Malayalam മലയാളം malayāḷam
Malayalam in Malayalam script
Spoken in India Region Kerala, Mahé, Lakshadweep, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Ethnicity Malayali Native speakers 35.9 million (1997) Language familyDravidian
Writing system Malayalam script Official status Regulated by No official regulation Language codes ISO 639-1 ml ISO 639-2 mal ISO 639-3 malNumber of Malayalam speakers by country This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More... This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Malayalam (pronounced /mæləˈjɑːləm/; മലയാളം, malayāḷam ?, IPA: [mɐləjaːɭəm]), 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 Puducherry. 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, Mangalore 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, North America, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Europe.
Malayalam most likely originated from ancient Tamil in the 6th century, of which Modern Tamil was also derived. An alternative theory proposes a split in even more ancient times. In either case, Malayalam imbibed many elements from Sanskrit through the ages and today over eighty percent of the vocabulary of Malayalam in scholarly usage is from Sanskrit. Before Malayalam came into being, Old Tamil was used in literature and courts of a region called Tamilakam, a famous example being Silappatikaram. The earliest script used to write Malayalam was the Vattezhuttu script, and later the Kolezhuthu, which derived from it. As Malayalam began to freely borrow words as well as the rules of grammar from Sanskrit, Grantha script was adopted for writing and came to be known as Arya Ezhuthu. This developed into the modern Malayalam script. Many medieval liturgical texts were written in an admixture of Sanskrit and early Malayalam, termed as Manipravalam. The oldest literary work in Malayalam, distinct from the Tamil tradition, is dated between the 9th and 11th century.
Due to its lineage to both Sanskrit and Tamil, the Malayalam alphabet has the largest number of letters among the Indian languages. Malayalam script includes letters capable of representing all the sounds of Sanskrit and all Dravidian languages.
The word Malayalam is derived from two words of early Malayalam - mala meaning mountain, and alam meaning place. Malayalam thus translates as "mountain region" and used to refer to the land itself, and only later became the name of the language. The language Malayalam is alternatively called as Alealum, Malayalani, Malayali, Malean, Maliyad, Mallealle, and Mopla.
The origin of Malayalam, whether it was a from a dialect of Tamil or an independent offshoot of the Proto Dravidian language, has been and continues to be an engaging pursuit among comparative historical linguists. Robert Caldwell, in his book A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Languages opines that Malayalam branched from classical Tamil that over time gained a large amount of Sanskrit vocabulary and lost the personal terminations of verbs. Either way, its generally agreed that by the end of 13th century a written form of the language emerged which was definitely different from Tamil.
The earliest known poem in Malayalam, Ramacharitam, dated to 12th century C.E, was completed before the introduction of the Sanskrit alphabet. It shows the same phase of the language as in Jewish and Syrian Saasanas (dated to mid eighth century C.E). But the period of the earliest available literary document cannot be the sole criterion used to determine the antiquity of a language. In its early literature, Malayalam has songs, Paattu, for various subjects and occasions, such as harvesting, love songs, heroes, Gods, etc. A form of writing called Champu emerged from the 14th century onwards. It mixed poetry with prose and used a vocabulary strongly influenced by Sanskrit, with themes from epics and Puranas.
In the 16th – 17th centuries, Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan was the first to substitute Grantha-Malayalam script for the Tamil Vatteluttu. Ezhuthachan, regarded as the father of modern Malayalam language, undertook an elaborate translation of the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata into Malayalam. His Adhyatma Ramayana and Mahabharata are still read with religious reverence by Malayalis. Kunchan Nambiar, the founder of Thullal, was a prolific literary figure of the 18th century.
Together with Tamil, Toda, Kannada and Tulu, Malayalam belongs to the southern group of Dravidian languages. Some believe Proto-Tamil, the common stock of ancient Tamil and Malayalam, diverged over a period of four or five centuries from the 9th century on, resulting in the emergence of Malayalam as a language distinct from Proto-Tamil. As the language of scholarship and administration, Proto-Tamil, which was written in Tamil-Brahmi script and Vatteluttu later, greatly influenced the early development of Malayalam. Later the inroads the Nairs and the Namboothiris made into the cultural life of Kerala, the Namboothiri-Nair dominated society and politics, their trade relationships with Arabs, and the invasion of Kerala by the Portuguese affected the languages. The Portuguese established vassal states, which accelerated the assimilation of many Roman, Semitic and Indo-Aryan features into Malayalam; these occurred at different levels, particularly among the religious communities, such as Muslims, Christians, Jews and Jains.
