Malayalam is the language spoken by malayalees mostly natives of Kerala the
southern most state of India
The word Malayalam is a compound word comprising of mala meaning Mountain
and alam meaning Place.
The language and its neighbor Tamil developed from a common ancestor
Proto-Tamil-Malayalam in the first millennium AD with the earliest writings traceable
to as early as 830 AD.
As the language developed overtime it still maintained its link with Tamil
with major loan words from that language which aided the language in its
development. This was also facilitated by the fact that Tamil was the language
of rulers at the early years (first millennium AD). The influence of Tamil and
its childhood years are preserved in the category of works called Pattu which
are Poetry works in Tamil tradition. The developement of Sopana Sangeetham -the Classical Music of Kerala started at this time from the prevailing Folk Music Systems and Songs.
Later as it came under pan Indian influence and Tamil was replaced by Sanskrit as
the language of rulers. Malayalam developed a distinct identity under the tutelage of Sanskrit
(called Samscritham in Malayalam) which loaned it a lot more words from its pan Indian
Malayalam also developed its Poetry style with the help of Sanskrit called
vrithangal which specifies the way in which the words needs to be used in Poems so
as to compose a harmonious whole.
The poetry style of writing called Manipravala which advocated a lavish
intermixing of both Malayalam and Sanskrit were the product of this stage of
Malayalams growth. As British colonized India , Malayalam also came under the
influence of English which lend it a many commonly used words and most of the words of
Since Kerala was one of the preferred destination of travellers from ancient
world, It came under the influences of Arabic and Persian - from the Persian Gulf,
Syriac (Kerala boasts of one of the earliest churches from the time of Christ) , Portuguese,
Dutch , French ,German,Chineese and other languages like Pali , Urdu , Prakrits ,
Hindi , Kannada , Telugu etc due to the geographical nearness.
As the language matured , it went through many different stages from
Classical , Semi Classical Renaissance , Modern and Post Modern stages with a
lot of diffusion of ideas from western and eastern literary thinking and philosophy.
modern literature is rich in poetry, fiction, drama, Travelogues ,biography, and literary
Evolution of Script
The earliest known writing of Malayalam was in vattezhuthu (derived from Brahmi script) later this system evolved into another style of writing called kolezhuthu (used mainly in northern areas
of Kerala) and malayanma (used in southern areas of Kerala)
Along with these forms Grandhakshara was also used to write Samskrithm words in Malayalam (Grandhakshara literaly means scripts used in books) Later these two forms were merged toghether by ThunchathEzhuthachan to form the precursor to the modern Malayalam script. The present form
of writing evolved from this. It holds an almost one to one correspondence with Devanagari - the script of Hindi along with some extra letters it inherited from its
are sister Scripts to Malayalam and are very similar
The writing is syllabic in nature and adopts a very scientific ordering of pronunciation ,
begining with sounds produced from the throat , with modification done to it in different
stages with tongue teeth lips and nose.
The alphabet is divided into vowels and consonants. A complete syllable consists of one or more
consonants followed by a vowel. Most of these features are shared across the languages of Peninsular
India and are due to the common evolution and diffusion of ideas and words through out.
The malayalam script was later adopted by a cousin language called Kongini which used it to
preserve its oral traditions and culture.