Telugu is a Dravidian language native to the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where it is also the official language. Spoken by about 96 million people (2022), Telugu is the most widely spoken member of the Dravidian language family and one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India. It is one of the few languages that has primary official status in more than one Indian state, alongside Hindi and Bengali. Telugu is one of six languages designated as a classical language by the Government of India. It is the 14th most spoken native language in the world. Modern Standard Telugu is based on the dialect of Krishna-Godavari delta region in Coastal Andhra.

Telugu is also spoken in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and the union territories of Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is also spoken by members of the Telugu diaspora spread across countries like United states,Australia,Malaysia,Mauritius,UAE,Saudi Arabiaand others.Telugu is the fastest-growing language in the United States.It is also a protected language inSouth Africaand is offered as an optional third language in schools in KwaZulu-Natal province.

Telugu has an unbroken, prolific, and diverse literary tradition of over a thousand years.Pavuluri Mallana‘s Sāra Sangraha Ganitamu (c. 11th century) is the first scientific treatise on mathematics in any Dravidian language.Avadhānaṃ, a literary performance that requires immense memory power and an in-depth knowledge of literature and prosody, was originated by and specially cultivated among Telugu poets for over five centuries.Roughly 10,000 pre-colonial inscriptions exist in Telugu.

In precolonial era, Telugu became the language of high culture across South India.Vijaya Ramaswamy compared it to the overwhelming dominance of French as the cultural language of modern Europe during roughly the same era. Telugu also predominates in the evolution of Carnatic music, one of two main subgenres of Indian classical music and is widely taught in music colleges focusing on Carnatic tradition.Various non-Telugu people over the centuries have remarked on the natural musicality of Telugu speech and referred to it as a mellifluous and euphonious language.

“Learn to Handwrite Telugu Alphabets”

P. Chenchiah and Bhujanga Rao note that Atharvana Acharya in the 13th century wrote a grammar of Telugu, calling it the Trilinga Śabdānusāsana (or Trilinga Grammar).However, most scholars note that Atharvana’s grammar was titled Atharvana Karikavali. Appa Kavi in the 17th century explicitly wrote that Telugu was derived from Trilinga. Scholar Charles P. Brown made a comment that it was a “strange notion” since the predecessors of Appa Kavi had no knowledge of such a derivation.

George Abraham Grierson and other linguists doubt this derivation, holding rather that Telugu was the older term and Trilinga must be the later Sanskritisation of it. 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”.

One of the first words in the Telugu language, “Nagabu”, was found in a Sanskrit inscription of the 1st century BCE at Amaravathi (not to be confused with the newly planned city of Amaravati).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 the Satavahana dynasty, Vishnukundina dynasty, and Andhra Ikshvaku. The coin legends of the Satavahanas, in all areas and all periods, used a Prakrit dialect without exception. Some reverse coin legends are in Telugu, and Tamil languages.

According to Telugu lore, its grammar has a prehistoric past. The Sage Kanva was said to be the language’s first grammarian. A. Rajeswara Sarma discussed the historicity and content of Kanva’s grammar. He cited twenty grammatical aphorisms ascribed to Kanva, and concluded that Kanva wrote an ancient Telugu Grammar which was lost.

The period from 4th century CE to 1022 CE 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 CE, which was found in the Rayalaseema region and is attributed to the Renati Chodas, 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. The Madras Museum plates of Balliya-Choda dated to the mid-ninth century CE are the earliest copper plate grants in the Telugu language.

Certain exploration and excavation missions conducted by the Archaeological Department in and around the Keesaragutta temple have brought to light, a number of brick temples, cells and other structures encompassed by brick prakaram along with coins, beads, stucco figures, garbhapatra, pottery, and Brahmi label inscriptions datable to 4th and 5th centuries CE. 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 around the 4th to 5th centuries CE.

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 CE).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.

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

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.

A distinct dialect developed in present-day Telangana 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 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.

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.

The 15th-century Venetian explorer Niccolò de’ Conti, who visited the Vijayanagara Empire, found that the words in the Telugu language end with vowels, just like those in Italian, and hence referred to it as “The Italian of the East”; a saying that has been widely repeated.

In the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the influence of the English language was seen, and modern communication/printing press arose as an effect of 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 such scholars as Gidugu Venkata Ramamoorty, Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Gurajada Apparao, Gidugu Sitapati 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 languages with official status in India.The Andhra Pradesh Official Language Act, 1966, declares Telugu the official language of the state that is currently divided into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It also has official language status in the Yanam district of the union territory of Puducherry. It is the fourth most spoken Indian language in India after Hindi, Bengali and Marathi.It is one of the six classical languages of India.

Telugu Language Day is celebrated every year on 29 August, the birthday of Telugu poet Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy.The fourth World Telugu Conference was organised in Tirupati in the last week of December 2012. Issues related to Telugu language policy were deliberated at length.

In addition, with the creation in October 2004 of a legal status for classical languages by the Government of India on 8 August 2008, Telugu was also given the classical language status due to several campaigns.

Telugu words generally end in vowels. In Old Telugu, this was absolute; in the modern language m, n, y, w may end a word. 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.

In the 19th century, Chinnaya Suri wrote a condensed work on Telugu grammar called Bāla Vyākaraṇam, borrowing concepts and ideas from Nannayya’s grammar.

Relations between participants in an event are coded in Telugu words through suffixation; there are no prefixes or infixes in the language.There are six word classes in Telugu: nominals (proper nouns, pronouns), verbs (actions or events), modifiers (adjectives, quantifiers, numerals), adverbs (modify the way in which actions or events unfold), and clitics.

