"Telugu" redirects here. For other uses, see Telugu (disambiguation).


Şablon:Infobox Language/Indic
Spoken in India
Region Andhra Pradesh where it has official status; with significant populations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Yanam(Puducherry), Andaman and Nicobar Islands and minorities in Canada, United States,Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, and emigrant communities around the world
Total speakers 74 million native speakers as of 2001
Ranking 14[1]
Language family Dravidian
Writing system Telugu script
Official status
Official language in Şablon:IND
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 te
ISO 639-2 tel
ISO 639-3 tel
Distribution of native Telugu speakers in India</center>

Telugu (natively తెలుగు telugu) is hypothetically classified as a Dravidian language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is the official language of Andhra Pradesh, one of the largest states of India. It is also one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India[2] and was conferred the status of a Classical language by the Government of India.[3][4] The mother tongue of the majority of people of Andhra Pradesh, it is also spoken in neighbouring states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh.

Telugu is the third most-spoken language in India (74 million native speakers according to the 2001 census) and is 15th in the Ethnologue list of most-spoken languages worldwide.[5]


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, Trilinga Desa is the land in between three Shiva temples namely Kaleshwaram, Srisailam and Draksharamam.[citation needed] Trilinga Desa forms the traditional boundaries of the Telugu region.[citation needed]

According to K.L. Ranjanam, the word is derived from talaing, who were chiefs who conquered the Andhra region.[citation needed] M.R. ShastriŞablon:Who is of the opinion that it is from telunga, an amalgamation of the Gondi words telu, meaning "white", and the pluralization -unga.[citation needed] According to G.J. SomayajiŞablon:Who, ten- refers to "south" in Proto-Dravidian, and the word could be derived from tenungu meaning "people of the South".[citation needed]

The Dravidian root telu means clearness of intellect.[6]


Lexical traces in Prakrit epigraphyEdit

The first Telugu inscriptions were on coins in Kotilingala, Andhra Pradesh. Inscriptions containing Telugu words dated back to 400 BCE were discovered in Bhattiprolu in Guntur district. The English translation of one inscription reads: "Gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha".[7] A Brahmi label inscription reading Thambhaya Dhaanam is engraved on a soapstone reliquary datable to the 2nd century CE.[citation needed]

Primary sources are Prakrit/Sanskrit inscriptions found in the region where Telugu places and personal names are found. From this it is known that the language of the people was Telugu, while the rulers, who were of the Satavahana dynasty, spoke Prakrit.[8][citation needed] Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gathasaptashathi) collected by the first century BCE Satavahana King Hāla.

Telugu epigraphy Edit

The first inscription that is entirely in Telugu corresponds to the second phase of Telugu history. 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 than 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).[8] 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.

Middle AgesEdit

The third phase is marked by further stylization and sophistication of the literary language. Ketana (thirteenth century) in fact prohibited the use of spoken words in poetic works.[8] During this period the separation of Telugu script from the common Telugu-Kannada script took place.[9] Tikkana wrote his works in this script.[citation needed]

Muslim ruleEdit

Telugu language has gone through a great deal of change (as did other Indian languages), progressing from medieval to modern. The language of the Telangana region started to split into a distinct dialect due to Muslim influence: Sultanate rule under the Tughlaq dynasty had been established earlier in the northern Deccan during the fourteenth century. South of the Krishna River (Rayalaseema region), however, the Vijayanagara empire gained dominance from 1336 till the late 1600s, reaching its peak during the rule of Krishnadevaraya in the sixteenth century, when Telugu literature experienced what is considered to be its golden age.[8] Padakavithapithamaha, Annamayya, contributed many atcha (pristine) Telugu Padaalu to this great language. In the latter half of the seventeenth 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 felt in the prose of the early 19th century, as in the Kaifiyats.[8]

Colonial periodEdit

The period of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth 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 Viresalingam and Panuganti Lakshminarasimha Rao.[8]

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.

