Telugu language

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Telugu (Telugu)
Spoken in: India
Region: Andhra Pradesh and neighboring states
Total speakers: 80 million
Ranking: 12
Genetic classification: Dravidian


Official status
Official language of: India
Regulated by:  ?
Language codes
ISO 639-1te
ISO 639-2tel
See also: LanguageList of languages

Telugu(తెలుగు) belongs to the family of Dravidian languages and is the official language of the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also one among the 23 official national languages of India. 19th century Englishmen called it the "Italian of the East" as all words in Telugu end with a vowel sound.



The origins of Telugu are obscure. Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gadhasaptashathi) collected by the first century BC Satavahana King Hala. Telugu speakers were probably the older Dravidian peoples inhabiting the land between Krishna and Godavari. The Andhras were probably an Indo-European Aryan tribe, to which the Satavahanas also belonged, who immigrated from the north and settled the land. The two blended together to eventually produce the modern Telugu language and culture, for which the word Andhra is interchangeably used today.

The first clear historical inscriptions in Telugu appear about the 7th century AD and known literature starts with Nannaya writing the Telugu Mahabharata in the 11th century. There has been prolific literature ever since, but the golden age is considered by many to be the 16th century, under the patronage of the Vijayanagar Emperor Krishna Deva Raya.

The western portion of the telugu speaking lands came under the influence of Mughal rulers during and after the 14th century, and most recently by the Nizams of Hyderabad. Ancient Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu influences show most in the Telugu dialect from these regions.

In 1956, 10 Nizam districts and 4 districts of Rayalaseema were merged to the so-called Northern Circar districts forming the modern telugu vernacular state of Andhra Pradesh.


Telugu is a member of the Telugu languages, along with Chenchu language, Savara language, and Waddar language. The Telugu languages are part of the South-central branch of the Dravidian languages.

Geographic distribution

Telugu is mainly spoken in Andhra Pradesh in India and in neighboring states(Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, Orissa) in India, but it is also spoken in Bahrain, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius and United Arab Emirates. They have become a successful Asian Indian community in the USA [1] (

Official status

Telugu is one of the official languages of India. It is the official language of the state of Andhra Pradesh


The dialects of Telugu identified by Ethnologue are Berad, Dasari, Dommara, Golari, Kamathi, Komtao, Konda-Reddi, Salewari, Telangana, Telugu, Vadaga, Vadari, Srikakula, Vishakapatnam, East Godavari, Rayalseema, Nellore and Guntur. In Tamil Nadu the Telugu dialect is classified into Salem, Coimbatore, Chennai Telugu dialects. It is also widely spoken in Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Madurai and Thanjavur districts.

Derived languages



అ ఆ ఇ ఈ ఉ ఊ ఋ ౠ ఌ ౡ ఎ ఏ ఐ ఒ ఓ ఔ అ౦ అః


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 ఱ


Historical sound changes


Telugu, like most other Dravidian Languages, is highly inflected: a fact more often lost to scholars who study it through a traditionally Sanksritised perspective. The core of Telugu grammar is very similar to that of Tamil.

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. This is one of the several reasons why Linguists classify Telugu as a Dravidian Language--this pattern found in other Dravidian languages but not in Sanskrit. Telugu also has the Vibhakthi(విభక్తి) (or preposition) tradition.

Telugu - Ramudu bantini kottadu రాముడు బంతిని కొట్టాడు
Literally - రాముడు (Rama) బంతి (ball) కొట్టు(hit)
Reformatting it - Rama hit the ball

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

For example, the declension of Ramudu (masculine singular) in the Sanskrit/Latin style would be:

Nominative: Ramudu రాముడు (డు; du)
Accusative: Ramudini రాముడిని (ని; ni)
Instrumental: Ramunito రామునితో (తో; to)
Dative: Ramuniki రామునికి (కి; ki)
Ablative: Ramudininchi రాముడినించి (నించి; ninchi)
Genitive: Ramuni రాముని (ని; ni)

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

However, in the analysis above, many additional cases were missed. The cases below are found in few Indo-European languages but are common in Finno-Ugric languages.


