One of the languages of India. Malayalam is of the Dravidian language family and is spoken in south India. Malayalam and Tamil were virtually the same language until the 14th century, when they began to diverge.

The Malayalam script is a South Indian script used to write the Malayalam language of Kerala state in India.

The shapes of Malayalam letters closely resemble those of Tamil. Malayalam, however, has a very full and complex set of conjunct consonant forms.

U+0D57    Malayalam au length mark   is provided as an encoding for the right side of the two-part vowel U+0D4C    Malayalam vowel sign au.

The Malayalam script achieved its present form in the 17th century. Although showing a clear underlying resemblance to the Tamil-Grantha alphabet it looks very different in print: heavy and blockish where Tamil is light and angular. Some letters are used mainly in Sanskrit loan words.

In Singapore and Malaysia, Malayalam but the Arabic script is used. The Arabic script is also used occasionally in Kerala among Muslims.

The Malayalam language is a member of the Dravidian language family. Until around 1000 AD, Malayalam was not a separately identifiable language. Early inscriptions from Kerala are in Old Tamil, which was spoken in both Kerala and in the state now called Tamilnadu.

Unicode's Malayalam code block reserves the 128 code points from U+0D00 to U+0D7F, of which 95 are currently assigned.

Kannada <-- Malayalam --> Sinhala

Number of characters added in each version of the Unicode standard :
Unicode 1.1 : 78
Unicode 5.1 : 17

Number of characters in each General Category :

Letter, Other            Lo : 59
Mark, Non-Spacing        Mn :  7
Mark, Spacing Combining  Mc : 12
Number, Decimal Digit    Nd : 10
Number, Other            No :  6
Symbol, Other            So :  1

Number of characters in each Bidirectional Category :

Left To Right       L : 88
Non Spacing Mark  NSM :  7

The columns below should be interpreted as :

  1. The Unicode code for the character
  2. The character in question
  3. The Unicode name for the character
  4. The Unicode General Category for the character
  5. The Unicode Bidirectional Category for the character
  6. The Unicode version when this character was added

If the characters below show up poorly, or not at all, see Unicode Support for possible solutions.



     Based on ISCII 1988

U+0D02   ം   Malayalam sign anusvara Mc L 1.1
U+0D03   ഃ   Malayalam sign visarga Mc L 1.1

     Independent vowels

U+0D05   അ   Malayalam letter A Lo L 1.1
U+0D06   ആ   Malayalam letter aa Lo L 1.1
U+0D07   ഇ   Malayalam letter I Lo L 1.1
U+0D08   ഈ   Malayalam letter ii Lo L 1.1
U+0D09   ഉ   Malayalam letter U Lo L 1.1
U+0D0A   ഊ   Malayalam letter uu Lo L 1.1
U+0D0B   ഋ   Malayalam letter vocalic r Lo L 1.1
U+0D0C   ഌ   Malayalam letter vocalic l Lo L 1.1
U+0D0E   എ   Malayalam letter E Lo L 1.1
U+0D0F   ഏ   Malayalam letter ee Lo L 1.1
U+0D10   ഐ   Malayalam letter ai Lo L 1.1
U+0D12   ഒ   Malayalam letter O Lo L 1.1
U+0D13   ഓ   Malayalam letter oo Lo L 1.1
U+0D14   ഔ   Malayalam letter au Lo L 1.1

Alternate romanizations are shown as aliases for some letters to clarify their identity.

