaṉakaḷkku maṉuṣyaṉu maṉuṣyarkku paṭṭiykku paṭṭikaḷkku
Instrumental marathāl maraṅgaḷāl āaṉayāl āaṉakaḷāl maṉuṣyaṉāl maṉuṣyarāl paṭṭiyāl paṭṭikaḷāl
Locative marathil maraṅgaḷil āaṉayil āaṉakaḷil maṉuṣyaṉil maṉuṣyaril paṭṭiyil paṭṭikaḷil
Sociative marathōdu maraṅgaḷōdu āaṉayōdu āaṉakaḷōdu maṉuṣyaṉōdu maṉuṣyarōdu paṭṭiyōdu paṭṭikaḷōdu

Adjectives[edit]

Malayalam is thought to have no semantic category for adjectives, and instead relies heavily on using participial relative clauses for modifying nouns.[1] There are two classes of words that typically act as adjectives.[2]

  1. Native roots + a: This includes words such as നല്ല (nalla, good), വലിയ (valiya, big), and ചെറിയ (cheṟiya, short). All such words can be directly used as adjectives, without further modification. The conventional view regarding this category of words is that they typically encode the possession of the property they signify in the participial marker (-a) attached to them, meaning a word such as നല്ല (nalla) would actually mean "having goodness". For instance: ഇതൊരു നല്ല പുസ്തകമാണ് (ithoru nalla pustakamāṇ), translating to "this is a good book", could be thought to mean "this is a goodness-having book". Note that when used in typical relative clauses, the marker -a can be inflected for tense, but not when used here in an adjectival sense.
  2. Borrowed roots + am: This includes words such as സങ്കടം (saṅkaṭaṁ, sadness), സന്തോഷം (santōṣaṁ, happiness), and ഉയരം (uyaraṁ, height/tallness). The -am at the end signifies the word's quality as a noun, which means that to use it as an adjective it has to be modified. This is in the form of -ഉള്ള (uḷḷa), the suffix for the non-finite existential copula. For instance: അവൻ ഉയരമുള്ള കുട്ടിയാണ് (avan uyaramuḷḷa kuṭṭiyāṇ, translating to "he is a tall child") could be thought to mean "he is a tallness-having child". Since the suffix is non-finite it does not vary with tense or person.

All adjectives in Malayalam must be used with succeeding nouns or noun phrases, i.e., they cannot be used as predicate adjectives (e.g.: good in "this book is good"), which are not typically used in Malayalam. Certain suffixes do exist that help create similar constructions that don't require specifying the entire noun. For example, the suffixes -വൻ (-van) and വൾ (-vaḷ) denote males and females respectively, so the sentence "she is tall" could be translated as അവൾ ഉയരമുള്ളവൾ ആണ് (avaḷ uyaramuḷḷavaḷ āṇ), where the noun for "girl" was replaced by its corresponding suffix.

Verbs[edit]

Inflection of Malayalam verbs occurs for tense, aspect, and mode (TAM), and not for number (plurality) or gender. The verb stem, combined with a consonant and the ending -ക (-uka), forms the dictionary form of verbs.[3]

Tenses[edit]

Broadly, there are three tenses in Malayalam language: present, past and future. Verb forms in different tenses are created by either simply replacing the infinitive ending -ക (for present and future tense), or by suffixing the verb stem with a special marker depending on the class of the verb (for past tense). Verb conjugations for the verb "പോകുക" (pōkuka, to go) based on the commonly recognized aspects in Malayalam are given below. [4]The past tense marker in this case is -ഇ (-i).

Tenses
Past Present Future
Simple

പോയി

pōyi

പോയി

pōyi

പോകുന്നു

pōkunnu

പോകുന്നു

pōkunnu

പോകും

pōkum

പോകും

pōkum

Continuous

പോവുകയായിരുന്നു

pōvukayāyirunnu

പോവുകയായിരുന്നു

pōvukayāyirunnu

പോവുകയാണ്

pōvukayāṇ

പോവുകയാണ്

pōvukayāṇ

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കും

pōyikkoṇṭirikkum

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കും

pōyikkoṇṭirikkum

Perfect

പോയിട്ടുണ്ടായിരുന്നു

pōyiṭṭuṇṭāyirunnu

പോയിട്ടുണ്ടായിരുന്നു

pōyiṭṭuṇṭāyirunnu

പോയിട്ടുണ്ട്

pōyiṭṭuṇṭ

പോയിട്ടുണ്ട്

pōyiṭṭuṇṭ

പോയിട്ടുണ്ടാകും

pōyiṭṭuṇṭākum

പോയിട്ടുണ്ടാകും

pōyiṭṭuṇṭākum

Perfect continuous

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ടായിരുന്നു

pōyikkoṇṭirikkunnuṇṭāyirunnu

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ടായിരുന്നു

pōyikkoṇṭirikkunnuṇṭāyirunnu

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്

pōyikkoṇṭirikkunnuṇṭ

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്

pōyikkoṇṭirikkunnuṇṭ

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ടാകും

pōyikkoṇṭirikkunnuṇṭākum

പോയിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ടാകും

pōyikkoṇṭirikkunnuṇṭākum

Habitual

പോകാറുണ്ടായിരുന്നു

pōkāṟuṇṭāyirunnu

പോകാറുണ്ടായിരുന്നു

pōkāṟuṇṭāyirunnu

പോകാറുണ്ട്

pōkāṟuṇṭ

പോകാറുണ്ട്

pōkāṟuṇṭ

-

Copula[edit]

Malayalam employs two defective verbs as its copulas. The first, -ആക് (āk), is the plain equative copula. The second, -ഉണ്ട് (uṇṭŭ), is the locative copula and also used to indicate possession (with the subject/possessor in the dative case). These verbs change forms in different tenses and are usually suffixed to the noun phrases that are specified by the copula. The table below lists some examples.

Example Notes
Equative

അവൻ

avan

സന്തുഷ്ടനാണ്

santuṣṭanāṇŭ

അവൻ സന്തുഷ്ടനാണ്

avan santuṣṭanāṇŭ

He is happy

Present tense form of ആക് is ആണ് (āṇŭ)

അവൻ

avan

സന്തുഷ്ടനായിരുന്നു

santuṣṭanāyirunnu

അവൻ സന്തുഷ്ടനായിരുന്നു

avan santuṣṭanāyirunnu

He was happy

Past tense form of ആക് is ആയിരുന്നു (āyirunnu)

അവൻ

avan

സന്തുഷ്ടനാകും

santuṣṭanākuṁ

അവൻ സന്തുഷ്ടനാകും

avan santuṣṭanākuṁ

He will be happy

Future tense form of ആക് is അകും (ākuṁ)
Locative

അവൻ

avan

വീട്ടിലുണ്ട്

vīṭṭiluṇṭŭ

അവൻ വീട്ടിലുണ്ട്

avan vīṭṭiluṇṭŭ

He is in the house

ഉണ്ട് stays the same in the present tense

അവൻ

avan

വീട്ടിൽ

vīṭṭil

ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു

uṇṭāyirunnu

അവൻ വീട്ടിൽ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു

avan vīṭṭil uṇṭāyirunnu

He was in the house

Past tense form of ഉണ്ട് is ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു (uṇṭāyirunnu)

അവൻ

avan

വീട്ടിൽ

vīṭṭil

ഉണ്ടാകും

uṇṭākuṁ

അവൻ വീട്ടിൽ ഉണ്ടാകും

avan vīṭṭil uṇṭākuṁ

He will be in the house

Future tense form of ഉണ്ട് is ഉണ്ടാകും (uṇṭākuṁ)
Possessive

അവൾക്ക്

avaḷkkŭ

ഒരു

oru

പുസ്തകമുണ്ട്

pustakamuṇṭ

അവൾക്ക് ഒരു പുസ്തകമുണ്ട്

avaḷkkŭ oru pustakamuṇṭ

She has a book

അവൾക്ക്

avaḷkkŭ

ഒരു

oru

പുസ്തകം

pustakaṁ

ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു

uṇṭāyirunnu

അവൾക്ക് ഒരു പുസ്തകം ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു

avaḷkkŭ oru pustakaṁ uṇṭāyirunnu

She had a book

അവൾക്ക്

avaḷkkŭ

ഒരു

oru

പുസ്തകം

pustakaṁ

ഉണ്ടാകും

uṇṭākuṁ

അവൾക്ക് ഒരു പുസ്തകം ഉണ്ടാകും

avaḷkkŭ oru pustakaṁ uṇṭākuṁ

She will have a book

Negation[edit]

