Monday, July 1, 2019

English and Telugu Lexicons: Parallel Trajectories

English and Telugu Lexicons: Parallel Trajectories


Telugu is the 15th largest language of the world with 76 million native speakers. The story of Telugu makes for fascinating reading, like a thriller, containing as it does many mysteries and surprises in linguistic terms. For example, many native speakers of Telugu are hardly aware that words such as chirunāmā (చిరునామా), chukkāni (చుక్కాని), darjā (దర్జా), maidānam (మైదానం), rahadāri (రహదారి), rangu (రంగు) and salahā (సలహా) like more than a 1000 others, are of Turkish, Arabic and Persian origin; and that Telugu is made up of 65% Sanskrit words, the highest in any Indian language. From its humble beginnings as a dialect of the proto-Dravidian about 3,000 years ago Telugu has reached its current stage of development only after undergoing profound changes in lexical terms. To begin with, it borrowed heavily from Pali-Prakrit, then from Sanskrit, still later from the Turkish-Arabic-Persian-Urdu quartet and finally from western languages, especially English, and so enriched itself as to emerge as a major language of the world. In doing so it closely paralleled the story of English in that both the languages had humble beginnings, both came under the influence of hegemonic languages but, instead of being marginalized or driven out of existence altogether, both learnt to survive and thrive. This article seeks to trace the trajectory of Telugu, by frequently comparing it with that of English, in terms of its vocabulary since vocabulary, according to David Crystal, constitutes the most reliable guide to the understanding of the social, intellectual and cultural history of a linguistic community. It then projects Telugu as a metaphor for language survival. Hundreds of Asian languages facing extinction today can draw valuable lessons from Telugu and learn to survive, and indeed even flourish.

Telugu is the 15th largest language of the world in terms of both the number of native speakers as estimated by the Swedish encyclopedia Nationalencyklopedin (2007, 2010), and total number of speakers according to Ethnologue: Languages of Asia (2013, 17th edition), with 76 million native speakers constituting 1.15% of world population, and is far ahead of the former and current hegemonic languages such as French, Persian, Turkish and Italian. Among the Indian languages it ranks third after Hindi and Bengali and among the Dravidian languages it is the largest.

Telugu built a formidable vocabulary and consolidated its position by keeping its doors open to loanwords from a variety of donor languages — some native to India, some foreign — and emerged as a major language of the world. David Crystal(A short history of English words, 2011) says in the context of English:

English is a vacuum-cleaner of a language, whose users suck in words from other languages whenever they encounter them. And because of the way English has traveled the world, courtesy of its soldiers, sailors, traders and civil servants, several hundred languages have contributed to its lexical character. Some 80 per cent of English vocabulary is not Germanic at all.

In similar fashion Telugu too absorbed loanwords and grew in strength. It had not traveled though, the way English did. Languages themselves traveled to south India where it is spoken and generously lent their words, compounds and phrases to it. Telugu just stayed where it has always been and silently accepted the linguistic treasures offered by other languages. And yes, 80% of its vocabulary is not proto-Dravidian at all, although it is the rest of the original 20% words of proto-Dravidian origin that figure most frequently (some 80-90 per cent of the time) in everyday speech even today like the Anglo-Saxon words do in the everyday speech of the English people.

In the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh the mother tongue enthusiasts often mourn the invasion of English and fear that Telugu would soon disappear. However, what they do not seem to understand is that English and Telugu have both followed almost the same linguistic trajectories, faced similar threats of extinction, closely interacted with hegemonic languages, admitted innumerable words, compounds and even phrases from other languages and emerged as major languages of the world themselves with English enjoying the status of global language and occupying the 3rd place in terms of the number of native speakers and Telugu figuring, as stated already, at the 15th position. Just as English continues to add loanwords to its already very rich vocabulary from languages across the world even today Telugu now admits words from a readily available language, namely English, the way it did in the past from Sanskrit and several other dominant languages, and continues to grow as a result. The basic character of the Telugu language is unlikely to undergo a significant change no matter how many words it borrows from English; it did not happen when it borrowed thousands of Sanskrit words in the past! The English speaking peoples from New Zealand to the USA and beyond are proud of the presence of countless loanwords in their language. There is no reason why some Telugu speakers should object to the presence of English loanwords in their language. If they understand what their language is made up of, and the developmental phases it has gone through, they are very likely to change their opinion.

Phase-I: Proto-Dravidian
The story of Telugu begins in about 3000 BCE when the proto-Dravidian was born. Some 500 years later proto-Dravidian split into proto-North Dravidian, proto-Central Dravidian, proto-South-Central Dravidian and proto-South Dravidian. These branches of the proto-Dravidian further split into about 23 different dialects and eventually evolved into as many languages. Telugu emanated from proto-South-Central Dravidian, and perhaps became an independent language by 700 BCE (Krishnamurti 2003).

