Lesson 1- "Conjugated letters"

Remember Dr. Thomas Samuel? He's the one who taught you all those Malayalam letters. Then he has a Lesson 5 and a Lesson 6 which are still under construction!

I am NOT joking--they have been under construction for over a month! Honestly! Remember what he said? "Bear with me until December 2005"! Um...it's already October 2006...!

I guess we can't rely on him, can we? So I'll see if I can try continuing his lessons for him. Maybe something happened to his computer. Or maybe he's just too busy; I'm pretty sure that he's actually a professor.

So let's start and continue his great work. I think what he calls "conjugated letters" in his 5th lesson are actually the way that letters are stacked on top of each other in Malayalam. (Huh? you ask!)

Let me try to explain with the word "passing." This word is pronounced like "pas-sing," not like "pas-ing." Notice how you use a glottal sound "ss" instead of a normal "s". It's easier to understand if you know French, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Khmer, or Burmese. Arabic- and Persian-speakers, I'm trying to explain what you might call "shadda" or "tashdid." French-speakers, notice how if you say "tonneau" how that's different from saying "toneau"; the consonant is more glottal. Hindi-speakers, notice the word "bachchha" (children) and see how "chchh" is a combination of "ch" and "chh"? If you still don't get it, don't worry! I'll have examples!

Let's start with the word "kachcha," a colloquial/written word which can mean both a loincloth and a rope tied around the elephant's neck! Oh boy, the elephant's hoping that it means the former!!!

It is written like: . Listen!

See that symbol below the ? That means it isn't pronounced like a nonexistent word /kacha/. Listen!

So + = . Easy, isn't it? But hard to remember, I admit. Let's do another one: "kanjnji" which is the Malayalam word for "congee." (I know they don't have the correct definition for "congee" in Webster's Dictionary! But you wouldn't expect them to have "croque-monsieur" either, would you? Congee is a simple porridge eaten in China and India, basically boiled rice in its water with salt, but it is GOOD! Plus you can add some pickle or vegetables to make it taste better.)

In Malayalam, this great porridge is written and said as E. Listen! Not /kanji/ another nonsense word which never did, and never will, exist! Listen to the nonsense word!

And +=E. I don't think you will have much problem remembering that, will you? I sure hope not!! Now let me show you some more consonant combinations:

+=G /Ta/ + /Ta/ = /TTa/. Listen!

޿ /paaTam/ colloquial and written for paddy or land expanse. Listen! G /paaTTam/ col. and written for rent, as in hire or lease. Listen!

This isn't too much to digest, is it? It isn't? Good!

That's the end of today's lesson. I'm not expecting you to learn the words here, but you may, if you wish! Go to the Practice Corner for some useful exercises about this and/or the Poetry section to find the first poem presented on this website!