“Learn to Handwrite Telugu Alphabets”

As with other Dravidian languages, gender in Telugu follows a semantic system, in the sense that it is mostly the meaning of the word which defines the noun class to which it belongs. There are three noun classes: masculine (human males, he-gender), feminine (human females, she-gender), and neuter (all non-humans, it-gender). The gender of most nouns is encoded through agreement/indexation in pronominal suffixes rather than overtly on the noun.

In terms of the verbal agreement system, genders in marking on the Telugu verb only occur in the third person.

The Telugu gender system is different from Dravidian languages like Tamil given that the Telugu feminine shares indexation morphemes with the masculine plural (-ru) and with the neuter singular (-di). What characterizes the three-gender system is then the individual behavior of the singular-plural pairs of suffixes.

Telugu pronouns include personal pronouns (the persons speaking, the persons spoken to, or the persons or things spoken about); indefinite pronouns; relative pronouns (connecting parts of sentences); and reciprocal or reflexive pronouns (in which the object of a verb is acted on by the verb’s subject).

In the singular, there are four levels of formality when speaking about males and females, although the most formal/polite form is the same for both human genders. In both singular and plural, Telugu distinguishes two levels of distance from speaker (like in English), basically this and that, and these and those.

In the plural, there are no distinctions between formality levels, but once again masculine and feminine forms are the same, while the neuter demonstratives are different.

Modern Telugu vocabulary can be said to constitute a diglossia because the formal, standardised version of the language is either lexically Sanskrit or heavily influenced by Sanskrit, as taught in schools, and used by the government and Hindu religious institutions. However, everyday Telugu varies in such features depending upon region.

The Telugu script is an abugida consisting of 60 symbols — 16 vowels, 3 vowel modifiers, and 41 consonants. Telugu has a complete set of letters that follow a system to express sounds. The script is derived from the Brahmi script like those of many other Indian languages.The 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.

Historically, a sentence used to end with either a single bar(“pūrna virāmam”) or a double bar(“dīrgha virāmam”); in handwriting, Telugu words were not separated by spaces. However, in modern times, English punctuation (commas, semicolon, etc.) has virtually replaced the old method of punctuation.

Wall painting at a shop in India. It first shows the painted party symbols of all the major political parties in the region during the nationwide elections in India in 2014. It also has a Telugu inscription showing availability of political flags, banners, caps, badges and other election material.

The Purana’s age (1020-1400)is the period of Kavi Trayam or Trinity of Poets. Nannayya, Tikkana and Yerrapragada (or Errana) are known as the Kavi Trayam.

Nannaya‘s Andhra Mahabharatam written in early 11th century is commonly referred to as the first Telugu literary composition (Aadi Kavyam). Although there is evidence of Telugu literature before Nannaya, he is given the epithet Aadi Kavi (“the first poet”). Nannaya Bhattu acknowledged the help extended to him by his friend Narayana Bhattu in his composition in fields like making choices of grammatical forms, metres, form of the book, etc. and compares it to that extended to Arjuna by God Sri Krishna in the Bharata war. Nannaya was the first to establish a formal grammar of written Telugu.

Tikkana Somayaji (1205–1288 CE): Nannaya’s Andhra Mahabharatam was almost completed by Tikanna Somayaji (1205–1288) who wrote chapters 4 to 18.

Yerrapragada: who lived in the 14th century, finished the epic by completing the third chapter. He mimics Nannaya’s style in the beginning, slowly changes tempo and finishes the chapter in the writing style of Tikkana. These three writers – Nannaya, Tikanna and Yerrapragada – are known as the Kavitraya (“three great poets”) of Telugu. Other such translations like Marana’s Markandeya Puranam, Ketana‘s Dasakumara Charita, Yerrapragada’s Harivamsam followed. Many scientific works, like Ganitasarasangrahamu by Pavuluri Mallana and Prakirnaganitamu by Eluganti Peddana, were written in the 12th century.

Sumati Satakam, which is a neeti (“moral”), is one of the most famous Telugu Satakams. Satakam is composed of more than a 100 padyalu (poems). According to many literary critics Sumati Satakam was composed by Baddena Bhupaludu (CE 1220–1280). He was also known as Bhadra Bhupala. He was a Chola prince and a vassal under the Kakatiya empress Rani Rudrama Devi, and a pupil of Tikkana.

Palkuriki Somanatha: Important among his Telugu language writings are the Basava Purana, Panditaradhya charitra, Malamadevipuranamu and Somanatha Stava–in dwipada metre (“couplets”); Anubhavasara, Chennamallu Sisamalu, Vrishadhipa Shataka and Cheturvedasara–in verses; Basavodharana in verses and ragale metre (rhymed couplets in blank verse); and the Basavaragada.

Gona Budda Reddy: His Ranganatha Ramayanam was a pioneering work in the Telugu language on the theme of the Ramayana epic. Most scholars believe he wrote it between 1300 and 1310 A.D., possibly with help from his family. The work has become part of cultural life in Andhra Pradesh and is used in puppet shows.

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 Telugu 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.

Viswanatha Satyanarayana won India’s national literary honour, the Jnanpith Award for his magnum opus Ramayana Kalpavrukshamu. C. Narayana Reddy won the Jnanpith Award in 1988 for his poetic work, Viswambara. Ravuri Bharadhwaja won the 3rd Jnanpith Award for Telugu literature in 2013 for Paakudu Raallu, a graphic account of life behind the screen in film industry. 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.

Telugu input, display, and support were initially provided on the Microsoft Windows platform. Subsequently, various browsers, computer applications, operating systems, and user interfaces were localized in Telugu language for Windows and Linux platforms by vendors and free and open-source software volunteers. Telugu-capable smart phones were also introduced by vendors in 2013.