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Posted at: Nov 25, 2018, 12:54 AM; last updated: Nov 25, 2018, 12:54 AM (IST)

Punjabi lexicographer’s last word on words

Punjabi lexicographer’s last word on words
Kosh Adhian Model by Om Parkash Vasishta. Lokgeet Parkashan. Pages 232. Rs 450

Jaspal Singh

Om Parkash Vasishta, a retired professor from Panjab University, Chandigarh, is a well-known lexicographer who has been associated with a number of projects in Punjabi. He was the editor of the most comprehensive English-Punjabi dictionary under the aegis of Punjab State University Text Book Board many years ago. He has also worked with the famous Punjabi etymologist G.S. Rayall. 

Vasishta has also written an interesting book titled Chihan Vigian ate Guru Nanak Bani (Semiology and the Holy Verses of Guru Nanak). Vasishta has also worked in the field of theoretical aspects of lexicography and his book Kosh Vigian ate Punjabi Koshkari (Science of Lexicography and its Tradition in Punjabi) is a unique scholarly effort for charting out the history of Punjabi dictionary-making. Pioneers like Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Principal Teja Singh and some others have also been critically commented upon.

Vasishta has now come up with a critical appraisal of some of the Punjabi dictionaries, Kosh Adhian Model (A Model for the Study of Dictionaries). The author has taken six dictionaries beginning with Anglo-Punjabi Dictionary by Teja Singh, then analysed other dictionaries like Angrezi-Punjabi Kosh by G.S. Rayall, Students’ English-Punjabi Dictionary by Gurkirpal Singh Sekhon, Oxford Compact Angrezi-Angrezi-Punabi Shabad Kosh by Suman Preet, English-Punjabi (Roman Script) Gurmukhi Dictionary by S. Balwant and Jasbir Atwal and, lastly, Novel Alochna Shabdaveli Kosh by T.R. Vinod.

Vasishta has meticulously gone through all these dictionaries, a daunting task indeed, and has produced a critique of 232 pages. The careless handling of the lexicographic material by some of these scholars has been brought into focus. This shows that the Punjabi experts working in the field of linguistic technicalities are inadequately equipped to do such a specialised job.

Punjabi writers have been agitating for a long time to pressurise the Punjab Government to develop Punjabi language. They perhaps forget that the official edicts and use of Punjabi for official purposes cannot develop the language. In fact, the writers and scholars themselves are responsible for the development of Punjabi. If experts in the language make it exceptionally effective for handling subjects such as natural sciences, medicine, trade and commerce, various social, philosophical, psychological and cultural themes, law and justice, national and global financial matters and modern media requirements and so on, the functionaries working in these fields would be forced to use it professionally. For this purpose, a lot of source material has to be produced. It is here that the will of the government of the day, which can extend requisite financial support to the institutions engaged in this project, matters. Even the religious and cultural organisations like the SGPC can play a proactive role.

Punjabi writers should mobilise the support of experts working in the above mentioned fields to address the problem of government indifference. Scholars like Vasishta should be actively associated with such endeavours to save and develop the Punjabi language. All Punjabi writers and Punjabi lovers should read Dostoyevsky’s views about the Russian language in 19th century when the Russian ruling classes were infatuated with the French language against their own. In fact, Russian writers like Pushkin, Gogol, Chernyshevesky, Herzen, Nekrasov, Turgenev, Gorchakov, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky and so on, in a way ‘created’ Russian language and lent it such great prestige as it enjoys today, despite all official hassles. Will the scholars and writers of Punjabi take up this challenge?


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