Telugu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where there are about 70.6 million speakers. Other India states with large numbers of Telugu speakers include: Karnataka (3.7 million), Tamil Nadu (3.5 million), Maharashtra (1.3 million), Chhattisgarh (1.1 million) and Odisha (214,010) [source]. According to the 2011 census there are about 93.9 million native speakers of Telugu in India, including 13 million people who speak it as a second language. The total number of Telugu speakers is about 95 million [source].
Other countries with significant numbers of Telugu speakers include the UAE (455,000), Saudi Arabic (349,000), the USA (248,000), Sri Lanka (230,000) and Malaysia (119,000).
Telugu is one of the 22 official languages of India, and a statutory provincial language in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, in the Yanam district of The Puducherry Union Territory, and in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. It is also a recognised minority language in South Africa.
There are three major dialects of Telugu: the Coastal dialect, which is spoken on the coast of Andhra Pradesh, the Rayalaseema dialect, which is spoken in the Rayalaseema districts of Andhra Pradesh, and the Telangana dialect, which spoken mainly in Telangana.
The origins of the Telugu alphabet can be traced by to the Brahmi alphabet of ancient India, which developed into an alphabet used for both Telugu and Kannada, which in turn split into two separate alphabets between the 12th and 15th centuries AD.
The earliest known inscriptions containing Telugu words appear on coins that date back to 400 BC. The first inscription entirely in Telugu was made in 575 AD and was probably made by Renati Cholas, who started writing royal proclamations in Telugu instead of Sanskrit. Telugu developed as a poetical and literary language during the 11th century.
Until the 20th century Telugu was written in an archaic style very different from the everyday spoken language. During the the second half of the 20th century, a new written standard emerged based on the modern spoken language. In 2008 Telugu was designated as a classical language by the Indian government.
The letters ఌ (l̥a) and ౡ (l̥̄a) are not used in modern Telugu.
How to write and pronounce the Telugu letters:
Pratipattisvatvamula visyamuna mānavulellarunu janmataḥ svataṁtrulunu samānulunu naguduru. Vāru vivēdanāṁtaḥkaraṇa saṁpannulaguṭacaē parasparamu bhrātṛbhāvamutō vartiṁpavalayunu.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Telugu language and script
Online Telugu dictionary
Online Telugu TV
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Page last modified: 21.10.23
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