Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Malayalam started to develop as a separate language from the 13th century onwards. It’s the major language of Kerala and Lakshadweep. While ‘Vattezhuthu Script’ was the script used for Malayalam from 9th century onwards, the modern script of Malayalam Language evolved from the ‘Grandha Script’ which came into existence by the 16th century. Malayalam, one among the Dravidian languages, most likely originated as a split from Tamil in even more ancient times and became an independent language by AD 9th century. Today Malayalam is spoken by almost 38 million people.

Different opinions exist on the script of Malayalam language. In his famous Malayalam grammar book ‘Kerala Paanineeyam’, A. R. Raja RajaVarma the famous grammatician, who is known as Kerala Panini for his contributions to Malayalam language, posits that there are 53 different meaningful sounds in Malayalam. Besides Kerala Paanini, grammaticians like Herman Gundart, George Mathan, Kovunni Nedungadi, and many others have authored grammar books.

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