(Last Updated on : 28-11-2012)
Malayalam is classified as a South Dravidian language
. Malayalam language is concentrated in the state of Kerala
and adjoining areas. As "Malai" (Chera) denotes "mountain", the word "Malai-alam" obviously refers to either people or the language of the hilly region. About a thousand years ago Tamil was the spoken language of present-day Kerala state with a number of local variations. It is said that Malayalam as a spoken language. This was not referred to in Tamil literature
before the fifteenth century.
Official status of Malayalam language
This language is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the country being the official language of Kerala. There are at least five main regional dialects of Malayalam language and a number of communal dialects.
There are 37 consonants and 16 vowels in the Malayalam script. Malayalam language differs from other Dravidian language because of the absence of personal endings on verbs. It has a one to one correspondence with the Indo Aryan language
. For write-ups, Malayalam has a unique script, which covers all the symbols of Sanskrit language
and also some of the specific letters of Dravidian languages. The script used is called Kolezhethu (rod-script).
Classification and related languages in Malayalam Language
In later times, the influx of Namboodiris into cultural life of Kerala and the trade relationships with foreign countries especially with the Portuguese sped up the inclusion of many more Indo-Aryan languages into Malayalam language. In the early centuries it used a form called the vattezhuthu which had currency all over the regions where the Cheras dynasty of Kerala
and the Pandyas
. It disappeared from the rest of the peninsula by about the fifteenth century. But in Kerala it continued to be in use for three more centuries. From Vattezhuthu was derived the Kolezhuthu script. There is no fundamental difference between the two scripts. Kolezhuthu script was more commonly used in the Kochi
and Malabar areas than in Travancore. Yet another script derived from the Vattezhuthu was the Malayanma, which was in common use to the south of Thiruvananthapuram
. Malayanma also does not differ fundamentally from vattezhuthu script.
Dialects in Malayalam Language
The multiple dialects are found that have branched out from Malayalam language. Malabar, Nagari-Malayalam, Malayalam, South Kerala, Central Kerala, North Kerala, Kayavar, Namboodiri, Moplah
, Nasrani, Nayar
are some of them. In Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages (1875), Bishop Robert Caldwell, a famous personality asserted that Malayalam language evolved out of Tamil language. This period is famous as the Sangam Age and at that time; Kerala was integrated to a huge portion of the political segment, better known as Tamilakam, with the Dravidian civilisation and languages reaching its zenith