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"Malayalam“ - The classical language of the world 


One of the South Indian languages is Malayalam.  This Dravidian language is the official language of Kerala and Lakhshadweep. This language has its own histories and its own scripts for writing. This language is spoken by 35.9 million people. Do you know the meaning of the word Malayalam? For the word, “Mala” means “mountain” while “alam” means “place”. Malayalam is the only language that can spelt and read alike backwards and forwards.  

For a long time, Sanskrit was a scholastic language in many parts of India. This influenced other languages evolution. The Dravidian language, Malayalam too has similar words that of Sanskrit. Sanskrit enriched the language Malayalam in many ways. One language has influenced the growth of the other due to coexistence of different people, languages and the cultures.  

In the 6th century, the language Malayalam originated from Middle Tamil (Proto-Tamil-Malayalam). Today, Malayalam’s 80 percent of vocabulary is from Sanskrit. The words like nakham” [nail], “bharya” [wife], “mukham” [face] etc are examples of some words which are borrowed from Sanskrit. Like Kannada language, Malayalam language dropped many, not frequently used conjunct consonants and vowels, after the middle of the 20th century. There are 53 letters in Malayalam today. There are 20 long and short Malayalam vowels the remaining are consonants.  

In the 14th century, Rama-charitam was composed. This inaugurated  Malayalam literature. Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan was the father of modern Malayalam language. Ramayana and Mahabharata, the ancient Indian epics were translated into Malayalam language by Ezhuthachan. The contemporary scholar of Ezhuthachan was Melpathur Bhattathirippad. Poonthanam Nambudiri followed Ezhuthachan’s footsteps. The author of Jnanappana is Poonthanam. 

Do you know the earliest literary work available in Malayalam now? It is Arthasastra by Chanakys. Arthasastra is believed to belong to the 13th century. Arthasastra and Vaisikatantram, both of these come under Manipravalam. Vaisikatantram is believed to belong to the 14h century. Manipravalam is a combination of two languages namely Sanskrit and the language of Kerala. In the 14th century, a grammar namely Lilatilakam was written. For the students of literary and linguistic history, this grammar is still useful.  

The written form of Malayalam language emerged by the end of 13th century. It is different from Tamil. Malayalam has songs namely pattu in its early literature. The songs are used for various occasions like harvest, gods, heroes etc. There will be slight variations in speaking the language in Southern Kerala, Central as well as Northern parts of Kerala. Today, 100 percent of the Malayalam language speakers are literate.  


In the vazhappalli inscription, Malayalam was first appeared in writing which was in 830AD. In the initial stages of the development of Malayalam language, the use of Sanskrit words like “sorrow”, “kindness”, “danger” shows that Sanskrit play an important role. Malayalam is the only South Indian language which has not yet been given the classical status. The language has all the qualification for a classical status. The state Kerala has moved forward to get the classical status for its language. The websites namely, helps you to know more about this topic.  


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