Language is the medium through which human beings communicate using words, whether written or spoken. In India, there are more than 200 types of languages. Indian Union recognizes languages in two main groups viz., (i) Indo-Eurasian; and (ii) Dravida. Dravidian languages are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Malayalam is the official language of Kerala. There is no authoritative history of the origin of Malayalam language. It is said that the word Malayalam is derived from the words Mala, which means mountain and alam, which means land. Scholars are of opinion that the language is derived from Sanskrit. Leelthilakom, one of the grammatical works says that the Malayalam is the sister language of Tamil. Another version is that the language is originated from the primitive form of Sanskrit. Some experts opined that the language is a mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit. One of the oldest records says that Malayalam is considered as an independent language from 9th century AD onwards. A.R.Rajaraja Varma, the famous Malayalam scholar had divided the history of Malayalam language into three stages. According to him it came out as an independent language only in 825 A.D. The first stage is from 825 A.D. to 1325 A.D. The second and third stages commenced from 1325 A.D., and 1625 A.D. respectively. In the first stage, it was closely related with Tamil. In the second stage it was related with Sanskrit also giving birth to a new literary style known as Manipravalam. In the 16th century, Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan transformed and standardised the Malayalam to its present form. Till then, the script used to write Malayalam was vattezhuthu, kolezethu, etc. The new alphabet and script, which was introduced by Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan is known as Grandhaksharam.

Vattezhuthu, Kolezhuthu

Thunchan AR Rajaraja Varma
It is reported that out of 225 communities of Kerala, 112 communities speak Malayalam. 39 speak Tamil, 24 speak Tulu, 15 speak Kannada 12 speak Telugu , 5 speak Marathi, 4 speak Konkani and 2 speak Urdu. English, Punjabi and Gujarati are spoken by one community each. Some of the Scheduled Tribes are speaking the language known after their name. For eg., Kadar tribe's dialect is known as Kadar Bhasha (Kadar language). The University of Kerala has identified 12 dialect areas with 32 sub-dialect areas in the state. Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Konkani and Tulu speakers are considered as the linguistic minorities of the state. Malayalam language accepted many words from other languages like Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, French, and English. The language has got social and geographical variations. The dialect of Thiruvananthapuram is different from that of Kottayam or Thrissur on account of distinct intonations and phrases and other phonetic features. Tamil influences the dialect of Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad districts, while that of Kasargode by Kannada and Tulu. The tribal groups speak some form of Malyalam, may be their own Malayalam, or dialects of Tamil or Kannada.