Andhra was originally the name of a tribe. This tribe was a nomadic one and the hills and rivers adjacent to the habitat of this tribe were named after the tribe - Andhra. Gradually the area where this tribe settled was called "Andhra". There is a valley near Bombay called the "Andhra Valley". There is a small river in Maharashtra called "Andri" (anDri). A subriver of Tungabhadra is also called "Handri" (handri). During 220 AD the word "Andhrapathamu" was used in the inscriptions in Ballari district. This is the evolutionary sequence of the word "Andhra". The language spoken by Andhras was given the name "Andhra Bhasha" finally.
Different tribes used to speak different languages (dialects). The tribes of Andhra such as Dravida, Yaksha, and Naga spoke "Telugu" or "Tenugu". Andhras from North India used to speak another language called "Desi".
Telugu belongs to the family of Dravidian languages. Telugu has resemblances (close) with Tamil, Kannada, and Tulu. Basic vocabulary, verbs, sentence synthesis, and grammar dictate the architecture of the language (any language). Even till today, the basic vocabulary in Telugu language is intact. "amma", "akka", "ceTTu", "puTTa", "niiru", "pa'mu", "tElu", "ga'li" - these were the words the ancient Telugu man used while started saying for the first time. "tinu", "koTTu", "tiTTu", "naDu", "koorcO", "veLLu", "ra'" - these are the most ancient verbs. These ancient words share resemblances with some words in Tamil and Kannada.
The nominative case (karta), object of a verb (karma) and the verb are some what in a sequence in Telugu sentence construction. The same trend (pattern) is seen in other Dravidian languages. Sanskrit does not follow this rule. "Vibhakti" (case of a noun) and "pratyayamulu" (an affix to roots and words forming derivs. and inflections) depict the ancient nature and progression of the language. The "Vibhaktis" of Telugu language "Du, mu, vu, lu" etc are different from those in Sanskrit and have been in the usage for a long time. Based on these above features, linguists unanimously classify Telugu language as a member of the Dravidian languages.
Satavahana kings' official language was "Prakrut". Prakrut was also the language used by kings those days - Royal Language. For the first time Telugu words can be observed in the Ikshavakula inscriptions after Satavahana's rule. The Nagarjuna Hill inscriptions of 250 AD contain Telugu words like "na'gamna", "viiramna", and "maha'talavara". "talavara" is a Telugu word in "maha'talavara". "tala'ri" or "talavara" means "gra'ma'dhika'ri" (head of the village or town). In Tamil, "talaiva'r" means "pedda adhipati" (big boss). This Telugu word was combined with a Sanskrit word "maha'". Telugu language spoken by people contains some original words and some sanskritized words (as in inscriptions). People those days used to speak Telugu and rulers spoke Prakrut. The following is from the inscriptions of Pallava King, Sivaskandavarma:
"ka'nciipuratO yuvamaha ra'jO Ba'rada'yasa gotto palava'nam navaKandavammO dharmaKDe va'ptam a'napayati. andhapatiiyaga'mO..... viriparam amhEhi Udaka'dim sampadato Etasa ga'mana virivarasa nava bamhadEya pariha'lO vitarama."
The meaning of the above inscription: The Viripara (Epparru) village of Andhra is being donated by Sivaskandavarma.
The inscription of Chalkya Jayasimha Vallabha (in Telugu) is the following:
"jayasimhavallaBa maha'ra'ju la'kun pravardhama'na vijayara'jya samvatsarambuLa - eNumbOdi anmENNa ammin pooNNamana'NNum mla'vinDi ra'jula muTlu kalimuDira'jul mla'vinDi samudrarakai na'ku baNisEsina kalci viiRuruRla maddi kadu mooTiki vitaRti Uttarambuna pulOmbuna CeRuvu paDuma'Ri kOTan eRRumBOdi puTlu aRla paTTu sEnuta'Rii tOmTa la'yu paDuva'rambu icciri."
The above two inscriptions depict the differences between Telugu and Prakrut languages.
