Lesson #10


engngane irikkunnu?

How are you doing?

Welcome to our second lesson of actually learning the Malayalam language! Don't forget to learn AT YOUR OWN PACE!! If it seems like one lesson is taking you even an entire year to learn, don't worry!

You may view this lesson in three ways:

1. With Malayalam script, phonetics, and English translation (on this page),

2. with Malayalam script and English translation, or

3. with Malayalam script and English translation for everything except the Dialogue.


آâ /sambhaashaNam/ Dialogue

Sam, Charlotte, and Vasudevan couldn't spend too much time chatting with Mr. Kurien Chacko in Kuwait. In fact, they are already at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram (or "Trivandrum"), the capital of Kerala! Since India is very big (population-wise) and the airport is very small, everyone waiting for those who have arrived at the airport is standing outside. Our friends try to find Vasudevan's friend, Mohan (who already knows a little about Sam and Charlotte), but don't have much success until suddenly, they hear Mohan call out...

Click here to listen to the whole conversation! (No matter how pathetic I obviously am at imitating voices :-P)

X: !

mOhan: eTaa vaasudEvaa!

X: ! (Mohan approaches.) BI?

vaasudEvan: mOhanE! engnganuNT?

: , M. a GV?

mO: O, kuzhappamilla. ivaraaNO ninte kuuTTukaar?

: . ޢ, c Vx. (to Sam and Charlotte) a GX X.

vaa: athe. ith(u) saam, ithavaruTe bhaarya shaarlat. ithente kuuTTukaaran mOhan.

Vx: .

saamum shaarlatum: namaskaaram.

: . B AK?

mO: namaskaaram. engngane irikkunnu?

: BZ ޢ GAK.

shaa: njangngaL ellaam sukhamaayiTTirikkunnu.

ޢ: X ߿K K? LJWK?

saam: mOhan eviTuunnaa vannath(u)? thiruvananthapuraththilninnaaNO?

: . X WK.

mO: alla. njaan aayuurilninnaaN(u).


English Translation

Mohan: Hey, Vasudevan!

Vasudevan: Mohan! (Mohan approaches.) How's it going?

M: Fine. Are these your friends?

V: Yeah. This is Sam, (and) this is his wife, Charlotte. (to Sam and Charlotte) This is my friend, Vasudevan.

Sam and Charlotte: Greetings.

M: Greetings. How are you doing?

C: All of us are fine.

S: Where are you from, Mohan? From Thiruvananthapuram?

M: No. I'm from Ayur.


eTaa!                                                           (see Note #2)                                                  ! Listen!

vaasudEvaa!                                              Vasudevan!                                            ! Listen!

mOhanE!                                                    Mohan!                                                    ! Listen!

engnganuNT?                                          How's it going?                                        BI? Listen!

O...                                                                Oh...                                                          ... Listen!

kuzhappam                                                 problem                                                M Listen!

illa                                                             there isn't                                                    Listen!

kuzhappamilla.                                         (I'm) fine.                                            M. Listen!

ivar                                                       they (see Note #3)                                        V Listen!

ninte                                                        your (familiar)                                            a Listen!

athe                                                            yes                                                          Listen!

avaruTe                                                    his (in this case)                                       Listen!

engngane?                                                how?                                                         B? Listen!

irikkunnu                                                am/is/are sitting/remaining                        AK Listen!

engngane irikkunnu?                              How are you?                       B AK? Listen!

njangngaL                                              (one word for "we")                                BZ Listen!

ellaam                                                        all                                                        ޢ Listen!

sukhamaayiTT                                        comfortably                                            G Listen!

sukhamaayiTTirikkunnu                        am/is/are fine                                GAK Listen!

eviTuunnaa?                                        From where am/is/are ____?                     ߿K? Listen!

vannath(u)                                              that (you) came                                           K Listen!

alla                                                            no                                                            Listen!


GU /arriyaanaayiTTuLLathu/ What There Is To Know

The airport in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, is just like the average Indian airport. It doesn't look very clean, and there are tons of people waiting in line. If you want to get through the line quickly, try to get to know someone that works at the airport.

Kerala consists mostly of tropical rainforest because it is humid and has plenty of rain. You don't have to bring an umbrella if you don't want to (there are plenty for sale in Kerala!). However, you definitely should wear light, cotton clothing when possible (i.e. if you're not going to a formal occasion or workplace where pants and/or long-sleeved shirts are required).

Ayur is a small town in Kollam district (or "Quilon" district, as the British might have called it before independence). Kollam district is just north of Thiruvananthapuram district (and if you remember the notes from the last lesson, you should also be able to guess that Kollam's capital is Kollam and that Thiruvananthapuram's capital is...well, you know!). So, Ayur isn't a very long way from Thiruvananthapuram; it's only a distance of about 54 km (34 mi).  


c޵â /vyaakaraNam/ Grammar

1. ! ! The Vocative Case (آ ͵)

First, let me briefly explain what a "case" is (for those who do not already know the grammar of Latin or some other language that uses cases). (You don't have to memorize the information about cases; just try to understand what I'm saying!)

Let's say that I have the word "I." "I" is always a/the subject of the clause in which it is used. For example, you can say:

"I am explaining all this too fast!" or "My friend and I are reading this lesson and getting totally confused!!!"

But you CANNOT say: "Pick I!" and try to use "I" as the object of the sentence. Since "I" must be a/the subject of the clause where it's used, it is called the nominative case of...the word "I"!

Let's go back to that last sentence ("Pick I!"). How would you correct that sentence? Well, you would say, "Pick me!" instead of "Pick I!"

Since "me" is the object (or "accusative") form of the word "I," it is called the accusative case of the word "I." So a "case" is just any form of a noun or pronoun.

Now, here's the part where you need to start memorizing again!

In Malayalam, you must use vocative case when trying to address someone. For instance, if you're trying to call your friend Balti (from Lesson #5) by saying "Balti!" you're using the vocative case. 

But the problem is, in Malayalam, the vocative case isn't the same as the nominative (subject) case. So, if you want to call X (Vasudevan), you can't just say, "X!" (You know what you're ACTUALLY supposed to say, don't you?!)................(OK, it's "!")

So, how do you form the vocative case in Malayalam? Well, it all depends on the ending of the noun in question...and, in some cases, how far away you are from the person you're calling!

For the most part, if you're calling somebody by name, you put the sound -E at the end of the name. So, to say, "Sam! Charlotte!" for instance, you say ! Vx!

So, to say, "Mohan!" would you just say ! ?

The answer is: it depends on how far away you are from Mohan. If you're yelling "Mohan!!" then yes, you can say ! But if you're a close distance away, you say ! Listen! 

If you're trying to address someone whose name ends in a vowel (not r), like Balti (W) or Minu (), the way you address them depends on what vowel their name ends in.

If it ends in -a, just take out the -a and put -E instead.

If it ends in -u, -uu, -o, -O, -au, then you must add the suffix -! ! Listen! 

If it ends in any other vowel, add -! instead. W! Listen! 

But wait a minute! Even with all these rules...why do we say ! instead of ! ???

Well...it's because there's one more rule which USUALLY applies but not always...it's easier to understand if you're familiar with names from other parts of India...

You see, the general rule is: if the name ends in -X, then in the vocative case (i.e. when you're calling a person with that name), the -X changes to an -

So, why do you say ! instead of ! ? Well, that's where the rule doesn't work. You see, "Mohan" is a name traditionally used THROUGHOUT India (not just in the South). There is no traditional Indian name "Moha." So "Mohan" doesn't follow the rule.

Names like "Vasudevan," "Arjunan," "Heman," "Balakrishnan," etc. are obviously South Indian versions of the names "Vasudev/Vasudeo," "Arjun," "Hem," "Balakrishna," etc. In fact, most names that end with -an are unquestionably South Indian; that's why the rule applies MOST of the time! These are the cases in which the rule does NOT apply (I think!!).

2. ! !

I won't make you memorize the notes on these two words (it's better if you just learn it over time), but if you want to know (or have an idea of) what they mean, read the notes below. Otherwise, read only the last line, and go on to read the other notes in this lesson.

These are two expressions in Malayalam with almost the same meaning. They mean exactly the same thing as the Tamil words adaa! and adi! respectively.

! is an expression that can be used when talking to any male your age or younger than you for any of the following functions:

1. to insult/demean (! Get me some food!),

2. to say "hey!" (like in the conversation in this lesson),

3. to express irritation (! How could you be so stupid?!),

4. to address your husband (if you have one!) in any context where you are not trying to be particularly affectionate towards him (! Go check the mail! or  !! How dare you cheat on me, wreck the house, lose our kid, and embarrass my parents!!!), or

5. to say "come on" when expressing disbelief (A: A man walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening. B: ! That's impossible! What kind of man does that?!)

In addition, this expression can be used in several other expressions to mean even MORE things. These expressions will be discussed later to prevent brain overload!!!

! is used in the same way as !...when talking to FEMALES your age or younger (or to your wife, if you have one)! Listen!

3. He/she/they: V vs. V

The two above words usually mean "they." However, they can also be a polite way of saying "he" or "she."

The difference between the two words is that V has the implication "this person" or "these people." V refers to "that person" or "those people."

Now, if means "that person's," how do you say "this person's"?

Answer: .

4. (Standard Words for) Yes/No: /

From the last lesson, you learned (hopefully!) that there is no one word that means "yes." Similarly, in Malayalam, there is no one word that means "no," either!

You may use the word (you don't have to!) when answering a question asking whether someone could be identified as so-and-so or when verifying a fact. In the following conversation, A asks B a question and B responds "yes" in the way you would do so in Malayalam:

A: Did you break the plates?

B: Broke.

A: Are these the plates you broke?

B: .

means "no" when you're trying to say, "I am not..." "He is not..." "They are not..." etc. 

C: W! Are YOU the one who broke my plates?!

B: !! 

5. ߿K K? Where is/are...from?

This literally means "From where is it that came?" Whether you mean "...that YOU came," "...that HE came," or whatever other pronoun is implied by the context.

Balti: Hi! I'm Balti.

You: ߿K K? (Where does you come from?)

B: I'm from...uh...Macedonia! Yeah! This is my friend, Monu.

Y: ߿K K? (Where does he come from?)

B: He's from Hyderabad.

6. How Are You?

Much like in English, there are several ways to say "How are you?" in Malayalam. You have already learned the main phrases:

B AK? How are you?

BI? How's it going?

Another common greeting you might hear among VERY good friends is:

I? What's up? Listen!

This literally means, "Did you eat rice?" Rice is eaten for both lunch and dinner (and often breakfast as well!) in Kerala.

The standard reply to this last greeting is: 

I. Nothing much. (Literally: Ate.) Listen!

For speakers of Hindi: the word AK translates directly into Hindi as "rahthaa/rahthee hai."

7. a- Your

In the last lesson, you learned that B{ means "your" when referring to either:

1. more than one person, or

2. one or more people in a polite manner.

a also means "your" when referring to one person who is either:

1. the same age as (or slightly younger than) you AND a very good friend of yours, or

2. much younger than you.


OK, everyone! Sorry, I really didn't expect you to have to learn so much!!! But try to practice your skills in the Practice Corner!