Classification of Malayalam Sandhi

Aishwarya G Nath

Research Scholar

Karnataka SamskritUniversity, Bengaluru

Dr Shivani V

Prof and HOD Vyakarana Department

Karnataka SamskritUniversity, Bengaluru




“Sandhi is joining of two words or prakṛti and pratyaya.” says  A R Raja Raja Varma in  Keralapāṇiniyam. Sandhi is a frequent phenomenon in Malayalam literature. In this paper we are presenting a study of Malayalam sandhi which will be pre-cursor in building computational tools for Malayalam Language. Here, Malayalam sandhi instances are explained with examples in the backdrop of Pāṇinian rules. We also present here observations made during the study with respect to Sanskrit Sandhi.




Sandhi is the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words. It is a process by which two or more words unite to form a single word, by undergoing modification. There are environmental and contextual factors that influence every language as these factors impact the vocal sounds of language. Hence, Sandhi forms a critical element of many language. In speech, Sandhi helps in easier pronunciation.

Pāṇini defines saṃhitā as Extreme closeness of letters with the sūtra

पर :सन्निकर्ष: संहिता[1].

In Sanskrit, a rule about sandhi or saṃhitā is also put in a verse!




It means

  • saṃhitāikapadenityā – when a word is quoted as a single word, it is mandatory to do sandhi or saṃhitā

E.g. kaścitnityā —> kaścit + nityā


  • Dhātūpasargayoḥ – when there is a prefix with a verbal root, it is mandatory to do sandhi or saṃhitā

E.g. pratyāgacchāmi —> prati + āgacchāmi


  • nityāsamāse – In compound word it is mandatory to do sandhi or saṃhitā.

E.g.śiraścandrikā —>śiras-candrikā

  • vākye tu sā vivakṣāmapekṣate – In a sentence, it is discretionary.

E.g.,śubhamastu, śubhamastu. both are possible.


  1. R’sdefinition of Sandhi[2].


According to A.R, Sandhi is joining of two words or prakṛti and pratyaya. In Keralapāṇiniyam, which is a well-known Malayalam grammar book, he has concisely explained sandhi phenomenon and has categorized the same. When two letters (akshara) or varṇa (according to vyakarana shastra) join, some changes may or may not occur. Such changes are called Sandhi[3].


Classification of sandhi in Malayalam.


Sandhi is classified in three ways according to its nature.









Classification 1:

Here sandhi is syntactically classified into three. They are:


  1. Padamadhyasandhi,
  2. Padā
  3. Ubhayasandhi



Pada is generated by the fusion of prakṛti and pratyaya.  When the varṇavikara happens between prakṛti and pratyaya it is called as padamadhyasandhiḥ by A.R.


Eg: marattil —> maraṃ + il


Here maraṃ is `prakṛti’ and `il’ is a pratyaya. Fusion of these  two results  a single word marattil’.



  1. Padāntasandhi:

This Sandhi occurs between two words.  Hence it is calledpadāntasandhi.


Eg:      maḻuvilla—-> maḻu  +  illa


Here `maḻu’ and `illa’ are two different words, joining together forms `maḻuvilla.’


  1. Ubhayasandhi:

Sometimes both padamadhyasandhi and padāntasandhiḥ are found in  single word. Such an occurrence is called as  ubhayasandhi.


Ex.  maṇiyaṟayil —-> maṇiyaṟa  +  il —>maṇi  +  aṟa  +  il


For instance, the word maṇiyaṟayil has padantasandi between the words ‘maṇiand aṟa’ as maṇiyaṟa and padamadhyasandhibetween maṇiyaṟa and il.


Generally, padāntasandhi can be considered as external sandhi, and  padamadhyasandhias internal sandhi. Padāntasandhi occurs in between two words and padamadhyasandhioccurs within words.


Classification 2:


A.R again classifies sandhi into Four categories according to  svaravyañjanabheda. They are:

  1. svarasandhi
  2. vyañjanasandhi
  3. svara-vyañjanasandhi
  4. vyañjana-svarasandhi



When saṃhitā takes place between two svaras, is called svarasandhi.


Eg: maḻayalla —>maḻa  +  alla



When saṃhitā takes place between two vyañjanas, is called vyañjanasandhi.


Eg: nenmaṇi —>nel  +  maṇi



When saṃhitā takes place between a svara and a vyañjana, it is called svaravyañjanasandhi.


Eg : tāmarakkuḷaṃ—> tāmara  +  kuḷaṃ



When saṃhitā takes place between vyañjana and svara, it is called svaravyañjanasandhi.


Eg: kaṇṇilla —->kaṇ  +illa


Classification 3:

This classification is based on the varṇavikārahappens when two words or stems join together.They are:


  1. ādeś
  2. ā



In this  Sandhi a letter will be replaced by another letter.


nenmaṇi —>nel  +maṇi

Here ‘l’ gets replaced with ‘n’.



When new letter is added between the Varṇas were saṃhitā takes place, is called āgamasandhi.


Eg : maḻuvilla—> maḻu + illa


In this example, the varṇa ‘v’ is added in between ‘u’ and ‘I’.




Double occurrence or dvitva of a letter of a sanhita is called dvitvasandhi.


Eg:aviṭeppōyi—> aviṭe + poyi


In this example p doubles to pp.


4.lopasandhi .

Elision of a varṇa when two words joins together is called lopasandhi.


Eg: kaṇṭilla —>kaṇṭu  +  illa


Here the varṇa ‘u’ disappears when saṃhitā takes place.


After studying the classification following observation           were made     .

  1. There are several similarities between Paninian and Malayalam Sandhi classification. Concept of āgama, ādeśa ,lopa, dvitva which are present in Paninian sandhi rules are also present in Malayalam sandhi.

2.The swara sandhi, vyañjanana sandhi and swara – vyañjana sandhis combinations are present in both languages .

  1. There is a major influence of Sanskrit in Malayalam language.Hence

Malayalam sandhi is following Paninian rules and Language specific rules.

These observations can be utilised to draw computational rules to create an automatic sandhi splitter and joiner. This type of tools can be used to teach and learn Malayalam language and also as pre-editing tools in the Natural Language Processing (NLP)  System.


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4.. Vyākaraṇamitraṃ, M.Sheshagiri Prabhu

publisher The State Institute of languages, Kerala, Thiruvanthapuram ,2003

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  3. 7. Keraḷapāṇinīya saṃkṣēpaṃ, Abridger Prof.R.V.VARMAJI

publisher The State Institute of languages, Kerala, Thiruvanthapuram 1996.

  1. 8. Malayāḷa vyākaraṇavuṃ vākyaracanayuṃ, K. Jecob and p. Chandrashekhara Warrier,The vidyarthi Mitram Press and Book Depo, Kottayam 2006.


          1.पा. सू. १.४.१०९

1 KeralaPāṇiniam, Sahitya Pravarthaka Cooperative Society, 1982

3  KeralaPāṇiniam,.