Pronunciation and Phonetics

Learning proper pronunciation can be done without much knowledge of phonetics, actually. A basic knowledge, however, helps to make pronunciation clearer and thus facilitates the process of learning how to speak a foreign language properly.

eAmbalam introduces a phonetic chart which is based on Dhevanagari script. The sounds of vowels and consonants and other speech sounds in Sanskrit and the languages which have completely or mostly borrowed from it can be covered with the help of the chart. A few other sounds common to some languages in this group and outside are also put in. Unique sounds of some languages are specified too.

Diacritical marks are used to aid perfect pronunciation. World over, these marks have been created and propagated by scholars to make understanding of the differences in speech sounds in different languages better. Team eAmbalam also has created a phonetic chart which helps even first timers to pronounce words accurately.

Our Phonetic chart is unique, comprehensive, learner friendly and is divided into four columns wherein:
  • In the first column, the letter is written with the associated diacritical mark.
  • In the second column, an example is given in Dhevanagari language containing the letter.
  • In the third column, an example is given in English, which contains the sound closes to the letter or instructions in few cases, to facilitate better understanding.
  • In the fourth column, an audio button is placed with the help of which you can hear the actual pronunciation of the letter.
An open minded approach with the above introduction and guidelines will definitely enable the user to understand the speech sounds of any language and pronounce it like a native, which is eAmbalam’s aim in this exercise.

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
A or a Aḍavu Arise
Ā or ā Ānanda Vast
I or i Indhira Sing
Ī or ī Īśha Meal
U or u U ṣhā Good
Ū or ū Ū rdhhva Boost
R or r Riṣh i Try
Ṛ or ṛ Ni ṛ uti Grr!
Lr or lr   Pronounce L and R together.
E or e Eka Ate
AI or ai Aikya Sight
O or o Ojas Robe
AU or au Audh ā rya Now
A M or am Śhiva m Drum
A HA or aha R ā ma ha Aha!
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
KA or ka Kavi Car
KHA or kha Khalu Mark -Him
GA or ga Gamana Gut
GHA or gha Ghata Ugh!
Ṅ A or ṅa Tura ṅ ga Ring
CHA or ca Chakra Chart
CHHA or cha Chhandas Branch
JA or ja Jagath Jug
JHA or jha Jhallari Fudge
NYA or nya Gnyana Knew
Ṭ A or ṭ Ṭ anka Top
ṬHA or ṭha Pāṭha Pothole
ḌA or da Ḍ amaruka Dog
Ḍ HA or ḍ ha Mūḍ ha Madhouse
Ṇ A or ṇ a Ga ṇ a Wander
THA or tha Thanu Health
THHA or thha Athha Theater
DHA or dha Dha śha This
DHHA or dhha Dhhana m Dha with an additional H sound
NA or na Namask ā raha Nut
PA or pa   Path ā ka Past
PHA or pha Phala m P with a H sound
BA or ba Bandhhu Ball
BHA or bha Bhadra Abhor
MA or ma Manas Money
YA or ya Yama Yummy
RA or ra Rajas Rub
LA or la Lath ā Lust
VA or WA, va /wa A śh va or A śhwa Water/Valour
ŚHA or śha Śhakthi Shutter
ṢHA or ṣ ha Ṣh a ṇ mukha Shunt
SA or sa Sarasvatī Sun
HA or ha Hari Hum
Ḷ A or ḷ a Ar āḷ a Bold
KṢHA or k ṣ ha Ak ṣh i Try to pronounce Ka, Sa & Ha – all at one time.
Extra Vowels in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam Scripts    
É or é Éṇi Angel
Ō or ō Ō m Ō M
ZHA Exclusive to Tamil & Malayalam Fold the tip of your tongue backwards and try to pronounce it with the aid of the audio button.
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English


Spoken Malayalam Guide


Malayalam was greatly influenced by Sanskrit and a new dialect developed, known as ' Maṇipravāḷam', which was a blend of these languages. Oldest example of manipravalam is the Vaishikatantram which is also from the twelfth century. Malayalam poetry to the late twentieth century betrays varying degrees of the fusion of the three different strands. It is the smallest of the Dravidian languages, dating back to the 10 th century.

Malayalam script includes letters capable of representing all the sounds of Sanskrit and all Dravidian languages. Malayalam is predominantly in the state of  Kerala . It is one of the 22  scheduled languages of India  with  official language  status in the state of  Kerala  and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry.

Malayalam with about 35 million speakers is spoken also in Bahrain, Fiji, Israel, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, UAE and the UK.

Language History

Malayāḷam is the baby in the Dravidian family. It’s an offshoot of Old Tamil, and remained in the latter’s shadows for a long time before it struggled free in the 10 th century.

The Christians of Keraḷa started to learn the Tuḷu-Grantha Bhāṣhā of Nambūdhiris under the British Tutelage. Paramekkal Thōma Kathanar wrote the first Malayāḷam travelogue called Vardhamāna Pushthakam in 1789. However the British under Lord Monroe and Mecaulay between 1815-1820s started promoting the Nambudhiri Malayāḷam written with Tulu-Grantha Script and with a predominance of Sanskrit words.

