Konkani – Konkani – English – Kannada Dictionary to be a reality soon

Konkani – Konkani – English – Kannada Dictionary to be a reality soon

People of Konkani Mother Tongue have good news, World’s first Konkani – Konkani – English – Kannada Dictionary is getting ready to see the light of the day. The work is expected to be released in Mangalore by Mid December 2019. We are told that the copies will be printed in limited numbers based on the pre-press bookings. Those interested can write to sqodr39@gmail.com (9480761017)
Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the Indian states of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. It is the official language in Goa, and one of the official languages of India. According to the 2001 census of India, there are just fewer than 2.5 million Konkani speakers in India. Though it is one of the national languages of India lexicographic work in Konkani, in the modern sense, is still in its primary stages.

Dictionary is an effective weapon for a language for its survival and fluent usage. If the users of a language have failed to compile or evolve a compendium of vocabulary in the form of a dictionary, they have failed the language and done a great injustice to that language. It is sad to witness quite a few erstwhile vibrant languages succumbing to slow extinction due to this significant lacuna. The fourth Earl of Chesterfield, realizing that there was no official dictionary of English in 1754 said, “It’s a shame on our country to find that there are no books of reference to know the word power of English. Our neighbors and even the Dutch are equipped with these tools of language and we still do not have them!” This lamenting remark demonstrates the need and significance of a dictionary for the language users.

It is obvious that a continual process of lexicographical endeavor and culture is necessary for the evolution and growth of a language. History tells us that it is through these dictionaries that a vibrant and dynamic communication in language happens. Every language has its own character and this unique character is acquired and constantly enhanced through the constant production and use of the dictionaries of that language. In this sense, every user of the language becomes a crucial element in constructing and producing the word power of the language.

The success of any dictionary depends entirely on its UTILITY or use value to its consumers. Hence, any lexicographic project must take its commercial viability as its non-negotiable mosaic. The standardization of language is a continual process and therefore, it constantly redefines and reinvents itself by evolving, acquiring, infusing, accepting, modifying, including new forms of expression. Every effort in expanding and modifying expression makes the language richer and more inclusive and open in its approach. Shall we say, every lexicographic endeavor like this makes the language get out of the exclusivity, closeness, bondage of the known and evolves into a freer, open, dynamic, user-friendly and inviting to others?

Responsible lexicographer attempts to enrich his/her creative work constantly. In this exercise, the already published and available dictionaries come in extremely handy for him as points of reference. Preparing a comparative lexicon needs a broad spectrum of works, regional and other foreign languages, for global acceptability. These efforts ultimately result in expanding the accessibility and popularity of the language. Times have changed and today, lexicographical endeavors cannot restrict their focus on the local language communities but cater to the multiple linguistic needs of the global users of the language. Therefore many writers in this field conduct surveys and pre-tests or experiments in different parts of the world where the target language community is spread.

It is commonplace to hear cynical comments like, “There is no copyright for words” and “What research can be possible on words?” If we take for example the English word “Monarch” it generally means ‘king’, ‘people’s leader’, ‘protector of people’, but if we take alternative references from other dictionaries, we also find other shades of meaning ‘one who lives on the tax paid by people’ too. A sensible and comprehensive lexicographic attempt must acknowledge and document this sense also with due referencing. This depends entirely on the compilers’ vision and attitude regarding their work.

Most of the dictionaries that we come across generally have a similar format. One of the predominant documentations is the Head Entry system where the structure of the word, gender, primary meaning, other meanings and various forms of the word are presented in sequence. Isn’t it amazing to note that the traditional and ancient dictionaries can be reworked and enriched even today? I’m sure a dictionary with a word- followed by its general meaning- oral (spoken form)- gender- its gender word form- number, primary meaning- alternative meanings- other meanings in various contexts- opposite word- an illustration of its usage in a sentence in its primary meaning, would be a worthwhile endeavor in the right direction.