T.K. Krishna Menon, in his book A Primer of Malayalam Literature, describes four distinct epochs of the evolution of the language:
- Karintamil (3100 BCE – 100 BCE): There is a strong Tamil element, and Sanskrit has not yet made an influence on the language.
- Old Malayalam (100 BCE – 325 CE): Malayalam seems to have been influenced by Sanskrit as numerous Sanskrit words have been absorbed in the language. Personal terminations are made for verbs conjugated according to gender and number. Tamil Sangams produced Tamil Sangam literature in the same era. Tamil-Brahmiscript was used to write inscriptions in that era.
- Middle Malayalam (325 CE – 1425): Malayalam from this time period is represented by works such as Ramacharitram. Traces of the adjuncts of verbs have disappeared by this period. The Jains seem to have encouraged the study of the language. Kulasekhara Alwar wrote Perumal Thirumozhi in Tamil while writing Mukundamala in Sanskrit. A strong elememt of Tamil influence is found until this period, as evidenced in Perumal Thirumozhi.
- Modern Malayalam (1425 onwards): Malayalam seems to have become distinctly separate as a language from classical Tamil and Sanskrit. This period can be divided into two categories: from 1425 to 1795, and from 1795, onward. 1795 is the year the British gained complete control over Kerala.
The first printed book in Kerala was Doctrina Christam, written by Henrique in Lingua Malabar-Tamul. It was transliterated and translated into Malayalam, and printed by the Portuguese in 1578.
In 1821 the Church Mission Society (CMS) at Kottayam started printing books in Malayalam when Benjamin Bailey, an Anglican priest, made the first Malayalam types. In addition, he contributed to standardizing the prose. Hermann Gundert from Stuttgart, Germany started the first Malayalam newspaper, Rajya Samacharam in 1847 at Thalassery. It was printed at Basel Mission.
Development of literature
Proto-Dravidian Proto-South-Dravidian Proto-Central Dravidian Proto-Tamil-Kannada Proto-Telugu Proto-Tamil-Toda Proto-Kannada Proto-Telugu Proto-Tamil-Kodagu Kannada Telugu Proto-Tamil-Malayalam Proto-Tamil Malayalam Tamil
The earliest written record resembling Malayalam is the Vazhappalli inscription (ca. 830 CE). The early literature of Malayalam comprised three types of composition: Malayalam Nada, Tamil Nada and Sanskrit Nada.
- Classical songs known as Naadan Paattu
- Manipravalam of the Sanskrit tradition, which permitted a generous interspersing of Sanskrit with Malayalam. Niranam poets Manipravalam Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar wrote Manipravalam poetry in the 14th century.
- The folk song rich in native elements
Malayalam poetry to the late 20th century betrays varying degrees of the fusion of the three different strands. The oldest examples of Pattu and Manipravalam, respectively, are Ramacharitam and Vaishikatantram, both from the 12th century.
The earliest extant prose work in the language is a commentary in simple Malayalam, Bhashakautaliyam (12th century) on Chanakya’s Arthasastra. Adhyathmaramayanam by Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan (known as the father of the Malayalam language) who was born in Tirur, one of the most important works in Malayalam literature. Unnuneeli Sandesam written in the 14th century is amongst the oldest literary works in Malayalam language.
By the end of 18th century some of the Christian missionaries from Kerala started writing in Malayalam but mostly travelogues, Dictionaries and Religious books. Varthamana Pusthakam (1778), written by Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar is considered to be the first travelogue in an Indian language. Church Mission Society which started a seminary at Kottayam in 1819 also started a press which printed Malayalam books in 19th century. Malayalam and Sanskrit were increasingly studied by Christians of Kottayam and pathanamthitta by the end of 19th century Malayalam replaced Syriac as language of Liturgy in the church.
Short Long Front Central Back Front Central Back Close /i/ ഇ i /ɨ̆/ * ŭ /u/ ഉ u /iː/ ഈ ī /uː/ ഊ ū Mid /e/ എ e /ə/ * a /o/ ഒ o /eː/ ഏ ē /oː/ ഓ ō Open /a/ അ a /aː/ ആ ā
- */ɨ̆/ is the saṁvr̥tōkāram, an epenthentic vowel in Malayalam. Therefore, it has no independent vowel letter (because it never occurs at the beginning of words) but, when it comes after a consonant, there are various ways of representing it. In medieval times, it was just represented with the symbol for /u/, but later on it was just completely omitted (that is, written as an inherent vowel). In modern times, it is written in two different ways – the Northern style, in which a chandrakkala is used, and the Southern or Travancore style, in which the diacritic for a /u/ is attached to the preceding consonant and a chandrakkala is written above.