U+0D15   ക   Malayalam letter ka Lo L 1.1
U+0D16   ഖ   Malayalam letter kha Lo L 1.1
U+0D17   ഗ   Malayalam letter ga Lo L 1.1
U+0D18   ഘ   Malayalam letter gha Lo L 1.1
U+0D19   ങ   Malayalam letter nga Lo L 1.1
U+0D1A   ച   Malayalam letter ca Lo L 1.1
aka cha
U+0D1B   ഛ   Malayalam letter cha Lo L 1.1
aka chha
U+0D1C   ജ   Malayalam letter ja Lo L 1.1
U+0D1D   ഝ   Malayalam letter jha Lo L 1.1
U+0D1E   ഞ   Malayalam letter nya Lo L 1.1
aka nha
U+0D1F   ട   Malayalam letter tta Lo L 1.1
aka ta
U+0D20   ഠ   Malayalam letter ttha Lo L 1.1
aka tta
U+0D21   ഡ   Malayalam letter dda Lo L 1.1
aka hard da
U+0D22   ഢ   Malayalam letter ddha Lo L 1.1
aka hard dda
U+0D23   ണ   Malayalam letter nna Lo L 1.1
aka hard na
U+0D24   ത   Malayalam letter ta Lo L 1.1
aka tha
U+0D25   ഥ   Malayalam letter tha Lo L 1.1
aka ttha
U+0D26   ദ   Malayalam letter da Lo L 1.1
aka soft da
U+0D27   ധ   Malayalam letter dha Lo L 1.1
aka soft dda
U+0D28   ന   Malayalam letter na Lo L 1.1
U+0D2A   പ   Malayalam letter pa Lo L 1.1
U+0D2B   ഫ   Malayalam letter pha Lo L 1.1
U+0D2C   ബ   Malayalam letter ba Lo L 1.1
U+0D2D   ഭ   Malayalam letter bha Lo L 1.1
U+0D2E   മ   Malayalam letter ma Lo L 1.1
U+0D2F   യ   Malayalam letter ya Lo L 1.1
U+0D30   ര   Malayalam letter ra Lo L 1.1
U+0D31   റ   Malayalam letter rra Lo L 1.1
U+0D32   ല   Malayalam letter la Lo L 1.1
U+0D33   ള   Malayalam letter lla Lo L 1.1
U+0D34   ഴ   Malayalam letter llla Lo L 1.1
aka zha
U+0D35   വ   Malayalam letter va Lo L 1.1
U+0D36   ശ   Malayalam letter sha Lo L 1.1
aka soft sha
U+0D37   ഷ   Malayalam letter ssa Lo L 1.1
aka sha
U+0D38   സ   Malayalam letter sa Lo L 1.1
U+0D39   ഹ   Malayalam letter ha Lo L 1.1

     Addition for Sanskrit

U+0D3D   ഽ   Malayalam sign avagraha Lo L 5.1
aka praslesham

     Dependent vowel signs

U+0D3E   ാ   Malayalam vowel sign aa Mc L 1.1
U+0D3F   ി   Malayalam vowel sign i Mc L 1.1
U+0D40   ീ   Malayalam vowel sign ii Mc L 1.1
U+0D41   ു   Malayalam vowel sign u Mn NSM 1.1
U+0D42   ൂ   Malayalam vowel sign uu Mn NSM 1.1
U+0D43   ൃ   Malayalam vowel sign vocalic r Mn NSM 1.1
U+0D44   ൄ   Malayalam vowel sign vocalic rr Mn NSM 5.1
U+0D46   െ   Malayalam vowel sign e Mc L 1.1
* stands to the left of the consonant
U+0D47   േ   Malayalam vowel sign ee Mc L 1.1
* stands to the left of the consonant
U+0D48   ൈ   Malayalam vowel sign ai Mc L 1.1
* stands to the left of the consonant

     Two-part dependent vowel signs
These vowel signs have glyph pieces which stand on both sides of the consonant; they follow the consonant in logical order, and should be handled as a unit for most processing.

U+0D4A   ൊ   Malayalam vowel sign o Mc L 1.1
U+0D4B   ോ   Malayalam vowel sign oo Mc L 1.1
U+0D4C   ൌ   Malayalam vowel sign au Mc L 1.1
* archaic form of the /au/ dependent vowel
ref U+0D57   ൗ   Malayalam au length mark (Malayalam)

     Various signs

U+0D4D   ്   Malayalam sign virama Mn NSM 1.1
aka chandrakkala (the preferred name)
aka vowel half-u
U+0D57   ൗ   Malayalam au length mark Mc L 1.1
* used alone to write the /au/ dependent vowel in modern texts
ref U+0D4C   ൌ   Malayalam vowel sign au (Malayalam)

     Additional vowels for Sanskrit

U+0D60   ൠ   Malayalam letter vocalic rr Lo L 1.1
U+0D61   ൡ   Malayalam letter vocalic ll Lo L 1.1

     Dependent vowels

U+0D62   ൢ   Malayalam vowel sign vocalic l Mn NSM 5.1
U+0D63   ൣ   Malayalam vowel sign vocalic ll Mn NSM 5.1


U+0D66   ൦   Malayalam digit zero Nd L 1.1
U+0D67   ൧   Malayalam digit one Nd L 1.1
U+0D68   ൨   Malayalam digit two Nd L 1.1
U+0D69   ൩   Malayalam digit three Nd L 1.1
U+0D6A   ൪   Malayalam digit four Nd L 1.1
U+0D6B   ൫   Malayalam digit five Nd L 1.1
U+0D6C   ൬   Malayalam digit six Nd L 1.1
U+0D6D   ൭   Malayalam digit seven Nd L 1.1
U+0D6E   ൮   Malayalam digit eight Nd L 1.1
U+0D6F   ൯   Malayalam digit nine Nd L 1.1