The bulk of everyday Telugu vocabulary today consists of the Dravidian words, and for common communication purposes, especially at lower levels of discourse, these are the words which figure in speech or writing about 80% of the time, thus inviting a comparison with Anglo-Saxon words which figure in English speech as frequently. Human body being the most immediate object in need of description, probably the first words in any language might have evolved in relation to it. I have therefore given here a select list of what may have been the first Telugu words, derived from proto-South-Central Dravidian, since they describe body parts: nuduru/nosalu, forehead; kannu, eye; mukku, nose; cevi, ear; pedavi, lip; nāluka, tongue; pandlu, teeth; jabba, shoulder; eda, heart/breast; vrélu, finger; gōru, nail; ara-céyi, palm; toda, thigh; kālu, leg; adugu, foot; kanda, muscle; emukalu/makkelu, bones; potta, belly; p(r)égu, entrails; odi, lap; kadupu, belly; tōlu, skin; naramu, nerve/tendon; and netturu, blood (Burrow & Emeneau, 1985).

A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, compiled by Burrow and Emeneau, lists only about 1500 such words, but from everyday experience of speaking Telugu and by applying the scholarly method of naturalistic observation it can be conjectured that the total number of Telugu words stemming from proto-Dravidian are at least a dozen times as many. For example, Andhra-Sanskrita Kosamu (Telugu to Sanskrit Dictionary) edited by Pullela Ramachandrudu and Kappagantula Lakshmana Sastri, lists more than 25,000* Telugu words that have emerged from proto-Dravidian and tadbhavas (Pali-Prakrit** words that joined Telugu lexicon in ancient past). These words have not undergone significant semantic, morphological or phonemic changes primarily because (1) Telugu, like all the other Dravidian tongues, demonstrated a tendency to retain proto-Dravidian roots at the beginning of the words and used only suffixes, and not prefixes or infixes, in constructing inflected forms, and (2) it rarely allowed the Indo-Aryan languages to influence it in structural terms — phonological or grammatical.

[* However, Kasi Krsnacaryulu’s Andhra Samskrta Nighantuvu (Telugu-Sanskrit Dictionary) lists only about 16,000 Telugu words of Dravidian origin.

** Prakrit is an umbrella term referring to any of the following languages: Pali, Sauraseni, Maharastri, Magadhi, Ardhamagadhi, Paisaci and Gandhari. Of these, Pali happens to be arguably the most important because of the prestige it enjoyed as the language of the Theravada Buddhist liturgy and literature. Ardhamagadhi often competed with Pali for eminence by virtue of its being the preferred language for writing down the Jain scriptures. Some scholars also regard Ardhamagadhi as the definitive form of Prakrit and the other languages of the group as its variants. As far as Telugu is concerned, it borrowed words primarily from Pali.]

Original Telugu words proceeding from proto-Dravidian, as noted above, were still very limited in number and obviously they might not have served communicative purposes over time. This necessitated borrowing words from the then classical languages — Pali-Prakrits and Sanskrit.

Phase-II: Pali-Prakrit Loanwords
The association of Telugu with Pali-Prakrits dates back all the way to proto-Dravidian. Pali-Prakrits started influencing Telugu in lexical terms even as it was branching off from proto-Dravidian. The presence of a number of Telugu words in the Maharastri Prakrit classic Gahasattasai (c. 200 CE) attributed to Hāla attests to the fact that Telugu interacted with Pali-Prakrits in ‘meaningful’ ways and benefited from the interaction. A few centuries later, but most definitely from the 6th century onwards, Telugu evolved into a literary language having adopted the Brahmi script. Occasional court poems and inscriptions in Telugu began to appear around this time. The first Telugu inscription is dated 575 AD and was discovered in the precincts of Chennakesava temple at Kalamalla village of Kadapa district. It is attributed to Renati Chola king Dhanunjaya Varma.

The literary use of the Telugu language, beginning in the 6th century, further necessitated the borrowing of Pali-Prakrit and Sanskrit words. Bh. Krishnamurti explains this process and the literary/historical reasons therefor in his monumental work The Dravidian Languages.

The loanwords found in classical texts are traditionally classified into two categories: tadbhava- (derived from Prakrits and not directly from Sanskrit; lit. ‘derived from that’) and tatsama- (unassimilated loanwords from Sanskrit; lit. ‘same as that’). The earlier stratum shows assimilated loanwords (tadbhava-) mostly taken from Pali and Prakrits and some directly from Sanskrit but with phonological changes that suit Dravidian. The spread of Jainism and Buddhism during the early centuries of the CE must have been responsible for the spread of learning Pali and Prakrits in the Dravidian south (Krishnamurti 472).

Studies have revealed that as many as 2,500 Pali-Prakrit words entered Telugu, mostly through the tadbhava route, during this phase and got so thoroughly assimilated into the language that it is often difficult to distinguish them from the rest of the Telugu vocabulary. Here is the list of a representative dozen such words (Davids & Stede, 1952).