- */a/ (phonetically central: [ä]) and /ə/ are both represented as basic or "default" vowels in the abugida script (although /ə/ never occurs word-initially and therefore does not make use of the letter അ), but they are distinct vowels.
Malayalam has also borrowed the Sanskrit diphthongs of /äu/ (represented in Malayalam as ഔ, au) and /ai/ (represented in Malayalam as ഐ, ai), although these mostly occur only in Sanskrit loanwords. Traditionally (as in Sanskrit), four vocalic consonants (usually pronounced in Malayalam as consonants followed by the saṁvr̥tōkāram, which is not officially a vowel, and not as actual vocalic consonants) have been classified as vowels: vocalic r (ഋ, /rɨ̆/, r̥), long vocalic r (ൠ, /rɨː/, r̥̄), vocalic l (ഌ, /lɨ̆/, l̥) and long vocalic l (ൡ, /lɨː/, l̥̄). Except for the first, the other three have been omitted from the current script used in Kerala as there are no words in current Malayalam that use them.
Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal Nasal /m/ മ m /n̪/ ന n /n/ ന * n /ɳ/ ണ ṇ /ɲ/ ഞ ñ /ŋ/ ങ ṅ Stop plain /p/ പ p /b/ ബ b /t̪/ ത t /d̪/ ദ d /t/ * t /ʈ/ ട ṭ /ɖ/ ഡ ḍ /t͡ʃ/ ച c /d͡ʒ/ ജ j /k/ ക k /ɡ/ ഗ g aspirated /pʰ/ ഫ ph /bʱ/ ഭ bh /t̪ʰ/ ഥ th /d̪ʱ/ ധ dh /ʈʰ/ ഠ ṭh /ɖʱ/ ഢ ḍh /t͡ʃʰ/ ഛ ch /d͡ʒʱ/ ഝ jh /kʰ/ ഖ kh /ɡʱ/ ഘ gh Fricative /f/ ഫ* f /s̪/ സ s /ʂ/ ഷ ṣ /ɕ/ ശ ś /h/ ഹ h Approximant central /ʋ/ വ v /ɻ/ ഴ l /j/ യ y lateral /l/ ല l /ɭ/ ള ḷ Rhotic /ɾʲ/ ര r /r/ റ r
- The unaspirated alveolar plosive stop once had a separate character but it has become obsolete, as the sound only occurs in geminate form (when geminated it is written with a റ below another റ) or immediately following other consonants (in these cases, റ or ററ is usually written in small size underneath the first consonant). The archaic letter can be found in the "t" row here.
- The alveolar nasal also had a separate character that is now obsolete (it can be seen in the "n" row here) and the sound is now almost always represented by the symbol that was originally used only for the dental nasal. However, both sounds are extensively used in current colloquial and official Malayalam, and although they were allophones in Old Malayalam, they now occasionally contrast in gemination – for example, "ennāl" ("by me", first person singular pronoun in the instrumental case) and ennāl ("if that is so", elided from the original "entāl"), which are both written "ennāl".
- The letter ഫ represents both /pʰ/, a phoneme occurring in Sanskrit loanwords, and /f/, which is mostly found in comparatively recent borrowings from European languages.
- The voiceless unaspirated plosives, the nasals and the laterals can be geminated.
Malayalam has a canonical word order of SOV (subject–object–verb) as do other Dravidian languages. Both adjectives and possessive pronouns precede the nouns they modify. Malayalam has 6 or 7 grammatical cases. Verbs are conjugated for tense, mood and aspect, but not for person, gender or number except in archaic or poetic language.
Historically, several scripts were used to write Malayalam. Among these scripts were Vattezhuthu, Kolezhuthu and Malayanma scripts. But it was the Grantha script, another Southern Brahmi variation, which gave rise to the modern Malayalam script. It is syllabic in the sense that the sequence of graphic elements means that syllables have to be read as units, though in this system the elements representing individual vowels and consonants are for the most part readily identifiable. In the 1960s Malayalam dispensed with many special letters representing less frequent conjunct consonants and combinations of the vowel /u/ with different consonants.
Malayalam script consists of a total of 578 characters. The script contains 52 letters including 16 vowels and 36 consonants, which forms 576 syllabic characters, and contains two additional diacritic characters named Anusvāra and Visarga. The earlier style of writing is now substituted with a new style from 1981. This new script reduces the different letters for typeset from 900 to fewer than 90. This was mainly done to include Malayalam in the keyboards of typewriters and computers.
