Telugu - Encyclopedia

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TELUGU, one of the five great Dravidian languages. The word is probably derived from Trilinga (= the three lingas of Siva), a name for the old Hindu kingdom of Andhra. It was at one time called by Europeans "Gentoo," from a Portuguese word meaning Gentile. The Telugu-speaking peoples are partly subjects of the nizam of Hyderabad and partly under British rule, beginning north of Madras city and extending N.W. to Bellary, where Telugu meets Kanarese, and N.E to near Orissa. They are taller and fairer than the Tamils, otherwise they are of typical Dravidian features. They are an enterprising people, good farmers and skilful seamen. They formed the greater part of the early Madras or "coast" army, whence sepoys even in Bengal were formerly called telingas. In 1901 the number of speakers of Telugu in all India was nearly twentyone millions.

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