Come March, new Tamil dictionaries are likely to hit the stands

The 45-year-old Directorate of Tamil Etymological Dictionary Project is reinventing itself to preserve Tamil words for posterity.

Published: 26th December 2018 04:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th December 2018 10:44 AM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose only

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The 45-year-old Directorate of Tamil Etymological Dictionary Project is reinventing itself to preserve Tamil words for posterity. The directorate is all set to bring out three dictionaries for youth, particularly college students, besides releasing an updated version of 31 volumes of the Tamil etymological dictionary.

Cover page of a dictionary that
will be released in March next year

Launching the word corpus project for the Tamil language at a cost of Rs 1 crore, releasing Tamil learners concise dictionary, publishing a multilingual etymological dictionary of Dravidian languages, updating the English-Tamil dictionary with current words, establishing an exclusive library for the international Tamil etymological dictionaries are few of the projects in the pipeline.

Director of the Project Thanga Kamaraj told Express that his team was working expeditiously to release three dictionaries - Nadaimurai Tamil Peragara Mudali (contemporary Tamil dictionary) which has over 10,000 words, Maanavar Ilakkiya Thamizh Agara Mudali (students’ literary Tamil dictionary) and a dictionary of Tamil equivalents for words from other languages - by March, 2019.

Each dictionary contains over 10,000 words, running into around 400 pages. “The antiquity, greatness and richness of a language are measured by the volume of dictionaries brought out in that language. The Tamil term ‘agarathi’ is known as agaramudali in chaste Tamil. For rising up to the level of the ever-growing science and technology and to preserving the literary and grammatical traditions of Tamil, preparation and updation of a dictionary is indispensable for the development of the language,” Kamaraj told Express. “Dictionary is a vital tool for any language and it takes the language safely to the next generation. In Europe, people celebrate a Dictionary Week annually to underscore the importance of language.  During this week, dictionaries of various languages across the country are displayed and people and researchers buy them eagerly,” Kamaraj said.

He said the 31 volumes of Tamil etymological dictionary, compiled by multi-linguist Devaneya Paavaanar from 1974, were being updated to cater to the present-day needs.   These volumes would now be published as 10 volumes with more than 8,500 pages.  “Painstaking efforts are being made by Tamil scholars including three scholars who had worked under Devaneya Paavaanar to remove the outdated words from the dictionary and to induct new words,” he added.  

Word corpus

Giving details of the word corpus project to be implemented at a cost of Rs 1 crore, Kamaraj said, “The purpose is project is to collect all Tamil words used across the globe and make them available online. A toll-free number will be provided which anyone across the world can use to know the meaning of a particular Tamil word with references. They can ask for the meaning of a Tamil word or can ask for the exact word for something by giving a description.  The directorate has submitted proposals to the government for this project.”  

He said that once a month, a seminar would be held in a college wherein a ‘word hundi’ would be placed. Students can coin their own words in Tamil according to the needs of different situations and subjects. They will be considered by the experts in the directorate.  

“Besides, a meeting of Thamizh Kalai Kazhagam is being held once a month to consider the newly coined words and decide whether they are eligible to be inducted into the word corpus. Now, our target is to coin 1,000 new words suitable for different subjects. In January, we will be publishing the first volume of 5,000 words,” Kamaraj added.


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