Saturday, September 19, 2009

Malayalitmus Test

I have devised a litmus test to determine the Malluness quotient of an individual.

Depending on how the person says the following word:
Neerazhi (നീരാഴി) - a synonym for the word "sea"

You can determine how much Malayalam a person knows, how "native" he or she is from the way they pronounce this word.

The na, ra, and zha are different!

From Wikipedia,

Extinct Kannada letters

Kannada literary works employed letters ಱ (transliterated '' or 'rh') and ೞ (transliterated '', 'lh' or 'zh'), whose manner of articulation most plausibly could be akin to those in present-day Malayalam and Tamil. The letters dropped out of use in the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, respectively. Later Kannada works replaced 'rh' and 'lh' with ರ (ra) and ಳ (la) respectively.[70]

Another letter (or unclassified vyanjana (consonant)) that has become extinct is 'nh' or 'inn'. (Likewise, this has its equivalent in Malayalam and Tamil.) The usage of this consonant was observed until the 1980s in Kannada works from the mostly coastal areas of Karnataka (especially the Dakshina Kannada district). Now hardly any mainstream works use this consonant. This letter has been replaced by ನ್ (consonant n).[citation needed]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Barking Barking Malayalam Chopping

A joke that Malayalis share about non-Mallus is that the hapless foreigners always say: "Kurachu kurachu malayalam ariyum". This post is about debunking and clarifying that joke - which is quite an impossibility!

Well, a little more about the "joke".

When the foreigner (who has tried to learn the notoriously difficult-to-speak language) means to say:
"കുറച്ചു കുറച്ചു മലയാളം അറിയും ",
They end up saying it as.
ച്ച് കുച്ച് മലയാളം അരിയും.".

The former means "Little little Malayalam I know" while the latter means "Barking Barking Malayalam I chop"! :)

There is only a slight difference in pronunciation for the 'ra's involved in this statement. The normal 'ra' (റ) sound that a foreign-tonguer would utter naturally would result in the correct version (knowing-knowing) of the statement in question!

The other ra (ര) is a sound that Wikipedia tells me used to exist in early Kannada and Tamil as well; but they became obsolete there. To understand the difference between the two 'ra's, contrast the two la sounds in "Loyola" (ലൊയോള). The difference between the two 'ra' s is also the same.

The barking-barking version of the statement is actually a testimony to Malayali elitism and sarcasm. The joke is that the foreigner would not be able to say the joke... or hear it, he would auto-correct it.

It is an insider joke!... perverse Malayali humour... :)