Languages of Kerala


Kerala is where India slips down into second gear, stops to smell the roses and always talks to strangers. A strip of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, its perfect climate flirts unabashedly with the fertile soil, and everything glows. An easy-going and successful socialist state, Kerala has a liberal hospitality that stands out as its most laudable achievement.

Resting on low hills in Southern Kerala, is the capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), used as a gateway to nearby resorts by many but boasting some of its very own attractions and dreadlocked faithful. North of the capital is Varkala with its stunning cliffs; but the real emerald jewel in South India’s crown are the backwaters that meander throughout Kerala. Here, spindly networks of rivers, canals and lagoons nourish a seemingly infinite number of rice paddies and coconut groves, while sleek houseboats cruise the water highways from one bucolic village to another – try stopping at Kollam (Quilon). Along the coast, slices of perfect, sandy beach beckon the sun-worshipping crowd, and far inland the mountainous Ghats are covered in vast plantations of spices and tea. Exotic wildlife also thrives in the hills, for those who need more than just the smell of cardamom growing to get their juices flowing.

This flourishing land isn’t good at keeping its secret: adventurers and traders have been in on it for years. The serene Fort Cochin pays homage to its colonial past, each building whispering a tale of Chinese visitors, Portuguese traders, Jewish settlers, Syrian Christians and Muslim merchants. Yet even with its colonial distractions, Kerala manages to cling to its vibrant traditions.

Malayalam Language

Malayalam (malayalam) is the principal language of the South Indian state of Kerala and also of the Lakshadweep Islands (Laccadives) of the west coast of India. Malayalis (speakers of Malayalam), who – males and females alike – are almost totally literate, constitute 4 percent of the population of India and 96 percent of the population of Kerala (29.01 million in 1991). In terms of the number of speakers Malayalam ranks eights among the fifteen major languages of India. The word malayALam originally meant mountainous country) (mala- mountain + alam-place). Tamil is its neighbor on the south and east and Kannada on the north and east.

Malayalam is classified as a South Dravidian language. It is the official language of Kerala. About 31.8 million people consider Malayalam as their mother tongue. Possessing an independent written script, it also has a rich modern literature. There are at least five main regional dialects of Malayalam and a number of communal dialects. It belongs to the Dravidian family. Many words have been borrowed from Sanskrit. There are 37 consonants and 16 vowels in the script. Malayalam has a written traditional dating back from the late 9th century and the earliest work dates from 13th century. The script used is called Kolezhethu (Rod-script) which is derived from ancient Grandha Script. Malayalam differs from other Dravidian language as the absence of personal endings on verbs. It has a one to one correspondence with the Indo Aryan Devanagari syllabarry.

History of Malayalam Language

Malayalam, the official language of kerala, is one of the south dravidian language. It is believed that malayalam is derived from tamil (kodumthamizh), another south dravidian language, during the sangam period. But many words in malayalam are borrowed from Sanskrit, and this gives rise to a counter argument about the origin of the language.

The origin of Malayalam as a distinct language may be traced to the last quarter of 9th Century A.D. Malayalam first appeared in writing in the vazhappalli inscription which dates from about 830 AD. In the early thirteenth century the Malayalam script began to develop from a script known as vattezhuthu (round writing), a descendant of the Brahmi script. But malayalam as we know now is greatly simplified from 900 glyphs, which it originally had.