LANGUAGES OF KERALA
Major Languages : Malayalam, English, Hindi
Official Language : Malayalam
Belongs to : Dravidian Family of Languages
Unique Feature : Most Sanskratised Language
Man at a Library - Kerala
It is believed in India, that the way you speak emulates
the background you are form. Kerala is no exception. In a land where the
dawn breaks with the euphony of "Swamiye saranam, saranam Ayyappa"
(Oh Lord Ayyappa, I surrender to thee), it is not unique that the voice of
every individual will exude honey in tones and dialects. The sweetness of
Malayalam augments because of two reasons; firstly that it originated as
an offshoot of Tamil, the principal native language of neighbouring Tamil
Nadu, and secondly that it is a palindrome, a magic in itself. Malayalam
(/mala/- mountain + /aLam/-place in Tamil) as a composite phrase connotes
the 'inhabitants of mountains'. This phrase, which once elucidated the
geographical location of the region, was later replaced by Kerala.
Malayalam is probably the most sanskratised of all the languages, with a strong influence of the Dravidian forum. Although only 10% of Sanskrit words are used in the verbal language, the written language imbibes more than 40% of them, including direct borrowals and derivatives. Besides Sanskrit, one can also find many paronyms from Portuguese, Dutch, English, Arabic, Marathi and Persian absorbed which points to their rippleless influence on the culture. However, English is widely spoken and understood throughout the state (and sometime you can even see English subheads below Malayali hoardings in remotest of the villages).
The Malayalam Alphabet
Imagine a holiday vacation in a land where you will get
enough tongue-twisters to bewilder your friends. Malayalam has a series of
retroflex consonants (e.g., t, d, n; sounds pronounced by curling the
tongue tip and sticking it against the roof of the palate), and
grammatical categories such as tense, number, person, and case with
suffixes in alpha. Try to memorise 3-4 words of Malayali origin and you
can actually rock the table. Though the writing know-how dates its
inception to the late 9th century, but Thunchathu Ramanujam Ezhuthachan is
considered to be the father of Malayalam language, because of his literary
work 'Adhyatma Ramayanam' and 'Mahabharatham', regional adaptations of the
great Indian epics, which gave a distinct style of writing during the 16th
The whole concept of newspapers drastically changed with the arrival of printing in the 19th century. Dr. Herman Gundert, a German missionary, compiled the first Malayalam-English lexicon and is said to have started the first Malayalam newspaper. Today, the most circulated daily newspaper in India is in Malyalam and Kerala boasts of printing 170 daily papers, 235 weekly and over 600 monthly periodicals alone in Malayalam.
No doubt, Malayalam is extraordinarily rich in every genre of literature. In 1945, Prof. M.P. Paul and Karoor Neelkantha Pillai took awe-inspiring measures and set the substratum of the Sahitya Pravarthak Sahakarana Sangham (SPCS), the first ever cooperative society of literati in India. Established with the aim of catering Malayalam to the globe, this much adored institution also provided economic stability to the writers. Tourists can pick up Malayalam translation of many masterpiece of Indian or international literature, displayed as books or magazines in numerous book stalls dotting the state. Putting Kerala on the world tourist map has also promoted the language significantly. Malayalam, now, is presently taught in many universities outside India including some in the United States.
Highlights of Kerala Language
The Genesis of Malayalam
The Verbal Beauty
The English Extravaganza
Reflected Far Across The Seas
Get Some Books On Malayalam
South & Beaches