Malayalam (മലയാളം malayāḷam, pronounced [mɐləjaːɭɐm]( listen)), is one of the four major Dravidian languages of southern India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India with official language status in the state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Mahé. It is spoken by 35.9 million people. Malayalam is also spoken in the Nilgiris district, Kanyakumari district and Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu, Dakshina Kannada, Bangalore and Kodagu districts of Karnataka. Overseas it is also used by a large population of Indian expatriates living around the globe in the Middle East, United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Europe.
Malayalam originated from ancient Tamil in the 6th century, of which Modern Tamil was also derived. An alternative theory proposes a split in more ancient times. But, Malayalam was heavily Sanskritised through the ages and today, over eighty percent words of modern Malayalam are from pure Sanskrit. Before Malayalam came into being, Old Tamil was used in literature and courts of a region called Tamilakam, a famous example being Silappatikaram. While Dravidian Tamil used to be the ruling language of the Chera Dynasty Ai and Pandyan kingdoms. Sanskrit/Prakrit derived Buddhist Pali Language and the Jain Kalpasutra were know to Keralites from 500 BC. The Grantha Bhasha or Sanskrit mixed Tamil which was written in Grantha Script (Arya Ezhuthu) was used by Brahmins residing in Tamil areas. The Dravidian component of Malayalam-Tamil has words similar to ancient Sangam Literature. During the Later Chera dynasty the inscriptions included some lines from Grantha Bhasha in Grantha Script along with Malayalam-Tamil written in Vattezhuttu. A form of Grantha Bhasha, a Sanskrit mixed Tamil closely resembling the later Malayalam was used to write books by Brahmins from Tulunadu residing in Kerala in the second Millennium. The oldest literature works in Malayalam, distinct from the Tamil...
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