Mappila Dialect of Malayalam

Mappila dialect
മാപ്പിള മലയാളം
Native to India and a few other countries
Native speakers (no estimate available)
Language family
Writing system Malayalam script (rarely in Arabi Malayalam script)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist List

The Malayalam language spoken mostly by Mappila Muslim community of Kerala state, India is called Mappila dialect of Malayalam or simply as Mappila Malayalam (Malayalam script: മാപ്പിള മലയാളം). This speech is a mixture of colloquial northern Kerala dialects of Malayalam and the Arabic language.[1] Often, the Malayalee Muslim community of Malaysia and Singapore and few of them in Kerala write Malayalam using Arabic Script.The dialect is extensively spoken by Muslims in the North Malabar region of Kerala i.e. in the districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palghat, Wayanad, Trichur, Kannur and Kasaragod. The Malayalam spoken by Mappila Muslim shows deep influence of the Arabic language.[2] Thus the dialect is a little bit different from the mainstream Malayalam. Also, Muslim communities of Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka called Bearys also speak Mappila Malayalam.[3] It should also be noted that Mappila dialect of Malayalam is not Arabi-Malayalam

Arabic influence

The Mappila dialect of Malayalam has borrowed loan words from Arabic language. In fact this dialect can just be considered as Arabic-Malayalam blend just like Sanskrit-Malayalam blend in Manipravalam.[4] Kerala has a unique tradition of literature written in Arabic-Malayalam blend.The great bulk of these are verses with predominantly religious themes.[4] As with Sanskrit-Malayalam blend in Manipravalam which was written in Malayalam script,the Arabic-Malayalam blend was written in Arabic script modified to absorb the peculiar sounds of Malayalam.[1] As large numbers of Arabic words did not pass into the general and the literary usage, this tradition rather came to an abrupt stop.[4]

Mappila Malayalam has deviated significantly from general Malayalam by incorporating many Arabic loanwords. This may be explained by the historical fact that Arabic was the language of commerce on the Kerala coast.[2] Even the Portuguese made use of Arabic-speaking interpreters for their trade in Kerala[2] Today Arabic borrowings endure in various spheres of Kerala life, including literature. Mappila Malayalam has the status of a literary dialect.[2]

Spoken regions

Mappila dialect of Malayalam is predominantly spoken in the north Malabar region of Kerala than its southern parts. It is widely spoken in the district of Malappuram, Kozhikode (Calicut), Kannur (Cannanore) and Kasaragod and the northern region of Trichur district known as Chavakkad. The majority of the Muslim population in Kerala live in the districts of Malappuram and Kozhikode. There is a reason for this. Muslims of Malabar played important role in resisting the invasion of Portuguese in the 16th century.[4] The Kunjalis, who were the admirals of Zamorin (Samoothiri) were in forefront of the resistance.[4] They were so beloved to Zamorin that the rulers encouraged one or more male members from families of Hindu fishermen being brought up as Muslims.[4] The dialect spoken here is orthodox in nature as Arabic words are borrowed in high proportion. The dialect spoken in Kannur is to an extent devoid of Arabic words and the influence of Hindu culture is strongly felt. In Kasaragod, the dialect is influenced by Tulu, Arabic and Urdu and in Malappuram, Palghat and Trichur there is no influence from the Arabic language.

See also


  • Interference of Mappila Dialect in the Standard Malayalam Language - with special reference to the writing performance of Primary School Children, Saidalavi C.
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