Loan Words

[ Literacy and Standardization ]


     In addition to the numerous loan words from Sanskrit and English the repertoire of vocabulary of  present  day  Malayalam contains borrowed items representing different stages of assimilation, from languages like Hindustani (including Hindi and Urdu), Persian and Arabic and also Syriac and Portuguese.   A few such loan words which are very common are given below:



chattini ‘side dish’
tokku  ‘gun’
kisa    ‘pocket’
chaya  ‘tea’
toppi      ‘cap’



achar pickle’
sarkar ‘government’
raji ‘resignation’
kuja  ‘earthern gogglet’
gumastan ‘clerk’ 


3.   Arabic 

attar ‘otto of roses’
osyattu ‘will’
takarar  ‘confusion’
bakki  ‘balance’
jasti ‘excess’ 


4. Syriac 

kapyar  ‘sexton’
kurbana ‘Holy Communion’
almani ‘layman’
kasisa ‘Syriac Priest’


 5.           Portuguese 

lelam ‘auction’
konta ‘rosary’
kumbasaram ‘confession’
koppa ‘cup’
janal  ‘window’



          Relating to the remarkably high level of literacy and awareness of current affairs among the Malayalees is their interest in reading Newspapers and Magazines, listening to news broadcasts and watching T.V. programmes and movies.  In addition to this, the ever increasing mobility of the people and the spread of education among lakhs of children using mass produced text books and involving tens of thousands of teachers drawn from all parts of the State have considerably enhanced the shaping up of a standard variety of Malayalam, which is a convenient reference point, in measuring variation of the language on different dimensions.


        Malayalam is characterised by the presence of diglossia.  Standard colloquial and standard literary varieties of the language are systematically  different from each other at all levels.  The colloquial variety is appropriate in conversation within the family circle, among friends and colleagues, in folk literature and in writings in a light vein, whereas the literary variety is employed in formally delivered speeches, official letters, news broad-casts and News papers.

Lierary  Colloquial  
anchamtiyati  anchanti ‘the fifth day’
samsarikkarutu mintarutu ‘do not talk’
sammatikkuka kuttakkuka ‘agree’

kantittukantechu }pokam    

‘shall go after seeing ‘
kazhukuka moruka ‘to wash’
kulikkante kulikkantu ‘without bathing’



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This meterial compiled by Malayalam Resource Centre ( www.malayalamresourcecentre.orgwww.malayalambhasha.com ) at ER&DCI(T), is taken from MALAYALAM FOR BEGINERS BY Dr.V.R.Prabodhachandran Nayar.