Case Usage English Example Telugu Example
Adessive case adjacent location near/at/by the house ఇంటిపక్క
Inessive case inside something inside the house ఇంట్లో
Locative case location at/on/in the house ఇంటిదగ్గర
Superessive case on the surface on (top of) the house ఇంటిపై


Case Usage English Example Telugu Example
Allative case movement to (the adjacency of) something to the house ఇంటివైపు
Delative case movement from the surface from (the top of) the house ఇంటిపైనుంచి
Egressive case marking the beginning of a movement or time beginning from the house ఇంటినుంచి (ఇంటికెల్లి in some dialects)
Elative case out of something out of the house ఇంటిలోనుంచి (ఇంట్లకెల్లి in some dialects)
Illative case movement into something into the house ఇంటిలోనికి (ఇంట్లోకి)
Prosecutive case across or along along the road రోడ్డుపోంటి
Sublative case movement onto the surface on(to) the house ఇంటిపైకి
Terminative case marking the end of a movement or time as far as the house ఇంటివరకు

Morphosyntactic alignment

Case Usage English Example Telugu Example
Oblique case all-round case; any situation except nominative concerning the house ఇంటిగురించి


Case Usage English Example Telugu Example
Benefactive case for, for the benefit of, intended for for the house ఇంటికోసం (ఇంటికొఱకు)
Causal case because, because of because of the house ఇంటివలన
Comitative case in company of something with the house ఇంటితో
Possessive case direct possession of something owned by the house ఇంటియొక్క

Inclusive/Exclusive Pronouns

Telugu exhibits one of the delightful quirks of Dravidian languages: the bifurcation of the First Person Plural pronoun (we in English) into inclusive (మనము; manamu) and exclusive (మేము; memu) versions.


Writing system

The Telugu (తెలుగు) script is believed to have evolved from the Brahmi script of the Ashokan era. Merchants took the Easern Chalukyan Script to Southeast Asia where it parented the scripts of Mon, Burmese, Thai, Khmer, C"am, Javanese and Balinese languages. Their similarities to Telugu script can be discerned even today. Telugu is usually written using the Telugu alphabet, a Brahmic script. Its appearance is quite similar to the Kannada alphabet, its closest cousin..

Telugu script is written from left to right and consists of sequences of simple and/or complex characters. The script is largely 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 “swar”) and consonants (“hallu” or “vyanjan”). Consonants in consonant clusters take shapes which 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 60 symbols, of which 16 are vowels, 3 vowel modifiers, and 41 consonants. Spaces are used between words as word separators.

The sentence ends with either a single (“purna virama”) or a double bar (“deergh virama”).

They also have a set of symbols for numerals, though Arabic numbers are typically used.

Telugu is assigned Unicode codepoints: 0C00-0C7F (3072-3199).


ఒకటి - one
రెండు - Two
మూడు - Three
అమ్మ - Mother
ఆవు - Cow
ఇల్లు - House
ఈగ - HouseFly

Literature in Telugu

The Vijayanagara dynasty produced a very prolific set of poets during the reign of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Tenali Ramakrishna, Dhoorjati and Allasani Peddanna were Krishnadevaraya's court poets.

Sri Potluri Veerabrahmendra Swami (like his western counterpart Nostradamus) composed "Kalagnanam", the records of the past, present, and future.

The famous Indian literary epic, the Mahabharatha, was translated into telugu over a period of a few centuries by Nannaya, Tikkana and Yerrapragada. Nannaya is also credited to have participated in formalizing Telugu grammar.

A number of famous luminaries in classical Indian music called "Carnatic Music" wrote their works in telugu. Tyagaraja, Annamacharya and Kshetrayya are among a large number of contributors. Modern composers like Mysore Vasudevachari also chose Telugu as their medium of composition.

Some popular works and their authors

See also

External links


es:Telugu fi:Telugun kieli fr:Tlougou id:Bahasa Telugu ja:テルグ語 nn:Telugu pl:Język telugu te:తెలుగు simple:Telugu


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