Telugu History

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),[1] thirteenth in the Ethnologue list of most-spoken languages worldwide,[2] and most spoken Dravidian language. It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India[3] and one of the four classical languages.[4][5]

Telugu was heavily influenced by Sanskrit[6] and Prakrit.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

According to Marepalli Ramachandra Sastry, Telu means white and unga means plural in Gondi.[10] Teli means clear and inga means plural in Tamil.[11]


Earliest records

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.[citation needed]

Inscriptions containing Telugu words claimed to "date back to 400 B.C." were discovered in Bhattiprolu in Guntur district. The English translation of one inscription reads: "Gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha".[dubious ][11]

Post-Ikshvaku period

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).[12] 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.

Middle Ages

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.[12] During this period the separation of Telugu script from the Kannada script took place.[13] Tikkana wrote his works in this script.

Vijayanagara Empire

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.[12] Pada kavita pitamaha, Annamacharya, contributed many Telugu songs to this great language.

Muslim rule

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.[12]

Colonial period

16th century Italian explorer Niccolò Da Conti who visited the Vijayanagara Empire described it as Italian of the east; a sobriquet which has been widely repeated.[14]

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 likeKandukuri Veeresalingam, Gurazada Apparao and Panuganti Lakshminarasimha Rao.[12]

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.

Post-independence period

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.[15][16]

Telugu also has official language status in the Yanam District of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.

Source: Wikipedia

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