About the Malayalam language

Malayalam is not only one the official languages of India, but also designated a “Classical Language”. For the state Kerala, it acts as an official language, counting roughly 38 million native speakers. The neighbouring states Karnataka and Tamil-Nadu also contains speakers of this language.

It contains many gramatical elements and borrowed words from the Sanskrit language. Incidentally, due to its Dravidian roots and mixture of Sanskrit, the alphabet contains the highest amount of characters than any other Indian language. In fact, Malayalam is capable of pronouncing both Sanskrit and Tamil sounds, even though many differences exists among them. Tamil, another classical language of India, is a close Dravidian relative of Malayalam, whereas Sanskrit (classical language) has its the roots from a whole different familily line, Indo-European. The mixture of the Sanskrit and Malayalam in literature is called Manipravala (maṇipravāḷa). One of the early grammatical works, called Lilatilakam (līlātilakam) describes the influence of the Sanskrit and Tamil languages and attempts to present them as an harmonius couple.

Telugu is another related Dravidian language considered a classical languages of India. Despite geographical and historical distance, there exists many substantial similarities between Telugu and Malayalam. The most probable reason for these correlations is their contact with Sanskrit, both sharing several vowels and consonants originating from that language.

Malayalam literature

The earliest surviving account of literary work in Malayalam is a commentary on the Arthasastra, dating around the 13th century. Another early work is called the Vaishikatantram (vaiśikatantram), containing instructions from a Courtesan to her daughter. It was edited published and published by K. Ramachandran Nair in 1969, containing 266 verses.

The following example of Malayalam literature shows the opening verses of the popular lullaby Omanathinkal Kidavo (composed by Irayimman Thampi).

Malayalam original
നല്ല കോമളത്താമരപ്പൂവോ പൂവില്‍ നിറഞ്ഞ മധുവോ-
പരിപൂര്‍ണേന്ദു തന്‍റെ നിലാവോ പുത്തന്‍ പവിഴക്കൊടിയോ-
ചെറു തത്തകള്‍ കൊഞ്ചും മൊഴിയോ ചാഞ്ചാടിയാടും മയിലോ -
മൃദു പഞ്ചമം പാടും കുയിലോ തുള്ളുമിളമാന്‍കിടാവോ -

Unicode transliteration
nalla kōmaḷattāmarappūvō pūvil‍ niṟañña madhuvō-
paripūr‍ṇēndu tan‍ṟe nilāvō puttan‍ paviḻakkoṭiyō-
ceṟu tattakaḷ‍ koñcuṃ moḻiyō cāñcāṭiyāṭuṃ mayilō -
mr̥du pañcamaṃ pāṭuṃ kuyilō tuḷḷumiḷamān‍kiṭāvō -

English translation
Is this sweet babe
The bright crescent's moon, or the charming flower of the lotus ?
The honey in a flower, or the lustre of the full moon ?
A pure coral gem, or the pleasant chatter of parrots ?
A dancing peacock, or a sweet singing bird ?

translation source: en.wikipedia.org

Another popular usage of the Malayalam language is in music and movies. Here is a part of the lyrics for the song called "nalla suruma nalla suruma" (നല്ല സുറുമ നല്ല സുറുമ).

നല്ല സുറുമ നല്ല സുറുമ കൊച്ചു
ചിന്ദൂരപ്പൊട്ടു കുത്തി മന്ദാരക്കണ്ണിണയിൽ
സുന്ദരിമാരണിയും സുറുമ നല്ല സുറുമ നല്ല സുറുമ
മദനനെ മയക്കുന്ന മിഴിയിൽ ഇളം
മാതളമലരുകൾ വിരിയാൻ (2)

nalla suṟuma nalla suṟuma koccu
cindūrappoṭṭu kutti mandārakkaṇṇiṇayil
sundarimāraṇiyuṃ suṟuma nalla suṟuma nalla suṟuma
madanane mayakkunna miḻiyil iḷaṃ
mātaḷamalarukaḷ viriyān (2)

lyrics source: m3db.com
movie: youtube.com