Willy on Malayalam

A short interview with Willy about learning Malayalam.

Q: What do you think about Malayalam so far?

A: Well, it’s complicated. It’s different than English in many ways, but overall fun to learn.

Q: When I look at the letters, I can’t see letters– how do you learn a whole new alphabet?

A: During every class I basically learn a new letter set. I copy down those letters all through about two pages of my notebook. Then the next lesson, I copy all the letters I’ve learned so far.

Q: What’s a letter set? In ABCs we learn them in one big group.

A: So there are  groups of letters and you learn them differently. You learn the vowels as one group, but for the consonants each row is one set.

Consonants: വ്യഞ്ജനങ്ങൾ (pronounced venginakswara)



Vowels: സ്വരാക്ഷരങ്ങൾ (pronounced swarakshara)



Q: I still see the letters as pictures, so I think “bug head,” “squiggly B,” and “golden arches,” when I see some of the letters– do you use pictures to remember them, or do you see them as sounds now?

A: At the very beginning when I only knew 8 letters, I associated their names with their shape. The first letter [rha] is a simple arch. When I saw it, I connected it with the picture of a rising sun and the Egyptian sun god Ra.

Q: That’s a great way to remember it.

A: I know. For my second letter [na], I was stuck. I couldn’t associate two arches with anything. This is the one you called “golden arches.” I eventually just remembered them.

willy malayalam

Q: Do you think you’ll learn Malayalam while you’re here?

A: Fluently, no, but I’ve already picked up some useful phrases like:

Hello (Namaskardam)

How are you (Sugmarnoh) and  I’m Fine (Sugmarnoo)

What’s your name (Peru Endarnuh) and My name is ______ (Ente Peru ______)

A: I’ve also learned some words that I can recognize when my friend Shambhu and his family talk to each other, especially the names of family members. I found it interesting that the word for younger brother and younger sister are very similar. And older brother and older sister are very similar.





Elder Brother-Cheyta

Elder Sister-Cheychee

Younger Brother-Aniyan

Younger Sister-Aniyathi


See how some Malayalam letters are made here.

2 thoughts on “Willy on Malayalam

  1. Love it! Also love his comment: “I eventually just remembered them” Sometimes you can try all the tricks you want but eventually you just gotta remember them! Go Willy!


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