Malayalam is the official language of Kerala. Vocabulary of the Dravidian language has been highly influenced by historical events. It is believed that the development of Malayalam started by 10th century. Many scholars consider that the language has originated from Tamil, since it resembles the Tamil language in terms of grammar and vocabulary. In ancient times Sanskrit was prominent in use, which has also greatly influenced Malayalam. One of the earliest written poems in Malayalam is Ramacharitam, composed probably in the 12th century. In the following centuries, the epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana were translated into Malayalam. Malayalam literature witnessed tremendous growth after 19th century. A number of fine poetries and novels were written in this period.
At present, Malayalam has 53 letters, out of which 20 are long or short vowels. The variation in the language can be seen with change in social structure, geography and community. The Malayalam spoken by Syrian Christians is influenced by other languages like English, Syriac and Latin. On the other hand, Muslim speaks Malayalam with words from Urdu and Arabic. Malyalam spoken by Brahmin class is highly influenced by Sanskrit. Apart from Malayalam, the other major language spoken here is English. The colonial era of British arrival brought English, which has also influenced Malayalam to some extent.
The languages spoken in Kerala depend on the region. For example, people living in Palakkad and Tamil Nadu border regions prominently speak Malayalam with a tinge of Tamil in the language. Inhabitants living in North Kerala speak Malayalam with Konkan and Marathi influences. Malayalam has 5 main dialects and several other communal dialects too. Apart from Malayalam, a significant number of people speak other languages like Tamil, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi and English.