1. aggi (అగ్గి) {Pali, Pkt. aggi {Middle Indo-Aryan} Vedic Skt. agni – ‘fire, flames, sparks; conflagration’
2. allamu (అల్లము) {Pkt. alla, adda {MIA} Skt. ārdraka – ‘fresh ginger’
3. āna (ఆన) {Pkt. ānā {MIA} Skt. ājnā – ‘order, command’
4. bandi (బండి) cart {Pkt. bhandī, bhand̤a {MIA} Epic Skt. bhānd̤a – ‘goods, wares’
5. bhayamu (భయము) {Pali, Pkt. bhaya {MIA} Vedic Skt. bhaya – ‘fear, fright, dread’
6. bōnamu (బోనము) ‘food, boiled rice’ {Pkt. bhōna {MIA} Skt. bhōjana – ‘meal’
7. bōya, (బోయ) ‘palanquin bearer, fisherman’ {Pkt. bhōi {MIA} Skt. bhōgin – ‘headman of a village’
8. gadda (గద్ద) {Pali, Pkt. gaddha {MIA} Vedic Skt. grdha – ‘vulture’
9. kāki (కాకి) {Pali, Pkt. kāka {MIA} Skt. kāka – ‘the crow’
10. katté (కట్టె) stick {Pkt. kattha {MIA} Skt. kāstha – ‘a piece of wood, esp. a stick used as fuel, firewood’
11. niccena (నిచ్చెన) ladder {Pkt. nisseni {MIA} Skt. nis-śrenī – ‘ladder’
12. setti (సెట్టి) {Pali, Pkt. setthi ‘merchant’ {MIA} Skt. śresthin – ‘person of authority, head of a guild’

It should be noted here that these and other tadbhavas did not emanate from Sanskrit and then reach Telugu via Pali-Prakrits. Contrary to popular belief Pali-Prakrits did not emerge from Sanskrit. They came from Middle Indo-Aryan (MIA) which replaced Old Indo-Aryan by the time of the Buddha who preached in MIA (eastern dialect). But for some reason the Buddhist texts of the period are available only in the Pali variety of MIA. MIA heavily influenced the Sanskrit of the epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Several later Prakrit forms of MIA, which came into being around the beginning of Common Era, were used in Sanskrit dramas, especially for the purpose of the dialogues by characters of lower social rank and, yes, women.

It can thus be seen that both the Sanskrit of the epics and Pali-Prakrits proceeded from MIA separately, had independent existence and often interacted meaningfully, as in Sanskrit dramas. With the exception of Pali, and that too because of its status as the Buddhist language of liturgy, all the Prakrits — Sauraseni, Maharastri, Magadhi, Ardhamagadhi, Paisaci and Gandhari — fell by the way side, after holding sway for a whole millennium, and gave rise to the early forms of the New Indo-Aryan (NIA) during the first 1000 years of CE. MIA first took the form of Apabhramsa and later that of Avahattha. It is from Apabhramsa and Avahattha that the modern NIA languages — Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Sinhala, etc — have evolved. Since Telugu did not emerge from NIA the Pali-Prakrit words in it are loanwords and can be identified as such if an effort is made. There is clearly no organic link between Pali-Prakrits and Telugu, as in the case of the NIA languages*. When Telugu borrowed Pali-Prakrit words it adopted their Pali-Prakrit form and meaning rather than their Sanskrit form and meaning (see setti above, for example). The Pali-Prakrit loanwords in Telugu are also phonologically closer to Pali-Prakrit words rather than their Sanskrit equivalents.

[*For more details see Michael Witzel, “Languages and Scripts,” Encyclopedia of India, vol. 1, ed. Stanley Wolpert (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2006) 50-56.]

Phase-III: Sanskrit Loanwords
Sanskrit lent not only a large number of words, mostly in tatsama form, but some rules of grammar as well to Telugu. When it came to composing poetry, circa 11th century AD, Sanskrit was seen as a default donor language since quite some Sanskrit words had already entered the Telugu lexicon by then on account of the telling and retelling of the stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana for centuries by priests and pundits at temples and courts. Sanskrit words that way had some currency among the Telugu people, and scholars made it a point to learn the language anyway. Telugu poets were thus well prepared to draw on the Sanskrit lexicon, although not indiscriminately. There were certainly some clearly defined rules governing these borrowings. But the exact meaning of Sanskrit words was not always carried forward into Telugu as evidenced by the following: Skt. avasara (chance, opportunity) – Tel. avasaram (need); Skt. bahusha: (abundantly) – Tel. bahusha: (possibly); Skt. nīrasa (insipid) – Tel. nīrasam (weak); Skt. prayāsa (effort) – Tel. prayāsa (hardship); Skt. samsara (world) – Tel. samsāram (family life); Skt. viparīta (contrary) – Tel. viparītam (extreme); and Skt. vyavasāya (business) – Tel. vyavasāyam (agriculture).

The first sustained literary works to be written in Telugu were translations of the Sanskrit epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Nannaya (11th century AD), when he was asked to translate the Sanskrit Mahabharata into Telugu by his patron, King Rajaraja Narendra, for the benefit of his subjects, surveyed the Telugu vocabulary obtaining at that time. He discovered that it chiefly consisted of the original Telugu words emanating from proto-Dravidian, Pali-Prakrit loans and some Sanskrit words. He felt that the Telugu vocabulary of all kinds available to him was woefully insufficient to translate a great epic like the Mahabharata. He however found an easy way out in borrowing countless Sanskrit words, then subjecting them to inflectional modifications and finally setting them to Telugu grammar. His stanzas thus tend to be highly Sanskritized in terms of vocabulary, sometimes to the extent of 90% or more. Here, for example, is a stanza from Nannaya’s translation of the Mahabharata.

అతత పక్షమారుతరయప్రవికంపిత ఘూర్ణితాచల
వ్రాతమహారణవుండు బలవన్నిజదేహసముజ్జ్వల ప్రభా
ధూతపతంగతేజుఁ డుదితుండయి తార్క్ష్యుఁడు తల్లికిన్ మనః
ప్రీతి యొనర్చుచున్ నెగసె భీమజవంబున నభ్రవీథికిన్

atata pakshamārutarayapravikampita ghūrnitāchala
vrātamahārnavundu balavannijadéhasamujjvala prabhā
dhūtapatangatéjun duditundayi tārkshundu tallikin manah
prīti yonarchuchun negase bhīmajavambuna nabhravīthikin. (Nannaya 62)

The above stanza, which describes the flight of Garuda, has just four Telugu words: ayi, talli, onarchu, egase. All the other words are Sanskrit loans set to Telugu grammar.

Similarly, the Sanskrit Ramayana was first translated into Telugu c. ~1300 CE by Gona Buddha Reddy, a vassal of the Kakatiya emperor Pratapa Rudra-I under the title Ranganatha Ramayanamu. Following the translation of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, translation of various Sanskrit puranas and treatises continued for about 300 years. Even the Telangana poet Palkuriki Somanatha (12th century CE) who wrote original Telugu works, Basavapurana, Panditaradhya Charitra, etc., and who is often regarded as the first Telugu poet since Nannaya was primarily a translator, too made a liberal use of Sanskrit words in his compositions. All this literary activity facilitated further influx of Sanskrit loanwords into Telugu.

As pointed out above, Nannaya and other poets, who needed to portray deep feelings and emotions, express subtle shades of meaning and longingly describe various scenes and sights in order to tell their stories artistically and convincingly, had to borrow countless Sanskrit words. They also often borrowed Sanskrit words even when Telugu equivalents were readily available because the rules of prosody required phonological variety. Here, for example, are a dozen Sanskrit words which are closely related to the single emotion of love, and which one often comes across in Telugu poetry.

1. abhisārika (అభిసారిక) (Skt. अभिसारिका abhisārika) – woman who goes to meet her lover
2. ālinganamu (ఆలింగనము) (Skt. आलिङ्गन ālingana) – embrace
3. anurakti (అనురక్తి) (Skt. अनुरक्ति anurakti) – devotion, affection, love
4. chumbanamu (చుంబనము) (Skt. चुम्बन cumbana) – kiss, kissing
5. kāmamu (కామము) (Skt. काम kāma) – love, lust, desire
6. mōhamu (మోహము) (Skt. मोह mōha) – infatuation, distraction, amazement
7. pranayini (ప్రణయిని) (Skt. प्रणयिनी pranayini) – beloved, female devotee, wife
8. préyasi (ప్రేయసి) (Skt. प्रेयस् préyas) – dearest friend, lover, mistress
9. rati (రతి)(Skt. रति rati) – pleasure, love, amorous enjoyment
10. sāntvanamu (సాంత్వనము) (Skt. सान्त्वना sāntvana) – appeasing, conciliation, soothing
11. srungāramu (శృంగారము) (Skt. शृङ्गार shringāra) – pretty, sexual passion, desire or enjoyment
12. viyōgamu (వియోగము) (Skt. वियोग viyōga) – separation

It is not just in poetry, Sanskrit words are to be found in their thousands in such diverse domains as humanities, journalism, science and technology as well. Sanskrit was the lingua franca of India, like Latin in Europe, in spite of the popularity of Pali-Prakrits during the Buddhist/Jain phases of history, and it continued to be so until the Delhi Sultanate was established in 1206 and Persian replaced it for cross country communication purposes. After Indian Independence however Sanskrit bounced back into prominence, albeit indirectly, by supplying practically the whole of scientific/technical terminology. Here are a few Sanskrit words/phrases related to the concept of ‘sight’ which form part of Telugu terminology in various sciences: antardrushti (అంతర్దృష్టి, insight), avalōkanamu (అవలోకనము, understanding, viewing), drishtikōnamu (దృష్టికోణము, perspective), hrasva drishti (హ్రస్వదృష్టి, myopia), sūkshmadarshini (సూక్ష్మదర్శిని, microscope), sulōchanālu (సులోచనాలు, spectacles), vānanirīkshani (వాననిరీక్షణి, telescope) and vihanga vīkshanamu (విహంగ వీక్షణము, bird’s eye view). Sanskrit also frequently contributed the Indian equivalents of English terms such as adaptive coinages (ex. plagiarism – granta chauryam (గ్రంథచౌర్యం), breakfast – alpāhāram (అల్పాహారం), innovation – navakalpana (నవకల్పన)) and semantic reinterpretations (radio – akāshavāni (ఆకాశవాణి), television – dūradarshan (దూరదర్శన్), Platonic love – amalina shrungāram (అమలిన శృంగారం)).

Sanskrit has always been an inexhaustible treasure of vocabulary for Telugu. Estimates suggest that the Telugu vocabulary consists of about 65% words of Sanskrit origin. The percent could indeed be much higher. There is really no way of counting/documenting them because they are too numerous and they keep entering the Telugu language all the time. Led by Nannaya the Telugu people found an easy way of adapting Sanskrit words to the Telugu language and make them their own. This method involves merely adding one or the other of the inflectional suffixes du, mu, vu and lu (pratyayas of the prathama vibhakti) to the Sanskrit words, especially to those that are in the nominative case. Halantas (హలంతములు, words ending in consonants) are rare in Telugu. Therefore, when the halanta Sanskrit words are borrowed they are rendered ajantas (అజంతములు, words ending in vowels).

Incidentally, the number of Sanskrit loanwords goes dramatically up (and so do the English calques) as the level of discourse rises. The level of discourse and Sanskrit loanwords are directly proportional as far as Telugu is concerned. In fact the presence of the Sanskrit words in such large numbers has so alienated the common speakers of Telugu that a diglossia-like situation prevails today with highly Sanskritized Telugu being used in schools/colleges, religious discourses, learned assemblies, etc., and common people preferring the colloquial variety of the language in which words of proto-Dravidian and Pali-Prakrit origin predominate.

Phase-IV: Turkish-Arabic-Persian-Urdu (TAPU) Loanwords
The establishment of the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 marked the beginning of the influx of Turkish-Arabic-Persian-Urdu (TAPU) words, compounds, phrases and even full sentences into Telugu. The Delhi Sultanate lasted for 320 years and wielded tremendous influence on India, including its languages. After the demise of the Delhi Sultanate the Bahmani Empire, the Golkonda kingdom and finally the Asaf Jahi rule over most parts of the Telugu speaking area helped the continued flow of TAPU words into Telugu. Turkish was spoken and patronized by the Sultanate dynasties because, except one, they were all of Turkish origin. Arabic was the language of liturgy; Persian the language of culture, literature and administration; and Urdu, which was largely made up of Arabic and Persian words and set to Hindi grammar, was the language spoken by the common people. Persian was by far the most influential of these languages. It was the official language and lingua franca of India for well over 500 years! Its place was taken over by Urdu only when the 12th Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah (1719-48) installed Urdu as the court language. The successive Muslim rulers of India actively promoted the use of all these languages, and various Indian languages including Telugu, borrowed a large number of words from them in their own interest.

There is a common misconception that the TAPU loanwords are to be found only in the Telangana (or north) dialect of Telugu. It is true that in Telangana the proportion of TAPU words in common use is rather high obviously because of the more than 700 years of uninterrupted Muslim rule, but in the central dialect of Telugu* as well, by my count, there are at least 1000 TAPU words and phrases in common, everyday use even today. It is just that the speakers of this dialect have no idea, for whatever reason, that they are TAPU words and phrases. Given below are a few TAPU words that are used in various domains in the coastal area:

[*The dialect of Telugu spoken in the coastal districts of Guntur, Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari is often designated as the central dialect.]

Revenue and civil administration: dastāveju (దస్తావేజు) (Per. dastāvéz دستاویز – document), mahājaru (మహాజరు) (Ara. mahāzar محاضر – records, minutes), jamābandi (జమాబందీ) (Per. jamāhbandiجمح بندی – cadastral, revenue settlement, an account of the quantity of land)
Police and judiciary: daryāptu (దర్యాప్తు) (Urdu daryāft دریافت – investigation, enquiry, Per. daryāft دریافت – perception, comprehension, discernment), farārī (పరారు) (Turk. firar; Ara. farār فرار – escape, flight); vélam (Ara. e’lām إعلام – notification, proclamation, auction)**
Military and warfare: sipāyi (సిపాయి) (Per. sipāhī سپاهی – soldier, trooper, serviceman); tupakī (తుపాకి) (Urdu tupak تپک and possibly also Per. tufang تفنگ – musket, gun), julumu (జులుము) (Turk. cürüm; Ara. zulm ظلم – tyranny, oppression, atrocity, harassment)
Trade and industry: trāsu (త్రాసు) (Turk. terazi; Per. tarāzū ترازو – balance, pair of scales), dūkānamu (దుకాణము) (Turk. dükkân; Ara. dukān دکان – shop), bajāru (బౙారు) (Turk. pazar; Per. bāzār بازار – market)
Professions, employment and service: hamāli (హమాలి) (Turk. hamal; Ara. hamāl حمال – carrier, porter), gumāstā (గుమస్తా)(Urdu gumāstā گماستا – shop assistant), tarfīdu (తర్ఫీదు) (Turk. terbiye; Per. tarbīyat تَربیت – training)
Banking, finance and insurance: nagadu (నగదు) (Ara. naqad نقد – cash, ready money), bayānā/bajānā (బయానా) (Per. bayānah بیعانه – earnest money, advance, deposit); rāyitī (రాయితీ) (Urdu riyāyat رعایت – concession, discount, exception, rebate)
Travel and transport: langaru (లంగరు) (Turk. lenger; Per. langar لنگر – anchor, mooring), rawānā (రవాణా) (Per. rōwānah روانه – send, launch, dispatch)
Land and agriculture: jamīndāru (జమీందారు) (Per. zamīndār زمیندار – a big land holder), raitu (రైతు) (Per. rayat رعیت – peasant)
Clothing and jewellery: shāluva (శాలువా) (Ara. shāl شال – shawl, scarf, wraparound), paradā (పరదా) (Turk. perde; Per. pardah پردہ – curtain, screen, veil), unni (ఉన్ని) (Turk. yün; Urdu ūn اون – wool)
Food and cooking: kīma (ఖీమా) (Per. qīmah قیمه – minced meat, forcemeat), palāvu (పలావు) (Turk. pilav; Urdu palāv پلاؤ – a variety of fried rice dish), tava (తవ్వ)(Turk. tava – frying pan, skillet), chakkera (చక్కెర) (Turk. seker; Ara. alsukar السكر; Urdu shakar شکر – sugar)
[**Turkish abandoned the Perso-Arabic script and adopted the Latin alphabet in 1928 with some modifications to suit its phonemic needs.]

It is obvious that some of the domains mentioned above had become prominent only after the Muslim rule was established in India and new words were needed to adequately describe the new systems that were put in place and the new ideas that were introduced. Borrowing TAPU words became inevitable for Telugu to be relevant as a language in the new dispensation. TAPU words in Telugu were certainly restricted, in the beginning, to the specialized domains as detailed above but eventually they found their way into everyday speech. The following list will establish this fact.

1. ājamāishī (ఆజమాయిషీ) (Per. āzmāish آزمایش – trial, proof, test, management)
2. ākharu (ఆఖరు) (Ara. ākhar آخر – last, final)
3. ārā (ఆరా) (Ara. ārā آراء – views, opinions)
4. asalu (అసలు) (Turk. asil; Ara. asli اصلی – real, fact, original, principal)
5. attaru (అత్తరు)(Ara. atar عطر – perfume, fragrance, aroma)
6. āvārā (ఆవారా) (Turk. avare; Per. āvārah آواره; Urdu āvārā آوارا – vagabond, homeless)
7. badulu (బదులు) (Ara. badl بدل – replacement, substitution, instead of)
8. bāpatu/bābatu (బాపతు) (Per. bābat بابت – regarding, concerning, about)
9. bastā (బస్తా) (Per. bastāh بسته – bag, package, bale, bound, tied)
10. béjāru (బేజారు) (Per. bézār بیزار – weary, fatigued, annoyed)
11. béshūk-gā (భేషుగ్గా) (Per. béshak بیشک – undoubtedly, certainly, surely, indeed, verily)
12. béwārs (బేవార్స్)(Per. béwāris بےوارث – without heir, in Telugu it now means ‘useless’)
13. chekumuki rāyi (చెకుముకి రాయి) (Turk. çakmaktasi; Per. chaqmāq چقماق – flint)
14. hairānā (హైరానా) (Ara. hairān حیران – surprise, shock, wonder, bewildered, at a loss)
15. jawābu (జవాబు) (Turk. cevap; Ara. jawāb جواب – answer, reply)
16. kāgitam (కాగితం)(Turk. kâgit; Per. kāghaz کاغذ – paper)
17. kharāru (ఖరారు) (Turk. kesin karar; Ara. qarār قرار – resolution, decision, agreement)
18. kurchī (కుర్చీ) (Turk. kürsü; Ara. kursī کرسی – chair, seat)
19. maidānam (మైదానం) (Turk. meydan; Ara. maidan میدان – field, square, ground)
20. makāmu (మకాము) (Turk. makam; Ara. maqām مقام – place, station, halting place)
21. muktasari (ముక్తసరి) (Per. mukhtasar مختصر – brief, short, concise)
22. nāzūku (నాౙూకు) (Turk. nazik; Per. nāzuk نازک – delicate, nice, tender, soft)
23. rangu (రంగు) (Turk. renk; Urdu rang رنگ – color; hue)
24. sharatu (షరతు) (Ara. shart شرط – condition, requirement, stipulation)
25. shebāsh (శెభాష్) (Per. shābāsh شاباش – bravo, kudos, great)
26. sīsā (సీసా) (Turk. sise; Per. shīshah شیشه; glass, bottle, jar)
27. tājā (తాజా) (Turk. taze; Per. tāzā تازه – fresh, new, recent)
28. tālūku (తాలూకు) (Ara. tālluq تعلّق – concerning, related, pertaining to)

A large number of TAPU words are thus in active everyday use in Telugu — maybe more in Telangana and somewhat limited in Andhra Pradesh — but most often they are not acknowledged as loanwords, especially in AP. The most dramatic example which can be cited in this regard is a competition among TV show participants. They are asked by the host to speak using only Telugu words for a certain length of time. The host does not object to their using TAPU words at all since from her point of view only English words count as non-Telugu words, and not TAPU words!
Phase-V: Western Languages — Portuguese and English
The first western language to come into contact with Telugu, and with several other Indian languages for that matter, was Portuguese. And it happened when Vasco da Gama reached Calicut in 1498 and subsequently when, seven years later, the Portuguese established a colony in India with Francisco de Almeida as the first Viceroy. The Portuguese traded with the Indians mostly along the west and east coasts. They introduced hot chillies, tobacco and several other products to India. Their language — Portuguese — also acted as a conduit for terms that described the products, tools, implements, ideas and institutions of Renaissance Europe. All this helped the infiltration of Telugu by Portuguese words. The number of Portuguese words in Telugu does not exceed 100 but they are still in common use. Here are some examples.

