Telugu in the British Isles by Viv Edwards
Telugu is a member of the Dravidian family of languages, spoken in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states in southern India. In addition to being the official language of Andhra Pradesh, it is one of the 23 official national languages of India and has the largest number of speakers after Hindi. There is a large Telugu diaspora with important communities as far afield as Bahrain, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, and the USA. An estimated 75 million people worldwide speak the language.
In a UK context, Telugu speakers form one of the smaller Indian language communities. There is, however, a Telugu Association of Scotland. Founded in 2001 and based in Glasgow, it organizes events throughout the year. Although it serves primarily as a forum for Telugu speakers in Scotland, people from other parts of the UK are welcome to take part in its activities.
Telugu writing is believed to be descended from the ancient Brahmi script and has similarities with a number of other scripts in south east Asia, including Burmese Thai and Khmer. Like many other Indian languages, it has a very long literary tradition with the first inscriptions dating back to the seventh century and the golden age was considered to be in the sixteenth century. The basic unit of writing is the syllable, which is written from left to right. A new written standard based on the modern spoken language was introduced in the second half of the twentieth century. Prior to this point, a very archaic form of Telugu was used.