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Updated: March 28, 2014 00:10 IST

Scholars discuss growth of Kannada script

Bageshree S.
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Historian S. Settar. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu Historian S. Settar. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

S. Settar’s seminal work Halagannada went through 11 drafts before going into print. The multiple revisions, the well-known historian said, were efforts at not just making his arguments academically sharper but also more accessible to non-academic readers.

“There is a perception that academic works are boring. But they also have to be read and discussed by people who are not scholars,” said Prof. Settar, who has written and edited over 20 works on history in Kannada and English. His 2007 publication on Dravidian languages and communities, Shangam Tamilagam Mattu Kannada Nadu Nudi, has gone into nine prints so far, besides winning awards.

Of scripts and scribes

Prof. Shettar’s recent publication, Halagannada, running to over 500 pages, examines more than 2,000 ancient Kannada edicts and constructs a history of Kannada “script, scribes and cultivation of letters” in the first millennium.

The book, rich with illustrations of ancient texts, questions many of the received notions about language and knowledge production, including the nature of interaction between Sanskrit, Prakrit and Kannada. Prof. Shettar described it as an effort at constructing “alternative picture of history” by drawing from Dravidian sources.

A seminar organised at the National Institute of Advanced Studies on Wednesday here had 25 scholars of Karnataka participating in a debate that encompassed questions on antiquity and growth of the Kannada script, its various influences, and the social dynamics that shaped the changes.

The seminar was attended, among others, by Girish Karnad, U.R. Ananthamurthy, G. Venkatasubbaiah, M.M. Kalburgi, K.V. Narayan, Hampa Nagarajaiah, Basavaraj Kalgudi, Roddam Narasimha, Vivek Rai,Rajendra Chenni, K.P. Rao, Rahamat Tarikere and M.V. Vasu.

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