The ancient inscriptions contain the names of villages ending in a word "Uru" e.g. "kooDoorE", "ELoorE". The word "Uru" is close to the word "Ur" in the Southern languages. "Elooru" is the other name for "ELoorE". "kODooru" in Krishna District is the other name for "kooDoorE". These village names confirm the relationship of the Telugu with the Dravidian languages.
Telugu language spoken by the Dravidians, Yakshas, and the Nagas was influenced by Desi, Sanskrit, and Prakrut. Sanskrit and Prakrut belong to the same group. Literary language is Sanskrit and spoken one is Prakrut. There is no difference in basic vocabulary or style of sentence construction among Sanskrit and Prakrut. The preachers of Buddhism wrote their books in Prakrut for easy understanding. The language of Andhra was not Prakrut. While writing Bruhatkadha, Gunadya said the following:
"samskruta, pra'kruta, dESi Ba'sha lanu parityajimci nEnu paiSaci Ba'shalO bruhatkadhanu vra'stunna'nu."
Till today, languages called "bra'huyi" in Beloochisthan and "ka'nDu" "ma'rTu", "Oreya'n" in Vindhya exist. These languages belong to family of Dravidian languages. Dravidians inhabited North India prior to Aryan aggression. On the banks of river Sindhu, Aryans created the Harappa and Mahenjadaro cultures. Eventhough Dravidians came and settled in South India, their relatives (some tribes) still remained in the North India. Their languages belong to the family of Dravidian languages. "Papai" in Afganisthan, "shiina" in Kashmir, and "bra'huyi" in Beloocisthan share similarities (resemblances) with Dravidian languages. All these languages are classified in "Dardik Class" of languages by linguistics experts.
"dESi" of Andhras belongs to this class of languages (Dardik). Before settlement in South India, Andhras lived in the Vindhya for some time. Hill tribes of Vindhyas still speak Dravidian languages like "ka'nDu", "ma'rTu", and "oriya'n". Before arriving at the banks of Ganges and Jamuna, Andhras might have visited Beloochisthan, Afganisthan, and Kashmir. This is what historians propose.
Paisachi is an offshoot of Desi. What was the nationality of Gunadya? Was he a Kashmiri or Nepali or an Andhra? This is a debate among historians and linguistics experts. Desi was the ancient language of Kashmiris and Nepalis.
Andhras' Desi Tenugu and Telugu of Nagas and Yakshas combined together into one language. Both belong to the Dardik class of Dravidian languages. That is the reason why this alliance between these two languages was possible.
Linguistics experts showed that languages belonging to the same class can combine into one and languages belonging to different classes eventhough can survive in hormony, the strongest language survives and the weaker one dies. Languages belonging to two different classes can not combine.
The history of Telugu language offers a nice example for the above statement. For about 500-600 years during the Satavahana's rule, Prakrut was used as the royal language in Andhra. Tadbhavas from Prakrut infiltrated the Telugu language. But Telugu did not die. Telugu incorporated the required words from Prakrut and discarded the rest. Guptas of North India and Pallavas of South India fought battles in 400-500 AD. These battles killed the royal language, Prakrut. Finally, Prakrut rested in the Buddhism books in Tibet. Following, Sanskrit influenced Telugu of Andhras for about 500 years. During 1000-1100 AD, Nannaya's Telugu in Bharatam, Telugu in several inscriptions, Telugu in poetry reestablished its roots and dominated over the royal language, Sanskrit. Telugu absorbed the Tatsamas from Sanskrit only. The marriage between "Desi" and "Telugu" was possible.
Words like "Telugu", "Tenugu", and "Andhramu" were used in several instances in the "Tenugu Bharatam" written in 1050 AD. The name for a tribe is "Andhra" which is also used to call the language that had evolved over 1000 years. "Andhrulu", "Andhradesam", "Teluguvaru", "Telugudesam", "Tenugudesam", and "Tenugu Bhasha" are used as synonyms.