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Overview: The language of Telugu is also known by many other names, including Tenungu, Tenugu, and Telungu. The name “Telugu” could refer to the traditional boundaries of the region and its foundation in Hindu mythology, or it might be a reference to physical characteristics of the people who once lived there, but the true origins of the name are completely unknown.
Telugu has the most native speakers of any language in the Dravidian language family (which also includes Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada). Only two other languages, Hindi and Bengali, have more native speakers in the Indian subcontinent. The standardized form of Telugu is the official language of the state of Andhra Pradesh, is taught in all schools, and is used in all formal correspondence. The spoken variety, on the other hand, is widespread over several Indian states and can vary greatly from region to region.
Roots of the language: Like most other languages, Telugu is descended from a mix of local vernaculars spoken by ancient peoples in the regions where it is found. It was heavily influenced early on by the classical language of Sanskrit, and it has even kept certain unique Sanskrit influences not found in other major Indian languages. Another ancient tongue, Prakrit, forms the other important ancestor of modern-day Telugu, although the language as a whole has also been absorbing words and grammar the entire time from all of its neighbor languages (and those of conquerors).
Telugu was once only a local language spoken by the common people, while the societal elite mostly spoke and wrote using Sanskrit or Prakrit. In the sixth century, the kings of the region began encouraging the use of Telugu in official business, and it developed a rich literary tradition over the coming centuries.
Language characteristics: Both native and foreign scholars have been studying the grammar of Telugu since the eleventh century, and its literature stretches back much further, so there is a very clear record of much of its development. Telugu is an inflected language (modifying root words for case, number and tense), which sets it apart from other languages in the Dravidian family. Like many languages around the world, it has three genders (male, female, and neuter) and a general subject-object-verb word orientation.
Written form: Telugu is written from left to right, with each character usually representing a syllable of phonetic speech. Telugu script is based on that of Sanskrit and shows a great deal of similarity. In the modern day, Telugu script is usually written with the use of Arabic numerals for numbers and English-style punctuation, which is a practice that began in the nineteenth century with the introduction of the printing press.
The acclaimed literary tradition of the Telugu language began in the sixth century, and while it was most likely modeled on the existing literary works of Sanskrit, it became a unique form in the centuries afterwards. The earliest writings in Telugu were simple inscriptions, then translations of Sanskrit documents, and then a flowering of Telugu epic poetry. The artistry reached its zenith during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when Telugu literature is generally agreed to have experienced its golden age.