Jewish Malayalam


  • Language: Jewish Malayalam
  • Alternate names: Judeo-Malayalam
  • Language code: mal
  • Language family: Dravidian, South Dravidian, South Dravidian I, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kota, Tamil-Toda, Tamil-Irula, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Malayalamoid
  • Number of speakers: 8000
  • Vulnerability: Endangered [Read more...]
  • Script:

More information:


    Judeo-Malayalam is the traditional language of the Cochin Jews (also called Malabar Jews), from Kerala, in southern India, spoken today by about 8,000 people in Israel and by probably fewer than 100 in India.

    Judeo-Malayalam is the only known Dravidian Jewish language. (The only other Dravidian language spoken regularly by a Jewish community is Telugu, spoken by the small, and only very newly observant Jewish community of east-central Andhra Pradesh.)

    Since the development of Malayalam? as distinct from Tamil?, Jews have used some variety of Malayalam as their everyday spoken language. The Jewish variety has differed by the use of Hebrew loanwords and Dravidian archaisms in lexicon, phonology, and syntax. And like most Jews around the world, Kerala Jews use Hebrew for liturgical purposes.

    The verb

    There are three main components of Jewish Malayalam: Dravidian (Malayalam and Tamil), Sanskrit, and Hebrew. In addition, there is a sprinkling of influence from other Jewish languages, such as Ladino. The core of the linguistic substance is Dravidian, similar to contemporary Malayalam.