List of loanwords in Malayalam

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Loan words in Malayalam, excluding the huge number of words from Sanskrit and Tamil, originated mostly due to the centuries long interactions between the native population of Kerala and the trading (predominantly, spice trading) powers of the world. This included trading contacts with Arabia, Persia, Israel and China spanning millennia, and with European Colonial powers for several centuries.

European contributions

Portuguese

Most of the loan words from Portuguese language are for items which the native population lacked when the encounter with Portuguese empire happened from around the final years of the 15th century. Portuguese was the lingua franca in Africa, Brazil, South Asia and parts of South East Asia during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The Portuguese Empire was the major ruling colonial power in South India during this period, they were first modern European power to encounter India on a large scale, and thus their language had a strong influence on Malayalam (similar to many other Indian languages).[1]

Malayalam Malayalam Transliteration Meaning Original form
ആയ āyā Maid aia
അലമാര alamāra cupboard armário
അള്ത്താര altāra altar altar
അണ്ണാറ, അണ്ണാറച്ചക്ക Annāra chakka Pineapple ananás
അസേന്തി asenthi Assistant Priest (In a Parish) assistente
ബോർമ, ബോർമ്മ Bōrmba Oven / Furnace forno
കപ്പിത്താന് capitān captain capitão
ചാപ്പ chāppa plate, sheet of metal, seal for impression chapa
ചായ chāya tea chá
ചാവി chāvi key chave
ചാക്ക്‌ chākku sack saco
ഇസ്തിരി isthiri to iron, to press estirar
ഇസ്കൂള് iskool School escola
ജനാല janāla window janela
കളസം kalasam shorts/trouser calção
കപ്പേള Kappela Chapel capela
കാപ്പിരി kāppiri black, african cafre
കറൂപ്പ് karoopp A type of fish (Grouper) garoupa
കസേര kasera chair cadeira
കശുവണ്ടി kasuvandi cashew caju
കടലാസ്‌ kadalas paper cartaz
കദ്രീഞ്ഞ kadreenha stool cadeirinha
കോപ്പ kōppa cup, dish copo
കൊവേന്ത kovenda convent convento
കുമ്പാരി kumbāri Godparents of your child/ children or Parents of your Godchild compadre
കുരിശ്‌ kurishu Cross cruz
കുശിനി kushini kitchen cozinha
കുനീല് kuneel funnel funil
ടെറസ്സ് terrass rooftop terrace terraço
ലേലം lelam auction leilão
മരയ്ക്കാര്‍ maraikkar seafarer, sailor, mariner marinheiro
മേശ mesha table mesa
മേസ്തിരി mesthiri foreman, supervisor of (e.g. construction) workers mestre
നോന nōnā Luso Indian lady dona
ഓസ്തി ōsthi Sacramental bread/ wafer hóstia
പാനോസ് pānos Fabrication works (Sheet metal works) panos
പാര pāra Crowbar barra
പാതിരി pāthiri priest, pastor padre
പാത്രം paathram dish, plate prato
പദ്രിഞ്ഞപ്പൻ pardinhappan God Father padrinho
പദ്രിഞ്ഞമ്മ pardinhamma God Mother madrinha
പപ്പാഞ്ഞി Pappānhi Christmas Father (Santa Claus) Papai Noel
പേന pena pen pena
പേര pera pear, guava pera
പിക്കാസ് pikkās Pickaxe picão
പീലാസ് peelās Godchild afilhado
പ്രാക്ക്, പ്രാകുക praakk (noun), praakuka (verb) curse, to curse praga
റാന്തല് rānthal lamp, lantern lanterna
റാത്തല് rāthal a Pound (1 lb.), weight of sixteen ounces (16 oz.) arrátel
റേന്ത renda lace work renda
സാത്താന് sāttān satan satan
സവാള, സവോള savāla onion cebola
സെമിത്തേരി semithery cemetery, burial ground cemitério
തമ്പാക്ക് thampākk tobacco tabaco
താൾ thaal page of a book talão
തിര tira gun shot tiro
തീരുവ teeruva customs duty tarifa
തൊപ്പി toppi hat topo
തൂവാല tuvāla towel toalha
നങ്കൂരം nankooram anchor (of ships) âncora
ലേസ്, കൈലേസ് leis, kai-leis kerchief, handkerchief lenço
വാത്ത vātha Goose pato
വാര vāra A measure (= 1 yard or 3 feet); Original meaning: rod, stick vara
വരാന്ത varāntha open porch varanda
വീപ്പ veeppa wooden cask, barrel pipa
വീഞ്ഞ് Veenh Wine vinho
വികാരി vikāri vicar vigário
വിനാഗിരി vināgiri vinegar vinagre

The Portuguese language had also taken some words from Malayalam, and they should not be confused vice versa. Some examples are jaca for Jack Fruit (from Chakka / ചക്ക in Malayalam), manga for mango (from Mangaa / മാങ്ങ in Malayalam.

