Essays In Telugu Language History

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PronunciationIPA: [t̪el̪uɡu]
Native toIndia

Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rayalaseema,

(Yanam) and neighbouring states
EthnicityTelugu people

Native speakers

74 million (2001)[1]
5 million L2 speakers in India (2001)[2]

Language family

Writing system

Telugu alphabet
Telugu Braille
Official status

Official language in


Spoken in these States and union territories of India:

Language codes
ISO 639-1
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3
Glottolog  Telugu[3]
  Old Telugu[4]

Telugu is native to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, (Yanam)

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Telugu (English:;[5]తెలుగు[t̪el̪uɡu]) is a South-central Dravidian language native to India. It stands alongside Hindi, English and Bengali as one of the few languages with official primary language status in more than one Indian state;[6][7] Telugu is the primary language in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and significant linguistic minorities in other neighbouring states. It is one of six languages designated a classical language of India by the Government of India.[8][9]

Telugu ranks third by the number of native speakers in India (74 million, 2001 census),[10] fifteenth in the Ethnologue list of most-spoken languages worldwide.[11] It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India.[12] Approximately 10,000 pre-colonial inscriptions exist in the Telugu language and totally there are 13,000 inscriptions in Telugu language.[13]


The speakers of the language call it "Telugu". The older forms of the name include Teluṅgu, Tenuṅgu and Teliṅga.[15]

The etymology of Telugu is not certain. Some historical scholars have suggested a derivation from Sanskrittriliṅgam, as in Trilinga Desam, "the country of the three lingas".

Atharvana Acharya in the 13th century wrote a grammar of Telugu, calling it the "Trilinga grammar" (Trilinga Śabdānusāsana).[16] Appa Kavi in the 17th century explicitly wrote that "Telugu" was derived from Trilinga. Scholar Charles P. Brown comments that it was a "strange notion" as all the predecessors of Appa Kavi had no knowledge of such a derivation.[17]

George Abraham Grierson and other linguists doubt this derivation, holding rather that Telugu was the older term and Trilinga must be a later Sanskritisation of it.[18][19] If so the derivation itself must have been quite ancient because Triglyphum, Trilingum and Modogalingam are attested in ancient Greek sources, the last of which can be interpreted as a Telugu rendition of "Trilinga".[20]

Another view holds that tenugu is derived from the proto-Dravidian word ten– "south"[21] to mean "the people who lived in the south/southern direction" (relative to Sanskrit and Prakrit-speaking peoples). The name telugu then, is a result of 'n' -> 'l' alternation established in Telugu.[22]


According to the Russian linguist M. S. Andronov, Proto-South-Dravidian languages split from the Proto-Dravidian language between 1500 and 1000 BC.[24][25] According to linguist Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, Telugu, as a Dravidian language, descends from Proto-Dravidian, a proto-language. Linguistic reconstruction suggests that Proto-Dravidian was spoken around the third millennium BC, possibly in the region around the lower Godavari river basin in peninsular India. The material evidence suggests that the speakers of Proto-Dravidian were of the culture associated with the Neolithic societies of South India.[26]

A legend gives the Lepakshi town a significant place in the Ramayana — this was where the bird Jatayu fell, wounded after a futile battle against Ravana who was carrying away Sita. When Sri Rama reached the spot, he saw the bird and said compassionately, "Le Pakshi" — ‘rise, bird’ in Telugu. This indicates the presence of Telugu Language during Ramayana period.[27]

There is a mention of Telugu people or Telugu country in ancient Tamil literature as Telunka Nadu[28] (Land of Telugu people).

It has been argued that there is a historical connection between the civilizations of ancient southern Mesopotamia and ancient Telugu speaking peoples.[29]

Earliest records[edit]

Prakrit Inscriptions with some Telugu words dating back to 400 BC to 100 BC have been discovered in Bhattiprolu in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.[30] The English translation of one inscription reads, "gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha".[31][32][33]

Dated between 200 BCE – 200 CE, a Prakrit work called Gāthā Saptaśatī written by Sathavahana King Hala, Telugu words like అత్త, వాలుంకి, పీలుఅ, పోట్టం, కిలించిఅః, అద్దాఏ, భోండీ, సరఅస్స, తుప్ప, ఫలహీ, వేంట, రుంప-రంప, మడహసరిఆ, వోడసుణఓ, సాఉలీ and తీరఏ have been used.

