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
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
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.