Telugu is a Dravidian language primarily spoken in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by approximately 82 million people as a first language, and an additional 15 million as a second language. In the United States, Telugu is spoken by a significant number of Indian immigrants, particularly those from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Many Telugu-speaking communities have formed in cities such as New York, New Jersey, and California. Use the Telugu speech and language development information below to be able to better diagnose and treat the children you work with speaking Telugu.

Telugu is spoken in various regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as well as in neighboring states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Additionally, Telugu-speaking communities can be found around the world, including in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The writing system used for Telugu is the Telugu script, which is an abugida, meaning that consonant-vowel combinations are represented as a single unit. The script consists of 56 letters, and is written from left to right. The Telugu script is also used to write other Dravidian languages, such as Kannada and Tamil.

Telugu speech and language development

Interesting Facts About Telugu Speech and Language Development

Some interesting facts about Telugu include its rich literary tradition, which dates back over a thousand years. Telugu literature includes works of poetry, drama, and prose, and has produced some of the most important works of Indian literature.

Telugu also has a unique system of vowel harmony, in which vowels are classified into two categories based on their position in the mouth. This system allows for a more efficient and natural pronunciation of Telugu words.


Kannada / Telugu Speech and Language Development

Kannada / Telugu Consonant Phonemes in Comparison to English

Telugu Consonants Not Shared with English/t̪/ /ʈ/ /d̪/ /ɖ/ /pʰ/ t̪ʰ/ /ʈʰ/ /tʃʰ/ /kʰ/ /bʱ/ ɖ̪ʱ/ dʒʱ/ /gʱ/ /n̪/ /ɳ/ /s̪/ /ʂ/ /ɕ/ /χ/ /l̪/ /ɭ/ /ɾ̪/
Telugu Consonants Shared With English/p/ /b/ /k/ /g/ /tʃ/ /dʒ/ /m/ /f/ /v/ /j/
English Consonants Not Shared with Telugu/t/ /d/ /n/ /ŋ/ /s/ /ʃ/ /h/ /z/ /l/ /ð/ /θ/ /w/ /ʒ/ /ɹ/

Kannada / Telugu Vowel Phonemes in Comparison to English

Telugu Vowels Not Shared with English/iː/ /eː/ /æː/ /aː/ /uː/ /oː/
Telugu Vowels Shared With English/i/ /e/ /a/ /u/ /o/
English Vowels Not Shared with Telugu/ɪ/ /ɛ/ /ʊ/ /ɔ/ /ə/ /ʌ/ /æ/

The Use of Phonotactic Constraints in Telugu Speakers

Patterns of Native Language Influence:Example/description of possible errors:
Telugu has a vowel harmony in 2-syllable words in which the first vowel dictates what type of vowel will come next.  Second syllable vowel errors might be influenced by this harmony
Telugu words generally end in vowels.  Words can end in m, n, y, wFinal consonants might be omitted or substituted for an allowable Telugu final consonant
Word stress is usually placed on the last or second-to-last syllableStress could be switched for multisyllabic words with stress on the initial syllable (e.g. butterFLY for BUTterfly
There are many Telugu consonants that are similar to English but are produced as dentalized and/or aspirated.These patterns may influence productions of English stop consonants
Half of the Telugu vowels are longer than English vowelsVowel sounds might be produced as longer vowels than is typical in English


FeatureTeluguEnglishExamples of Errors
Word OrderSubject-object-verbUsually subject-verb objectBill to the store goes.*
GenderTelugu marks nouns for gender using masculine, feminine, or neuter inflections.There are no gender inflections for nouns in English.

Inflections might be carried over into English.

PluralityMarked with an inflectional suffixUsually marked with the inflectional suffix /s/ or /z/None expected

Note: Sentences marked with an asterisk (*) are not grammatical.


Datta, A. K., Ganguli, N. R., & Dutta Majumder, D. (1981). Acoustic features of consonants: A study based on Telugu speech soundsActa Acustica united with Acustica47(2), 72-82.

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