Certain exploration and excavation missions conducted by the Archaeological Department in and around the Keesaragutta temple brought to light number of brick temples, cells and other structures encompassed by brick prakara wall along with coins, beads, stucco figures, garbhapatra, pottery, Brahmi label inscriptions datable to 4th – 5th C.A.D. On top of one of the rock-cut caves, an early Telugu label inscription reading as ‘Thulachuvanru’ can be noticed. On the basis of palaeography, the inscription is dated to 4th - 5th century A.D.[34]

The first word in Telugu language, "Nagabu", was found in a Sanskrit inscription of the 1st century B.C at Amravati.[35][36] Telugu words were also found in the Dharmasila inscription of Emperor Ashoka. A number of Telugu words were found in the Sanskrit and Prakrit inscriptions of Satavahanas, Vishnukundins, Ikshwaks etc.

According to the native tradition Telugu grammar has an ancient past. Sage Kanva was said to be the first grammarian of Telugu. A Rajeswara Sarma discussed the historicity and content of Kanva's grammar written in Sanskrit. He cited twenty grammatical aphorisms ascribed to Kanva, and concluded that Kanva wrote an ancient Telugu Grammar which was lost.[37]

The coin legends of the Satavahanas, in all areas and all periods, used a Prakrit dialect without exception. Some reverse coin legends are in Tamil,[38] and Telugu languages.[40]

Post-Ikshvaku period[edit]

Main article: Early Telugu epigraphy

The period from 575 AD to 1022 AD corresponds to the second phase of Telugu history, after the Andhra Ikshvaku period. This is evidenced by the first inscription that is entirely in Telugu, dated 575 AD, which 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 neighbouring regions.[41] Telugu was more influenced by Sanskrit and Prakrit during this period, which corresponded to the advent of Telugu literature. Telugu 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).[42] During the time of Nannayya, the literary language diverged from the popular language. It was also a period of phonetic changes in the spoken language.

Middle Ages[edit]

The third phase is marked by further stylization and sophistication of the literary language. During this period the split of the Telugu and Kannada alphabets took place.[43]Tikkana wrote his works in this script.

Vijayanagara Empire[edit]

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.[42]

Delhi Sultanate and Mughal influence[edit]

With the exception of Coastal Andhra,[citation needed] a distinct dialect developed in the Telangana State and the parts of Rayalaseema region due to Persian/Arabic influence: the Delhi Sultanate of the Tughlaq dynasty was established earlier in the northern Deccan Plateau during the 14th century. In the latter half of the 17th century, the Mughal Empire extended further south, culminating in the establishment of the princely state of Hyderabad State by the dynasty of the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1724. This heralded an era of Persian influence on the Telugu language, especially Hyderabad State. The effect is also evident in the prose of the early 19th century, as in the Kaifiyats.[42]

In the princely Hyderabad State, the Andhra Mahasabha was started in 1921 with the main intention of promoting Telugu language, literature, its books and historical research led by Madapati Hanumantha Rao (the founder of the Andhra Mahasabha), Komarraju Venkata Lakshmana Rao (Founder of Library Movement in Hyderabad State), Suravaram Pratapa Reddy and others.

Colonial period[edit]

The 16th-century Venetian explorer Niccolò de' Conti, who visited the Vijayanagara Empire, found that the words in Telugu language end with vowels, just like those in Italian, and hence referred it as "The Italian of the East";[44] a saying that has been widely repeated.[45]

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 Gidugu Venkata Ramamoorty, Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Gurazada Apparao, Gidugu Sitapati and Panuganti Lakshminarasimha Rao.[42]

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.

