The Telugu Language

General Information

Telugu is a South-Central Dravidian language with the third largest number of native speakers in India (75 million). It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of the Republic of India and primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is also spoken in some neighboring states.

Classical Language Status in India

In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”. Languages thus far declared to be Classical are Tamil (in 2004), Sanskrit (in 2005), Kannada and Telugu (in 2008), Malayalam (in 2013) and Oriya (in 2014).

In a 2006 press release, Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha the following criteria were laid down to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered for classification as a “classical Language”:

“High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years; A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community; The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.”

Sanskrit Influence

Telugu was heavily influenced by Sanskrit. Literary texts in Telugu may be Sanskritized to an enormous extent. Hence Sanskrit and its vocabulary influenced Telugu literature a great deal.

Sanskrit words and phrases

C.P Brown mentions on page 35 in his book : A Grammar of the Telugu language:

“If we ever make any real progress in the language the student will require the aid of the Sanskrit Dictionary, and cannot even talk or write Telugu with any ease or precision, unless he masters the first principles Sanskrit orthography.”