This week's language profile is on Malayalam, an official regional language of India with 35.9 million native speakers. It is a member of the Dravidian language family, and was originally a dialect of the Tamil language. Much of its lexicon derives from Sanskrit, though most of these words are generally used only in formal literary contexts.
|Sunrise near Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala.|
The Malayalam language is primarily spoken in the Indian state of Kerala on the country's southwest coast. It was originally a local dialect of Tamil, the language now spoken in the bordering state of Tamil Nadu, but gained recognition as a separate language sometime around the 10th century. It's also an official language in Lakshadweep and Puducherry, which are part of the Union Territories of India.
The language boasts many distinct dialects which exist for regional, social, and even occupational reasons. Several dialects of Malayalam have been influenced by the religion of their speakers. The dialects spoken in Christian communities show elements from Latin, Greek, Portuguese, and English. Muslim dialects are more influenced by Arabic and Urdu, while Jewish dialects have many Hebrew, Syriac, and Ladino loanwords. There's also a dialect principally spoken by fishermen!
|"Malayalam" written in Malayalam script.|