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Malayalam dialects

A survey recently completed by the Kerala University Department of Linguistics has helped identify 12 major dialect regions in Kerala in respect of Malayalam as spoken by a single community alone, the Ezhavas/Tiyyas. The report said that these dialect regions had at least 25 sub-dialects due to criss-crossing of “Isoglosses” and this number of major and minor dialect regions astonishingly tallied with the number of major and minor kingdoms in Kerala during the late medieval period. The complexity in dialects is attributed to the political heterogeneity. The three-year project was taken up in 1965 with aid from the University Grants Commission. Among the Indian languages, it is for Malayalam alone that such an exhaustive survey of dialects based on a single community has been completed. Among the major gains of the project are: The marking out precisely for the first time in the history of Malayalam studies the dialect boundaries and the sub dialect regions in each major dialect area; listing the isogloss terms distinguishing one dialect region from another; completion of six dialect grammars, four of which have been submitted as Ph.D. dissertations and the other two also to be presented likewise shortly; compilation of a dialect dictionary of over 3,000 items.

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