9 Interesting Facts About Kerala and Malayalam

There is a saying amongst the international diaspora of Malayalees, speakers of the Malayalam language, that you will find a Malayalee in every corner of the world. Most Malayalam speakers are bilingual (English is their second language), and this enables them to adapt easily to a country or culture that is unfamiliar to them. Malayalam speakers are mostly found in Kerala, a state in the southern part of India.

There are many reasons why you should learn Malayalam . It can be helpful not just while traveling to South India, but also to do business in India. Kerala is undergoing an expansion of the service industry and Malayalam is a useful language to learn when doing business in India.

Here are nine facts about Malayalam and Kerela we bet you didn’t know:

1. Something Borrowed, Something New

Some words in Malayalam are borrowed from a variety of languages, both ancient and new (relatively)! Certain words of the Malayalam vocabulary have been borrowed from languages such as Sanskrit, Portuguese and Tamil amongst others. Some languages have also borrowed words from the Malayalam vocabulary such as Bahasa Malaysia (Malay language).

2. A Classical Language

Malayalam, like Tamil, is classified as a classical language in India. The oldest written evidence of the Malayalam language is thought to be an inscription known as the ‘vazhappalli’ from 830 A.D. 

3. Not Just in Kerela

Malayalam is spoken in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Puducherry as well as the islands of Lakshadweep. Given the prominence of Malayalam speakers abroad, there are certain universities in the USA and Canada that teach Malayalam as a foreign language. Malayalam is definitely a language with speakers around the globe.

4. A Name Rooted in Nature

Malayalam is a combination of two words, meaning mountain (Mala) and place (Alam). It is no coincidence that Kerala has plenty of hill stations that offers an alternative cooler climate than the higher tropical temperatures at lower altitudes. 

Malaysia 2

5. Only Three Dialects

Malayalam is a language with fewer dialects than other Indian languages. Dialects arise due to social hierarchies. Each dialect is practiced in all three forms: reading, writing and speaking. At times, the slang phrases differ so drastically that speakers of different dialects might not comprehend a person with another dialect!

6. He/She/It

Gender in the Malayalam language is applicable only to distinguish human pronouns. All other non-human nouns are gender-neutral.

7. Literary Works

Malayalam is a language that is poetic in nature. A translation of the most recent Malayalam song will show the presence of poetry in the lyrics. Literature in the Malayalam language was rooted in poetry and songs as early as the 12th century. In the following centuries, it evolved into stories by incorporating Sanskrit into the mix as well. 

Now that we have covered the Malayalam language, here are some bonus facts about Kerala: 

8. Tidy and Developed

Kerala is one of the cleanest areas in India. In a recent survey, Kerala and Sikkim were declared as the cleanest states in India. Kerala is also one of the states with a developed infrastructure consisting of essential facilities like banks and hospitals even in the most remote locations.

9. Most Literate

Kerala has a literacy rate of 97.2% according to the most recent census. Most locals can speak at least two languages whereas English is understood by a sizeable proportion of the population across the state.

And here are some other fun facts:

  • Malayalam is the only language that is a palindrome! (spells the same regardless of whether you start from the right or left)
  • Malayalam is the 8th most spoken language in India with over 35 million speakers
  • The number of Malayalam language publications are in the high 100s! Kerala prints close to 1000 daily newspapers, weekly magazines, and monthly periodicals.

Knowledge of the Malayalam language can be very helpful while navigating the streets of Kerala or when doing business in India. We have given you some facts about the language and the place where it is spoken, now it’s your turn to learn Malayalam with our online language course.

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Govind Nair
By Govind Nair

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