Post-independence period[edit]

  1. Telugu is one of the 22 languages with official status in India.
  2. The Andhra Pradesh Official Language Act, 1966, declares Telugu the official language of the state that is currently divided into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This enactment was implemented by GOMs No 420 in 2005.[46][47]
  3. Telugu also has official language status in the Yanam district of the union territory of Puducherry.
  4. Telugu, along with Kannada, was declared as one of the classical languages of India in the year 2008.
  5. The fourth World Telugu Conference was organized in Tirupati in the last week of December 2012 and deliberated at length on issues related to Telugu language policy.
  6. Telugu is the third most spoken native language in India after Hindi and Bengali.
  7. Telugu is also the most spoken Dravidian language in the world.
  8. Telugu is the 3rd most spoken Indian language in the U.S after Hindi, and Gujarati as of 2017.[48]

Epigraphical records[edit]

Main article: Early Telugu epigraphy

According to the famous Japanese Historian Noboru Karashima who once served as the President of the Epigraphical Society of India in 1985 calculated that there are approximately 10,000 inscriptions which exist in the Telugu language as of the year 1996 making it one of the most densely inscribed languages.[13] Telugu inscriptions are found in all the districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.[49][50][51][52] They are also found in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh.[53][52][54][55] According to recent estimates by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) the number of inscriptions in Telugu language goes up to 13,000.[56][57] Namely Adilabad, Nizamabad, Hyderabad, Anantapur, and Chittoor — produced no more than a handful of Telugu inscriptions in the Kakatiya era spanning between 1175-1324 AD.[58][59]

Ancient inscriptions[edit]


No. 1. (A. R. No. 581 of 1925) On a white marble pillar near the entrance into the temple of Ramalingavami at Velpuru, Sattenpalli Taluk, Guntur District. Undated. This is the only stone inscription of this dynasty so far found and it is damaged and incomplete. Only the name of the family Vishnukundi and that of a ruler Madhava Varma are legible.

Western Chalukya Dynasty[edit]

No. 27. (A. R. No. 596 of 1909.) On the Naga pillar in the temple of Virabhadra outside the village of Gurazala, Palnadu Taluk, same District. S. [10]51. States that a Brahmin named Dara son of Kommana who was the head of Kummunuru village and who claimed to be an incarnation of the serpent king Sesha, put up a Naga-stambha in front of the temple of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva built by himself and that Betabhupa of the Haihaya family, a dependent of Bhulo Kamalla Deva (Someshvara III) made a gift of four kharis of land to the said temple.

Eastern Chalukya Dynasty[edit]

No. 4. (A. R. No. 431 of 1915) On a nandi slab set up near the temple of Someshvara at Eluru, Narasaraopeta Taluk, Same District. S. 925. Records the grant of land to god Somanathadeva by Paricheda Chikka Bhimaraju.

Chola Dynasty[edit]

No. 64. (A. R. No. 567 of 1925.) On a big white marble pillar set up near the dhvajastambha in the temple of Ramalingesvara, Velpuru, Sattenepalli Taluk, Guntur District. S. 1030 Records the gift of a perpetual lamp by Kota Gokaraju son of Bhima to the temple of Ramesvara of Velupuru.

Early Cholas of Renadu[edit]

No. 607. (A. R. No. 380 of 1904.) On two faces of a broken pillar lying in the courtyard of the temple of Chennakesavasvami at Kalamalla, Kamalapuram Taluk, same District. Undated. Damaged and unintelligible. Mentions Dhananjaya MuttaRasu(Raju) and Renadu.He is the descendant of early Tamil cholas .Here in this place these people population is so high.

  • The first Telugu inscription known as ‘Kalamalla’ , dating back to 575 AD, found in Sri Chennakesava Swamy temple premises in Kalamalla village in Kadapa district was made by Renati Chola King Erikal Muturaju Dhanunjaya Varma.

