Malayalam is the main language of Kerala. Malayalam is a combination of two words, mala (meaning mountain) and alam (meaning the land). Malayalam belongs to the Dravidian family of languages, but there is considerable difference of opinion about the exact nature of its relationship with the other languages of the Dravidian stock. It is the official language of Kerala.
Malayalam also contains many Portuguese, Dutch, English, Arabic, Marathi, Sanskrit and Persian words. About 31.8 million people speak Malayalam. There are five main regional dialects of Malayalam and a number of communal dialects.
There are 37 consonants and 16 vowels in the script. Besides Malayalam, English is also spoken by a considerable number of people in Kerala.
As the language of administration and as the medium of instruction in schools and colleges, Malayalam language is increasingly becoming popular.A scientific register in the language is slowly evolving. Remarkably liberal in their attitudes, Malayalees have always welcomed other languages to coexist with their own and the interaction of these with Malayalam has helped its development in different respects.
With Tamil, Kota, Kodagu and Kannada, Malayalam belongs to the southern group of Dravidian languages. Its affinity to Tamil is the most striking. Proto-Tamil Malayalam, the common stock of Tamil and Malayalam apparently disintegrated over a period of four of five centuries from the ninth century on, resulting in the emergence of Malayalam as a language distinct from Tamil.
As the language of scholarship and administration Tamil greatly influenced the early development of Malayalam. Later the irresistable inroads the Brahmins made into the cultural life of Kerala accelerated the assimilation of many Indo-Aryan features into Malayalam at different levels.