Recent historyEdit

In the current decade the Telugu language, like other Indian languages, has undergone globalization due to the increasing settlement of Telugu-speaking people abroad. Modern Telugu movies, although still retaining their dramatic quality, are linguistically separate from post-Independence films.

At present, a committee of scholars has approved a classical language tag for Telugu based on its antiquity. The Indian government has also officially designated it as a classical language.[4]

Geographic distributionEdit

Telugu is mainly spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Yanam district of Pondicherry as well as in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, 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; as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Ireland, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, where there is also a considerable Telugu diaspora. Telugu is the third most spoken language in the Indian subcontinent after Hindi and Bengali.[5]

Official status Edit

Telugu is one of the 22 official languages of India. It was declared the official language of Andhra Pradesh when the state was formed on 1st Nov 1956 on linguistic basis.[10]

Telugu also has official language status in the Yanam District of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.


Waddar,[11] Chenchu,[12] Savara,[13] and Manna-Dora[14] are all closely related to Telugu.[15] Dialects of Telugu are Berad, Dasari, Dommara, Golari, Kamathi, Komtao, Konda-Reddi, Salewari, Telangana, Warangal, Mahaboob Nagar (Palamuru), Gadwal (Rayalaseema mix), Narayana peta (Kannada and Marathi influence), Vijayawada, Vadaga, Srikakula, Visakhapatnam, Toorpu (East) Godavari, Paschima (West) Godavari, Kandula, Rayalaseema, Nellooru, Prakasam, Guntooru, Tirupati, Vadari and Yanadi (Yenadi).[16]

In Tamil Nadu the Telugu dialect is classified into Salem, Coimbatore, and Chennai Telugu dialects. It is also widely spoken in Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Madurai and Thanjavur districts. Along with the most standard forms of Indian languages like Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Bangla, Gujarati, Oriya and Marathi, Standard Telugu is often called a Shuddha Bhaasha ("pure language").


British authors in the 19th century called Telugu the Italian of the East as all native words in Telugu end with a vowel sound, but it is believed that Italian explorer Niccolò Da Conti coined the phrase in the fifteenth century. Conti visited Vijayanagara empire during the reign of Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya in 1520s.

As in Turkish, Hungarian and Finnish, Telugu words have vowels in inflectional suffixes harmonised with the vowels of the preceding syllable.

Achchulu అచ్చులు (vowels)Edit

Like other major Dravidian languages, the Telugu vowel set includes short IPA: /e/ and IPA: /o/ as well as the long IPA: /eː/ and IPA: /oː/ of the Indo-Aryan languages.

అం అః
IPA: /a/ IPA: /ɑː/ IPA: /ɪ/ IPA: /iː/ IPA: /u/ IPA: /uː/ IPA: /ru/ IPA: /ruː/ IPA: /e/ IPA: /eː/ IPA: /ai/ IPA: /o/ IPA: /oː/ IPA: /au/ IPA: /um/ IPA: /aha/

Hallulu హల్లులు (consonants)Edit

క ఖ గ ఘ ఙ
చ ఛ జ ఝ ఞ
ట ఠ డ ఢ ణ
త థ ద ధ న
ప ఫ బ భ మ
య ర ల వ శ ష స హ ళ క్ష ఱ

Ankelu అంకెలు (Numbers)(Ravi)Edit

1 ౧
2 ౨
3 ౩
4 ౪
5 ౫
6 ౬
7 ౭
8 ౮
9 ౯
0 ౦

The letters for the consonants correspond almost one-to-one to the set in Sanskrit.

There are two exceptions to the general correspondence of Sanskrit and Telugu consonants in their written form. One is the historical form of IPA: /r/ ఱ. The other is the retroflex lateral ళ IPA: /ɭ/.

The table below indicates the articulation of consonants in Telugu.

