Malayalam, a Dravidian language spoken by over 36 million people, was denied the classical status as it did not meet the criterion of high antiquity (“The status of Malayalam,” Oct. 4). Even though it is the youngest member of the Dravidian family, it is one of the 22 official languages of India and ranks eighth in its number of speakers. Malayalam possesses a rich literary tradition and has a number of worthwhile contributions to its credit. The classical status will certainly improve its standing.
B. Priyanka, Thiruvananthapuram
Most Malayalees have become global. They have settled down outside Kerala, some even abroad. Besides, Malayalees view English as the language of the educated, a notion promoted by educational institutions in Kerala. Thus Malayalam remains a State language and does not find a place in the minds of Keralaites.
Vivek Menon, Kochi
Malayalam needs to wait for a while before it can lay claim to the classical status. It is not an ancient language. It is the youngest of all Dravidian languages. The oldest written record or document in Malayalam script is dated around 830 AD.
The oldest “classic” in Malayalam literature is Mahakavi Thunchath Ezhuthachan’s Adhyatma Ramayanam, written as late as in the 16th Century. The language itself can claim very few words as purely its own. Most of the vocabulary in Malayalam comes from Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Sanskrit. Malayalam is a modern and vibrant language. It should remain so.
Col. C.V. Venugopalan (retd.), Palakkad