Kerala Language and Dialects

The 16 languages of Kerala and dialects spoken in Kerala are English, Gujarati, Kachchi, Kadar, Kannada, Konkani, Koraga, Malankudi, Malayalam, Marathi, Muduga, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Tulu and Urdu.

Kerala Language and Dialects

Of the 225 communities in Kerala, 112 of them are Malayalam speakers, 39 Tamil speakers, 24 Tulu speakers, 15 Kannada speakers, 12 Telugu speakers, 5 Marathi speakers, 4 Konkani speakers and 2 Urdu speakers. English, Punjabi, Gujarati and Kachchi are spoken by one community each. The languages of the Kadar, Koraga and Muduga are known after the name of the community speaking the language. The Vishavan speak Malankudi, the Bovis Mogeyar are equally conversant with Malayalam and Kannada, the Verrasaiva with the Tamil and Malayalam and the Devanga and Madiga with the Telugu and Kannada. Thus, 14 communities are speakers of Indo-Aryan languages (Gujarati, Kachchi, Konkani, Marathi, Punjabi and Urdu) while the others speak Dravidian language.

Kerala Malayalam language is one of the major Dravidian languages of Kerala and is spoken by 24,231,396 persons (1981 census). The word Malayalam may be derived from mala (hill) and alam (land), meaning a mountain region or a land of hills. Some ancient grammarians held that the language derived from Sanskrit. Cadwell established it as Dravidian languages of Kerala in 1856. The anonymous author of the grammatical work Lilatilakam considers Malayalam the sister of Tamil. The oldest available inscriptions which record the status of Malayalam as an independent language in Kerala belong to the 19th century A.D.

Kerala Malayalam language, which has a syllabic alphabetical system, has 16 vowels and 35 consonants excluding the alveolar nasal, amounting to a total number of 52 letters or alphabets. Though Malayalam is closer to Tamil, the percentage of Sanskrit loan words is very high in Malayalam and even now, the influence of Sanskrit over Malayalam is strongly felt.

Malayalam is widely spoken language in Kerala. For those staying in resorts and star hotels in Kerala, using English will not be a problem. The People of Kerala are most comfortable with Malayalam and rarely speak in English though they are well versed with the language.

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