     Malayalam numerics

U+0D70   ൰   Malayalam number ten No L 5.1
U+0D71   ൱   Malayalam number one hundred No L 5.1
U+0D72   ൲   Malayalam number one thousand No L 5.1


U+0D73   ൳   Malayalam fraction one quarter No L 5.1
U+0D74   ൴   Malayalam fraction one half No L 5.1
U+0D75   ൵   Malayalam fraction three quarters No L 5.1

     Date mark

U+0D79   ൹   Malayalam date mark So L 5.1

     Chillu letters

U+0D7A   ൺ   Malayalam letter chillu nn Lo L 5.1
U+0D7B   ൻ   Malayalam letter chillu n Lo L 5.1
U+0D7C   ർ   Malayalam letter chillu rr Lo L 5.1
* historically derived from the full letter ra
* also used for chillu r
U+0D7D   ൽ   Malayalam letter chillu l Lo L 5.1
* historically derived from the full letter ta
* used for chillu t and chillu d
U+0D7E   ൾ   Malayalam letter chillu ll Lo L 5.1
U+0D7F   ൿ   Malayalam letter chillu k Lo L 5.1

Andrew Dalby's Dictionary of Languages
Some prose may have been lifted verbatim from,
as is permitted by their terms of use at

Malayalam is the language spoken by malayalees mostly natives of Kerala the southern most state of India

The word Malayalam is a compound word comprising of mala meaning Mountain and alam meaning Place.

The language and its neighbor Tamil developed from a common ancestor Proto-Tamil-Malayalam in the first millennium AD with the earliest writings traceable to as early as 830 AD.

As the language developed overtime it still maintained its link with Tamil with major loan words from that language which aided the language in its development. This was also facilitated by the fact that Tamil was the language of rulers at the early years (first millennium AD). The influence of Tamil and its childhood years are preserved in the category of works called Pattu which are Poetry works in Tamil tradition. The developement of Sopana Sangeetham -the Classical Music of Kerala started at this time from the prevailing Folk Music Systems and Songs.

Later as it came under pan Indian influence and Tamil was replaced by Sanskrit as the language of rulers. Malayalam developed a distinct identity under the tutelage of Sanskrit (called Samscritham in Malayalam) which loaned it a lot more words from its pan Indian repertorie.
Malayalam also developed its Poetry style with the help of Sanskrit called vrithangal which specifies the way in which the words needs to be used in Poems so as to compose a harmonious whole.

The poetry style of writing called Manipravala which advocated a lavish intermixing of both Malayalam and Sanskrit were the product of this stage of Malayalams growth. As British colonized India , Malayalam also came under the influence of English which lend it a many commonly used words and most of the words of modern appliances.

Since Kerala was one of the preferred destination of travellers from ancient world, It came under the influences of Arabic and Persian - from the Persian Gulf, Syriac (Kerala boasts of one of the earliest churches from the time of Christ) , Portuguese, Dutch , French ,German,Chineese and other languages like Pali , Urdu , Prakrits , Hindi , Kannada , Telugu etc due to the geographical nearness.

As the language matured , it went through many different stages from Classical , Semi Classical Renaissance , Modern and Post Modern stages with a lot of diffusion of ideas from western and eastern literary thinking and philosophy.
Its modern literature is rich in poetry, fiction, drama, Travelogues ,biography, and literary criticism.

Evolution of Script

The earliest known writing of Malayalam was in vattezhuthu (derived from Brahmi script) later this system evolved into another style of writing called kolezhuthu (used mainly in northern areas of Kerala) and malayanma (used in southern areas of Kerala) Along with these forms Grandhakshara was also used to write Samskrithm words in Malayalam (Grandhakshara literaly means scripts used in books) Later these two forms were merged toghether by ThunchathEzhuthachan to form the precursor to the modern Malayalam script. The present form of writing evolved from this. It holds an almost one to one correspondence with Devanagari - the script of Hindi along with some extra letters it inherited from its Proto-Tamil-Malayalam lineage.

The Sinhala and Tulu are sister Scripts to Malayalam and are very similar

The writing is syllabic in nature and adopts a very scientific ordering of pronunciation , begining with sounds produced from the throat , with modification done to it in different stages with tongue teeth lips and nose.

The alphabet is divided into vowels and consonants. A complete syllable consists of one or more consonants followed by a vowel. Most of these features are shared across the languages of Peninsular India and are due to the common evolution and diffusion of ideas and words through out.

The malayalam script was later adopted by a cousin language called Kongini which used it to preserve its oral traditions and culture.

Ma"la*ya"lam (?), n.

The name given to one the cultivated Dravidian languages, closely related to the Tamil.



© Webster 1913.

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