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The Malayalam script is generally referred to as Koleluttu (literally meaning "Rod Script") and is derived from the Grantha script, which developed from the ancient Indic script of Brahmi.

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The changes of the '70s and '80s are not consistently applied throughout all Malayalam-speaking areas, however, so the modern written script often includes a mixture of traditional and new characters.

The earliest Malayalam language literary work is the "Ramacharitam" (which translates literally to "Deeds of Rama"), an epic poem dating to the 12th or 13th century.

For example, the first Malayalam language grammar, the "Lilatikalam" (or "Book of the Sacred Mark"), appeared in the 14th century and actually was written in the Sanskrit script.

Sanskrit's influence on the Malayalam language is still evident today, as the modern Malayalam script includes letters capable of representing all the sounds of both Dravidian and Sanskrit languages.

In its early development, Malayalam borrowed heavily from Sanskrit, not only acquiring many Sanskrit loan words, but also adopting various styles of spoken Sanskrit inflection.

Sanskrit influence is evident in early inscriptions and other writings of the Malayalam language.

It is thought that at one time, however, the Dravidian languages covered a much larger expanse of India's territory.

The majority of modern Dravidian languages are thought to have developed from one single Proto-Dravidian language, evolving over time until distinct languages were formed.

The process of linguistic division within the Proto-Dravidian language is thought to have begun as long ago as 4000 BCE, giving Dravidian languages some of the oldest roots among today's living languages.

The earliest known existing record of a distinct Malayalam language is found in the form of an inscription dating to circa 830 CE.

The Malayalam language has an intriguing history of development enriched by the early evolution of literary culture that includes everything from erotic poetry to award-winning novels.

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