Malayalam language (മലയാളം, Malayāḷam ? [mɐləjaːɭəm]), is a language spoken in India, predominantly in the state of Kerala. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was designated a Classical Language in India in 2013, Malayalam has official language status in the state of Kerala and in the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry. It belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and is spoken by approximately 33 million people, according to the 2001 census. Malayalam most likely originated from Middle Tamil (Sen-Tamil) in the 6th century. An alternative theory proposes a split in even more ancient times Malayalam incorporated 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, including present day Kerala state, a famous example being Silappatikaram. Silappatikaram was written by Chera prince Ilango Adigal from Cochin, and is considered a classic in Sangam literature. Modern Malayalam still preserves many words from the ancient Tamil vocabulary of Sangam literature.
Grantha, Vattezhuthu, Kolezhuthu, Malayanma, Devanagiri, Brahmi and Tamil alphabets
C. Radhakrishnan in: Grantha, Vattezhuthu, Kolezhuthu, Malayanma, Devanagiri, Brahmi and Tamil alphabets, C.Radhakrishnan's Home Page
- The absence of character combinations, the vowels a and o and conventions for symbols were real difficulties in Vattezhuthu. The trouble with kolezhuthu was still more, for it had regional variations also. And in the case Malayanma, the complexity of the script, Tamil usage and conventional abbreviations for words made it unintelligible to the rest of the region. With all these three scripts in current use the writing and reading of Malayalam must indeed have been a difficult affair.
Guide to OCR for Indic Scripts: Document Recognition and Retrieval
N. V. Neeba, Anoop Nmaboodri,C.V. Jawahar, and P.J. Natayanan In: Venu Govindaraju, Srirangaraj (Ranga) Setlur [http://books.google.co.in/books?id=WdSR9OJ0kxYC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false Guide to OCR for Indic Scripts: Document Recognition and Retrieval], Springer Science & Business Media, 25 September 2009
- Malayalam is an Indian language spoken by 40 million people with its own script spoken in the south western state of Kerala.
- Malayalam has a rich literary tradition. The Malayalam script has a large number of similar characters making the recognition pattern challenging.
- The language started as a variant of Tamil that was spoken in regions of Kerala, and evolved its own form, grammar, and vocabulary by 500 CE. A significant transition from Tamil happened with the introduction of a form of literature called Manipravalam, which freely mixed words from Sanskrit into the language.
- Kerala had a flourishing spice trade with Europe, Middle east and Egypt for over 2000 years. This long-standing exposure led to words and expressions being borrowed from a variety of languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Latin. The most significant influence in the recent past has been English language, which has contributed a large number of words in everyday use, mostly in its original form.
- Malayalam has a strong literary history, which is centuries old and is very rich in several genres of literature. The earliest known literary composition in the language is from the 13th century. Notably, the work Ramacharitam by Cheeraman is recognized by scholars as the first book in Malayalam. The first Malayalam grammar/literary treatise, Leelathilakam, was compiled in the 14th century. Malayalam also has a rich vocabulary, with around 90,000 words, listed in the dictionary ShabdathArAvalli.
- The intermediate development of the literature was primarily through the lyrics for performing art forms of Kathakali, Koothu, and Thullal and translations of the mythological stories. In fact, one of the first works in the language, Bhashakautilyam, from the 12th century, is a translation of Arthashastra from Sanskrit.
- A variety of literary styles in prose and poems, including mythical, satirical, fictional, narrative, and travelogue, were created in Malayalam before the 18th century. The literary journals such as Bhasha Poshini and Vidya Vinodini, which came into existence towards the end of the 19th century, played a critical role in popularising the literary culture and criticism in the language.
- The modern day literature in Malayalam is as evolved and complex as that of any other languages in the world.
- The recognition of printed or handwritten Malayalam has to deal with a large number of complex glyphs, some of which are highly similar to each other. However, recent advances in classifier design, combined with the increase in processing power of computers have all but solved the primary recognition problem.
- A characteristic of the Malayalam language is the common usage of compound words created from multiple root words, using the sandhi rules. This creates a combinatorial explosion in the number of distinct words in the language.
Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5
K.A. Jayaseelan in:Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5, Popular Prakashan, 2000
- Malayalam evolved either from a western dialect of Tamil or from the a branch of Proto-Dravidian from which modern Tamil also evolved. The earliest record of the language is an inscription dated 830 AD.
- An. early extensive influx of Sanskrit words influenced the Malayalam script (derived from the Grantha script, itself derived from Brahmi), it has letters to represent all the Sanskrit sounds besides the Dravidian sounds.
- The language also uses a script called Koleluttu (Rod script), which is derived from the Tamil writing system. The Tamil Grantha script is used as well.
- Like the Dravidian languages generally, its clause has a subject-object verb word order; it has a nominative-accusative case-marking pattern; its Malayalam language pronominal system has “natural” gender, non-human is a neuter and masculine/feminine is distinguished (fir humans) according to sex.
- But unlike other Dravidian languages, its finite verb is inflected only for tense, not for person, number, and gender.
- Malayalam is spoken mainly in the southwestern southern coast of Kerala and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep; but bilingual communities in contiguous parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also speak it.... It has regional and caste-based dialects. A distinction, called Diglossia|diglossia]], exists between the formal, literary language and the colloquial tongue.
Malayalam language, member of the South Dravidian subgroup of the Dravidian language family. Malayalam is spoken mainly in India, where it is the official language of the state of Kerala and the union territory of Lakshadweep. It is also spoken by bilingual communities in contiguous parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In the early 21st century, Malayalam was spoken by more than 35 million people.
Malayalam has three important regional dialects and a number of smaller ones. There is some difference in dialect along social, particularly caste, lines. As a result of these factors, the Malayalam language has developed diglossia, a distinction between the formal, literary language and colloquial forms of speech.
Malayalam evolved either from a western dialect of Tamil or from the branch of Proto-Dravidian from which modern Tamil also evolved. The earliest record of the language is an inscription dated to approximately 830 ce. An early and extensive influx of Sanskrit words influenced the Malayalam script. Known as Koleluttu (“Rod Script”), it is derived from the Grantha script, which in turn is derived from Brahmi. Koleluttu has letters to represent the entire corpus of sounds from both Dravidian and Sanskrit.
Like the Dravidian languages generally, Malayalam has a series of retroflex consonants (/ḍ/, /ṇ/, and /ṭ/) made by curling the tip of the tongue back to the roof of the mouth. It uses subject–object–verb word order and has a nominative-accusative case-marking pattern. Its pronominal system has “natural” gender, a form that marks the gender of humans masculine or feminine while designating all nonhuman nouns as neuter. Inflection is generally marked via suffixation. Unlike other Dravidian languages, Malayalam inflects its finite verb only for tense—not for person, number, or gender.
The earliest extant literary work in Malayalam is Ramacharitam, an epic poem written in the late 12th or early 13th century. In the subsequent centuries, besides a popular pattu (“song”) literature, there flourished a literature of mainly erotic poetry composed in the manipravalam (“ruby coral”) style, an admixture of Malayalam and Sanskrit.