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Now, Tulu has a real dictionary!

An 18-year, Rs 4.5-million linguistic effort will reach completion on September 27 in Udupi, Karnataka, when the Govind Pai Research Centre releases the final three volumes of its Tulu lexicon project.

The project was started in October 1979 and has been completed in record time, according to chief editor Dr U P Upadhyaya. The first 10 years was devoted to extensive field work. Speech forms of different dialects, special vocabularies used for different occupational activities, rituals, socio-religious occasions and folk literature in the forms of paaddanas, kabites, folk songs, proverbs and riddles were studied in detail.

The trilingual lexicon -- Tulu-Kannada-English -- contains over 100,000 entries with 3,400 pages. The third volume was released in 1995. The six volumes are together priced at a mere Rs 500.

Dr Upadhyaya said this was the first-ever such attempt after the first Tulu-English dictionary produced by Reverend Manner in 1886.

"Our research proves that Tulu was the first among the five Dravidian languages," he said. He said that several renowned linguists have also supported the claim after going through his team's work. The Tulu lexicon was awarded the Gundert award for the best dictionary in the country in 1996, he added.

Highlighting the project features, he said it had exploited different styles and registers ranging from the highly stylised bhoota oracle to the simple straightforward lisping of the child language, and the highly ornate style of the pic sri bhagavatho to the work-songs of women labourers in paddy fields.

It had citations and illustrations from oral literature and colloquial idioms along with passages from classical texts.

Dr Upadhyaya said the project employed modified Roman script in addition to the Kannada script for main entries, sub-entries and citations. In addition, there were also illustrative passages.

The dictionary recorded all suffixes, their analysis, dialect variations, illustrations giving detailed treatment of oblique forms, irregular inflected and conjugated forms for proper understanding of the morphological and syntactic structure. It also records the cognate words from other Dravidian languages for those of Dravidian origin, besides the source words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese and other languages.

He said over 50,000 vocabularies, audio recording of paaddanas and interviews were collected during the field work in 45 villages. The Karnataka government had extended a grant of Rs 3.7 million for the project.


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