THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:Malayalam has a natal connection with Tamil. The Department of Tamil at Kerala University was formed 70 years ago. But it was only on Tuesday that a Malayalam-Tamil dictionary compiled by the Department was released.
Governor P Sathasivam, who handed over the first copy of the book to Malayalam poet Puthussery Ramachandran, said that with the book, he might finally be able to speak in Malayalam in three months. He said that in Tamil. He had cautioned beforehand that he would use his mother tongue Tamil, after two minutes of delivery in English. The Governor was at home speaking in Tamil at the Botany Department seminar hall on the Kariavattom campus, miles away from Kadappanallur village in Tamil Nadu. He said that his village in Erode district elonged to Konkunadu, which was part of the erstwhile Cheranadu. Since Kerala was part of Cheranadu as well, he said that we all came from the same land. He said it won’t be difficult to follow his Tamil, as many of the Tamil words were similar to Malayalam.
He said that writers from Cheranadu had made important contributions to Tamil literature including ‘Pathittu Pathu’ and ‘Silappathikaram’. ‘Tamizhthai Vazhthu’, the song which is sung before every formal function in Tamil Nadu, was written by P Sundaram Pillai, a faculty at Thiruvananthapuram University College, he said.
This was not the first time that the idea of such a dictionary was suggested. Four decades ago, work on it had begun, but could not be pursued, according to P Jeyakrishnan, head of the Tamil Department.
“Several times the idea was suggested, and some work had started. When I joined as a Department head, I was keen to see it through and mustered courage to go ahead with the project,’’ he says.
The dictionary has 20,000 head words, and has tried to stick to Malayalam words which are in usage. In order to ensure that the dictionary uses words which remain relevant today, the Tamil Department had a smart idea. It took the help of the Malayalam Department on Kariavattom campus, to suggest all words.
Linguistic professors and researchers of both departments put their heads together to devise a strategy for selecting the words. They decided to stick to standard Malayalam, search through all Malayalam dictionaries in use including ‘Sabdataravali’ and weed out old words.
Words that describe various facets of Malayalam’s culture, like ‘Kaineettam’ and ‘Keli Kottu’, have been included. There is ‘Pathinettara Kavikal’, who were 19 poets in the court of Manavikraman Raja, of whom one could only write in Malayalam, while the rest could also write in Sanskrit.
Some of the popular usages are also in the dictionary. “If I remember correctly ‘Adipoli’ is one of the words that find a place in the dictionary. There is also ‘Chethuka’, with two meanings, one being ‘the tapping of toddy’, and the second being ‘moving around in style’,’’ says Nainar, Malayalam-Tamil Expert Committee Member.
It will be of great help to academicians wanting to translate Malayalam textbooks or even literature to Tamil. The dictionary will still not allow one to translate works like Bashir’s ‘Intuppuppakkoranendarnnu’, as it has not covered the dialects. The release function of the dictionary was attended among others by Kerala University Vice-Chancellor P K Radhakrishnan and Pro-VC N Veeramanikandan.
A Step Ahead
■ Governor P Sathasivam handed over the first copy of the book to Malayalam poet Puthussery Ramachandran
■ The dictionary has 20,000 head words, and has tried to stick to Malayalam words which are in usage