Professor of German language and literature at the English and Foreign languages university, Prof Meenakshi Reddy, has over the past two decades and more, painstakingly collected and organised a list of 16, 054 German words which she compiled into a German-English-Telugu dictionary.
Being published by the Oxford bookstore Hyderabad, the book is seeing the light of day after months of the author attempting the same with many other publishing houses.
“When I took on the project, I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into. There were so many difficulties, it was a long hard road. I had to keep motivating myself considering the long duration over which I had to work on it,” shares Meenakshi, as she looks back on the years she spent.
Going back to the start, she explains, “There was no idea of a book when it started. I was making glossaries for students and lessons at the beginning of my career. That became the background for the dictionary. A while later it evolved into a dictionary and I still kept collecting words.”
However, the task wasn’t word collection at all but was the translation.
“The dictionary was meant to be German-Telugu only. But people told me I should perhaps include English, hopefully helping the children learn all three languages better.” So was German always a passion?
“It’s actually God’s dark humour that I ended up teaching German,” chuckles the professor, continuing, “I was a typical student who wanted to get done with their studies as soon as possible. Yet I ended up doing a masters, a M.Phil and a PhD. Once German became my bread and butter, I had to just give to my best. And the whole process of the dictionary has helped me evolve as a person.”
A staunch believer in doing your best, Meenakshi keeps repeating the dictum that it isn’t the way you do things that matter but how.
“You don’t need to go to Germany to learn the language. I studied in India all through. If you’re passionate enough, you’ll find a way to learn.” Despite the passion that kept her going for a little more than a quarter of a century, with the task done, Meenakshi feels a sense of detachment with her achievement.
“Things just never went right and it was far from a smooth sailing. By the end of it, I didn’t feel like the dictionary was mine. I just slogged through and through, and that has left me feeling dispassionate about the whole thing.”
That however is just the glass half empty. “I did learn a lot of things and more than anything, I have a new-found appreciation for Telugu as a language. It is so rich and cultured, yet I have only experienced the tip of the ice-berg. I also realised that there is a striking similarity in the way we think. The language may be different, but the communication is the same.”
Prof Meenkshi Reddy will be sitting down to an interactive session today at the Oxford Bookstore located at the Park hotel at 5:30 in the evening.