‘Pure science,’ ‘botany’ and ‘zoology’ were some of the words that defied translation

A seminar held to promote Tamil ended up with speakers, including ministers and legislators, lapsing into English.

The State government’s Tamil development department organised a seminar at the Collectorate here on Thursday to discuss the growth of Tamil.

The event, attended by Tamil scholars and enthusiasts, was addressed by two ministers — Vaigaichelvan, Minister for School Education, Tamil Development, Sports and Youth Welfare and ‘Sellur’ K. Raju, Minister for Cooperation. Both of them used English to drive home their message.

Mr. Vaigaichelvan, who made sure in the beginning of his speech that he pronounced even the initials of the participants in Tamil by referring to MLA A.K. Bose as Aa.Ka. Bose, was hard pressed to find Tamil substitutes for ‘pure science, botany and zoology.’

He also used the English expression "Imitation is the highest form of appreciation" and explained it in Tamil to drive home his point that the achievements of the four departments under his control were on the finger tips of other ministers holding different portfolios.


The speech concluded with an appeal to the people to use chaste Tamil.

In his address, Mr. Raju made sure that he spoke in Tamil throughout until he faltered by using the word ‘shooting’ while referring to an incident that took place when Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was a film actress.

S.T.K. Jakkaiyyan, special representative of the State government in New Delhi, said that Tamil needed to be defended the way players of "defence games" such as "football" and "hockey" defended on the playing field.

Madurai Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa was meticulous in his speech, but only after he referred to Tamil Development Department secretary R. Rajaram with the English acronym "I.A.S." Realising the lapse, he corrected it within seconds and said it in Tamil as Ee.Aaa.Pa.

Member of the Legislative Assembly A.K. Bose listed out the speakers of the seminar. Naming one of them, the MLA said that he would speak on the "subject" of computer Tamil.

He later replaced the English word ‘subject’ with its Tamil equivalent ‘Thalaippu.’

Another MLA R. Sundarrajan, who shifted loyalty from actor Vijayakant’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said that he had come to the seminar to listen to Tamil scholars, and therefore, he did not know what to say.

Later, talking to presspersons, Mr. Vaigaichelvan said that the Chief Minister would soon announce the location for erecting a statue of Mother Tamil, on the lines of the Statue of Liberty in New York, at a cost of Rs. 100 crore here.

"As of now, we have about four places under consideration," he added.

The minister also said that work was under way for the construction of a building for the World Tamil Sangam at a cost of Rs. 25 crore.

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