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  • Malayalam is the main language of the state of Kerala, in southern India.

  • It is also one of the 22 official languages of India, spoken by around 30 million people.

  • A person who speaks Malayalam is called a "Malayalee".

  • It belongs to the family of Dravidian languages.

  • Both the language and its writing system are closely related to Tamil, although Malayalam has a significantly larger phoneme inventory.

  • Malayalam has a script of its own. In the early ninth century /vattezhuthu/ (round writing) traceable through the Grantha script, to the pan-Indian Brahmi script, gave rise to the Malayalam writing system. It is syllabic in the sense that the sequence of graphic elements means that syllables have to be read as units, though in this system the elements representing individual vowels and consonants are for the most part readily identifiable. In the 1960s Malayalam dispensed with many special letters representing less frequent conjunct consonants and combinations of the vowel /u/ with different consonants.

  • Malayalam now consists of 56 letters including 20 long and short vowels and the rest consonants. The earlier style of writing is now substituted with a new style from 1981. This new script reduces the different letters for typeset from 900 to less than 90. This was mainly done to include Malayalam in the keyboards of typewriters and computers.

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