|Native to||India; worldwide diaspora|
|Region||Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Yanam and neighbouring states|
|75 million (2007)|
Telugu alphabet (Brahmic)
Official language in
Distribution of native Telugu speakers in India (as of 1961)
Telugu  (తెలుగు telugu, IPA: ) is a Dravidian language and is the only language other than Hindi and Bengali that is predominantly spoken in more than one Indian state, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and in the union teritory of Yanam where it is also an official language. It is also spoken by significant minorities in the Andaman and Nicobar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, and by the Sri Lankan Gypsy people. It is one of six languages designated a classical language of India. Telugu ranks third by the number of native speakers in India (74 million), thirteenth in the Ethnologue list of most-spoken languages worldwide and is the most widely spoken Dravidian language. It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India.
Telugu still contains some features of Sanskrit that have subsequently been lost in some of Sanskrit's daughter languages such as Hindi and Bengali, especially in the pronunciation of some vowels and consonants.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Dialects
- 4 Geographic distribution
- 5 Phonology
- 6 Grammar
- 7 Vocabulary
- 8 Writing system
- 9 Literature
- 10 Telugu support on digital devices
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
The etymology of Telugu is not known for certain. It is thought to have been derived from trilinga, as in Trilinga Desa, "the country of the three lingas". According to a Hindu legend, Shiva descended as a linga on three mountains: Kaleswaram in Telangana, Srisailam in Rayalaseema and Bhimeswaram in Coastal Andhra; in the legend, these marked the boundaries of the Telugu country. According to Marepalli Ramachandra Sastry, "Telu" means white and "unga" designates a plural in Gondi.
The earliest epigraphic record of the Telugu language dates to the late 2nd century AD. However, there have been suspected traces of Telugu recorded before that date. Some Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gāhā Sattasaī) collected during the Satavahana dynasty.
Inscriptions containing Telugu words can be dated back to 400 BC to 100 BC. They were discovered in Bhattiprolu in Guntur district. The English translation of one inscription reads, "gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha".
During the period from 575 AD to 1022 AD, the first inscription that is entirely in Telugu corresponds to the second phase of Telugu history, after the Andhra Ikshvaku period. This inscription, dated 575 AD, was found in the Rayalaseema region and is attributed to the Renati Cholas, who broke with the prevailing custom of using Sanskrit and began writing royal proclamations in the local language. During the next fifty years, Telugu inscriptions appeared in Anantapuram and other neighboring regions.
Telugu was more influenced by Sanskrit and Prakrit during this period, which corresponded to the advent of Telugu literature. This literature was initially found in inscriptions and poetry in the courts of the rulers, and later in written works such as Nannayya's Mahabharatam (1022 AD). During the time of Nannayya, the literary language diverged from the popular language. This was also a period of phonetic changes in the spoken language.
The third phase is marked by further stylization and sophistication of the literary language. Ketana (13th century) in fact prohibited the use of spoken words in poetic works. During this period the separation of Telugu and Kannada alphabets took place. Tikkana wrote his works in this script.
The Vijayanagara Empire gained dominance from 1336 to the late 17th century, reaching its peak during the rule of Krishnadevaraya in the 16th century, when Telugu literature experienced what is considered its Golden Age. Pada kavita pitamaha, Annamacharya, contributed many Telugu songs to this language.
With the exception of Coastal Andhra, a distinct dialect developed in the Telangana State and the Rayalaseema region due to Muslim influence: Sultanate rule under the Tughlaq dynasty had been established earlier in the northern Deccan during the 14th century. In the latter half of the 17th century, Muslim rule extended further south, culminating in the establishment of the princely state of Hyderabad by the Asaf Jah dynasty in 1724. This heralded an era of Persian/Arabic influence on the Telugu language, especially among the people of Hyderabad. The effect is also evident in the prose of the early 19th century, as in the Kaifiyats.
