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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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