Eastern Ganga[edit]

No. 651. (A. R. No. 99 of 1909.) On a stone lying near Paravastu Rangacharya's house at Vizagapatam. S. 101[3] (h) 17th year of Ananta Varma Deva. Records the gift of "perumbadi" (?) by the "city twelve" of Visakhapattanamu alias Kulottunga-Chodapattanamu to Matamana of Malamandala. The description of the donor is not quite intelligible.

No. 675 (A. R. No. 681 of 1926.) On a pillar in the mandapa in front of the central shrine in the temple of Nilakanthesvara, Narayanapuram, Bobbili Taluk, same District. S. 1053. Records gift of a perpetual lamp by Chodaraju Maha Devi (and another ?) to the temple of Nilisvara for the merit of Chodagangadeva.

No. 727. (A. R. No. 827 of 1917.) On a stone lying at the entrance into the temple of Tumbesvara, Pratapur, Chatrapur Taluk, Ganjam District. Year missing. Incomplete. Mentions. Ananta Varma


No. 732. (A. R. No. 802 of 1922.) On the four faces of the Garuda-pillar planted near the dhvajastambha in the temple of Chennakesava, Idupulapadu, same Taluk and District. S. 1422. (Raudri) Records the gift by Pratapa-Radra of the village Idvulapadu to the east of Vinikonda, to Madhava-mantrin of the Bharadvaja-gotra and the Yajnyavalkya-saka. Gives a genealogy of the Gajapatis and of the donor.

No. 733. (A. R. No. 375 of 1926.) On a stone built into a gate of the fort at Tangeda, Palnad Taluk, same District. S. 14[3]1 (Sukla) Damaged. Unintelligible; Mentions some Khan. States that Pratapa-Rudradeva Gajapati was ruling.

No. 741. (A. R. No. 54 of 1912.) On a pillar in the temple of Kesavasvami at Chodavaram, Viravalli Taluk, Vizagapatam District. Saka year not given (Kalayukti) Records the consecration of the image of Garutmanta by Bondu Mallayya for the prosperity etc. of Bhupatiraju Vallabha Raju-Mahapatra.

Kakatiya Dynasty[edit]

No. 257. (A. R. No. 324 of 1915.) On the Garudastambha in the temple of Venugopalasvami, Uppumaguluru, Narasaraopeta Taluk, same District. S. 1133. Damaged and partly illegible. Refers to the gift of an oil-mill and land made by Balli Chodaraju presumably to some temple.

(A. R. No. 138 of 1917.) On a slab lying in front of the temple of Venugopalasvami, Potturu, Guntur Taluk, Guntur District. S. 1168. Incomplete. The portion which describes the actual grant is missing. The portion available refers to what was probably a gift made to a Siva temple by Paricheda Bhimaraja, Tammu Bhimaraju, Devaraju and Ganapa Deva Raju for the merit of their father Komma Raju and mother Surala Devi. Contains the usual Parichedi titles.

No. 373. (A. R. No. 283 of 1924.) On a pillar lying in the temple of Chandramaulisvara, Anumanchipalli, Nandigama Taluk, Krishna District. S. 1182. (Raudri) States that a certain Brahmin Chavali Bhaskara consecrated the image of Sagi-Ganapesvara and that king Sagi Manma endowed the temple with land. Describes the Sagi family as of Kshatriya caste (bahujakula) and gives the donor's genealogy.

No. 376. (A. R. No. 769 of 1922.) On a stone built into the back wall of the temple of Chennakesavasvami, Nayanipalli, Bapatla Taluk, Guntur District. Year unknown. States that, in the course of his conquest of the South, king Ganapati Deva protected the king of Nelluru have killed his enemies Padihari Bayyana, Tikkana and others, that he vanquished Kulottunga Rajendra Choda of Dravila mandala, that he received presents of elephants from the king of Nelluru, that he saved the Bhringi matha on the Sriparvata and that he consecrated the image of Kumara Ganapesvara-mahadeva after his own name in ... palli. The concluding portion is missing.

