Malayalam alphabet

The Malayalam script is a variation on the theme of so many other Indian alphabets: one has consonant symbols that denote the syllable consonant+a, and if a different vowel (or no vowel at all) is needed, some diacritic or additional mark is used. There are separate symbols for the vowels in isolation.

See also Wikipedia.

Unicode tabel

The characters may be denoted by Unicode symbols in the range 0D00-0D7F. Below a table, that will show them if your browser supports UTF-8 and you have a Malayalam font installed.

F  ിൿ

This table is indexed by hexadecimal code. Instead of using UTF-8 one can also code the symbols using &#xxxx; (with xxxx in decimal instead of hexadecimal). For example, hex 0D10 is decimal 3344, and ഐ yields ഐ. Many of the above code positions are unassigned. So, it is not necessarily wrong if your browser shows an empty square or something similar in may places. But if there are only empty squares, probably you don't have a Malayalam font installed.


The values 0D15-0D39 denote consonants (or, rather, syllables consonant+a), except for 0D29 which doesn't exist.


Various ligatures have their own symbol. An image from omniglot:

Ligatures available with TeX:

Vowels that modify consonant symbols

The values 0D3E-0D43, 0D46-0D48, 0D4A-0D4D, 0D02-0D03 denote various modifying vowels, used to change the a into a different vowel (or no vowel). Here shown following the symbol ക ka.

കെകേകൈ കൊകോകൌക്കംകഃ

The first six vowel symbols are written in "natural" order, to the right of the corresponding consonant symbol. The next three vowel symbols are written to the left, the next three on both sides, and the final three to the right again. (My browser doesn't know that yet, and shows them all to the right of the consonant.) Again an image from omniglot:

In the older spelling the symbols for u and uu were not written to the right of the corresponding consonants (as here on the picture in blue), but gave an additional curl (like here in black). The shape of the curl depended on the consonant.

The independent vowels

The values 0D05-0D14 and 0D60-0D61 denote independent vowels (but 0D0D and 0D11 do not exist).

aaaiii uuurl
eeeaio ooaurrll

Alphabetic order

Dictionaries sort the 16 independent vowels before the 36 consonants. The ordering of the vowels resembles Unicode ordering, but is not identical:

അ ആ ഇ ഈ ഉ ഊ ഋ ൠ ഌ ൡ എ ഏ ഐ ഒ ഓ ഔ

Also the ordering of the 36 consonant symbols resembles Unicode ordering, but is not identical:

ക ഖ ഗ ഘ ങ ച ഛ ജ ഝ ഞ ട ഠ ഡ ഢ ണ ത ഥ ദ ധ ന പ ഫ ബ ഭ മ യ ര ല വ ശ ഷ സ ഹ ള ഴ റ

For fixed first letter, words are sorted according to the next vowel (with symbol sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, and sometimes partly to the left and partly to the right). The sequence of dependent vowels is as above: (-, a, aa, i, ii, u, uu, r, e, ee, ai, o, oo, au). After this series of combinations consonant+vowel, there may be further series, such as (consonant+y)+vowel, (consonant+r)+vowel, (consonant+l)+vowel, (consonant+v)+vowel, where the parenthesized combination is treated as a unit (and the vowel is written to the right or to the left or partly to the left and partly to the right of this unit).



'Malayalam' is written മലയാളം that is, ma-la-ya-aa-lla-m, where the final symbol is the anusvara that nasalizes the preceding vowel.


On the title page of the Malayalam translation of the book "Le petit prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry one finds

That is, in small antvaan d saante-ksyuupeeri and larger underneath: ente koccuraajakumaaran.

Note the shape of the final n (na with virama). And that of the combination virama-ya. And the combination cc.

(Virama is the symbol ് denoting "no vowel".)

Oz Nagarathile Atbhuta Mânthrikan

On the title page of the Malayalam translation of the book "The wonderful wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum one finds

That is, in small el. phraank boom and larger underneath: oos nagarattile atbhuta maantrikan.

Note the shape of the vowel r to the left of the corresponding consonant. And that of la with virama.

Monotype glyph repertoire

Monotype shows their Malayalam glyph repertoire: