Telugu language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native toIndia
RegionAndhra Pradesh
Native speakers
83 million (2011)[1][2]
L2 speakers: 11 million[1]
  • South-Central
    • Proto-Telugu
      • Telugu
Early form
Old Telugu
  • see Telugu languages
Telugu alphabet
Telugu Braille
Signed Telugu
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
 South Africa (protected language)[4]
Language codes
ISO 639-1te
ISO 639-2tel
ISO 639-3tel – inclusive code
Individual code:
wbq – Waddar (Vadari)
Glottologtelu1262  Telugu
oldt1249  Old Telugu
Idioma telugu.png
Telugu is native to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
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Telugu (/ˈtɛlʊɡ/;[5] తెలుగు, Telugu pronunciation: [ˈteluɡu]) is a Dravidian language spoken by Telugu people predominantly living in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where it is also the official language.[6][7] Telugu is also an official language in West Bengal, Yanam district of Puducherry and a linguistic minority in the states of Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one among the six languages designated as a classical language of India in the country.[8][9] Telugu was also referred as Andhramu (ఆంధ్రము)[10]

Telugu ranks fourth among the languages with the highest number of native speakers in India, with nearly 82 million speakers as per the 2011 census,[11] and 15th in the Ethnologue list of languages by number of native speakers.[12][13] It is the most widely spoken member of the Dravidian language family[14] and one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India.[15] It is also the fastest-growing language in the United States, where there is a large Telugu-speaking community.[16] Roughly 10,000 pre-colonial inscriptions exist in the Telugu language.[17]


Telugu language is located in India
Locations of Trilinga Kshetras

Speakers of Telugu refer to it as simply Telugu or Telugoo.[18] Older forms of the name include Teluṅgu, Tenuṅgu and Teliṅga.[19] Atharvana Acharya in the 13th century wrote a grammar of Telugu, calling it the Trilinga Śabdānusāsana (or Trilinga Grammar).[20] 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.[21]

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.[22][23] 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".[24]

Another view[whose?] holds that tenugu is derived from the proto-Dravidian word ten ("south")[25] to mean "the people who lived in the south/southern direction" (relative to Sanskrit and Prakrit-speaking peoples). The name Telugu, then, is a result of an "n" to "l" alternation established in Telugu.[26][27]


Satavahana bilingual coinage in Prakrit and Dravidian (c.150 CE)
Bilingual coinage of Satavahana Emperor Sri Vasishthiputra Pulumavi in Prakrit and Dravidian, and transcription of the obverse Prakrit legend.

Obverse: Portrait of the king. Legend in Prakrit in the Brahmi script (starting at 12 o'clock):