Languages of Kerala

Languages of Kerala
Kathakali: Traditional Dance of Kerala
Malayalam is the official language of Kerala. It is spoken by more than 97 percent of Keralites. English is the additional official language of Kerala. It is followed by Tamil (1.87), Kannada (0.26), Konkani (0.19), and other languages. Other than these languages, there are a few tribal languages which are spoken by hundreds or thousands of people. Some of these tribal languages are Adiya, Arandan, Beary, Bettakurumba Cholanaickan, Irula, Kakkla, Kani, Kurichiya, Malmuthan, Malaveda, Mannan, Muduga, Mullukrumba, and Paniya.

Languages of Kerala

Malayalam: Malayalam is the official language of Kerala. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages, and six classic languages of India. It is spoken by more than 38 million speakers. Besides Kerala, it is spoken in Lakshadweep, Puducherry, and few regions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It is said to be an offshoot of Tamil and first taken a different path around the 7th century. The first original work, completely distinct from Tamil, dates back to 9th century. Varthamanappusthakam by PT Kathanar is said to be the first travelogue in any Indian language.

Tribal Languages of Kerala

Adiya: Adiya is the language of Adiya tribe who mostly lives in Wayanad. These people are also known as Ravulyars.

Arandan: Arandan is predominantly spoken in Malappuram District of Kerala. It has elements of Malayalam, Tamil, and Kannada. It is also known as Arantan and Eranandans.

Byari: It is mostly spoken by the members of the Muslim community in North Kerala. It is also spoken in some regions of and known as Beary in Karnataka.

Bettakurumba: Earlier known as a dialect of Kannada, Bettakurumba is now reclassified as a separate language in its own right. It is spoken in Wayanand district. Other than that it is also spoken in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Cholanaickan: The Cholanaikkans are known as the Cavemen of Kerala. This primitive tribe lives in the forests of the Nilambur Valley near Malappuram. It is considered as the separate Dravidian language in its own rights, and should not be judged as the admixture of Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada.

Irula: Irula is one of the major tribes of Nilgiris, but they have a considerable population in Kerala. Irula people speak Irula, which is considered as a crude form of Tamil.

Kakkala: Kakkala is the language of Kakkala (also known as Kuruva) people. They are mostly concentrated in Kottayam district but can be found anywhere in Kerala.

Kani: It is spoken by Kani people, who concentrated in Nedumangadu, Neyyattinkara and Kollam districts of Kerala. There are two groups of Kanis –Naattukaanis, who inhabit the plains and Malankaanis, who are forest dwellers. The original speech of the Kanis is still preserved by the older generation of forest-dwelling Kanis. Though most of the Kanis living in the plains have switched over to Malayalam. Kanis of Kerala refer their speech as malampaala and Kanis of Tamilnadu call their speech as malampaas'ai.

Kuruchiya: It is spoken by Kuruchiyar people of Wayanad and Kannur district.

Malamuthan: It is spoken by Malamuthan or also known Malakkar people of Malappuram and Kozhikode district.

Malavedan: Malavedan or Malavedar is one of the tribal groups of Kerala.

Mannan: Mannan is spoken by the tribe of the same name, Mannan. Mannan people are confined to Idduki district only. They claim to be original inhabitants of Madurai, from where they have migrated to Kerala. It has a close resemblance to Malayalam.

Muduga: Muduga is mostly spoken by the Muduga people in the Attapady region of Wayanad district. They claimed to be migrated from Coimbatore. Its speech is closer to Kannada than Tamil, and its vocabulary has Malayalam influence. It is not to be confused as an amalgam of Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam, but it is considered as the separate language in its own right.

Mullukrumba: Mullu Kurumba, once considered as the dialect of Malayalam, is a distinct language spoken by Mullukrumba people. Their population can be found in Wayanad district.

Paniya: Paniya is spoken by the Paniya people, a scheduled tribe in the state of Kerala. Most of Paniya speakers are found in the Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kannur, and Malappuram districts of Kerala, and to the west of the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu.

Jesery is the dialect of Malayalam, which is also known as Dweep Bhasha, spoken in the Lakshadweep. Allar and Vishavan are few examples of unclassified tribal languages of Kerala.

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