Telugu Vyanjana Ucchārana Pattika[17]
Prayatna Niyamāvali Kanthyamu
(jihvā Mūlam)
(jihvā Madhyam)
Dantōshtyam Ōshtyamu
a aa e ai i ii aru aruu alu aluu - u uu o au
Sparśam, Śvāsam, Alpaprānam ka - cha Ta ta - pa -
Sparśam, Śvāsam, Mahāprānam kha - chha Tha tha - pha -
Sparśam, Nādam, Alpaprānam ga - ja Da da - ba -
Sparśam, Nādam, Mahāprānam gha - jha Dha dha - bha -
Sparśam, Nādam, Alpaprānam,
Anunāsikam, Dravam, Avyāhatam
nga - nja Na na - ma -
Antastham, Nādam, Alpaprānam,
Dravam, Avyāhatam
- - ya ra (Lunthitam)
La (Pārśvikam)
la (Pārśvikam)
va - -
Ūshmamu, Śvāsam, Mahāprānam, Avyāhatam Visarga - śa sha sa - - -
Ūshmamu, Nādam, Mahāprānam, Avyāhatam ha - - - - - - -


In Telugu, Karta కర్త (nominative case or the doer), Karma కర్మ (object of the verb) and Kriya క్రియ (action or the verb) follow a sequence (Subject Object Verb). Telugu also has the Vibhakthi విభక్తి (preposition) tradition.

Telugu రాముడు (Ramudu) బంతిని (bantini) కొట్టాడు (kottaadu)</tr> Literal translationŞablon:Nbsp Rama ball hit</tr> Reformatted "Rama hit the ball"</tr>


Telugu has its own grammar which mainly dictates how any two words or two letters or a word and a letter should be united to form a single word. These rules are defined under various types of సంధి (sandhi) and సమాసము (samasamu). According to these rules any two words or two letters or a word and a letter to be united to form a single word should be satisfying certain criteria. Hence, Telugu words can often be broken down into words or letters which carry a complete meaning themselves. Vice-versa, many words and letters can be combined to make a complex word that can carry more complex meaning which can be equated to a complete phrase or even a sentence when translated to English.

Ex: Nuvvostanante is formed from individual words Nuvvu,Vastanu,Ante which can be loosely translated into English as "if you say you will come".

Reduplication, the repetition of words or syllables is done to create new or emphatic meanings (e.g., pakapaka ‘suddenly bursting out laughing,’ garagara ‘clean, neat, nice’).

Telugu is often considered an agglutinative language, where certain syllables are added to the end of a noun in order to denote its case:

Ablative Ramudinunchi రాముడినుంచి రాముడు(Ramudu) + నుంచి(from) "from" Rama
Genitive Ramuni రాముని రాము(Ramu) + ని(ni) "generic reference to" Rama)
Dative Ramuniki రామునికి రాము(Ramu) + ని(ni) + కి(ki) specifically referring something "about" referring to Rama)
InstrumentalŞablon:Nbsp Ramunitho రామునితో రాము(Ramu) + ని(ni) + తో(tho) specifically referring something "with" Rama

These agglutinations apply to all nouns generally in the singular and plural.

Here is how other cases are manifested in Telugu:


[clarification needed]
Case Usage English example Telugu example
Adessive case adjacent location near/at/by the house ఇంటి/పక్క IPA: /ɪɳʈɪprakːa/
Inessive case inside something inside the house ఇంట్లో IPA: /ɪɳʈloː/
Locative case location at/on/in the house ఇంటిదగ్గర IPA: /ɪɳʈɪd̪aɡːara/
Superessive case on the surface on (top of) the house ఇంటిపై IPA: /ɪɳʈɪpaj/


