Namaskaram (నమస్కారం) or Namaste is the most common verbal greetings in Telugu. These are usually followed by “How are you?” – మీరు ఏలా ఉన్నారు? (meeru aelaa unnaaru).
Greetings can be formal or informal, depending on who the person is greeting. This is determined based on age, social status, social rank, etc. Family and friends generally address each other informally, using the pronoun “you”, however, when formally addressing someone, honorific suffixes, such as andi, and ayya garu (sir) are added. When greeting, shaking, or folding the hands is usually the norm.
Nonetheless, a slight head bow or touching one’s heart is not uncommon. Usually women will only shake hands with other women, not men.
Indians are usually polite and indirect communicators. To avoid conflict or confrontation, they will make use of an ambiguous communication style. Among friends and family communication tends to be more direct. Direct refusals may be seen as slightly rude and can cause some discomfort, so “I’ll try” might be a polite way of saying “no”. Additionally, Telugu people are regarded as humble, and do not like to boast about their achievements.
Personal Space and Touching
In India, personal space is valued, and people will usually keep a distance of at least an arm’s length during a conversation. Public displays of affection may be considered improper, particularly between people of the same gender. The left hand is considered unclean, especially in regions where the hand is used to eat with, which is the case of Telugu speaking areas, and for that reason, only the right hand should be used to touch someone. The feet are also considered unclean and should not be pointed at other people, let alone be used to touch them. Additionally, the head is considered sacred and touching other people’s heads should be avoided.
Eye Contact and Gestures
Eye contact is usually kept to a minimum, especially between those of opposite genders. However, direct eye contact may be appropriate if the direct gaze is averted from time to time.
Pointing using one finger is considered disrespectful, Indians use their chin, eyes, or the whole hand to point instead. Whistling or winking are considered vulgar gestures since both have a sexual connotation and are associated with flirting. Additionally, standing with hands placed on the hips is considered an aggressive gesture.
Telugu Culture Reference Guide
Telugu Population in the United States
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Telugu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in the South of India, particularly in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is the third most spoken language in the country. The language has three main dialects and several regional variations.
The dialect is spoken in the coastal areas, namely in the districts of Krishna, Godavari, Guntur, Vijayanagaram, Visakhapatnam, and Srikakulam. Over 34 million people speak this dialect. The vocabulary of Kostha Andhra has several influences from English and Sanskrit, and some words of Dravidian origin are completely replaced by words of Sanskrit. Kostha Andhra has a characteristic musical intonation. The coastal dialect is the basis of the Standard Telugu language and is formal in nature.
Spoken in 31 districts of the state of Telangana, one of the largest states in India. The Telangana dialect has been influenced by the Tamil and Kannada languages, as well as Persian and Urdu. Around 35 million people speak this dialect of Telugu. Compared to other Telugu speakers, those who speak this dialect tend to have a fast-paced intonation. One of the key differences between Telangana and Standard Telugu is the proximity of the dialect to Urdu. For instance, visugu (tired) in Standard Telugu becomes bejaru in Telengana, which is quite similar to the Urdu word bejar that expresses the same meaning.Unlike Kostha Andhra and Rayalaseema, the Telangana dialect has almost no Sanskrit loanwords. Telangana speakers refer to those who speak Kostha Andhra and Rayalaseema as andhras, but don’t identify as andhras themselves.
Spoken in the districts of Anantapuram, Kurnool, Chittoor, Kadapa, and in some areas of Nellore. Also known as the Beautiful Antique Telugu, because of its use of ancient forms of the language, this dialect also has some influences of the Tamil and Kannada languages, due to geographical and historical reasons. The dialect is widely used in movies, a favorite hobby among the Telugu-speaking Indians. Around 15 million people speak this dialect. Unlike Kostha Andhra, this dialect is informal rather than formal.
Telugu is the 3rd most spoken language in India, after Hindi and Bengali. Telugu is the official language of the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and the union territory of Puducherry.
Due to the language diversity in India, the country made it possible for states to declare their own official language. The language is also spoken by sizeable communities in a number of other regions throughout India, and in countries such as the United States, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Myanmar, Singapore, South Africa, Germany, and the U.K.
A total of 96 million people speak Telugu either as their native language or as a second language.
Countries Where Telugu is the Official Language
In 2018, Telugu was considered the fastest growing language in the United States. In the 1990s, with the rise of information technology, the demand for software engineers was higher than ever. It just happened to be that the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have the highest number of engineering colleges in India, and many Telugu youths seek that career path. Some of these students migrated to the United States for work purposes.
As of 2013, there were over 247,000 Telugu speakers in the U.S., according to the American Community Survey. There is even a neighborhood in New Jersey named little Andhra.
States with the highest numbers of Telugu Speakers:
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