In the princely state of Nizam, Andhra Jana Sangham was started in 1921 with the main intention of promoting Telugu language, literature, its books and historical research led by Suravaram Pratapareddy, Madapati Hanumantha Rao, Komarraju Venkata Lakshmana Rao and others.
In the period of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries saw the influence of the English language and modern communication/printing press as an effect of the British rule, especially in the areas that were part of the Madras Presidency. Literature from this time had a mix of classical and modern traditions and included works by scholars like Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Gurazada Apparao and Panuganti Lakshminarasimha Rao.
Since the 1930s, what was considered an elite literary form of the Telugu language, has now spread to the common people with the introduction of mass media like movies, television, radio and newspapers. This form of the language is also taught in schools and colleges as a standard.
- Telugu is one of the 22 official languages of India.
- The Andhra Pradesh Official Language Act, 1966, declares Telugu the official language of the state that is currently divided into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This enactment was implemented by GOMs No 420 in 2005.
- Telugu also has official language status in the Yanam District of the Union Territory of Puducherry.
- Telugu, along with Kannada, was declared as one of the classical languages of India in the year 2008.
- The fourth Tirupati city in the last week of December 2012 and deliberated at length on issues related to Telugu development
- Telugu is the third most spoken language in India after Hindi and Bengali.
Waddar, Chenchu, and Manna-Dora are all closely related to Telugu. Dialects of Telugu are Berad, Dasari, Dommara, Golari, Kamathi, Komtao, Konda-Reddi, Salewari, Telaingani, Warangal, Mahaboobnagar (Palamuru), Gadwal (Rayalaseema mix), Narayanapeta (Kannada and Marathi influence), Vijayawada, Vadaga, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Toorpu (East) Godavari, Paschima (West) Godavari, Kandula, Rayalaseema, Nellooru, Prakasam, Gunturu, Tirupati, Vadari and Yanadi (Yenadi).
In Tamil Nadu the Telugu dialect is classified into Salem, Coimbatore, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Madras Telugu dialects. It is also spoken in pockets of Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Madurai, Madras and Thanjavur districts.
Telugu is mainly spoken in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Yanam district of Puducherry as well as in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, some parts of Jharkhand and the Kharagpur region of West Bengal in India. It is also spoken in the United States, where the Telugu diaspora numbers more than 800,000, with the highest concentration in Central New Jersey; as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Ireland, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, as well as other western European countries, where there is also a considerable Telugu diaspora. At 7.2% of the population, Telugu is the third-most-spoken language in the Indian subcontinent after Hindi and Bengali. In Karnataka, 7.0% of the population speak Telugu, and in Tamil Nadu, where it commonly known as Telungu, 5.6%.
Telugu words generally end in vowels. In Old Telugu, this was absolute; in the modern language m, n, y, w may end a word. Atypically for a Dravidian language, voiced consonants were distinctive even in the oldest recorded form of the language. Sanskrit loans have introduced aspirated and murmured consonants as well.
Telugu does not have contrastive stress, and speakers vary on where they perceive stress. Most judge it to be on the penultimate or final syllable, depending on word and vowel length.
Telugu features a form of vowel harmony wherein the second vowel in disyllabic noun and adjective roots alters whether the first vowel is tense or lax. Also, if the second vowel is open (i.e. /aː/ or /a/), then the first vowel will be more open and centralized (e.g. [mɛːka] 'goat', as opposed to [meːku] 'nail'). Telugu words also have vowels in inflectional suffixes harmonized with the vowels of the preceding syllable.
|Vowels – అచ్చులు acchulu|
|ఇ i||ఈ iː||ఉ u||ఊ uː|
|ఎ e||ఏ eː||ఒ o||ఓ oː|
|æː||అ a||ఆ aː|
/æː/ only occurs in loan words.
Telugu has two diphthongs: ఐ [ai] and ఔ [au].