Standard negation is expressed through the use of the negative particle/suffix -ഇല്ല (-illa, literally "no"), regardless of tense.[5] The equative copula -ആക്, however, is negated by the negative suffix -അല്ല (-alla) in the present tense; in all other tenses -ഇല്ല is used. When these particles are suffixed to their corresponding noun phrases, sandhi (സന്ധി) rules must be obeyed.

Example Notes

അവൻ

avan

സന്തുഷ്ടനല്ല

santuṣṭanalla

അവൻ സന്തുഷ്ടനല്ല

avan santuṣṭanalla

He is not happy

Equative copula negated by -അല്ല (-alla) in the present tense

അവൻ

avan

സന്തുഷ്ടനായിരുന്നില്ല

santuṣṭanāyirunnilla

അവൻ സന്തുഷ്ടനായിരുന്നില്ല

avan santuṣṭanāyirunnilla

He was not happy

Equative copula negated by -ഇല്ല (-illa) in any tense other than the present tense

അവൾക്ക്

avaḷkkŭ

ഒരു

oru

പുസ്തകമില്ല

pustakamilla

അവൾക്ക് ഒരു പുസ്തകമില്ല

avaḷkkŭ oru pustakamilla

She does not have a book

All other negations use -ഇല്ല (-illa)

അവൾ

avaḷ

പോകുന്നില്ല

pōkunnilla

അവൾ പോകുന്നില്ല

avaḷ pōkunnilla

She is not going

അവർ

avar

ഇവിടെയില്ല

iviṭeyilla

അവർ ഇവിടെയില്ല

avar iviṭeyilla

They are not here

Sandhi (സന്ധി)[edit]

Malayalam is an agglutinative language, and words can be joined in many ways. These ways are called sandhi (literally 'junction'). There are basically two genres of Sandhi used in Malayalam - one group unique to Malayalam, and the other one common with Sanskrit. Thus, we have the "Malayala Sandhi" and "Samskrita Sandhi".

Sandhi unique to Malayalam[edit]

There are basically four Sandhi types unique to Malayalam - the "lōpa sandhi", "dvitva sandhi", "āgama sandhi" and "ādēśa sandhi".

Lōpa sandhi or "Elision"(ലോപ സന്ധി)[edit]

The Lopa sandhi occurs when the varna (vowel) at the end of a word is lost when it merges with another word. In most cases, the varna is the "samvr̥tōkāram". (the "closed u sound").

ex:

കണ്ടു

athŭ

+

+

ഇല്ല

illa

=

=

കണ്ടില്ല

athilla

കണ്ടു + ഇല്ല = കണ്ടില്ല

athŭ + illa = athilla

ex:

അത്‌

nannu

+

+

ആയതു

alla

=

=

അതായത്

nannalla

അത്‌ + ആയതു = അതായത്

nannu + alla = nannalla

Dvitva Sandhi or "Rule of doubling"[edit]

In Malayalam, germination is more in tense consonants and less in lax consonants. When two words combine in which the first is the qualifier and the qualified, the tense consonants initial to the second word germinates.

ex:

പോയി

pōyi

+

+

പറഞ്ഞു

paraññu

=

=

പോയിപ്പറഞ്ഞു

pōyipparaññu

പോയി + പറഞ്ഞു = പോയിപ്പറഞ്ഞു

pōyi + paraññu = pōyipparaññu

ex:

മര

mara

+

+

കൊമ്പ്

komb

=

=

മരക്കൊമ്പ്

marakkombu

മര + കൊമ്പ് = മരക്കൊമ്പ്

mara + komb = marakkombu

ex:

എന്നെ

enne

+

+

കുറിച്ച്

kurich

=

=

എന്നെക്കുറിച്ച്

ennekkurich

എന്നെ + കുറിച്ച് = എന്നെക്കുറിച്ച്

enne + kurich = ennekkurich

Āgama sandhi or "Rule of arrival" (ആഗമ സന്ധി)[edit]

When two vowels undergo Sandhi, a consonant ("y" or "v") is added to avoid the pronunciation difficulty.

ex:

വഴി

vazhi

+

+

അമ്പലം

ampalam

=

=

വഴിയമ്പലം

vazhiyampalam.

