for Malayalam Poems
mother tongue of nearly thirty million Malayalis, ninety per
cent of whom live in Kerala State in the south-west corner of
India, belongs to the Dravidian family of languages.
is the principal language of the South Indian state of
Kerala and also of the Lakshadweep Islands of the west
coast of India. Malayalis, who - males and females alike -
are almost totally literate, constitute 4 percent of the
population of India and 96 percent of the population of
Kerala (29.01 million in 1991). In terms of the number of
speakers Malayalam ranks eights among the fifteen major
languages of India. The word /Malayalam/ originally meant
mountainous country) (/mala/- mountain + /aLam/-place).
words teak, copra, and atoll all come from
Malayalam.According to the most dependable evidence now
available to us, Malayalam literature is at least a
thousand years old. The language must certainly be older,
but linguistic research has yet to discover unmistakable
evidence to prove its antiquity.
Malayalam now consists of 53 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.
Malayalam prose work, Bhashakautiliyam, a commentary on
Kautilya's Arthasastra was written in the twelfth century.
The first Malayalam grammar/literary treatise,
Lilathilakam, compiled in the fourteenth century, is
considered the culmination of Manipravalam style. While
the region continued to produce important works of
literature in Sanskrit and Tamil, only by the fifteenth
century Malayalam had would produce its first truly
classic work--this was Cherusseri's Krishna Gatha--and the
sixteenth century became the age of Thunchath Ezhuthachan,
the father of modern Malayalam literature, whose
renderings of Adhyatma Ramayana and Mahabharata employed
the narrative device of kilipattu, Bird Song.
Until the end
of the eighteenth century, Malayalam Literature was
closely allied with Kathakali, a complex operatic dance
form dependent on the literary quality of the text. The
nexus between Kathakali and poetry helped the growth of
The great renaissance that started in Malayalam literature
towards the end of the 19th century found its most
effective spokesmen in two great novelists and three
poets. The two novelists were O.Chandu Menon of Malabar
and C.V.Raman Pillai of Travancore. C.V.Raman Pillai was
eleven years junior to Chandu Menon. Both benefited from
English education, but consistent with their respective
gifts and temperaments, they achieved near perfection in
what they tried to do. Their high position as supreme
masters of the novel remains unchallenged till date.
Chandu Menon is the greatest novelist in Malayalam, and
C.V.Raman Pillai's Ramaraja Bahadur is the greatest novel.
Chandu Menon's attention was focused on contemporary
social reality and through it he discovered the eternal
springs of human character.
Pillai used history as a means of unfolding the
intricacies of human life, both on the socio-political
plane and on the psychological plane. It is difficult to
say whether he ever tried to explore history as a means of
redemption. But it would be wrong to say that he does not
concern himself with social reality: he does speculate on
the role of leadership in society, on the fortunes of
families through generations and on the conflict between
character and destiny.
Malayalam is extraordinarily rich in every genre of
literature. Every year numerous books and publications are
produced in Malayalam. In Kerala alone 170 daily papers,
235 weekly and 560 monthly periodicals are published in
Malayalam. The most circulated daily paper in India is in
Malyalam. This language is presently taught in many
Universities outside Kerala
including some in the United States.
Malayalam belongs to the family of Dravidian languages.
Both the language and its writing system are closely
related to Tamil, although Malayalam has a signficantly
larger phoneme inventory. Malayalam has a script of its
own. Malayalam is probably the only language whose name,
when spelled in English, is a palindrome.
A person who
speaks Malayalam is called a "Malayali".Dravidian family
of languages includes approximately 75 languages that are
mainly spoken in southern India and Sri Lanka. Dravidian
languages are spoken by more than 200 million people, and
they appear to be unrelated to languages of other known
families. (A relationship with the ancient Mesopotamian
language Elamite has been suggested, and some versions of
the Nostratic language theory include Dravidian.) The
Dravidian language family was first described in 1816 by
Francis Ellis, a British civil servant who recognized the
relationship between the four literary languages as well
as Tulu, Kodagu and Malto.
In 1856 Robert
Caldwell added several more languages, Kota, Toda, Gondi,
Kui, Kurukh and Brahui. He then took the Sanskrit word
dravida, supposedly meaning "Tamil", and used it to name
the family. We may presume that proto-Dravidian was the
language of all of India before ca.1500 B.C. Prominent
Dravidian languages include:
Brahui | Kannada |
Tamil | Telugu
Sanskrit is a member of the Indo-European language family,
and an official language of India. Having first developed
around 1500 BC, It has sometimes been described as the
Asian equivalent to Latin for its role in the religious
and historical literature of India. Sanskrit is also the
ancestor of the Prakrit languages of India, such as Pali
and redirectPrakrit. Greek combined. The Vedic scriptures
were written in a form of Sanskrit.
Sanskrit is generally written in the syllabic Devanagari
script. Several Latin-alphabet transliterations of varying
utility are also available. It is found written on stone,
birch bark, palm leaves and paper.
Devanāgarī is a script used to write many Indian
languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Kashmiri,
Sindhi, as well as Nepali. It is a close descendent of the
Brāhmī script that has been traced back to 500 BC. The
Brahmi script, in turn, is derived from the Indus-Sarasvati
script of the 3rd millennium BC.
languages written in scripts other than Devanagari include
Gujarati (Gujarati script is however similar to Devanagari),
Tamil, Urdu and Telugu. Deva is the Sanskrit for "god",
and Nagari is "a city"; together they mean, literally,
"City of the Gods" (the humanbody) (when the compound is
read as a shashtitatpurusha). This refers to the legend
that the script was one used in such a city. The
philosophy behind it being that when one meditates on the
specific sounds of the Devanagari alphabet, the written
forms appear spontaneously in the mind. The compound
really functions as a bahuvrihi. An often-used
transcription variant is "Devnagri". Devanagari is written
from left to right. Words are written
without spaces, so that the top bar is unbroken (there are
some exceptions to this rule).
The break of
the top line primarily marks breath groups. Devanagari
knows no distinction of case, i.e. no majuscule and
minuscule letters. The spelling of languages written in
Devanagari is partly phonetic in the sense that a word
written in it can only be pronounced in one way, but not
all possible pronunciations can be written perfectly.
Devanagari has 34 consonants (vyanjan), and 12 vowels (svar).
A syllable (akshar) is formed by the combination of zero
or one consonants and one vowel.
Sanskrit had some influence on the Chinese culture because
Buddhism was initially transmitted to China in Sanskrit.
Many Chinese Buddhist scriptures were written with Chinese
transliterations of Sanskrit words. Some Chinese proverbs
use Buddhist terms that originate from Sanskrit. Sanskrit
words are found in many present-day languages. For
instance the Thai language contains many loan words from
Sanskrit, and ranged as far as the Philippines viz.
Tagalog 'guru', or 'teacher', with the Hindu seafarers who
traded there well before Magellan.
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