The table below illustrates the articulation of the consonants.
|Plosive||tenuis||/p/ ప pa||/t̪/ త ta||/ʈ/ ట ṭa||/t͡ʃ/ చ ca||/k/ క ka|
|voiced||/b/ బ ba||/d̪/ ద da||/ɖ/ డ ḍa||/d͡ʒ/ జ ja||/ɡ/ గ ga|
|aspirated*||/pʰ/ ఫ pha||/ʈʰ/ ఠ ṭha||/t͡ʃʰ/ ఛ cha||/kʰ/ ఖ kha|
|breathy voiced*||/bʱ/ భ bha||/d̪ʱ/ ధ dha||/ɖʱ/ ఢ ḍha||/d͡ʒʱ/ ఝ jha||/ɡʱ/ ఘ gha|
|Nasal||/m/ మ ma||/n̪/ న na||/ɳ/ ణ ṇa|
|Fricative*||/f/||/s̪/ స sa||/ʂ/ ష ṣa||/ɕ/ శ śa||/x/ హ ha|
|Approximant||central||/ʋ/ వ va||/j/ య ya|
|lateral||/l̪/ ల la||/ɭ/ ళ ḷa|
*The aspirated and breathy-voiced consonants occur mostly in loan words, as do the fricatives apart from native /s̪/.
The Telugu Grammar is called vyākaranam (వ్యాకరణం).
The first treatise on Telugu grammar, the Andhra Sabda Chintamani was written in Sanskrit by Nannayya, considered the first Telugu poet and translator, in the 11th century A.D. This grammar followed the patterns which existed in grammatical treatises like Aṣṭādhyāyī and Vālmīkivyākaranam but unlike Pāṇini, Nannayya divided his work into five chapters, covering samjnā, sandhi, ajanta, halanta and kriya. Every Telugu grammatical rule is derived from Pāṇinian concepts.
In the 19th century, Chinnaya Suri wrote a simplified work on Telugu grammar called Bāla Vyākaranam by borrowing concepts and ideas from Nannayya's grammar.
|Sentence||రాము బడికి వెళ్తాడు.|
|Translation||Ramu goes to school.|
This sentence can also be interpreted as 'Ramu will go to school.' depending on the context. But it does not affect the SOV order.
Telugu nouns are inflected for number (singular, plural), gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and case (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, vocative, instrumental, and locative).
Telugu has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neutral.
Telugu pronouns include personal pronouns (The persons speaking, the persons spoken to, or the persons or things spoken about). Indefinite pronouns, relative pronouns (connect parts of sentences) and reciprocal or reflexive pronouns (in which the object of a verb is being acted on by verb's subject).
The nominative case (karta), object of a verb (karma) and the verb are somewhat in a sequence in Telugu sentence construction. "Vibhakti" (case of a noun) and "pratyayamulu" (an affix to roots and words forming derivs. and inflections) depict the ancient nature and progression of the language. The "Vibhaktis" of Telugu language " డు [Du], ము [mu], వు [vu], లు [lu]" etc. are different from those in Sanskrit and have been in the usage for a long time.
Sanskrit influenced Telugu of Telanganites, Andhras for about 1500 years, however there are evidences which suggest older origin of the influence. During 1000–1100 AD, Nannaya's re-writing of the Mahābhārata in Telugu (మహాభారతము) re-established its use, and it dominated over the royal language, Sanskrit. Telugu absorbed tatsamas from Sanskrit.
The vocabulary of Telugu, especially in Telangana state, has a trove of Persian-Arabic borrowings, which have been modified to fit Telugu phonology. This was due to centuries of Muslim rule in these regions, such as the erstwhile kingdoms of Golkonda and Hyderabad. (e.g. కబురు, /kaburu/ for Urdu /xabar/, خبر or జవాబు, /dʒavaːbu/ for Urdu /dʒawɑːb/, جواب)
Modern Telugu vocabulary can be said to constitute a diglossia, because the formal, standardized version of the language, heavily influenced by Sanskrit, is taught in schools and used by the government and Hindu religious institutions. However, everyday Telugu varies depending upon region and social status.
