Learn Malayalam

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About Malayalam

Malayalam is spoken in the south west of India, particularly the state of Kerala and the union territory of Lakshadweep, as well as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Its closest relative is Tamil: the two languages split from one common ancestor around the 9th Century. Sanskrit and Tamil have a big influence on Malayalam vocabulary. As a Dravidian language - a family that includes Telugu, Kannada and Tamil - Malayalam is agglutinative and can add multiple suffixes to a word to refine meaning, making some words extremely long.

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Language family


Southern Dravidian




Fun facts — Malayalam

  • The script is very rounded because it used to be written on palm leaves, which would tear if straight lines were used.
  • Malayalam has quite a large number of household words of Portuguese origin: for example, 'chāvi' means 'key' from 'chave', 'janāla' means 'window' from 'janela', 'alamāra' means 'cupboard' from 'armário'.
  • The idiom ആന വായില്‍ അമ്പഴങ്ങാ means 'a small fruit in an elephant's mouth', or too small an amount to satisfy a great need.

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