വഴി + അമ്പലം = വഴിയമ്പലം

vazhi + ampalam = vazhiyampalam.

ex:

ഭാഷ

Bhasha

+

+

ഉടെ

ude

=

=

ഭാഷയുടെ

bhashayude

(യ)

(y)

ഭാഷ + ഉടെ = ഭാഷയുടെ (യ)

Bhasha + ude = bhashayude (y)

Nimishathil

Ādēśa Sandhi or "Rule of substitution"[edit]

In this Sandhi, one letter is substituted by another during concatenation.

ex:

വിൺ

viṇ

+

+

തലം

thalam

=

=

വിണ്ടലം

viṇṭalam

 

(th replaced by ṭ)

വിൺ + തലം = വിണ്ടലം

viṇ + thalam = viṇṭalam

This sandhi also includes Sanskrit Sandhi forms like vi + samam = viamam.

Sandhi common with Sanskrit[edit]

These Sandhi rules are basically inherited from Sanskrit, and are used in conjunction with Sanskrit vocabulary which forms approximately 80% of Modern Standard Malayalam (the entire Sanskrit vocabulary is also usable with appropriate changes).[6][7] The rules like savarṇadīrgha sandhi, yaṇ sandhi, guṇa sandhi, vr̥ddhi sandhi and visarga sandhis are used without changes.

Samāsam (സമാസം)[edit]

All the Sanskrit samāsa rules are adapted to Malayalam compounds. In Malayalam, the tatpurusha compounds are classified according to the vibhakti they are based on, during compounding. The "alaṅkāraṁ" is also used to classify tatpurusha compounds. There are 4 types of samasam-1)aavyayi bhavan 2) thathpurusha 3) dvandan 4) bahuvrihi

Vr̥ttaṁ (വൃത്തം)[edit]

The vr̥ttaṁ consists of metres of Malayalam prosody. Like Sandhi, there are specific vr̥ttaṁs unique to Malayalam apart from the metres common with Sanskrit. As in case of Sandhi, the Malayalam vrittams are also named in Sanskrit.

Alaṅkāram (അലങ്കാരം)[edit]

Alaṅkāraṁ or "ornamentation" is also based on Sanskritic grammarian classification. It consists of the different figures of speech used in Malayalam poetry. Being successor to Sanskrit and Manipravalam, most of Sanskrit alankaras are used in Malayalam. Thus, the common figures of speech in poems are rūpakaṁ, utprēkṣā, upamā etc.

Words adopted from Sanskrit[edit]

When words are adopted from Sanskrit, their endings are usually changed to conform to Malayalam norms:

Nouns[edit]

