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|Region||Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Madhya Pradesh.|
|Native speakers||74 million (2001 census)|
|Writing system||Telugu script|
|Official language in||India|
Distribution of native Telugu speakers in India
Telugu (తెలుగు telugu, IPA: [t̪eluɡu]) is a South-Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu, and is spoken in the bordering city of Yanam, in the neighboring territory of Pondicherry. According to the 2001 Census of India, Telugu is the language with the third largest number of native speakers in India (74 million), thirteenth in the Ethnologue list of most-spoken languages worldwide, and most spoken Dravidian language. It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India and one of the four classical languages.
Telugu was heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Prakrit. Telugu borrowed several features of Sanskrit that have subsequently been lost in Sanskrit's daughter languages such as Hindi and Bengali, especially in the pronunciation of some vowels and consonants.
Telugu is written in a Brahmic alphabet.
"Telugu" 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 linga on three mountains namely, Kaleswara, Srisaila and Bhimeswara, which marked the boundaries of the Telugu country.
The earliest epigraphic record of the Telugu language dates to the late 6th century CE. However, there have been proposals of traces of Telugu recorded before that date. Some Telugu words appear in the Maharashtri Prakrit anthology of poems (the Gatha Saptashati) collected by the 1st century BCE Satavahana King Hāla.
Inscriptions containing Telugu words claimed to "date back to 400 B.C." were discovered in Chittoor in Chittoor district. The English translation of one inscription reads: "Gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha".[dubious ]
575 AD to 1022 AD: The first inscription that is entirely in Telugu corresponds to the second phase of Telugu history, after the Ikshvaku dynasty 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 script from the Kannada script took place. Tikkana wrote his works in this script.
Vijayanagara empire (Rayalaseema region) gained dominance from 1336 till the late 17th century, reaching its peak during the rule of Sri 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 great language.
With the exception of Coastal Andhra region, the language in the Telangana and Rayalseema regions was influenced much as people started to split into a distinct dialect due to Muslim influence on them: 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 felt in the prose of the early 19th century, as in the Kaifiyats.
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 Andhra Pradesh. This enactment was implemented by GOMs No 420 in 2005.
Waddar, Chenchu, Savara, and Manna-Dora are all closely related to Telugu. Dialects of Telugu are Berad, Dasari, Dommara, Golari, Kamathi, Komtao, Konda-Reddi, Salewari, Telangana, 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, Guntooru, Tirupati, Vadari and Yanadi (Yenadi).
In Tamil Nadu, the Telugu dialects are Salem, Coimbatore, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Madras Telugu. Telugu is also spoken in pockets of Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Madurai, Madras and Thanjavur districts. Standard Telugu is often called శుద్ధ తెలుగు Shudda Telugu or అచ్చ తెలుగు Accha Telugu. Standard form of Telugu is mostly spoken in Andhra Region, the region between River Krishna and Godavari rivers.
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, Pondicherry, 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, Telugu is the second language in Silicon Valley, where the Telugu diaspora numbers more than 900,000, with the highest concentration in Central New Jersey; as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Ireland, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and also most of the western European countries, where there is also a considerable Telugu diaspora. At 7.2% of the population, Telugu is the Second-most-spoken language in the Indian subcontinent after Hindi. 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.
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. 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 - acchulu (అచ్చులు)|
|అ (a)||ఆ (ā)||ఇ (i)||ఈ (ī)|
|ఉ (u)||ఊ (ū)||ఋ (ṛ)||ౠ (ṝ)|
|ఌ (ḷ)||ౡ (ḹ)||ఎ (e)||ఏ (eː)|
|ఐ (ai)||ఒ (o)||ఓ (oː)||ఔ (au)|
|అం (aṃ)||అఁ (an)||అః (aḥ)|
The table below illustrates the articulation of the consonants.
|Plosive, tenuis||క (ka)||చ (ca)||ట (ṭa)||త (ta)||-||ప (pa)|
|Plosive, aspirated||ఖ (kha)||ఛ (cha)||ఠ (ṭha)||థ (tha)||-||ఫ (pha)|
|Plosive, voiced||గ (ga)||జ (ja)||డ (ḍa)||ద (da)||-||బ (ba)|
|Plosive, breathy voiced||ఘ (gha)||ఝ (jha)||ఢ (ḍha)||ధ (dha)||-||భ (bha)|
|Nasal||ఙ (ṅa)||ఞ (ña)||ణ (ṇa)||న (na)||-||మ (ma)|
|Liquid||-||య (ya)||ర (ra) (Rhotic)
ళ (ḷa) (Lateral)
|ల (la) (Lateral)
ఱ (Ra) (Trill)
||శ (śa)||ష (ṣa)||స (sa)||-||-|
Telugu has its own numerical system, as shown below.
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 19th century, Chinnaya Suri wrote a simplified work on Telugu grammar called Bāla Vyākaranam by borrowing concepts and ideas from Nannayya's grammar.
|Sentence||రాముడు బడికి వెళ్తాడు.|
|Translation||Ramudu goes to school.|
This sentence can also be interpreted as 'Ramudu 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 some what 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 "Du, mu, vu, lu" etc. are different from those in Sanskrit and have been in the usage for a long time.
Sanskrit influenced Telugu of 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 re-established its use, and it dominated over the royal language, Sanskrit. Telugu absorbed tatsamas from Sanskrit.
The vocabulary of Telugu, especially in Telangana 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, /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.
The Telugu alphabet consist of 60 symbols - 16 vowels, 3 vowel modifiers, and 41 consonants. Sanskrit and Telugu alphabets are similar and exhibit one-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, and 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)|
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 CE 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 non-Brahmins 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 Andhra 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 also received the award for his contributions to Telugu literature. 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. Gunturu Seshendra Sarma, a well-known Telugu poet, has been a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award. He is best known for his work, Na Desham, Na Prajalu (My country, My people), which was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature 2004. His works have been translated into many languages. He wrote under the pen name "Seshen".
Pedda Bala Shiksha is a complete, two volume Telugu encyclopedia written by Gajula Satya Narayana. It covers Telugu grammar, Panchatantra tales, and exercises and it is used to teach Telugu to children.
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