Telugu script is written from left to right and consists of sequences of simple and/or complex characters. The script is syllabic in nature—the basic units of writing are syllables. Since the number of possible syllables is very large, syllables are composed of more basic units such as vowels (“achchu” or “swaram”) and consonants (“hallu” or “vyanjanam”). Consonants in consonant clusters take shapes that are very different from the shapes they take elsewhere. Consonants are presumed to be pure consonants, that is, without any vowel sound in them. However, it is traditional to write and read consonants with an implied 'a' vowel sound. When consonants combine with other vowel signs, the vowel part is indicated orthographically using signs known as vowel “maatras”. The shapes of vowel “maatras” are also very different from the shapes of the corresponding vowels.
The overall pattern consists of sixty symbols, of which 16 are vowels, three vowel modifiers, and forty-one consonants. Spaces are used between words as word separators.
The sentence ends with either a single bar । (“purna viramam”) or a double bar ॥ (“deergha viramam”). Traditionally, in handwriting, Telugu words were not separated by spaces. Modern punctuation (commas, semicolon, etc.) were introduced with the advent of print.
There is a set of symbols for numerals, though Arabic numbers are typically used.
|Positional systems by base|
|List of numeral systems|
Telugu has its own digits, as shown below. However, these aren't used commonly.
|sunna (Telugu form of Sanskrit word śūnyam)||okati||rendu||moodu||naalugu||aidu||aaru||yedu||enimidi||tommidi|
The Telugu alphabet consist of 60 symbols – 16 vowels, 3 vowel modifiers, and 41 consonants. Sanskrit and Telugu alphabets are similar and exhibit one-to-one correspondence. Telugu has complete set of letters which follows scientific system to express sounds. Some of them are introduced to express fine shades of difference in sounds.
Telugu has .CH and .JH which are not represented in Sanskrit. Their pronunciation is similar to the s sound in the word treasure and z sound in zebra respectively. Secondly S, SH, and KSH which are not found in Tamil.
Telugu script can reproduce the full range of Sanskrit phonetics without losing any of the text's originality. Telugu has made its letters expressive of all the sounds and hence it has to deal with significant borrowings from Sanskrit, Tamil and Hindustani.
|Consonants – hallulu (హల్లులు)|
క కా కి కీ కు కూ కృ కౄ కె కే కై కొ కో కౌ క్ కం కః
ఖ ఖా ఖి ఖీ ఖు ఖూ ఖృ ఖౄ ఖె ఖే ఖై ఖొ ఖో ఖౌ ఖ్ ఖం ఖః
Telugu literature is generally divided into six periods:
In the Telugu literature Tikkana was given agraasana (top position) by many famous critics. In the earliest period there were only inscriptions from 575 AD onwards. Nannaya's (1022–1063) translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata into Telugu is the earliest piece of Telugu literature as yet discovered. After the demise of Nannaya, there was a kind of social and religious revolution in the Telugu country.
Tikkana (13th century) and Yerrapragada (14th century) continued the translation of the Mahabharata started by Nannaya. Telugu poetry also flourished in this period, especially in the time of Srinatha.
During this period, some Telugu poets translated Sanskrit poems and dramas, while others attempted original narrative poems. The popular Telugu literary form called the Prabandha evolved during this period. Srinatha (1365–1441) was the foremost poet, who popularized this style of composition (a story in verse having a tight metrical scheme). Srinatha's Sringara Naishadham is particularly well-known.
The Ramayana poets may also be referred in this context. The earliest Ramayana in Telugu is generally known as the Ranganatha Ramayana, authored by the chief Gona Buddha Reddy. The works of Pothana (1450–1510), Jakkana (second half of the 14th century) and Gaurana (first half of the 15th century) formed a canon of religious poetry during this period. Padakavitha Pithamaha - Annamayya, contributed many original Telugu Paatalu (Songs) to the language.