Dutch

Malayalam Malayalam Transliteration Meaning Original form
അപ്പോത്തിക്കരി Apothikari Pharmacist Apotheker
അടുതാപ്പ് Aduthappu Potato Aardappel
കക്കൂസ്‌ kakkūs Toilet kakhuis
കള്ക്ക്‌ Kalkku turkey Kalkoen
കാപ്പി Kaappi coffee Koffie
കോക്കി Kokki Chef/ Cook kokin
തപാല് Thapal Post Tapal, Tapaal

English

Malayalam Malayalam Transliteration Meaning Original form
മാഡം Madaama A white woman Madam/e
മാഷ് Maash Teacher, guru Master

Middle East contributions

Aramaic or East Syriac

Suriyani Malayalam (or Karshoni), which used the East Syriac script to write Malayalam, was a popular medium of written communication among Saint Thomas Christians (Suriyani Christiani) in Kerala until the 19th century.[2][3][4]

Malayalam Malayalam Transliteration Meaning Original Form
നസ്രാണി Nasrani Follower of Jesus Nasraya, Nasrani
പെസഹ Pesaha Passover Pesaha[3]
മാലാഖ Malakha Angel Malaka[2]
കൂദാശ Kudasha Sacrament Qudasha[2]
മാമോദീസ Mamodisa Baptism Mamodisa[2][3]
സ്ലീവ Sliva Cross Sliva[4]
ഈശോ Easow Jesus Iso'[2]
കുർബാന Qurbana Eucharist (for Holy Mass) Qurbana[2]
മിശിഹ Mishiha Anointed Mishiha[2][3]
ദുക്റാന Dukrana Remembrance Dukrana
കത്തനാർ Kathanar Syrian priest Kasnar
മാർ Mar Holy man, Saint Mar
റൂഹ Rooha Holy Spirit Ruha
ശ്ലീഹ Shliha Apostle Shliha
കബ്റാ Kabar Grave Qabra

Arabic

The Arabic language contributes a large number of words into a dialect form of Malayalam that is spoken by the Muslim Mappila community of North Kerala. There are also some common words which are used throughout Kerala. There are more than 900 words taken from Arabic and commonly used in Malayalam.

Malayalam Malayalam Transliteration Meaning Original form
‌ആലം aalam world عالم
ബാക്കി baaki balance/remaining باقي
ഹാജർ haajir appear, attend, be present حاضر
ഹർജി harji petition عريضة
ജില്ല jilla District ضلغة
കലാശം kalaasham final/ending خلاص
മഹസ്സർ mahassir report محضر
മൈതാനം, മൈതാനി maithaanam, maithaani a ground, an open space area, park ميدان
നക്കൽ nakkal copy (also can mean True copy) نقل
പിഞ്ഞാണം pinjaanam bowl فنجان
റദ്ദ് raddh cancel/give back رد
താലൂക്ക് taluk administrative division تغلّق
തർജ്ജിമ tarjima translation ترجمة
വക്കാലത്ത് wakalath legal authorization وكالة
വക്കീൽ vakeel lawyer/attorney وكيل
ദല്ലാൾ dallaal mediator/broker دللال

Hebrew

The Hebrew language contributes a large number of words into a dialect form of Judeo-Malayalam that is spoken by the Cochin Jewish community of Kerala.

Malayalam Transliteration Meaning Original Form Pronunciation
alam world עולם oˈlam
aliya ascension עלייה aliyá
alva sweet חלבה halvah
ba come בא ba
beit kneset synagogue בית כנסת beit-k'néset
Ivrit Hebrew language עברית ivrít
kabar grave, tomb קבר kéver
Mesren, Misri Egypt, Egyptian מצרים מצרי mitsráyim, mitsrí
nivya prophet נביא naví
rabban, ramban rabbi, teacher, monk רבי rabbi
saith olive זית záyit
Sfarad, Sfaradi Spain, Spaniard ספרד ספרדי sfarad, sfaradi
shalom hello, peace שלום shalóm
shalom ayi death שלום עליי shalóm ali
shir song, music שיר shir
sosanna lily שושן shoshán
tapuakh apple תפוח tapúakh
Tora Torah תורה torá
Yavan, Yavana Greece, Greek (Likely to be derived from "Ionian", the Greeks who lived in Asia Minor) יוון יווני yaván, yevani
Yisrael, Yisraeli Israel, Israeli ישראל הישראלי yisra'él, yisra'éli
Yuda, Yehudan Jew, Jewish יהודי y'hudí

Persian

There are a few words of Persian origin in Malayalam, though it is possible many of them could have been indirectly loaned from Urdu.

Malayalam Malayalam Transliteration Source word Original form Meaning
പറങ്കി parangi Farangi ??? Derived from "Firangi" or "Frank" (a Germanic tribe - that gave their name to France), a term that was used to denote all Europeans. Used however almost exclusively for the Portuguese in Kerala, probably because Parangi was mistaken for Portugali as they sound similar. Might have also been used for the Dutch initially
ഗോതമ്പ് godambu Gandom; other possible sources are Gantuma in Avestan or Godhuma (गोधुम) in Sanskrit گندم Wheat
ഗുമസ്തൻ Gumasthan Gomastha ??? Clerk [5]

See also

References

  1. ^ Dalgado, Sebastião Rodolfo (1988). Portuguese Vocables in Asiatic Languages: From the Portuguese Original of Monsignor Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 9788120604131. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g A sacredlanguage is vanishing from State, The Hindu
  3. ^ a b c d Prayer from the Past, India Today
  4. ^ a b [1], NasraniFoundation
  5. ^ "നമ്മുടെ മലയാളം". June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2017. 
  • Borrowed words and pronunciation, Rajeev, Rediff
  • A sacred language is vanishing from State, The Hindu
  • Western Influence on Malayalam Language and Literature, Dr.K.M.George
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