Essay • January 4, 2011
The mother tongue of over 95% of the people of the state of Kerala, near the southern tip of India is Malayalam. The word “Malayalam” is incidentally a palindrome. It spells and sounds the same either from left to right or from right to left. The language shares a good portion of its vocabulary with Tamil, another Indian language. There is also a fair amount of Sanskrit words in Malayalam. The organization of the script with its unique symbols, corresponds with the Devanagari script used in Sanskrit, Hindi and other north Indian languages. The people who speak Malayalam are known as Malayalis.
Will any student write a Malayalam essay in US? The Malayali diaspora of nearly 5 Million people is spread far and wide both within and outside India. Malayalis outnumber the immigrants from other Indian states in the Middle Eastern countries.
According to FOKANA (Federation of Kerala Associations in North America), about 300,000 Malayalis reside in the US. Conservative estimates do not count more than 200,000 Malayalis in USA. It is a moot question how many of these are students who may opt to study Malayalam. The interest of non-Malayalis, to study the language appears to be very limited. There may be very small opportunities for writing Malayalam essays in the handful of US universities teaching Malayalam.
I was able to gather limited details of US universities teaching Malayalam as a subject. The University of Texas, Austin offers courses in Asian cultures and languages, where it is possible to specialize in Malayalam or take it as a minor. The Asian studies department of the university of Pennsylvania teaches Malayalam language related subjects under the course descriptions of “Beginning Malayalam:MLYM-408” and “Intermediate Malayalam:MLYM-428”. South Asia Summer Language Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison offers summer courses in Malayalam. Perhaps one may write Malayalam essays if one opts for any of these courses.
Irrespective of the language, the basics of essay writing are the same. There is no need to change your paper formats or do anything special in essay editing. Clarity of purpose, logical structure and error free language are required in Malayalam essays also.
There is enough to write about Kerala, the land of the Malayalis. Lush with tropical mangroves, rain forests, pristine beaches and idyllic backwaters, Kerala’s landscape inspires bards and artists. The entire state is a tourist paradise and many call it “Gods own country”.
Early literature of Kerala was in Sanskrit and Tamil. Many Malayalis believe that Cheruseri’s Krishna Gatha, written in the 15th Century AD is the first example of “true” Malayalam literature. The famous poet Ezhutachhan of the 16th Century AD was a prolific writer and is believed to be the father of Malayalam literature.
Kerala is one of the two states in India, which elects Marxist governments now and then. Hence Malayalam has a fair share of left oriented contemporary writings. With over 70% literacy rate Kerala offers ample opportunities for good Malayalam writers.
Written by Gregory Cox
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