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Excerpts from the 1906 edition of

Linguistic Survey of India (Telugu)


Editorial Note


The following pages contain excerpts from Volume IV of the monumental work, "Linguistic Survey of India," Edited by George A. Grierson, 1906. Grierson held several posts in the Colonial Government including that of the Surveyor General. He made an immense contribution to the Western study of Indian languages. The massive eleven-volume survey was originally intended to cover the North Indian dialects (the so-called Indo-Aryan tongues). The objectives were slightly modified after the initial work and one volume was dedicated to Munda and Dravidian family of languages. Because of its continuing influence, it was reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass in 1967.


Although some of the ideas expressed here are clearly wrong, these volumes are of great value for future generations. There are many interesting observations and much useful data. The survey also gives an outline of the early history of European study of Telugu. Notice also, the numeral spellings of the Telugu language from Machilipatnam in the 17th century and a lot of other such interesting material!


Grierson was assisted by Sten Konow of Christiania, Norway in the preparation of the current volume. V. Venkayya (Govt. Epigraphist, Madras) assisted him in the Dravidian section of the survey.


The Telugu dialect sampled below was in use in various areas towards the end of the 19th century. The actual inflections and the often ridiculed (and much maligned -almost to the point of homophobia) yaasa/accent are difficult to preserve in written samples like this. However, as Grierson repeatedly pointed out in his survey, there is very little in these samples to warrant the name-tag of a separate dialect. The differences are not as distinct as those between, say, the Austrian German and Swiss German.


In these samples, there are of course, words that are not commonly used in the journalistic variety of modern Telugu. It should also be pointed out that the language used by different castes within any specified region shows slightly different accents. They also exhibit preferential use of certain synonymous words. This is true even at the end of the 20th Century. For example, a rural resident of Krishna District can clearly distinguish the current Telugu words or accents used by the land owning families of that village from those used by shop keepers or by priests. The same resident can also identify the difference between the language of daily communication and the language used by the journalistic media. He can also distinguish between the speech of divi sIma, tiruvUru and muktyaala, all within Krishna District. As literacy spreads however, such distinctions will clearly transform themselves by making dynamic adaptations.


In the following, '~n,' '~m,' 'tsa' and 'dza' are used to denote special sounds not normally found in the official Telugu. These sounds nevertheless are used in spoken language. The spellings used here are the closest to those defined by RIT. '~n' and '~m' represent sounds close to the first two 'anu naaSikamulu.' 'tsa' and 'dza' follow closely the more familiar sounds as in 'caapa/tsaapa,' 'jalleDa/dzalleDa.'


The samples below do not follow the original Grierson transliteration scheme. It has been converted to the RIT/RTS.




kOmTAu Dialect (circa 1900)

kAmAThI Dialect (circa 1900)

dAsarI Dialect (circa 1900)

bErADI Dialect (circa 1900)

vaDarI Dialect (circa 1900)

Standard Dialect (circa 1900)

Current Dialects:


First posted on the World Wide Web: March 1999. The original work was published in 1906 and subsequently reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass in 1967. Suggestions, additions and corrections to the above will be gratefully appreciated.

Electronic conversion and compilation carried out by:
Seshu Madhava Rao Adluri
{Electronic conversion proved to be of considerable difficulty even with the best available software. It was especially so with the italics and characters around special symbols. Can any one kindly point out the tricks of the trade?}

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