Travel Tip: Learning basic Malayalam

Heading to Kerala and a bit worried about not being able to speak the language? Ever heard of Malayalam?

Don’t worry we are here to help!  Knowing some Hindi is not going to get you very far in remote fishing villages in Kerala, so knowing a bit of Malayalam can be very helpful! Malayalam is one of the 22 languages spoken in India. An interesting fact (you may or may not want to know!) is that it has more letters in the alphabet than any other Indian language – I hear you groan but when I was taught it by my host family they couldn’t actually remember all the letters anyway – I am not sure whether that is reassuring or not!!

Check out a few essential words below to help you in those first few days (we are pretty sure your host family, neighbours and students will all be begging to teach you some Malayalam anyway!)

Hello (informal) – namaskaram

Hello (formal) – hello

Goodbye – tata

No – ila

Yes – atey

Okay – shay-ree

Please – dev- vye (not commonly used in Malayalam)

Thank you – nun – nee

I don’t understand – manusilai- ila

I understand – manusilai

Water – Vel -lum

Tea – chai-a

Coffee– kaapi

Do you speak English – Ningal English samsaarikkumoo?

My name is – ente peray ….

I am going to school/the city – nyan school-il/city-il pocou-nou

I will be back at four o’clock – nyan nal-uh money-kyeh tiri-chou-varoum

Got enough food?

Very useful for when someone is dishing up your food:

No I couldn’t (as in no more) – venda*

I want (more) – venam*

Enough (in reference to food) – maadi 

And trust me they won’t stop until you say something!

NB: venda and venam also apply if you do or don’t want to do something, for example go to the beach


1- onnu

2 – rann-duh

3- moon-uh

4- naal-uh

5- anj-uh

6- aarr-uh

7- airr-uh

8- et-uh

9- omba-duh

10- pat-tuh

11 – pati-noo-nuh

12 – pan-tran-duh

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