Tamil vs Malayalam: Difference and Comparison

Language is a structure or a method that is used by humans for the main purpose of communication. There are over 19500 languages and dialects in India.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tamil and Malayalam are two Dravidian languages spoken in different parts of India.
  2. Tamil has a classical status and a rich literary tradition, while Malayalam has evolved from Tamil and has more Sanskrit influence.
  3. Tamil has a larger number of speakers worldwide compared to Malayalam.

Tamil vs Malayalam

The difference between Tamil and Malayalam is that Tamil is much older than Malayalam in comparison, as it originated in the 5th Century B.C. and Malayalam in the 10th Century A.D. There are many other differences between the two, primarily between their Script, region, population, understanding, and connection with Sanskrit.

Tamil vs Malayalam

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Tamil as a language is one of the oldest in the world. It is a Dravidian language. It is spoken by Tamilians. The language is also considered the official language of Tamil Nadu.

Malayalam is another Dravidian language. This language has many borrowed words from Sanskrit. It is spoken by Malayalis.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTamil Malayalam
OriginThis language originated somewhere around the 5th century B.C.This language originated somewhere around the 10th century A.D.
SanskritAs a language, it is said to be more independent having fewer words from Sanskrit. As a language, it is independent but it does borrow more words from Sanskrit.
ScriptThe letters in the Tamil language have fewer loops, sharpened angles and capped heads.The letters in Malayalam have more curves along with many loops and bald heads.
RegionIt is popularly spoken in the south Indian state, Tamilnadu. It is popularly spoken in the south Indian state, Kerala.
PopulationIt is more ancient and has more population in comparison. It is less ancient and has less population in comparison. 
UnderstandingTamilians find it difficult to understand Malayalam.It is quiet for Malayalis to understand Tamil.

What is Tamil?

The Tamil language comes from the Dravidian family of languages descending from the Proto-Dravidian. Primarily spoken in Tamilnadu as well as in other parts of India and the world.

This language is included in the Constitution. Furthermore, it is the first language to be declared as a classical language of India.

Trade goods with Brahmi script inscriptions in the Tamil language were found in Sri Lanka and on trade goods in Thailand and Egypt.


What is Malayalam? 

Malayalam is another language that comes from the Dravidian family of languages. The term Malayalam is derived from two words, ‘mala’ and ‘alam,’ which mean ‘mountain’ and ‘region.’

The people who speak this language are called Malayalis. The language is also alternatively called Kerala Bhasha, meaning the language of Kerala.

Tamil and Malayalam are close relatives, and it is also said that Malayalam has descended from the Tamil language. It was also recognized as an Indian classical language in 2013.


Main Differences Between Tamil and Malayalam

  1. Tamil is popularly spoken in the south Indian state of Tamilnadu. On the contrary, Malayalam is popularly spoken in the south Indian state of Kerala.
  2. Tamil is more ancient and has more population in comparison. Whereas Malayalam is less ancient and has less population in comparison.
  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-southeast-asian-studies/article/medieval-tamillanguage-inscriptions-in-southeast-asia-and-china/AE040EECE2065D89B3E37C5B52D9DF42
  2. https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/132853

Last Updated : 20 July, 2023

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