Malayalam is one of the classical languages in India. It is spoken by 35 million people of the Indian state Kerala and Lakshadweep, a union territory. Like any other language, it assumed its current form after undergoing many changes over the centuries. Malayalam is one of the prominent languages in India now, having contributed heavily to the cultural domain of the country.
Malayalam is a Dravidian language, sharing its parentage with others such as Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. It was derived from the Adi Dravida language, which was in use about 3000 years ago. The west side of the Western Ghatsdeveloped its own version of the language and became an independent language itself. The Origin of Name
There are numerous theories about the origin of the name Malayalam. The most accepted one is that those who lived in the Eastern side of Western Ghats called the westerners Malaiyaalar and their language was known as Malayalam. There is also said that the language of those who lived between Mala (Mountain) and Aazham (Ocean) was called Malayazham and it became Malayalam gradually. Another assumption is that the word Alam meaning land merged with the word Mala to form Malayalam.The Malayalam Script
Vattezhuthu is the oldest known Dravida script. It was derived from Brahmiscript. Malayalam had also been written in this script. From Vattezhuthu, Kolezhuthu and Malayazhma were derived. Kolezhutu is written by Narayam (Kol). Malayazhma was popular only on the south of Thiruvananthapuram. Both Kolezhuthu and Malayzhma disappeared gradually.
The current script, known as print script or Arya Ezhuthu came into existence in the 12th century. During that time the influence of Sanskrit was very high. It was because the Manipravala literature needed a suitable script the book script was formed. Then obver the years, the script undergone many transformations. It was renovated when typewriter and Computer were invented. Now there are 49 letters in Malayalam alphabet including 13 vowels and 36 consonants.First Literature
The first literature movement in Malayalam was Pattu Prasthanam. The oldest known lierary work during this movement is Ramacharitham which is believed to have been writtedn between 12th and 14th centuries. It is considered the first literary work of Malayalam. The subject of the work is the Rama-Ravana war from Ramayana. The book shows that the Malayalam of that time was little different to Tamil. Malayalam literature is now very prominent, having produced some outstanding writers and works.