Delay, howlers in Tamil Lexicon embarrass scholars

Updated first volume replete with silly mistakes, grammatical errors and typos

Published - June 22, 2014 02:52 pm IST - CHENNAI:

The much-hyped project to publish a revised and enlarged edition of the Tamil Lexicon of the University of the Madras has not only been delayed, but the first volume is full of silly mistakes, bloomers and grammatical and typographical errors.

A complaint has been sent to the Chief Minister’s Cell, and Dr. V. Murugan, one of the members of the expert committee, who subsequently resigned, also sent a detailed note to the Madras University’s Tamil Department, listing the errors.

The project to revise the Tamil Lexicon — published between 1924 and 1939 (when the legendary Tamil scholar, S. Vaiyapuri Pillai, was its Editor) — was launched in May 2003. But even after 11 years, the university is unable to fully cover all entries under the first Tamil alphabet. The first updated volume was released in 2012 when K. Thiruvasagam was Vice-Chancellor.

“Errors in a Lexicon are unacceptable. It has created an impression that the university has employed people who are thoroughly unqualified for the job. Withdrawing the volume alone can protect the honour of the university and the Tamil community as a whole,” said Mr. Murugan.

For example, when explaining the meaning of the word a-purvatai, the lexicon says: “The soul which is cannot be quantified.” The word ‘is’ is not required here.

“Punctuation marks are not properly used and hyphens found missing in hyphenated words. In some places when the head word is a noun, the lexicon has used adjectives and verbs. Moreover, rules for italics and diacritical marks are not followed properly,” Mr. Murugan said.

V. Jayadevan, Chief Editor of the Lexicon, said errors crept in as he and his team were under pressure to release the first volume.

“We have printed just 500 copies and invited suggestions from readers and scholars so that an error-free edition can be brought out,” he said.

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