World Malayalee Council

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Malayalam Language

The word ‘Malayampuzha’ as ‘Malayalabasha’ is mentioned in the Latin work Hortus Malabaricus, a treatise on plants brought out by the Dutch of Amsterdam between 1673 and 1703.

The word, ‘Malayalam’ appears as ‘Malayalim’ in the grammar text ‘Malayalim bhasha’ written by Pitt and published in 1841.

In some of the writings that came out in 1891, the word ‘Malayanma’ (‘Malayalariti’) is used.

George Mathan’s (1819- 70) grammar book was titled ‘Malayazhmayude Vyakaranam’ (1863).

In the olden days, the Malayalam interpretations of Sanskrit works were known as ‘Tamizh kuthu’ (Tamil book),e.g  the Sanskrit ‘Amaraghosham’ and its interpretation was ‘Amaram Tamizh Kuthu’. Among the Niranam poets who lived during the 15th century, Rama Panicker claimed that he interpreted ‘Brahmaandapuranam’ in Tamil without mixing it with any other language.

It’s true that Malayalam has close affinity with Tamil. It is because at one point in history Tamil and Malayalam had a common root.

Malayalam’s evolution as an independent language is found in the records and proclamations of the 9th century. Probably in the course of four or five centuries (9th century to 13th century) Tamil and Malayalam became different languages.

Among the four major Dravidian languages Malayalam happened to be the last to develop literary works of its own.

Different kinds of language forms can be seen in modern Malayalam. Caste, region vocation, style and innumerable language forms constitute Malayalam. Apart from geography, society and culture, caste and religion have also contributed to Malayalam. The language forms used by brahmins, harijans, nairs, ezhavas, Christians, and Muslims have been discovered.

Sanskrit words are commonly used by brahmins in their language to a large extent, it is sparsely used by the marginalized sections.

In the language spoken by the Christians, we can find English, Syriac, Latin, and Portuguese words.

Muslims use Arabic and Urdu words. So, it is little wonder that many foreign words have become part and parcel of Malayalam.

The ‘Pulimankombu Virakal’ inscription obtained from Theni in Tamilnadu, Edakkal Cave inscriptions, Pattanam inscriptions and Nedumkayam inscriptions of Nilambur prove that Malayalam has a history of more than 1500 years.

The ‘Kesadipadham Stuthi’ in ‘Bhadrakali pattu’ and four ‘padams’ in ‘Yatrakali’ dates back to CE 6th century.

‘Chilapathikaram’, ‘Aikurunuruu’, Pathittupaathum’ are Kerala’s unique contribution. The Sanghom literature contains many ‘Malanadu’ words. The language used in Sanghom literature shows that Malayalam and Tamil has a common root. It is from this ancient root that Tamil and Malayalam branched out independently. While some of the rules in ‘Tholkapiyam’ are insignificant in modern-day Tamil, Malayalam retains them. This only further corroborates the evidence that Malayalam evolved from an ancient root

Of the available Malayalam scripts, Vattezhuthu is the most ancient script. Devoid of consonants, this script is transformed from Brahmi Script, the most ancient script of India. A. R. Raja Raja Varma, in his famous work ‘Kerala Paanineeyam’, mentions that “Vattezhuthu” was the script used in Malayalam till the time of Thunchath Ezhuthachan. He details that the Vattezhuthu script was suitable to write Tamil but did not have consonants needed to transcribe Sanskrit words.  During the ancient times, the official language as well as the trade language in Kerala was Tamil and hence the Vattezhuthu script was widely used.

The Vattezhuthu script system was also known as ‘Naanam Monam’. The name came from the eight syllable manthra ‘Om Namo Narayana’ which was used to start the royal charters.

Ref: wikipedia
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