A proposal for the establishment of two Centres for the Development of Computational Linguistics (CDCL) in Tamil will be prepared soon, said M. Anandakrishnan, educationist and chairman, Board of Governors, IIT-Kanpur.

Speaking at a conference on Tamil computing organised by the Department of Tamil, University of Madras, in Chennai last week, he said though the government had recognised the need for Tamil computing more than ten years ago, not much progress had been made in the field.

He noted that only one professor in one department in one university in Tamil Nadu (N. Deiva Sundaram of University of Madras) was working in a field which needed inputs from many fields including computer science, physics, anatomy, and Tamil linguistics.

Establishing a CDCL would cost only around Rs. 7 crore and the Centre would spur the growth of research in this field by becoming a focal point for inter-disciplinary work, he said.

Welcoming the idea, IT Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna said the State government would look at the detailed proposal and take a decision. The government had instituted the Tamil Virtual University, which had an average of around 2.5 lakh visitors to the home page each year, and around 7,000 students registered in it, to provide a platform for Tamil computing.

G. Thiruvasagam, vice-chancellor, University of Madras, said the university would constitute a panel of three experts who would look at the software developed by individuals at the Oriental Research Institute on the first Saturday of each month between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

He said the university would also publish an expanded Tamil lexicon by the end of the year with the first volume coming out by the end of March. The classic A.C. Chettiar English-Tamil dictionary which had been out of print for the last 10 years would also be reprinted in the next two months with 25,000 copies in the first run, he announced.

N. Deiva Sundaram, professor, Tamil department, said in the IT world, Tamil needed to be updated and the three-day seminar had brought experts from different countries to look at specific needs in the field.