Gamliel, Ophira. A Linguistic Survey of the Malayalam Language in Its Own Terms. Wiesbaden (Germany): Harrassowitz Verlag, 2020.
ISBN 9783447112673 / Paperback / xvi + 324 pages / EUR 39.80
About the book: The book is written for researchers interested in the study of Kerala’s language, literature, history, and culture.
It outlines the grammar of Malayalam in consideration of up-to-date theoretical linguistics alongside grammatical categories developed by Malayalam grammarians in the 19th century and based on Old Tamil and Sanskrit grammars.
The book approaches Malayalam from a holistic perspective in referring to regional language variations, while describing the standardised linguistic register. The sample sentences demonstrating grammatical categories and rules are mostly drawn from actual speech samples.
Reading practices draw upon Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s Pattuma’s Goat and Sooranad Ravi’s prose adaptation of The Story of Niliyamma’s Apotheosis, aiming to expose the learners to various aspects of Kerala culture.
Additionally, the book includes three chapters on Old Malayalam morphology, demonstrated by verses from classical compositions such as the Uṇṇunīlisandeśam and the Kṛṣṇagātha, as well as regional literary traditions—a Teyyam song, Arabic- and Jewish-Malayalam verses, and Syriac Malayalam prose—for exposing the learners to the literary traditions in Malayalam dialects and religiolects.
Ten indices follow with charts of kinship terms, verbal and nominal forms, a glossary, and bibliographical references. The book is thus an invitation for an in-depth engagement with the study of Kerala’s lush linguistic landscape and diverse literary culture past and present.