Malayalam (?????? Malaya?a?) is the language spoken predominantly in the state of Kerala, in southern India. It is one of the 22 official languages of India, spoken by around 37 million people. Malayalam is also spoken widely in the union territories of Lakshadweep and Mahé, the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, and the Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. Malayalam is also spoken by a large population of Indian expatriates living in Arab States, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. A native speaker of Malayalam is called a 'Malayali'.
Malayalam is thought to have developed from Tamil language and began developing a body of literature by the 12th century CE. The language became heavily Sanskritized during this period, and even to this day, the language gathers a large proportion of its vocabulary from Sanskrit.
The language belongs to the family of Dravidian languages. Both the language and its writing system are closely related to Tamil; however, Malayalam has a script of its own.
There is no regulating body for the language, and due to state policy in Kerala, it is optional for a student to learn their native language. This, combined with the increasing importance given to English and Hindi (and the prestige factor associated especially to English by the growing population of Westernized Keralites) has resulted in the decline of this language.
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