No. 381. (A. R. No. 142 of 1913.) On a slab brought from Yanamadala and preserved in the Collector's Office, Guntur, same District. S. 11. 3. Incomplete and somewhat damaged. States that a certain Beta Raju founded the temple of Gopalasvami and endowed it with land, that Queen Ganapama gave it an oil-mill and a garden and that certain merchants assigned to it certain customs duties and taxes. Ganapama was probably the wife of the Kota chief.

No. 395. (A. R. No. 94 of 1917.) On the huge Nandi pillar lying near the ruined temple in Malkapuram, Guntur Taluk, Guntur District. (Published in the Journal of the Andhra Historical Research Society, Vol. IV, pp. 147–64.) S. 1183. (Durmati) Gives a detailed account of the Kakatiya family and of the foundation and pontifical succession of the Golaki-matha of the Saivas and states that king Ganapatideva promised the village of Mandara in the Velanadu-Kandravati country to his guru Visvesvara Sivacharya and that Ganapati's daughter Rudramadevi made a formal gift of that village along with the village of Velangapundi, that Visvesvara Siva established a new village with the name of Visvesvara-Golaki and peopled it with person of different castes brought from various parts of the country, that he also established the temple of Visvesvara, a Sanskrit college, a matha for Saivas, a choultry for feeding people without distinction of caste and creed, a general land a maternity hospital, besides some other things and that he made grants of land for the maintenance of all these institutions. Gives a detailed description of the administration of the trust and of the village affairs. Incidentally, it mentions a large number of other religious and charitable institutions established by Visvesvara Siva in several other places. Kakatiyas are described as belonging to the Solar race of Kshatriyas.

No. 426. (A. R. No. 222 of 1905.) On the north wall of the dark room in the temple of Tripurantakesvara, Tripurantakam, Kurnool District. S. 1192. (Pramoduta). States that Paricheda Vadamani Kota Deva Raju gave 17 cows for a lamp in the temple of Tripurantakadeva.

Vijayanagara Dynasty[edit]

No. 129. (A.R. No. 690 of 1917.) Kovelakuntla, Koilkuntla Taluk, Kurnool District. On a slab set up in front of the Ankalamma temple. Sadasiva Raya, 1543 AD. This is dated Saka 1465, Sobhakrit, Nija-Sravana ba. 10., corresponding to AD 1543, 25 August (Saturday). It registers the grant of income derived from svamyatas in his nayankara territory of Kovila Kuntlasima for the Cherapu (Sirappu) and Paruventa festivals of the goddess Ahankal Amma by Maha Mandalesvara Nandyala Avubhalesvara Deva Maharaju, son of Singa Raju Deva Maharaju and the grandson of Narasingayya Deva Maharaju of the lunar race.

No. 139. (A.R. No. 498 of 1906.) Mopuru, Pulivendla Taluk, Cuddapah District. On a slab set up in front of the central shrine of the Bhairavesvara temple. Sadasiva, AD 1545. This is dated Saka 1466, Krodhin, Magha su. 7, Rathasaptami, Monday, corresponding to AD 1545, 19 January 1950. It records the remission of all taxes like Durga Vartana, Danayani Vartana, bedige, kanika and others in favour of the Vidvan mahajanas of the villages belonging to temples and to agraharas in Ghandikota Sakalisima obtained by the donor, Timmaya Deva Maharaju, son of Narasingaya Deva Maharaju and grandson of Maha Mandalesvara Nandyala Avubhala Deva Maharaju as Nayankara from the king. A similar remission of these taxes in the villages granted to the Bhai Ravesvara temple of Mopura is also recorded with the stipulation that the amount accrued was to be utilised for the daily worship and the rathosvava of the god.

No. 167. (A.R. No. 377 of 1926.) Tangeda, Palnadu Taluk, Guntur District. On a slab set up in front of the deserted temple of Sita Rama Svamin in the fort. Sadasiva, AD 1548. This is dated Saka 1470, Kilaka, vaisakha su. 15, Sunday, lunar eclipse corresponding to AD 1548, 22 April. It registers the grant of the village Kachavaram in Tangedasima to the god Lakshmi Narasimha at Tangeda by Deva Chodaraju, son of Mummaya Deva Chodaraju and the grandson of Maha Mandalesvara Apratika Malla Kurucheti Somaya Deva Chodaraju of the solar race and belonging to the Kasyapa-gotra, apastamba-sutra and Yajus-sakha at the command of Rama Raja Vithalaya Deva Maharaju who is said to have conferred the Tangedasima as nayankara the donor.

