Useless Skills Part 4: Ability to Write or Read Malayalam
In my last post I ranted about the futility of trying to spell English words. I said that English is a bad language created by morons. Before any one accuses me of being a lingual bigot, let me reassure you – I don’t have any discrimination toward any particular language. I hate all languages equally. To illustrate my point, let us take the case of my native language – Malayalam. I truly despise Malayalam.
In its defense, English has just 26 alphabets. Its relatively simpler than say, Malayalam – the subject at hand. Malayalam, for all you non-malayalies in the audience, has 56 letters. That’s not too bad – that’s what I thought initially. But then I found out about letter-fractions. These are not complete letters – but a fraction of a letter that can be combined with other ‘full’ alphabets to make even more new alphabets. I understand if all you mono-lingual, English-speaking people are confused. I was too – when I was five years old and the teachers started teaching me this stuff. Now I understand why they taught me all that – just to make sure that I would be as bitter and hateful as they were.
So, Malayalam has full letters, letter fragments, and letters+letter fragments. Stay with me here – this is where it gets really weird. With all the permutations and combinations, Malayalam grew to be a 500+ alphabet monster. If you think that’s bad, this is the simplified new script(puthia libi). The old script is a 1000+ alphabet monstrosity that haunts the nightmare of little children(who where taught Malayalam).
The old script was removed because it was practically impossible to make typewriters to include all the letters. So we switched to the new script and lived happly ever since – or as happily as possible with a 500+ glyph language(ie. not so happily – as a matter of fact, down right angrily). Now, with the coming of computers and Unicode, this limitation of glyph in no longer there. Consequently, there is an effort to bring back the old script(or as they call it, the ‘true script’). Apparently, torturing school kids with a 500 character Malayalam was too tame for their tastes – they wanted to bring in the big guns.
As a result of this wonderful system, I cannot read or write Malayalam well even after spending 10 years trying to learn it. But I don’t care. Me and Malayalam has parted ways a long time ago – we are no longer on speaking terms. Malayalam can do what ever it wants to do – and I’ll do what I have to do. I have learned to live with English. Its not a bad language. As long as I don’t have to spell anything.
End of Part 4
I am stopping this rant here – many of you non-Malayalam would be terrified at what we are doing to our kids – and many of you malayalies would be horrified that I was assault their precious language. Don’t worry you Malayalam fanatics – my assault is aimed at many Indic languages. Hindi also has this wired letter+letter fragment method of writing. I think Tamil has it too – considering the fact that Malayalam came from Tamil(Disclamer: I do not know Tamil – so I could be wrong).