Telugu language

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Telugu inscriptions

Telugu language (తెలుగు telugu, IPA: [t̪el̪uɡu]) is a Dravidian language and is the only language other than Hindi language and Bengali that is predominantly spoken in more than one Indian state, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and in the enclave 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 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 in Telugu language
Retroflex pronunciation
  • There are four distinct regional dialects in Telugu, as well as three social dialects that have developed around education, class, and caste. The formal, literary language is distinct from the spoken dialects—a situation known as diglossia.
    • Bhadriraju Krishnamurti in: "Telugu language"
  • Like the other Dravidian languages, Telugu has a series of retroflex consonants (/ḍ/, /ṇ/, and /ṭ/) pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back against the roof of the mouth. Grammatical categories such as case, number, person, and tense are denoted with suffixes. Reduplication, the repetition of words or syllables to create new or emphatic meanings, is common (e.g., pakapaka ‘suddenly bursting out laughing,’ garagara ‘clean, neat, nice’).
    • Bhadriraju Krishnamurti in: "Telugu language"

A History of Telugu Literature[edit]

Bhujang Chenchiah A History of Telugu Literature, Asian Educational Services, 1988

  • The Telugu language does not seem to be as ancient as Tamil, though it is more ancient than Malayalam, and at least of equal antiquity with Kanarese. It is not possible to say with any certainty when the language now known as Telugu came into vogue.
    • In: p. 16.
  • ...the view, maintained by all Telugu grammarians and Sanskrit philologists, that Telugu is Vikriti — that is, a language formed by the modification of Sanskrit and Prakrit. An analysis of the language as it has ...been for centuries confirms this traditional view....But the information does not enable to say whether they used Telugu in any form. It is probable that they spoke a form of Prakrit, from which Telugu has descended.
    • In: p. 16.
  • The lack of antiquity in the Telugu language is felt as a reproach by some writers, who believe that the greatness of a language depends on its age. This has given rise to later legends, one of which, tracing the origin of Telugu to the fourth quarter of Krita Yuga (Golden Age). According to was called Andhra Bhasha as it dispelled darkness.
    • In: p. 17.
  • Nannaiah, the first poet of the Telugu language, wrote in these characters [Dravida Brahmi]. Between 1000 and 1300 AD, Telugu and Kanarese had the same script; but about the time of Tikkanna the Telugu characters separated themselves from the Kanarese, and assumed their current shapes.
    • In: p. 18.
  • The Telugu poets are worshippers of style; and their art is in the refinement of language. It is the dexterity of weaving words, the daintiness of sentiment, sweetness of phrasing that draws their admiration.
    • In: p. 121.

A Progressive Grammar of the Telugu Language[edit]

A.H. Arden in: A Progressive Grammar of the Telugu Language, Рипол Классик

  • The words Telugu and Tenugu are corruptions of the word Telinga, which is the same as Trilinga, and means—the country of the three li'ngams, (from the Sanskrit tr-i three, and lingo the [[emblem of Shiva). There is a tradition that the GodSiva, in the form of a lingam, descended upon the three mountains named Kalésvaram,Srisailam, and Bhimesvaram, and that these three lingams marked the boundaries of the country.
    • In: p. 1.
  • Although many Sanskrit words are used in Telugu, yet the language has not its origin in Sanscrit. Pure Telugu is formed from roots, which have a close connection with the roots of the other languages of South India, e.g., Tamil, Conarese, etc. These cognate languages form a distinct family of languages, which are distinguished by the term Dravidian.
    • In: p. 2.
  • Native grammar-lane divide the words of the Telugu language into five classes, namely— 1) Words of pure Telugu origin. 2) Sanskrit derivatives, 3) Sanskrit interruptions, 4) Rustic or provincial terms, 5) Words introduced from foreign languages, that is, Hindustani, etc.
    • In: p. 2.
  • The greater part of Telugu literature consists of Poetry, which is written in the higher dialect. So different is the higher dialect from the dialect branches of study.
    • In: p. 2.
  • Telugu is remarkable for its melody of sound, which has gained for it the name of the Italian of India. It is regular in construction, and though copious, it is often like Tamil very laconic. In common conversation a single word, or short phrase, is often used to convey the meaning of a whole sentence.
    • In: p. 2.
  • The Telugu language, like many others, may be viewed as consisting of three branches, namely—{1) The language of common conversation, (2) The language of prose books, and (3) The language of poetry. Each of these three branches differs not only in the choice of words, but also in grammatical forms of the same words.
    • In: p. 3.
Telugu script
  • The letters of the Telugu alphabet and their combinations are very numerous, and at first sight make the language appear difficult. But in reality they make it far more easy to acquire correctly for there is a distinct letter for each word, and therefore every word is pronounced exactly as it is spelt.
    • In: p. 11.
  • Telugu is written from left to right like English. The letters ought to be upright, or slightly sloping towards the left. Care must be taken to form them in the proper way
    • In: p. 11.
  • Telugu letters are divided, as in English, into vowels and consonants.
    • In: p. 11.

Linguistic Survey of India[edit]

In: Linguistic Survey of India,

  • The people themselves call their language Telugu or Tenugu. This word is generally supposed to be a corruption of Sanskrit Trilinga, It is explained as meaning the country of the three lingam.
    • In: p. 670.
  • Telugu is not a uniform language for the whole territory where it is spoken as a vernacular. The dialect spoken in the Northern Circars is usually considered as the purest form of the language.
    • In: p. 670.
  • The difference between the conversational language and the literary form is considerable.
    • In: p. 670.
  • According to tradition the first Telugu author was Kannaiah, who lived at the court of Andhiraya. During the reign of that king Sanskrit is said to have been introduced into the Telugu country, and Kannaiah is supposed to have dealt with Telugu grammar after the methods of Sanskrit philologists. His work is now lost.
    • In: p. 580.
  • The earliest extant work in Telugu belongs roughly to 1050 AD. About that time King Vishnuvardhana was a great patron of Telugu literature, and at his court lived Nannaya Bhatta, the author of the oldest extant Telugu grammar, and, according to tradition, the principal author of the Telugu version of the Mahabharata.
    • In: p. 580.
  • The bulk of Telugu literature belongs to the 14th and subsequent centuries. In the beginning of the 16th century the court of King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar was famous for its learning, and various branches of literature were eagerly cultivated. The poet Vemana is supposed by some authorities to have lived during the 16th century.
    • In: p. 580.
  • The Telugu language has been known under several different denominations. The first name which meets us is Andhra, under which denomination it is mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Hwen Thsang who visited India in the 7th century A.D. He tells us that the Andhras had a language of their own, written in an alphabet which did not much differ from those used in Northern India, The well known Indian author Kumarila Bhatta mentions the Aadhra-Dravida-bhasha.

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