No. 175. (A.R. No. 369 of 1920.) Chitrachedu, Gooty Taluk, Anantapur District. On a slab in the compound of the mosque. Sadasiva, AD 1550. This is dated Saka 1473 (current), Sadharana, Ashadha su. 10 corresponding to AD 1550, 23 June, (Monday). This fragmentary record mentions the pontiff Santa Bhiksha Vritti Ayyavaru and his three spiritual sons, the Narapati, Asvapati and Gajapati kings who seem to have made some gifts to god Mallikarjuna of Srisaila worshipped by them.

No. 191. (A.R. No. 584 of 1909.) Macherla, Palnadu Taluk, Guntur District. On a slab set up in the courtyard of the Virabhadresvara temple. Sadasiva, AD 1554. The record is dated in Chronogram ‘rasa-saila-veda..’ and the numerals 76, Ananda, Ashadha, su. 15, Friday, lunar eclipse. The word for the numeral 1 is apparently lost. The details of the date correspond to AD 1554, 15 June 1551, if the month was Adhika Ashadha. The inscription which is damaged, records a grant of 14 putti and 10 tumu of land constituting it into a village by name Lingapuram, by Ling Amma, wife of Veligoti Komara Timma Nayaka to the gods Ishta Kamesvara and Viresvara of Macherla situated to the north of Macherla and west of the Chandra Bhaga river, in Nagarjuna-konda-sima which Komara Timma Nayaka is said to have obtained as nayankara from Maha Mandalesvara Rama Raju Thirumalaraju Deva Maharaju.

No. 201. (A.R. No. 161 of 1905.) Markapur, Markapur Taluk, Kurnool District. On the east wall, left of entrance, of the antarala-mandapa in the Chenna-kesava-svamin temple. Sadasiva, AD 1555. This is dated Saka 1476, Ananda, Magha su. 7, corresponding to AD 1555, 29 January.

It records a gift of the various toll incomes due from the 18 villages, viz., Marakarapuram, Channavaram, Konddapuram, Yachavaram, Rayavaram, Gonguladinna, Tarnumbadu, Surepalli, Vanalapuram, Chanareddipalle, Gangireddipalle, Korevanipalle, Medisettipalle, Gollapalle, Jammuladinna, Tellambadu, Kamalpuram and Kondapalli to god Chennakesava by Maha Mandalesvara Madiraju Narappadeva Maharaju, son of Aubhalayya Deva Maharaju, grandson of Maha Mandalesvara Madiraju Singa Raju Deva Maharaju, of Kasyapa-gotra and Surya-vamsa, and nephew of Maha Mandalesvara Rama Raju Thirumalaraju. The gift villages are said to be situated in Kochcherla Kotasima which was held by the donor as Nayankara from the king. Records in addition that the lanjasunkham (levy on prostitutes) collected during the festivals at Marakapuram was also made over to the temple and that five out of every six dishes of offerings to the deity, were to be made over to the satra (feeding house) for feeding paradesi Brahmanas of the smartha sect, the sixth dish being the share of the sthanikas, the adhikaris and the karanas.

Telugu region boundaries[edit]

Andhra is characterised as having its own mother tongue, and its territory has been equated with the extent of the Telugu language. The equivalence between the Telugu linguistic sphere and geographical boundaries of Andhra is also brought out in an eleventh century description of Andhra boundaries. Andhra, according to this text, was bounded in north by Mahendra mountain in the modern Ganjam District of Orissa and to the south by Kalahasti temple in Chittor District. But Andhra extended westwards as far as Srisailam in the Kurnool District, about halfway across the modern state. Page number-36.[60] According to other sources in the early sixteenth century, the northern boundary is Simhachalam and the southern limit is Tirupati or Tirumala Hill of the Telugu Country.[61][62][63][64][65][66]

Telugu place names[edit]

Main article: Place names in India

Telugu place names are present all around Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Common suffixes are ooru, pudi, pedu, peta, patnam, wada, giri, cherla, seema, Gudem etc. Example: Guntur, Chintalapudi, Yerpedu, Suryapet, Vemulawada[disambiguation needed], Visakhapatnam, Ananthagiri HillsVijayawada, Macherla, Miryalagudem etc. They can also be seen in the border areas of Tamil Nadu.