The 16th and 17th centuries is regarded as the "golden age" of Telugu literature. Krishnadevaraya's Amukthamalayadha, and Pedhdhana's Manucharithra are regarded as Mahaakaavyaas. Sri Krishnadeva Raya stated "Desa bhashalandu Telugu Lessa" meaning " Telugu is the best among the languages of the nation". Telugu literature flourished in the south in the traditional "samsthanas" (centres) of Southern literature, such as Madurai and Tanjore. This age is often referred to as the Southern Period. There were also an increasing number of poets in this period among the ruling class, women and working class who popularised indigenous (desi) meters.
With the conquest of the Deccan by the Mughals in 1687, Telugu literature entered a lull. Tyagaraja's compositions are some of the known works from this period. Then emerged a period of transition (1850–1910), followed by a long period of Renaissance. Europeans like C.P. Brown played an important role in the development of Telugu language and literature. In common with the rest of India, Telugu literature of this period was increasingly influenced by European literary forms like the novel, short story, prose and drama.
Paravastu Chinnayya Soori (1807–1861) is a well-known Telugu writer who dedicated his entire life to the progress and promotion of Telugu language and literature. Sri Chinnayasoori wrote the Bala Vyakaranam in a new style after doing extensive research on Telugu grammar. Other well-known writings by Chinnayasoori are Neethichandrika, Sootandhra Vyaakaranamu, Andhra Dhatumoola, and Neeti Sangrahamu.
Kandukuri Veeresalingam (1848–1919) is generally considered the father of modern Telugu literature. His novel Rajasekhara Charitamu was inspired by the Vicar of Wakefield. His work marked the beginning of a dynamic of socially conscious Telugu literature and its transition to the modern period, which is also part of the wider literary renaissance that took place in Indian culture during this period. Other prominent literary figures from this period are Gurajada Appa Rao, Viswanatha Satyanarayana, Gurram Jashuva, Rayaprolu Subba Rao, Devulapalli Krishnasastri and Srirangam Srinivasa Rao, popularly known as Mahakavi Sri Sri. Sri Sri was instrumental in popularising free verse in spoken Telugu (vaaduka bhasha), as opposed to the pure form of written Telugu used by several poets in his time. Devulapalli Krishnasastri is often referred to as the Shelley of Telugu literature because of his pioneering works in Telugu Romantic poetry.
Viswanatha Satyanarayana won India's national literary honour, the Jnanpith Award for his magnum opus Ramayana Kalpavrikshamu. C. Narayana Reddy won the Jnanpith Award in 1988 for his poetic work, Viswambara. Ravuri Bharadhwaja won the 3rd Jnanpith Award for Telugu literature in 2013 for Paakudu Raallu, a graphic account of life behind the screen in film industry. Kanyasulkam, the first social play in Telugu by Gurajada Appa Rao, was followed by the progressive movement, the free verse movement and the Digambara style of Telugu verse. Other modern Telugu novelists include Unnava Lakshminarayana (Maalapalli), Bulusu Venkateswarulu (Bharatiya Tatva Sastram), Kodavatiganti Kutumba Rao and Buchi Babu.
Telugu support on digital devices
Telugu input, display, and support was initially provided on the Windows platform. Subsequently, various browsers, office applications, operating systems, and user interfaces were localized for Windows and Linux platforms by vendors and free and open source volunteers. Telugu-capable smart phones were also introduced by vendors in 2013.
- Telugu literature
- Telugu language day
- Telugu people
- Telugu grammar
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- Hints and resources for learning Telugu
- English to Telugu online dictionary
- 'Telugu to English' and 'English to Telugu' Dictionary
- Dictionary of mixed Telugu By Charles Philip Brown
- Origins of Telugu Script
- Online English - Telugu dictionary portal which includes many popular dictionaries
- Telugu literature online