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Expert for permanent lexicography section

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G. Venkatasubbaiah
G. Venkatasubbaiah

K.N. Venkatasubba Rao

Varsities urged to introduce lexicography as a subject at the graduate and postgraduate levels

Bangalore: The Government should establish a separate organisation to compile and update dictionaries, says the 94-year-old acclaimed Kannada lexicographer, G. Venkatasubbaiah.

Prof. Venkatasubbaiah believes it is time that universities introduce lexicography as a subject at the graduate and postgraduate levels.

"It is strange that the Government has closed down the section established for compiling dictionaries, as this is a continuous process. Besides, lexicography is yet to be considered an essential discipline by any university in the country, and the work of a lexicographer does not come under the category of creative work. It is sad that lexicographers, who dedicate their lives to the longevity of civilisation, remain unhappy mortals in their own voyage," says Prof. GV, as he is known in literary and cultural circles.

Other works

Prof. Venkatasubbaiah was the chief editor of the eight volumes of the Kannada-Kannada Nighantu brought out by the Kannada Sahitya Parishat. He has compiled 11 dictionaries and authored over 60 books on various topics, including the art of compiling dictionaries.

He recently brought out two dictionaries Kannada-English dictionary and Klishtapada Kosha (a dictionary of complex Kannada words) to mark the Suvarna Karnataka year.

The Kannada-English volume is in demand for its clarity, lucidity, range of Kannada terms for English words with multiple meanings and insightful translation of Latin, French and Greek phrases. It has assimilated new words into the Kannada language and suggested methods of bringing foreign words into Kannada usage.

Unique effort

Klishtapada Kosha is said to be the first of its kind in Kannada and covers a range of linguistic aspects such as derivation, punctuation, phoneme and morphological patterns of archaic, old, medieval and modern Kannada. Prof. Venkatasubbaiah has compiled his dictionaries with the assistance of a young scholar, Rajyasri Satish.

Summing up his experience as a lexicographer, Prof. Venkatasubbaiah quotes Samuel Johnson: "Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries, whom mankind has considered, not as the pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths of learning ... "

Prof. Venkatasubbaiah did a postgraduate course in Kannada literature in 1937 and took to teaching. He has been associated with various cultural and literary organisations, including the Institute of Asian Studies (Chennai), the Union Government's Committee on Indian languages, the Kannada Sahitya Parishat and the Indian Lexicographers Association.

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