In 1999 a group named "Rachana Akshara Vedi", produced a set of free fonts containing the entire character repertoire of more than 900 glyphs. This was announced and released along with a text editor in the same year at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. In 2004, the fonts were released under the GNU GPL license by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation at the Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kochi, Kerala.
Dialects and external influences
Variations in intonation patterns, vocabulary, and distribution of grammatical and phonological elements are observable along the parameters of region, religion, community, occupation, social stratum, style and register. Influence of Sanskrit is very prominent in formal Malayalam used in literature. Malayalam has a substantially high amount of Sanskrit loan words. Loan words and influences also from Hebrew, Syriac and Ladino abound in the Jewish Malayalam dialects, as well as English, Portuguese, Syriac and Greek in the Christian dialects, while Arabic and Persian elements predominate in the Muslim dialects. This Muslim dialect known as Mappila Malayalam is used in the Malabar region of Kerala. Another Muslim dialect called Beary bashe is used in the extreme northern part of Kerala.
South Travancore Central Travancore West Vempanad North Travancore Kochi (Cochin) South Malabar South Eastern Palghat North Western Palghat Central Malabar Wayanad North Malabar Kasaragod Lakshadweep
According to Ethnologue, the dialects are:
Malabar, Nagari-Malayalam, South Kerala, Central Kerala, North Kerala, Kayavar, Namboodiri, Nair, Moplah (Mapilla), Pulaya, Nasrani, Kasargod.
Words adopted from Sanskrit
When words are adopted from Sanskrit, their endings are usually changed to conform to Malayalam norms:
1. Masculine Sanskrit nouns with a Word stem ending in a short "a" take the ending "an" in the nominative singular. For example, Kr̥ṣṇa -> Kr̥ṣṇan. The final "n" is dropped before masculine surnames, honorifics, or titles ending in "an" and beginning with a consonant other than "n" – e.g. Krishna Menon, Krishna Kaniyaan etc., but Krishnan Ezhutthachan. Surnames ending with "ar" or "aḷ" (where these are plural forms of "an" denoting respect) are treated similarly – Krishna Pothuval, Krishna Chakyar, but Krishnan Nair, Krishnan Nambiar, as are Sanskrit surnames such "Varma(n)", "Sharma(n)", or "Gupta(n)" (rare) – e.g. Krishna Varma, Krishna Sharman. If a name is a compound, only the last element undergoes this transformation – e.g. Kr̥ṣṇa + dēva = Kr̥ṣṇadēvan, not Kr̥ṣṇandēvan.
2. Feminine words ending in a long "ā" or "ī" are changed so that they now end in a short "a" or "i", for example Sītā -> Sīta and Lakṣmī -> Lakṣmi. However, the long vowel still appears in compound words, such as Sītādēvi or Lakṣmīdēvi. The long ī is generally reserved for the vocative forms of these names, although in Sanskrit the vocative actually takes a short "i". There are also a small number of nominative "ī" endings that have not been shortened – a prominent example being the word "strī" "woman".
3. Nouns that have a stem in -an and which end with a long "ā" in the masculine nominative singular have a "vŭ" added to them, for example Brahmā (stem Brahman) -> Brahmāvŭ. When the same nouns are declined in the neuter and take a short "a" ending in Sanskrit, Malayalam adds an additional "m", e.g. Brahma (neuter nominative singular of Brahman) becomes Brahmam. This is again omitted when forming compounds.
4. Words whose roots end in -an but whose nominative singular ending is -a – for example, the Sanskrit root of "Karma" is actually "Karman" – are also changed. The original root is ignored and "Karma" (the form in Malayalam being "Karmam" because it ends in a short "a") is taken as the basic form of the noun when declining. However, this does not apply to all consonant stems, as "unchangeable" stems such as "manas" ("mind") and "suhr̥t ("friend") are identical to the Malayalam nominative singular forms (although the regularly derived "manam" sometimes occurs as an alternative to "manas").
5. Sanskrit words describing things or animals rather than people with a stem in short "a" end with an "m" Malayalam. For example, Rāmāyaṇa -> Rāmāyaṇam. In most cases, this is actually the same as the Sanskrit ending, which is also "m" (or allophonically anusvara due to Sandhi) in the neuter nominative. However, "things and animals" and "people" are not always differentiated based on whether or not they are sentient beings – for example Narasimha becomes Narasiṃham and not Narasiṃhan, whereas Ananta becomes Anantan even though both are sentient. This does not strictly correspond to the Sanskrit neuter gender, as both "Narasiṃha" and "Ananta" are masculine nouns in the original Sanskrit.
