Telugu/Alphabet

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Introduction  —  History  —  Dialects  —  Literature

Transliteration  —  Alphabet  —  Grammar  —  Common Phrases


Vowels (అచ్చులు atchulu)[edit]

Telugu has 18 vowels of which 3 are virtually phased out and hence do not have transliterations. Like other major Dravidian languages, the Telugu vowel set adds short /e/ and /o/ in addition to the long /eː/ and /oː/ of the Indo-Aryan languages.

Vowels
Vowel Transliteration IPA pronounciation Pronunciation of the letter (English approximation)
a /a/ Like a in approval. It is the default vowel.
aa or A /ɑː/ Like the vowel a in armour or water.
i /ɪ/ Like the vowel in India or tin.
I or ee /iː/ Like the vowel in eat or sleep.
u /u/ Like the vowel in bull or book.
U or oo /uː/ Like oo in tool.
R /ru/ Like ru in rude.
Ru /ruː/
- /lu/
- /luː/
e /e/ Like the vowel a in May.
E /eː/ Like the vowel a in ancient or angel.
ai /ai/ Like i in fight.
o /o/
O /oː/ Like the vowel o in hole.
ou
(depends on transliterator)
/au/ Like ou in vouch.
అం am or aM
(depends on transliterator)
/oː/ Like un (or an) in under or um in umbrella (depending on the consonant preceding it).
అః - /aha/ Like aha! used for exclamation purpose in English.

The rhotics ఋ and ౠ (originally /r/ and /rː/), like the liquids ఌ and ౡ (originally /l/ and /lː/) have now turned into the syllables /ru/, /ruː/, /lu/, /luː/ respectively. They are fast going out of currency and are no longer included in the standard Telugu school textbooks issued by the government of Andhra Pradesh, which now prefers the actual consonants with a /u/ appended (e.g. /ruʃɪ/ (monk) used to be written ఋషి but nowadays, రుషి is preferred).

Consonants (హల్లులు hallulu)[edit]

The consonants in Telugu, followed by their IAST characters.

Consonant IAST character
క ఖ గ ఘ ఙ k kh g gh ṅ
చ ఛ జ ఝ ఞ c ch j jh ñ
ట ఠ డ ఢ ణ ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ
త థ ద ధ న t th d dh n
ప ఫ బ భ మ p ph b bh m
య ర ల వ y r l w (v)
శ ష స హ ś ṣ s h
ళ క్ష ఱ ḷa kṣa ṛa


The consonants correspond almost one-to-one to the set in Sanskrit, with two exceptions. One is the historical form of /r/ఱ which is now again being phased out by the current form ర. (e.g. /gurːam/ (horse) was written గుఱ్ఱం but is now written గుర్రం). The other is the retroflex lateral ళ /ɭ/.

Pronunciation Notes:[edit]
  • The first four consonants in the first two rows, క ఖ గ ఘ ఙ (k kh g gh ṅ) and చ ఛ జ ఝ ఞ (c ch j jh ñ) and all the letters in the fifth row, ప ఫ బ భ మ (p ph b bh m)are pronounced exactly as they are in English. In other words, a Telugu k sounds like an English "k" (without aspiration).
  • The last (nasal) consonants of the first two rows, ఙ () and ఞ(ñ) are almost never found written alone; they are usually conjuncted (more on conjuncts later) with another consonant in their corresponding rows, as the other nasal consonants often are.
  • The third row, ట ఠ డ ఢ ణ (ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ) are pronounced using the retroflex version. To achieve these sounds, curl the tongue back and touch the tip to the roof of the mouth.
  • The fourth row, త థ ద ధ న (t th d dh n) are dental consonants and are spelled exactly like the t or d in Spanish, with the tongue touching the back of the upper teeth.
  • Voiced, aspirated consonants (gh, bh, etc.) are by far the hardest sounds for the English speaker to learn how to make; however, with some practice they are not overly difficult.
  • య (y) is very similar to its corresponding English sound.
  • ర (r,) like most non-English "r" sounds, is flipped, but not rolled.
  • ల (l) is the same as the English "l".
  • వ (w (v)) has a somewhat flexible pronunciation, depending on context and regional dialects. Sometimes it is pronounced like the English "w" (as in the word swami), and other times it is closer to the English "v". It is often pronounced somewhere in between the two sounds.
  • శ(ś) is the same as "sh" in English.
  • ష() is also similar to "sh" in English, and though it is technically pronounced farther back in the mouth, functionally there is very little or no difference between the two in spoken Telugu.
  • స (s) is the same as "s" in English.
  • హ (h) is pronounced the same as "h" in English.
  • ళ ( ḷa ) is pronounced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth.
  • క్ష ( kṣa ) is pronounced as (ksha) ct in action or friction is pronounced in English.


Telugu is known as Italian of the East as all words in this language end with a vowel. It is second largest spoken language in INDIA. This language has typical grammar with connection mathematics.