Malayalam – is the Dravidian language spoken in the southwest of India (mainly among the people of Malayalam) and consisting in close relationship with the Tamil language. It is one of the 23 official languages of the country. In Malayalam are spoken by more than 35 million people, primarily in the Indian state of Kerala. The first writing monuments in Malayalam – rock inscriptions and inscriptions on the plaques – date from the end of the IX century. Over the next four centuries, these epigraphic texts that were made predominantly by vattezhutthu writing remain the only source of information about language. The first literature work in Malayalam is “Ramacharinam” (“Life of Rama”) by Chiramana, apparently no older than the beginning of the XIV century. Malayalam was first written with the Vatteluttu alphabet, which means ’round writing’ and developed from the Brahmi script. Notable features:
• Type of writing system: syllabic alphabet in which all consonants have an inherent vowel. Diacritics, which can appear above, below, before or after a consonant, are used to change the inherent vowel.
• When they appear at the beginning of a syllable, vowels are written as independent letters.
• When certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols are used which combine the essential parts of each letter.
• Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines.
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