  1. Masculine Sanskrit nouns with a Word stem ending in a short "a" take the ending "an" in the nominative singular. For example, Kr̥ṣṇa -> Kr̥ṣṇan. The final "n" is dropped before masculine surnames, honorifics, or titles ending in "an" and beginning with a consonant other than "n" – e.g. Krishna Menon, Krishna Kaniyaan etc., but Krishnan Ezhutthachan. Surnames ending with "ar" or "aḷ" (where these are plural forms of "an" denoting respect) are treated similarly – Krishna Pothuval, Krishna Chakyar, but Krishnan Nair, Krishnan Nambiar, as are Sanskrit surnames such "Varma(n)", "Sharma(n)", or "Gupta(n)" (rare) – e.g. Krishna Varma, Krishna Sharman.[citation needed] If a name is a compound, only the last element undergoes this transformation – e.g. Kr̥ṣṇa + dēva = Kr̥ṣṇadēvan, not Kr̥ṣṇandēvan.
  2. Feminine words ending in a long "ā" or "ī" are changed so that they now end in a short "a" or "i", for example Sītā -> Sīta and Lakṣmī -> Lakṣmi. However, the long vowel still appears in compound words, such as Sītādēvi orLakṣmīdēvi. The long ī is generally reserved for the vocative forms of these names, although in Sanskrit the vocative actually takes a short "i". There are also a small number of nominative "ī" endings that have not been shortened – a prominent example being the word "strī" "woman".
  3. Nouns that have a stem in -an and which end with a long "ā" in the masculine nominative singular have a "vŭ" added to them, for exampleBrahmā (stem Brahman) -> Brahmāvŭ. When the same nouns are declined in the neuter and take a short "a" ending in Sanskrit, Malayalam adds an additional "m", e.g. Brahma (neuter nominative singular of Brahman) becomes Brahmam. This is again omitted when forming compounds.[citation needed]
  4. Words whose roots end in -an but whose nominative singular ending is -a – for example, the Sanskrit root of "Karma" is actually "Karman" –are also changed. The original root is ignored and "Karma" (the form in Malayalam being "Karmam" because it ends in a short "a") is taken as the basic form of the noun when declining.[8] However, this does not apply to all consonant stems, as "unchangeable" stems such as "manasa" ("mind") and "suhr̥ta (friend)" are identical to the Malayalam nominative singular forms (although the regularly derived "manam" sometimes occurs as an alternative to "manasa").
  5. Sanskrit words describing things or animals rather than people with a stem in short "a" end with an "m" Malayalam. For example, Rāmāyaṇa -> Rāmāyaṇam. In most cases, this is actually the as the Sanskrit ending, which is also "m" (or allophonically anusvara due to Sandhi) in the neuter nominative. However, "things and animals" and "people" are not always differentiated based on whether or not they are sentient beings – for example Narasimha becomes Narasiṃham and not Narasiṃhan, whereas Ananta becomes Anantan even though both are sentient.
  6. Nouns with short vowel stems other than "a", such as "Viṣṇu", "Prajāpati" etc. are declined with the Sanskrit stem acting as the Malayalam nominative singular (the Sanskrit nominative singular is formed by adding a visarga, e.g. Viṣṇuḥ)[citation needed]
  7. The original Sanskrit vocative is often used in formal or poetic Malayalam, e.g. "Harē" (for Hari) or "Prabhō" (for "Prabhu" – "lord"). This is restricted to certain contexts – mainly when addressing deities or other exalted individuals, so a normal man named Hari would usually be addressed using a Malayalam vocative such as "Harī". The Sanskrit genitive is also occasionally found in Malayalam poetry, especially the personal pronouns "mama" (my/ mine) and "tava" (thy/ thine). Other cases are less common and generally restricted to the realm of Maṇipravāḷam.
  8. Along with these tatsama borrowings, there are also many tadbhava words in common use. These were borrowed into Malayalam before it became distinct from Tamil. As the language did not then accommodate Sanskrit phonology as it now does, words were changed to conform to the Old Tamil phonological system. For example: Kr̥ṣṇa -> Kaṇṇan.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mathew, Rosmin. "SIMPLy Malayalam Participials" (PDF).
  2. ^ Menon, Mythili. "The grammatical life of property concept roots in Malayalam".
  3. ^ Jiang, Haowen. "Malayalam: a Grammatical Sketch and a Text" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Difficulties in Processing Malayalam Verbs for Statistical Machine Translation". International Journal of Artificial Intelligence & Applications. 6 (3): 13–24. 2015. doi:10.5121/ijaia.2015.6302.
  5. ^ Lindblom, Camilla. "Negation in Dravidian languages" (PDF).
  6. ^ https://aircconline.com/ijaia/V6N3/6315ijaia02.pdf
  7. ^ Malayalam Literary Survey, Volume 27, Kerala Sahitya Akademi, 2005
  8. ^ Varma, A.R. Rajaraja (2005). Keralapanineeyam. Kottayam: D C Books. p. 303. ISBN 81-7130-672-1.
  9. ^ Varma, A.R. Rajaraja (2005). Keralapanineeyam. Kottayam: D C Books. pp. 301–302. ISBN 81-7130-672-1.

3. Ravi Sankar S Nair 2012 A Grammar of Malayalam http://www.languageinindia.com/nov2012/ravisankarmalayalamgrammar.pdf