Malayalam Phonetics Deciphered

In the Order of the English Alphabet

Most of you probably are more familiar with the English alphabet, so I have made this page to show you which phonetic corresponds with which Malayalam letter. The phonetic is to the left and the Malayalam letter, to its right.

This list goes up and down, then left to right.

/a/            /ii/         /sa/

/aa/                 /ja/           /sha/

/ai/                  /jha/        /Ta/

/am/           /ka/      /Tha/

/ah/                                 /kha/                    /tha/

/ba/                                  /La/{                        /thha/

/bha/                                 /la/                        /u/

/cha/                                  /ma/                        /uu/

/chha/                                /Na/                     /va/

/Da/                                  /na/                       /ya/

/da/                                  /nja/                       /zha/

/Dha/                             /O/                         /(u)/ 

/dha/                                /o/                    

/E/                                   /pa/              

/e/                                   /pha/              

/ga/                                   /r/                   

/gha/                             /ra/                      

/ha/                              /rra/

/i/                                  /Sa/                                 


1. The letter /ka/ is pronounced almost exactly like the letter /ga/ after a vowel sound, as in the word ɵW /pakal/ (daytime) pronounced /pagal/. You will have to remember this, because I won't tell you again (although I will pronounce the word with a "g" sound in the sound files)! (See Note #7) Also, sometimes in the middle of a word is not pronounced at all: the phrase KW G! "Goodbye!" pronounced /ennaal aaTTE/, is a good example.

2. The letters taught in this course are NOT included in this list; you are expected to learn their phonetics as well as you learn, if you're planning to use them. Sorry!

3. The matras are written using the same phonetic as their corresponding vowel, e.g. O /thumba/ uses the matra which sounds like . Both of the last two letters mentioned are pronounced /u/.

4. The "h" sound in  /ah/ is NOT pronounced.

5. There are some more vowels in Malayalam that are not used AT ALL (except in grammar books, dictionaries, and some Malayalam-teaching courses). See the last page on lipi

6. I will try to write down more information here about the Malayalam alphabet that I may not cover again. If you have any questions, e-mail me.

7. The letters ,,, /ka, cha, Ta, tha/ in the middle of a word are pronounced similarly to ,,, /ga, ja, Da, da/ respectively. The letter /pa/ in the middle of a word is pronounced like a soft  /ba/.