Kannada, the Dravidian language predominantly used in South India, has been lucky enough to have many lexicographers working in it. Rev. Ferdinand Kittell produced the first Kannada- English Dictionary. Prominent institutes and the individuals have thence produced many important dictionaries in Kannada.

The traces of lexicographic endeavors have not been very regular in Konkani and have not been very satisfactory. Interestingly, it is the Christian missionaries who have made significant attempts at establishing a firm grounding for Indian languages by creating initial simple dictionaries for their own use and for the use of the people. We owe a lot to these enthusiastic missionaries for taking the first steps towards evolving a written working vocabulary and dictionaries.

Fr Angelo Xavier Maffei, a Jesuit priest, made the pioneering work of compiling the first English-Konkani dictionary in 1883. It was printed at the Basel Mission Printing Press, Mangalore. Fr Maffei also came out with a Konkani-English Dictionary too. In both these dictionaries, Konkani has been transcribed in Roman script. He did not believe in giving simple meanings but made an attempt to clarify the word and meanings and understand the nuances of context-based expressions.

After Maffei, one of the significant works has been “Konkani English Shabd Sangraha” by Mgr Sylvester Menezes. In this dictionary, the head entry is made in Konkani in Roman script and transcribed in Kannada script followed by English meaning. It is interesting to note that, in his illustrations, a descriptive method has been used in giving meaning to the word. This dictionary includes in its concluding part, religious vocabulary, numerical, relationships, other word power, proverbs which makes this work immensely useful and user-friendly.

Later Sri Anthony Saldanha prepared a Konkani dictionary. Hindi, English, Kannada and the 8 dialects Konkani language parallel dictionary (Samantar Shabdh Kosh) was compiled under the banner of the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy. Balavali Shabdakosha Rachana Samiti brought out the “Balavali Shabdakosh” which is first of its kind among the different dialects of Konkani. In addition, we have Dr John Fernandes’ English Konkani Theological Glossary which is a subject-oriented work. In the year 2004, Rev. Fr Valerian Fernandes prepared a unique Konkani- English Vocabulary which has been extensively used and has helped many a speaker and writer in clarifying doubts regarding the usage of specific words.

Stephen Quadros came out with the pioneering English Konkani Dictionary in Kannada script in 2007. More than 25000 English words have been given their Konkani equivalents in this dictionary. Running into 1009 pages, this voluminous dictionary provides more than five equivalent words to each English word and hence has become almost a household name among the Konkani world. Many editions of this dictionary have been published but there has not been keenness among linguists as well as publishers to update and reinvent the work. It has been a breath of fresh air to the people of all three languages. It has made a significant contribution to speakers, writers and lovers of these languages.

In the year 2010 the Patha Darshini Seva Trust embarked on the mega project of English – Kannada – Konkani – Kannada Dictionary, which became a reality in the year 2014. It was a huge work of 50000 head entries and first of such kind. This work has also helped in the empowering work that the Trust has been carrying out consistently for the past many years. All the members engaged in this noble work – Anil Johnson Coelho, Roman Basil Lobo, Prof Vincent D;Souza and Alwyn D’Souza, Permude have supported this work. This mega project would not have been possible without the collaboration, goodwill and, most of all, their commitment and love for the language.

It is heartening to note that lexicon writing and lexicography as an Endeavour to learn and promote languages has still maintained its relevance and respect in spite of the onslaught of the digital revolution. Writing lexicons has been one of the most complex and back-breaking exercises in the field of literature and language. Taking up the challenge to write one in itself is an encouraging sign and now the Patha Darshini Seva Trust has now got ready for publishing the World’s first Konkani – Konkani – English – Kannada Dictionary.

This work, apart from the synonyms, gives gender, tense, common form and cases of a term and other grammatical explanations needed. Homonyms and antonyms are also provided wherever applicable. In the usages, sentences mostly based on oral literature, Idioms, Phrases etc are given thus making this Dictionary a user-friendly work. The work is expected to be released in Mangalore by Mid December 2019. The concerned have informed that the copies will be printed in limited number based on the pre-press bookings. Those interested can write to sqodr39@gmail.com (9480761017)

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