6. Nouns with short vowel stems other than "a", such as "Viṣṇu", "Prajāpati" etc. are declined with the Sanskrit stem acting as the Malayalam nominative singular (the Sanskrit nominative singular is formed by adding a visarga, e.g. Viṣṇuḥ)
7. The original Sanskrit vocative is often used in formal or poetic Malayalam, e.g. "Harē" (for Hari) or "Prabhō" (for "Prabhu" – "lord"). This is restricted to certain contexts – mainly when addressing deities or other exalted individuals, so a normal man named Hari would usually be addressed using a Malayalam vocative such as "Harī". The Sanskrit genitive is also occasionally found in Malayalam poetry, especially the personal pronouns "mama" (my/ mine) and "tava" (thy/ thine). Other cases are less common and generally restricted to the realm of Maṇipravāḷam.
8. Along with these tatsama borrowings, there are also many tadbhava words in common use. These were borrowed into Malayalam before it became distinct from Tamil. As the language did not then accommodate Sanskrit phonology as it now does, words were changed to conform to the Old Tamil phonological system. For example: Kr̥ṣṇa -> Kaṇṇan.
Malayalam also has been influenced by Portuguese, as is evident from the use of words like mēśa for a small table, janāla for window, varānta for an open porch, and alamāra for cupboard.
For a comprehensive list of loan words, see Loan words in Malayalam.
The word "Malayalam" is spelled as a palindrome in English. However, it is not a palindrome in its own script, for three reasons: the third a is long and should properly be transliterated aa or ā(an a with a macron) while the other a’s are short; the two l consonants represent different sounds, the first l being dental ([l̪], Malayalam ല, Roman l) (although the consonant chart below lists that sound as alveolar) and the second retroflex ([ɭ], Malayalam ള, Roman ḷ); and the final m is written as an anusvara, which denotes the same phoneme /m/ as in the initial m in this case, but the two m’s are spelled differently (the first m is a normal maമ with an inherent vowel a, while the last m ം is a pure consonant).
- Malayalam calendar
- Malayalam cinema
- Malayalam journalism
- Malayalam literature
- Kasaragod Malayalam
- Tulu Script
- Lingua Malabar Tamul
- Languages of India
- List of Indian languages by total speakers
- Malayalam poetry, Poetry in Malayalam language
- Malayali, people with Malayalam language as their mother tongue.
- Mappila dialect of Malayalam, a sub dialect of Malayalam language spoken by Muslim communities of Kerala.
- Judeo-Malayalam, a sub dialect of Malayalam spoken by Cochin Jews.
- Arabi Malayalam, a system in which Malayalam language is written using modified Arabic script.
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- ^ a b c d http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=mal
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- Pillai, Anitha Devi (2010). Singaporean Malayalam. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller. ISBN 3639213335.
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Malayalam — (മലയാളം) Gesprochen in Indien; (Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahé) Sprecher 33 Millionen Linguistische Klassifikation Dravidische Sprachen Süddravidische Sprachen Malayalam … Deutsch Wikipedia
Malayalam — മലയാളം Date de création Xe siècle Parlée en Inde … Wikipédia en Français
Malayâlam — Malayalam Malayâlam മലയാളം Parlée en Inde et Singapour Région Asie Nombre de locuteurs 36 millions Typologie SOV  … Wikipédia en Français
Malayāḷaṃ — Malayalam Malayâlam മലയാളം Parlée en Inde et Singapour Région Asie Nombre de locuteurs 36 millions Typologie SOV  … Wikipédia en Français
malayalam — [ malajalam ] n. m. • 1870 malayala; 1672 maleama; mot de cette langue ♦ Langue dravidienne proche du tamoul, parlée dans le Kerala, en Inde, par environ 20 millions de personnes. ● malayalam nom masculin Langue dravidienne méridionale parlée… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Malayalam — [mal΄ə yä′ləm] n. [Malayalam malayālam] a Dravidian language spoken on the Malabar Coast of SW India … English World dictionary
malayalam — MALAYALÁM s. n. limbă dravidiană vorbită în India. (< fr. malayalam) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN … Dicționar Român
Malayalam — Ma la*ya lam, prop. n. The name given to one the cultivated Dravidian languages, closely related to the Tamil. Yule. [1913 Webster] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
Malayălam — (Malayalim, Malayalma, Malabarische Sprache), eine der Dravida od. Dekanischen Sprachen, welche im Südwesten Vorderindiens auf der Küste Malabar in den Königreichen Calicut, Cochin u. Travancore von etwa 3 Millionen Menschen gesprochen wird u. in … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Malayalam — Malayalam, s. Malajalam … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon