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Lesson 2- More Conjugated Letters

Welcome back! Remember the letters we learned last time?

, E, and G

Well, today, we'll learn some more letters as well as a very easy rule concerning what Malayalee grammatists call the chanthrakkala dLA. Listen! The very easy rule is that most letters in Malayalam, when combined together, are either stacked on top of each other or they use a chanthrakkala. One example is the word X /achchhan/, which is the proper Malayalam word for "father." Listen! (Most of the Malayalee Hindus around here use the word.) (The word is probably NOT, by any means, related to Hindi achchha which means "good.")

(Note: A chandrakkala is used to make a letter silent. Let me try to explain. When we say "snack," we don't pronounce it like "snacka." In Malayalam, you have to use a chandrakkala to make it "snack" and not "snacka." But if you pick up any of the Malayalam Donald Duck comics in India, you might notice that they forgot the chandrakkala so it seems like you're reading DONaLD Dakka kOmiks!)

Another way to write "achchhan" (even though the computer doesn't let you do this) is to stack the on top of the . That's why I say the "conjugated (disgusting) letters" are "stacked!" See how easy the rule is?

Thank goodness! you may be thinking. With this around I won't need to learn any more conjugated letters, and we can move on...

But no! Not all letters in Malayalam follow the rule, especially not many double letters (like the three we learned already)! Some letters, like H /NNa/, do follow the rule but not precisely enough! Listen! One word that uses H is H /kaNN/, which means an eye. Listen! (According to the Nighandu, it can also mean nipple, bud, or hole.)

In other words, they CAN be stacked on top (especially when it comes to double letters), BUT they CAN'T use a chanthrakkala!

The other such letters are:

P /gga/ as in VP /maarggam/, a written word for path. Listen!

M /ppa/ " " M /appam/. Listen! appam is a common Southern Indian breakfast food. It's often described as a "pancake," but actually, it's a little different. First of all, it's often totally white and isn't usually too sweet. Also, if you look starting from the circumference, it gets thicker as you move towards the middle. Finally, of course, Indians usually eat it with chicken curry, not maple syrup and butter!

/SSa/ " " /iSSi/. Listen! This word is used in Central Malayalam and means "some." seems to be used only in some rare words.

T /ssa/ " " TX /ossaan/ and T /kEss/. Listen! The first of the above is a term used only by Malayalee Muslims meaning a barber from their community. (Most non-Muslim Malayalees don't seem to know this word and certainly don't use it.) The second is the Malayalam pronunciation for "case." It seems that T is usually used in foreign words.

I hope these letters were much easier, but watch out! This is only the start! There are still more!

Please go to Practice Corner #2 for an exercise concerning the last 7 letters and to learn another way of writing  M. That's right! Seven letters! Isn't that a lot?

If you wish, you may also go to Poetry Section #2 for an introduction to Kathakali and OTTamthuLLal, the story about Bheema and Hanuman, and another poet of Nambi's.

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