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Difference Between Tamil And Telugu

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The difference between Tamil and Telugu is the difference in their scripts. The language itself is similar, but they are written in different scripts. Tamil is spoken in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu while Telugu has its speakers in the states of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. In this blog post, we will explore what those differences are and how to tell them apart from each other.

What is the Tamil language?

Tamil Language

The Tamil language is spoken by about 75 million people around the world. It is also recognized as the official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore in addition to being one of the languages recognized by the Indian Constitution. In comparison to Telugu, Tamil has become significantly more popular internationally.

What is the Telugu language?

Telugu Language

Telugu has approximately 83 Million speakers and it's mostly used in India, where it belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. It is not related to any other widely-spoken language of India or anywhere else on Earth for that matter! The only exception would be Sanskrit - and ancient Indian classical tongue that influenced many languages including some European ones.

Key Differences Between Tamil & Telugu

Spoken in different states

Tamil is spoken in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, while Telugu is spoken in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Tamil is also a more internationally recognized language in comparison to Telugu, with the latter being spoken in Sri Lanka & Singapore too.


Tamil is written in the Tamil script, while Telugu is written in the Telugu script. The Tamil script is derived from the Grantha & Pallava, while the Telugu script is derived from "abugida" which is a segmental writing system.

The scripts are also different shapes – the Tamil script is straight, while the Telugu script is slightly curved.

Difficulty in learning

Telugu is certainly easier to learn in comparison to Tamil, as it is written in a segmental writing system. The downside would be that the language does not have any shortcuts or tricks which can help you remember those complex words and sentences easily!

Since Telugu is closer to Sanskrit than Tamil is, the Hindi speaking population of India will find it easier to grasp Telugu. On the flip side, a person speaking Telugu can learn to understand Hindi a lot better than a Tamil-speaking person can. This is mainly due to the close proximity of Telugu to the Sanskrit language.

Comparison Chart: Tamil Vs Telegu

Native Speakers75 Million83 Million
Speakers inTamil Nadu, Sri LankaAndhra Pradesh, Telangana
Age of the languageCame before TeluguCame after Tamil
Minority Language inMalaysia, S.AfricaS.Africa

Similarities between Tamil & Telugu

Both languages are Dravidian

Dravidian is a language family of about 70 languages spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India. Researchers believe that they may have originated from the same ancestor language, but this has not been proven.

Many words in both Tamil and Telugu are similar because they share the same Dravidian roots.

Both are spoken in India

Another big similarity is the fact that both languages are spoken in the Southern part of India in different states. These states share their borders with each other and are large in comparison to other states. The population of speakers of both languages is also very huge. The culture & the living style of both the Tamil & Telugu-speaking population is very close to each other.


Which language is older: Tamil or Telugu?

Both Tamil and Telugu are among the oldest languages in India. While there have been inscriptions found in both that date back to over two thousand years ago, it is difficult to prove which one was developed first. Although en edge is definitely given to Tamil for being the oldest.

Which language has more speakers: Tamil or Telugu?

Of all the Dravidian languages, including Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu, Telugu has the most speakers. It is estimated that there are around 94 million Telugu speakers in the world. Tamil comes in a close second with about 83 million speakers.

What is the biggest difference between Tamil and Telugu?

The biggest difference between these two languages is their script. Additionally, the two languages have different vocabularies and pronunciations. However, they are both parts of the Dravidian language family and share many similarities.

Are Tamil and Telugu mutually intelligible?

They are not mutually intelligible but Tamil and Telugu speakers are able to vaguely communicate with one another even though they speak different languages. This is because these two languages are a bit closely related and share some common words, sentence structure, and grammar rules. The ease of understanding each other is also down to their film industries that produce movies at a mass scale and are watched by audiences from both states. This has immensely helped people from both states to understand each other even more.

Is Tamil spoken in Telangana?

Yes! Although the official language of the Indian state of Telangana is Telugu, many people living there also speak Tamil. In fact, the Telugu-speaking region of Telangana has a large Tamil population.

Is Telugu spoken in Tamil Nadu?

Yes! A large number of Telugu speakers also reside in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In fact, the capital city of Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is home to a considerable Telugu-speaking population.


In conclusion, Tamil and Telugu are both spoken languages from India with a lot of similarities. They share some common roots but have different origins as well as many differences in vocabulary which makes them difficult to learn for those who do not speak either language. Despite these difficulties, it is possible to understand the difference between Tamil and Telugu by understanding that they have their own origin stories, pronunciations, grammatical structures, etc. Understanding this can help people better appreciate the rich history behind each language.


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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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