1. āyā (ఆయా) {Por. aia – dry nurse
2. bātu (బాతు) {Por. pato – duck
3. cevi (చెవి) {Por. chave – key (as in the compound tālam cevi – lock key)
4. istrī (ఇస్త్రీ) ironing (clothes) {Por. estirar – stretch out, lengthen
5. kamīju (కమీజు) knee-length shirt {Por. camisa – shirt
6. méstrī (మేస్త్రీ) brick mason, master carpenter, etc {Por. mestre – master
7. pīpā (పీపా) a cylindrical container {Por. pipa – barrel, cask
8. sabbu (సబ్బు) {Por. sabāo – soap
9. tuw(w)āla (తువాల) {Por. toalha – towel

Telugu speakers today do not even recognize these words to be of Portuguese origin, just the way they do not recognize the Pali-Prakrit words or TAPU words in Telugu to be loanwords. Interestingly, the first Portuguese word to have occurred in Telugu literature was bātu (duck) in Āmuktamālyada of Sri Krishnadevaraya who was the most famous ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire, and a great patron of poets.

Another western language, and one that has profoundly influenced the Telugu lexicon is English. The big difference between English loanwords and loanwords from other languages (Pali-Prakrit, Sanskrit, TAPU and Portuguese) in Telugu is that English loanwords standout and, except a few, still cry attention to themselves. As stated earlier, non-English loanwords have largely lost traces of their historical origin in the central dialect of Telugu, which is the supposed Standard, and are (mis)taken for Telugu words per se even by educated speakers. However, in the Telangana dialect of Telugu a large number of TAPU words are still not integrated and because of that they often invite adverse comments on Telangana Telugu by the speakers of the central dialect of the language. English words are however clearly identifiable as loans in all the dialects of Telugu. This is precisely why in the TV shows participants are asked to speak Telugu avoiding only English words.

English words in Telugu are just too many to count. In terms of numbers they easily compete with Sanskrit words. Any English word can enter the Telugu lexicon any time. There are no well defined rules, unlike in the case of Sanskrit loanwords, governing the manner, mode and context of the entry of English words. However, English loanwords tend to be halantas rather than ajantas. English being a prestige language Telugu speakers tend to populate their sentences with English words indiscriminately. It is undoubtedly still Telugu syntax, but the lexis is highly Anglicized. The number of English words figuring in Telugu sentences often depends on the educational level and social status of the speaker concerned. The higher these levels, the bigger the number of English words. For example, an educated Telugu speaker’s sentences would be typically like this: “Last week mā bābuni medical check-up ki tīsukellāmu. Doctor tests chési everything is all right ani cheppādu” (We took our son for a medical check-up last week. The doctor tested him and said that everything was all right).

Another way English words and phrases have been entering Telugu is loan translation or calquing. English calques in Telugu are very common in the domain of sciences, but are not limited to the sciences. Where necessary English terms are promptly calqued but the words forming the calques are frequently of Sanskrit origin! Here are some examples.

1. antarjālam (అంతర్జాలం) {Internet
2. anu dhārmikata (అణుధార్మికత) {nuclear radiation
3. atinīlalohita kiranālu (అతినీలలోహిత కిరణాలు) {ultraviolet rays
4. bāshpībhavanam (బాష్పీభవనము) {evaporation
5. chalana chitram (చలన చిత్రం) {motion picture
6. garista sāmānya gunijamu (గరిష్ట సామాన్య గుణిజము) {greatest common factor
7. hétubadhīkarana (హేతుబద్ధీకరణ) {rationalization
8. jīva vaividhyam (జీవ వైవిధ్యం) {biodiversity
9. kānti vatsaram (కాంతి వత్సరం) {light-year
10. kārbana uddgārālu (కర్బన ఉద్గారాలు) {carbon emissions
11. kiranajanya samyōga kriya (కిరణ జన్య సంయోగ క్రియ){photosynthesis
12. krimisamhārini (క్రిమిసంహారిణి){insecticide
13. nakshtra dūli (నక్షత్రధూళి) {stardust
14. nirlavanīkarana (నిర్లవణీకరణ) {desalinization
15. simha bhagam (సింహభాగం) {lion’s share
16. supta chétana (సుప్త చేతన){subconscious
17. taranga dhairghyam (తరంగ దైర్ఘ్యం) {wavelength
18. tatastīkarana (తటస్తీకరణ) {neutralization
19. varshachāya (వర్షఛాయ) {rain shadow

Although many speakers of Telugu do not admit it, the English calques have enormously expanded the range and power of the Telugu language, so that today it is possible to have an informed discussion or debate in Telugu on subjects ranging from arts to social sciences, if not pure/applied sciences.

In spite of this, mother tongue advocates target English and accuse it of cannibalizing Telugu. Their objection seems to stem, at least partially, from the still fresh unpleasant memories of the British colonial rule. It is also easy to identify the English loanwords because English has been the most recent language to have come into contact with Telugu. However, what these mother tongue enthusiasts do not understand is that in the Telugu speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh language shift in favour of English is not taking place at all. What is happening instead is absorption (borrowing loanwords), and Telugu is increasingly being enriched as a result. The absorption may be so thorough in course of time that, like in the case of TAPU words and Portuguese words, English words may also lose traces of their historical origin. In case of some English words this has already happened: āsupatri (hospital), kompāsu (compass), egastrā (extra), emalsīkarna (emulsification), karbanamu (carbon), kirasanāilu (kerosene oil), lāntaru (lantern), māstāru (master), mishanu (machine), naklésu (necklace), natrajani (nitrogen), navala (novel), pinchanu (pension), savarlu (sovereigns; British gold coins used as a unit for measuring gold) and vīzī (easy). Many Telugu speakers now do not identify them as English words.

