Dravidian language spoken by more than 36 million people mainly in the Indian state of Kerala. Malayalam is closely related to Tamil, from which it is estimated to have separated about the 10th century AD. The earliest literary composition in the language is from the 13th century. Like other major Dravidian languages, Malayalam has a number of regional dialects, social dialects that reflect differences in caste and religion, and marked distinctions in formal and informal usage. Literacy among Malayalam speakers is believed to be higher than literacy among speakers of any other Indian language.
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