Some believe Proto-Tamil, the common stock of ancient Tamil and Malayāḷam, diverged over a period of four or five centuries from the 9th century on, resulting in the emergence of Malayāḷam as a language distinct from Proto-Tamil. As the language of scholarship and administration, Later the inroads the   Nāirs and the  Nambūthiris made into the  cultural life of Keraḷa, the  Nambūthiri- Nāir dominated society and politics, their trade relationships with  Arabs, and the influence in Keraḷa of the  Portuguese affected the languages. The Portuguese established vassal states, which accelerated the assimilation of many Roman,  Semitic and  Indo - Aryan features into Malayāḷam; these occurred at different levels, particularly among the religious communities, such as  Muslims,  Christians,  Jews and  Jains.

Malayāam Script

Malayāḷam has 53 alphabets - 37 consonants and 16 vowels in the script.

Malayāḷam first appeared in writing in the Vazhappaḷḷi inscription which dates from about 830 AD. In the early thirteenth century the Malayāḷam script began to develop from a script known as vattezhuthu (round writing), a descendant of the  Brahmi script. As a result of the difficulties of printing Malayāḷam, a simplified or reformed version of the script was introduced during the 1970s and 1980s. The main change involved writing consonants and diacritics separately rather than as complex characters. These changes are not applied consistently applied so the modern script is often mixture of traditional and simplified characters. Malayāḷam is also regularly written with a version of the Arabic script by Muslims in Singapore and Malaysia, and occasionally by Muslims in Keraḷa.

  • This is a syllabic alphabet in which all consonants have an inherent vowel. Diacritics, which can appear above, below, before or after the consonant they belong to, are used to change the inherent vowel.
  • When they appear the the beginning of a syllable, vowels are written as independent letters.
  • When certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols are used which combine the essential parts of each letter.

Link/relation with other languages

It contains many Portuguese, Dutch, English, Arabic, Marathi, Sanskrit, and Persian words. The language is highly influenced from Tamil, Sanskrit, and Pali. It is referred by several other names like Alelum, Malayāḷāni, Malayāḷi, Malean, Maliyād, Mallealle, and Mopla.

Malayāḷam is the most sanskritised language of all and contains about 40% Sanskrit words in the written language, in the form of both directly borrowed words and derivatives, although only 10% of them are used in spoken Malayāḷam.
Malayāḷam incorporated many elements from  Sanskrit through the ages and today over eighty percent of the vocabulary of Malayāḷam in scholarly usage is from Sanskrit. Modern Malayāḷam still preserves many words from the ancient Tamil vocabulary of  Sangam literature.  As Malayā ḷ am began to freely borrow words as well as the rules of grammar from  Sanskrit,  Grantha script was adopted for writing and came to be known as Ārya Ezhuttu. The oldest literary work in Malayāḷam, distinct from the Tamil tradition, is dated between the 9th and 11th century. Due to its lineage deriving from both Sanskrit and Tamil, the Malayāḷam alphabet has the largest number of letters among the  Indian languages. 

Malyalam literature and Style

The earliest extant prose work in the language is a commentary in simple Malayāḷam, Bhāṣhākautilyam (12th century) on Chāṇakya's Arthaśhāstra. The first book to mention on Malayāḷam grammar is the Līlāthilakom from the 14 th century. Krihagathā , composed by Cherussery was an important work of the 15  thcentury. 'Varthamānapusthakam' a travelogue about his visit to Rome (1776-86) by Pāremākkal Thōma Kaṭṭanar is believed to be the first travelogue to be written in any Indian language. This was again followed by a generation of Champu compositions, a mixture of prose and verse with a liberal sprinkling of Sanskrit words. The themes were from the great Sanskrit epics and Purāṇas In 1889, O. Chandhu Menon's Indhulekha , the first complete Malayāḷam novel, was published. Malayāḷam prose of different periods exhibit various levels of influence on different languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit, Prākrit, Pāli, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Syrian, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English Modern literature is rich in poetry, fiction, drama, biography, and literary criticism. Tamil and Sanskrit highly influenced the development of Malayāḷam literature in its early stages.

Bibliography of Malayalam-1.aspx


English Malyalam
Hello Namaskaaram
How are you? Ningal sugamaano?(Elder/respect), Sugamaano?(Peer/Younger/Casual)
I am fine, Thank you! Nyaan sugamaayirukkunu, Nanni !
My name is …………….. Ende peru …..
What is your name? Ningaludeya peru endhaa?
  Ninde peru endhaa? (Peer/Younger/Casual)
Where is the bus stand? Bus stand evvideya?
How far is the railway station? Railway station etthare dhooramaanu?
Where is the airport located? Airport evvideyaanu?
How much does this item (any item) cost? Ii saadhanam etthere aanu?
Where is the medical shop? Marunnu kada evvideyaanu?
Which is a good hotel in this area? Nalla bhakshanam kazhikkyaanulla sthalam ariyaamo?
What is the minimum fare in an auto/taxi? Auto/Taxi kku minimum charge ethhere aagum?
How far is a shopping mall from here? Ivvudinnu shopping mall etthere dhooramaanu?
Do you know music or dance? Ningalluku sangithamo nrutthamo areyaamo?
How? Engane?
What? Endhu?
Why? Endhinu?
Where? Evvide?
When? Eppol?
Thank you! Nanni !


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