There are three major dialects: Andhra dialect spoken in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema dialect spoken in the four Rayalaseema districts of Andhra Pradesh and finally Telangana dialect, laced with Urdu words, spoken mainly in Telangana.[67]

Waddar, Chenchu, and Manna-Dora are all closely related to Telugu.[68] Dialects of Telugu are Berad, Dasari, Dommara, Golari, Kamathi, Komtao, Konda-Reddi, Salewari, Vadaga, Srikakula, Vishakhapatnam, East Godaveri, Rayalseema, Nellore, Guntur, Vadari and Yanadi.[69]

In Karnataka the dialect sees more influence of Kannada and is a bit different than what is spoken in Andhra. There are significant populations of Telugu speakers in the eastern districts of Karnataka viz. Bangalore Urban, Bellary, Chikballapur, Kolar.

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, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Theni, Madras (Chennai) and Thanjavur districts.

Geographic distribution[edit]

See also: States of India by Telugu speakers

Telugu is natively spoken in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and Yanam district of Puducherry. Telugu speaking migrants are also found in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, some parts of Jharkhand and the Kharagpur region of West Bengal in India. 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 5.6% in Tamil Nadu.[70]

The Telugu diaspora numbers more than 800,000 in the United States, with the highest concentration in CentralNew Jersey (Little Andhra[71]); Telugu speakers are found as well in Australia, New Zealand, Bahrain, Canada (Toronto), Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Myanmar, Europe (Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom), South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and United Arab Emirates.


The roman transliteration of the Telugu script is in National Library at Kolkata romanisation.

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 place it on the penultimate or final syllable, depending on word and vowel length.[72]


Telugu features a form of vowel harmony wherein the second vowel in disyllabic noun and adjective roots alters according to whether the first vowel is tense or lax.[73][need illustrations] Also, if the second vowel is open (i.e., /aː/ or /a/), then the first vowel is more open and centralized (e.g., [mɛːka] 'goat', as opposed to [mku] 'nail').[citation needed] Telugu words also have vowels in inflectional suffixes that are harmonized with the vowels of the preceding syllable.[74]

Vowels – అచ్చులు acculu
/i/ ఇ i/iː/ ఈ ī/u/ ఉ u/uː/ ఊ ū
/e/ ఎ e/eː/ ఏ ē/o/ ఒ o/oː/ ఓ ō
/æː//a/ అ a/aː/ ఆ ā

/æː/ only occurs in loan words.

Telugu has two diphthongs: /ai/ ఐ ai and /au/ ఔ au .


The table below illustrates the articulation of the consonants.[75]

*The aspirated and breathy-voiced consonants occur mostly in loan words, as do the fricatives apart from native /s̪/.


Main article: Telugu grammar

The Telugu Grammar is called vyākaranam (వ్యాకరణం).

The first treatise on Telugu grammar, the Āndhra Śabda Cinṭāmaṇi, was written in Sanskrit by Nannayya, considered the first Telugu poet and translator, in the 11th century AD. This grammar followed patterns described in grammatical treatises such as 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 Vyākaraṇam, borrowing concepts and ideas from Nannayya's grammar.

Sentenceరాముడు బడికి వెళ్తాడు.
GlossRamato schoolgoes.
TranslationRama goes to school.

This sentence can also be interpreted as 'Rama 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 Thalli Bomma, the personification of Telugu language in AP.
Geographic distribution of Telugu immigrants in light blue, Telugu is native to dark blue.

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