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Difference Between Tamil and Malayalam

Tamil vs Malayalam


Tamil, a Dravidian language, is spoken predominantly by the people of  Tamil Nadu from the Indian subcontinent. It is the official language of Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Pondicherry. This language is also the official language of Singapore and Sri Lanka. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was declared as a classical language by the government of India in 2004. It is also spoken in Malaysia and Mauritius by a sizable section of people and also by emigrants all over world. It is considered the world’s longest-surviving, classical language.

It has one of the richest forms of literature in the world, existing over a period of 2,000 years. The oldest literature in Tamil has been dated from the 3rd century BCE-300CE. The earliest two manuscripts in Tamil from India are registered by UNESCO. Most inscriptions found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in the Tamil language. The closest relative of Tamil is Malayalam. Until the 9th century, Malayalam was a dialect of Tamil. Later these two developed as separate languages, and the process of separation was completed sometime in 14th century. The Tamil language and its literature are as old as literature of the Sanskrit language. The unique letter “zha” in the Tamil language is lingual in pronunciation. This language is considered an agglutinating language where the root has not changed in its structure but allows other elements and prefixes to join it.


Malayalam is a language of the Dravidian family. It is very similar to Tamil and is one of the main languages of the same family. This is primarily due to the extensive cultural bonding that has been carried out between the speakers of these languages.  Malayalam is a language spoken in the state of Kerala of the Republic of India. Malayalam, another example of an agglutinating language, is said to have more affinity to Sanskrit than Tamil. It has borrowed many words from Sanskrit.

The common lineage of Tamil and Malayalam disintegrated through a period of over four to five centuries resulting in the birth of Malayalam as a language totally different from Tamil. Tamil has greatly influenced the early development of Malayalam as it was considered to be the language of administration and scholarship.


  1. Both languages are spoken in southern India and belong to Dravidian family of languages. There are many similarities in both languages as speakers of both languages came from the same origin.
  2. The predominant difference between Tamil and Malayalam is in their syntax and semantics.
  3. The origin of Tamil is the 5th century B.C. while Malayalam’s origin is the 10th century A.D.
  4. Malayalam is more independent and closer to Sanskrit than the Tamil language.
  5. Both languages greatly resemble each other in their scripts.
  6. Both languages have similarities to an extent in sentence formation.
  7. Tamil possesses a greater population than Malayalam.

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  1. The language Tamil if it is spoken through mouth is called Tamil and if Tamil is spoken through nose is called Malayalam and it’s basic difference between two language’s

  2. Dear sir
    After so much research and debate,we have to own up that despite technological advances and strides we are still primitive.i.e to say that mmalayalam is derived from tamil and are dravidians
    Shows our utter nativity and ignorance in linguistics and cultural and literature history
    We have to do much research as many new truths are coming up
    Thanking you
    Yours sincerely
    Pradeep kumar

  3. Dear sir
    Neithèr malayalam is derived from tamil nor does its similar.the fact is its more aryo-dravidian and also more dissimilar than other south indian languages both historically and culturally
    Thanking you
    Yours sincerely
    Pradeep kumar

  4. I’m a Malayali from Kerala. Don’t listen to the guy named Pradeep in the comments section. He has no knowledge of Malayalam or any Dravidian languages. He’s basically a Bengali from his surname.

    By the way, Tamil and Malayalam are mutually intelligible languages because Malayalam was born out of old Tamil which is the oldest surviving language in the world. I can very well understand Tamil even though I have never learned it formally or I speak with Tamil natives. Dravidian languages can all be picked up easily if we have enough exposure. Malayalam has some Sanskrit words from the time or Aryan invasion of South India but that’s it. It doesn’t have anything more to do with Indo European languages.

  5. And what qualifies you to make such nonsensical remarks. There is plenty of evidence to suggest Malayalam branched off from Tamil and later got heavily influenced by Sanskrit. Nothing to be ashamed of if something comes from Tamil or is influenced by Sanskrit. This has only enriched Malayalam.

    • Dear Sir
      There are many reason to prove that Malayalam is a cousin of Sinhalese language rather than or in any way to Tamil, it’s much more related to Srilanka,even though there are many words in malayalam which are not even Tamil not specifically Tamil too, those who claim that Malayalam language has descended from Tamil are living in Satans paradise as this language is mentioned in aranyakhanda I.e Aitreya Aranyaka of Rigveda having very very early and lengthy relations with North and North west India.
      Forgive If I am wrong, but this has been proved by many historian like prof Govindankutty, Padmanabhan menon etc..all
      Thanking you
      Yours sincerely
      Pradeep kumar

  6. Sorry Mr Pradeep Kumar chakrabarthy please do not comment without knowing the Dravidian and their languages each and every Dravidian languages are inter linked and their mother is Tamil theconservative nature of high Tamil aids the political construction of the popular belief that Tamil is the mother of all Dravidian languages, making Tamil and Proto-Dravidian coalesce. … The origin of the parent Dravidian language and its speakers is a question that defies consensus among scholars Aryan invasion and influence of other foreign languages in Tamil gave birth to different Dravidian languages for example the Dravidian language spoken in Pakistan is Barhoi and it has great influence of Tamil most of the words of Barhoi are Tamil word’s and further for your kind information Seven oldest surviving languages in the world.
    Tamil: Origin (according to first appearance as script) – 300 BC. …
    Sanskrit: Origin (according to first appearance as script) – 2000 BC. …
    Greek: Origin (according to first appearance as script) – 1500 BC. …
    Chinese: Origin (according to first appearance as script) – 1250 BC.

  7. Tamil is unquestionably the oldest language of all. Malayalam, an off-shoot of it is probably equally old.
    Later Malayalam accepted a lot of Sanskrit, whereas Tamil deliberately expunged them during the “Periyar”revolution. The advantage rested with the Malayalam language because those who knew it could pick up both Tamil and Hindi very easily.

  8. Malayalam is a regional variant of Tamil , chera Tamil, that developed into its own as Ezhuthachchan had grammar in the 18 the century. Even bow Paniya tribal language and Irula are very close to Tamil. We share a lit of root words. Harder consonants in Tamil get softer ..kunRam…___ kunnam..for hill. ThenRal.._ thennal… Southern breeze. Thekkan….Southern….Too many roots are common. Having additional Sanskrit vocabulary does not mean much. There are original Dravidian words in non_ literary malayalam

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