[clarification needed]
Case Usage English example Telugu example
Allative case movement to (the adjacency of) something to the house ఇంటికి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪkɪ/, ఇంటివైపు IPA: /ɪɳʈɪvajpu/
Delative case movement from the surface from (the top of) the house ఇంటిపైనుంచి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪpajnɪɲcɪ/
Egressive case marking the beginning of a movement or time beginning from the house ఇంటినుంచి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪnɪɲcɪ/ (ఇంటికెల్లి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪkelːɪ/ in some dialects)
Elative case out of something out of the house ఇంటిలోనుంచి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪnɪɲcɪ/ (ఇంట్లకెల్లి IPA: /ɪɳʈlakelːɪ/ in some dialects)
Illative case movement into something into the house ఇంటిలోనికి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪloːnɪkɪ/ (ఇంట్లోకి IPA: /ɪɳʈloːkɪ/)
Sublative case movement onto the surface on(to) the house ఇంటిపైకి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪpajkɪ/
Terminative case marking the end of a movement or time as far as the house ఇంటివరకు IPA: /ɪɳʈɪvaraku/

Morphosyntactic alignmentEdit

[clarification needed]
Case Usage English example Telugu example
Oblique case all-round case; any situation except nominative concerning the house ఇంటిగురించి IPA: /ɪɳʈɪɡurɪɲcɪ/


[clarification needed]
Case Usage English example Telugu example
Benefactive case for, for the benefit of, intended for for the house ఇంటికోసం IPA: /ɪɳʈɪkoːsam/ (ఇంటికొరకు IPA: /ɪɳʈɪkoraku/)
Causal case because, because of because of the house ఇంటివలన IPA: /ɪɳʈɪvalana/
Comitative case in company of something with the house ఇంటితో IPA: /ɪɳʈɪt̪oː/
Possessive case direct possession of something owned by the house ఇంటియొక్క IPA: /ɪɳʈɪjokːa/


While the examples given above are single agglutinations, Telugu allows for polyagglutination, a feature of being able to add multiple suffixes to words to denote more complex features:

For example, one can affix both "నుంచి; nunchi - from" and "లో; lo - in" to a noun to denote from within. An example of this: "రాములోనుంచి; ramuloninchi - from within Ramu".

Here is an example of a triple agglutination: "వాటిమధ్యలోనుంచి; vāṭimadʰyalōninchi - from in between them".

Inclusive and exclusive pronounsEdit

Telugu, in common with other Dravidian languages, distinguishes between inclusive and exclusive we. The bifurcation of the First Person Plural pronoun (we in English) into inclusive (మనము; manamu) and exclusive (మేము; mēmu) versions can also be found in Tamil and Malayalam, although it is not used in modern Kannada.


Telugu pronouns follow the systems for gender and respect (T-V distinction) also found in other Indian languages. The second person plural మీరు IPA: /miːru/ is used in addressing someone with respect, and there are also respectful third personal pronouns (ఆయన IPA: /ɑːjana/ m. and ఆవిడ IPA: /ɑːvɪɽa/ f.) pertaining to both genders. Telugu uses the same forms for singular feminine and neuter genders — the third person pronoun (అది IPA: /ad̪ɪ/) is used to refer to animals and objects.[18][19][clarification needed]


Some words that describe objects/actions, e.g. పులి puli (tiger), ఊరు ūru (town/city), have cognates in other Dravidian languages and are indigenous to the Dravidian language family. Though Telugu uses a high degree of Sanskrit words, it also contains, to a lesser extent, Arabic and Persian words such as "maidanam" (maydan in Arabic), "kalam" (qalam in Arabic) and "Bazaar" (originally Persian word). Today, Telugu is classified as a Dravidian language characterized by a significant presence of Sanskrit loan words.

The vocabulary of Telugu, especially in Hyderabad and its surrounding region, 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, IPA: /kaburu/ for Urdu IPA: /xabar/, Şablon:Nastaliq or జవాబు, IPA: /ɟavɑːbu/ for Urdu IPA: /ɟawɑːb/, Şablon:Nastaliq)

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. There is a large and growing middle class whose Telugu is substantially interspersed with English. Popular Telugu, especially in urban Hyderabad, spoken by the masses and seen in movies that are directed towards the masses, includes both English and Hindi/Urdu influences.

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