Suriyani Malayalam

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Suriyani Malayalam, also known as Karshoni or Syriac Malayalam, is a dialect of Malayalam written 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 uses Malayalam grammar, the 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 in writing Malayalam using the script of Syriac, a Semitic language. Only 22 letters were available from East Syriac orthography to render over 53 phonemes of Malayalam. These problems were overcome by creating additional letters.[4]


Over the centuries, the Malayalam language borrowed several East Syriac words. A few of them are given below:

Original Syriac Suriyani Malayalam Meaning
Emma[5] Amma Mother
Aba Appan Father
Nasraya, Nasrani Nasrani Follower of Jesus
Pesħa[3] Pesaha Passover
Malakha[2] Malakha Angel
Qudasha[2] Kudasha Sacrament
Mamoditha[2][3] Mamodisa Baptism
Sliva Sliva Cross
Isho'[2] Isho Jesus
Qurbana[2] Qurbana Eucharist (for Holy Mass)
M'shiħa[2][3] Mishiha Anointed
Dukhrana Dukrana Remembrance
Qasisha Kathanar/Kasnar Syrian priest
Mar Mar Lord, Sir
Ruħa Ruha Holy Spirit
Shliħa Shliha Apostle


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. ^ "Proposal to Encode Syriac Letters for Garshuni Malayalam" (PDF). 
  5. ^ Mar Thomma Margam by Fr. Varghese Pathikulangara