Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Red Colour Orange Colour Green Colour Blue Colour

Wide Default

Development of Malayalam

The Christian Missionaries made tremendous contributions to all vernacular languages of India. They wanted to preach to the local people, and hence, it was a logical necessity to learn their languages. Simultaneously, the missionaries wanted to translate the Bible to the local languages.
 The activities of the missionaries resulted in the progress of almost all languages in India. Many of them had no proper grammer or script, earlier. They worked hard to bring about systematic grammer and scripts for these languages. Many of these oanguages have not gained proper recognition even in Independent India. For instance, Ladakhi, a local language of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, has not been included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India so far. But, the first grammer in this language was compiled and a script was introduced by the missionaries about a century ago. The first book to be printed in this language was, of course, Bible.
 The missionaries introduced printing in India. It may be interesting to note that the Tamil Bible was the first book to be printed in India. Many newspapers were founded by the missionaries. In fact, there is no Indian language where the missionaries have not made any significant contribution. However, our present endeavour would be confined to Malayalam in the present instance, for want of space.
 When the missionaries came to India, Malayalam was just considered to be a dialect of Tamil. No system of prose had evolved. No proper compilations of Malayalam grammer were available. There were many systems of writing or scripts in Malayalam. Even in Kerala’s royal courts, Malayalam was considered to be an ignoble language and Tamil was the official language in which the edicts of the kings and the decrees were issued.
 The missionaries wanted to translate the Bible into Malayalam, in order to reach out to the people of Kerala. They had to overcome all the above problems. A new script called “vattezhuthu” was developed by Rev. Benjamin Bailey. It was a considerable improvement over the earlier “chathura vadivu” script which was tedious. The script we use today is this “vattezhuthu”.
The next problem they had to face was grammer. In fact, no grammer was compiled in Malayalam after “Leelavati” by Bhaskaracharya (9th century A.D.). Regarding prose, there never existed a grammer for Malayalam. Hence, the missionaries worked hard to perfect themselves in the language of the land. Several fellowships worked hard to prepare a standard grammer. Slowly, some devotional hymns and liturgy were translated into Malayalam. A modest effort was made in these lines by Philipose Ramban of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, when he translated some portions of the Gospel of Luke in 1812.