In the immediate future however there is no possibility of English entering the cultural domain. Only Telugu is used in the cultural domain (TV serials, films, music, stage plays, religious ceremonies, etc). English is currently limited to the functional domains such as technical education, business and commerce at the corporate level, higher judiciary and so on and it is likely to stay put there for the foreseeable future. As long as English does not get embedded in Telugu culture, Telugu will remain unaffected. It would also be wrong to assume that English will retain its pre-eminent position for all times to come and thus continue to ‘adversely’ affect other languages, including Telugu. There have been other world languages and lingua francas such as Aramaic in West Asia, Latin in Europe and Sanskrit in India which held sway for centuries but eventually lost out to smaller languages. History might repeat itself and English might lose out to other languages. In fact it seems to be already happening if the declining use of English in the Internet is anything to go by. The share of English in the Internet traffic, as compared to that of all other languages put together, has fallen to 43% from 57% in the past just half a dozen years. Another challenge English faces is that it is rapidly mutating into several mutually incomprehensible dialects across the world. These dialects might in course of time develop into different languages, like the dialects of Latin did in ancient past and emerged as the Romance languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Had Telugu not admitted loanwords without too many reservations in the early stages of its development and at various other times right up to the present, it would have most probably remained a non-literary Dravidian language, like Gondi for instance, or become extinct at some point of time in history. But instead it kept its doors open and freely admitted loanwords from the languages it had come into contact with and so adapted them as to easily fit its phonology and inflectional patterns. In the medieval times there was an attempt to write poetical works in ‘pure’ Telugu or accatelugu. It was the 13th century Telugu grammarian Ketana who mooted this idea in his Āndhra Bhāsābhūsanamu and it was practised to an extent by Ponnekanti Telaganna the 16th century court poet of Malik Ibrahim Kutub Shah, Sultan of Golkonda. Interestingly accatelugu for Telaganna meant Telugu devoid of only Sanskrit and Pali-Prakrit words and not Persian words! (Mitchell 121-22). In modern times, unlike the Tamilians and the French, the Telugu people have never seriously tried to purge their language of loanwords. The only effort, though a feeble one, in this direction is being made by the popular TV channel ETV and its companion newspaper Eenadu. But even they, like Telaganna in the past, seem to object to the presence of only the English words and not, for example, the TAPU or Sanskrit words! Any attempt to ‘purify’ Telugu will not succeed because it would result in severely restricting the expressive range of the language and arrest its progress. Loanwords have immensely helped the Telugu language in establishing itself as one of the largest languages of the world. It is unlikely to fall from the 15th position it currently occupies among the world languages, the way French and Russian seem to do for actually and ideologically opposing the presence of loanwords. In fact Telugu may climb up the ladder and reach a single digit position in future, among other things, if the current rate of borrowing words from English continues. While English took centuries to absorb words from all over the world and laboriously built its vast vocabulary, Telugu seems to sponge on it and grow in strength quickly and effortlessly. During the colonial era Britain was supposed to have divested India of its natural resources and robbed it of its riches. And now Telugu, like several other Indian languages, seems to hunt English for linguistic treasures in what may be described as an act of revenge!

[The author is currently a professor of English at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia.]

Works Cited
Burrow, Thomas and Murray Barnson Emeneau – A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press, 1984.
Crystal, David – A short history of English words. The Story of English in 100 Words. London: Profile Books, 2011.
Davids, T.W. Rhys and William Stede – The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary. London: The Pali Text Society, 1952.
Ketana, Āndhra Bhāsābhūsanamu. Madras: Vavilla Ramaswamy Sastrulu & Sons, 1949.
Krishnamurti, Bhadriraju – The Dravidian Languages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2003.
Krsnacaryulu, Kasi – Andhra Samskrta Nighantuvu (Telugu-Sanskrit Dictionary). Gunturu: Candrika Mudraksarasala, 1924.
Lewis, M. Paul – Gary F. Simons and Charles D. Fennig, eds., Ethnologue: Languages of Asia. 17th ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2015.
Mitchell, Lisa – Making the Local Foreign: Shared Language and History in South India. Language, Emotion and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2009. 121-22.
Nannaya – Andhra Mahabharatamu: Adi and Sabha Parvas. Vol. 1. Ed. K. Lakshmi Ranjanam and D. Venkatavadhani. Hyderabad: Osmania University, 1968.
Ramachandrudu, Pullela and Kappagantula Lakshmana Sastri, eds. – Andhra-Sanskrita Kosamu (Telugu to Sanskrit Dictionary). Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi, 1971.
Shiva Kumar, Hari, Ketana. Warangal: Sri Krisha Prachuranalu, 1973.
Witzel, Michael – Languages and Scripts. Encyclopedia of India. Vol. 1. Ed. Stanley Wolpert. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2006. 50-56.
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