The Konkani Dictionary Project – Documenting the beautiful language


Introduction of our new contributor:

 

Roshan Pai Ramesh is the Chief Editor of the Konkani Dictionary Project (www.savemylanguage.org). His passion is researching and documenting the Konkani Language. He also maintains an extensive collection of Indian coins (pre-british era). Professionally he’s the Director of an IT Consultancy company based in the UK. He does occasionally fancy a pub crawl when he’s not too busy with the above.


Through the ages mankind has come up with some remarkable inventions. Language is one such beautiful invention.

 

Languages progress and evolve over time, enriching themselves as time flows. It no longer remains just a means of communication, but rather a complex medium of interaction between people.

Konkani too has seen it all. It’s been there and done that. Originating from Sanskrit, it has taken its own unique path. To really appreciate the richness of Konkani, you need to overhear two Mangloreans speak to each other in their so called pure ‘Amchigele’. The richness of the language is immediately striking.

Having a rich spoken language however does not suffice. It needs documentation. It needs rules. It needs to be standardized. First and foremost it needs a dictionary. This step has always preceded the organized literature phase. This is where the ‘Konkani Dictionary Project’ comes into the picture.

Without a dictionary, words are lost and replaced by new ones. Of course this is normal and happens to all the other great languages of our time viz. English, Kannada, Marathi etc. Being paranoid about this is not exactly the solution. Documenting the language and the changes is. That is why we set about doing just that, documenting ‘Amchigele’. That was back in 2005, and there has been no looking back.

The major decision that needed to be taken at this point was the script to be used. Which script does one use? The Kannada script is widely used by Konkani speakers to write Konkani, in Karnataka. So is the Malayalam script in Kerala. Devanaagri is the official script for Konkani, Marathi and Sanskrit, all of which are closely related. Weighing all the pros and cons, it was decided to use Devanaagri as the preferred script for the project.

With the varied flavors of Konkani abound, it was decided that the best way to go about collecting Konkani words, would be through volunteers. Of course the internet made the task that much easier.

Volunteers to the project are a diverse lot, including bankers, entrepreneurs, professors, house wives, retired employees, students, IT workers etc etc etc. As diverse as one could get. Some are good at the core language, some on the technical IT side of things and some on the linguistics side. The amalgamation of these skills is what you see on our website. Basically they are normal people going about their life, just like the rest of us, united by the common love of our language.

Volunteer word contributions from Karnataka, Dubai, Singapore, Mumbai, Goa, USA, Europe, Kerala and other parts of India (and the world) ensures that the varied richness of the language is maintained. With each of the peoples ensuring that their geographical flavor is represented in the dictionary.

All the volunteers of course do learn a lot themselves, as they go around helping the project.

The result of this exercise will be a published dictionary. Of course this project will take a long time to fructify, but yes it should definitely be worth the effort.

Do we need more volunteers? Yes we do. The more the better. Makes achieving the project’s goals, that much quicker.

What is next? We are already working on getting the ‘Konkani Dictionary’ available online in various other languages (like German) and other scripts (like Kannada script). Work on organized Amchigele literature will also be undertaken. Work is ongoing to set up a Konkani Language Foundation, dedicated to Konkani language research, which would be the first of its kind in Europe.

Of course I have cut a long story short for this article. If you need more details, or you want be a part of the project, you can contact us at <editor@savemylanguage.org>

www.savemylanguage.org

“Welcome to the world of our beautiful language”

– Roshan Pai Ramesh

One Comment

  1. It is indeed a heartening development that the Konkani Dictionary project is progressing under the savemylanguage domain. Contribution from various parts of the world, in the form of words with their meanings and also their pronunciational connotations, has enriched the contents, and my sincere congrats to the project owner Mr.Roshan Pai Ramesh for the venture.
    We do have several dictionaries in Konkani. Some of them are available in the market. But my view is that Konkani has seemingly remained a colloquial language not because of lack of any efforts to standardize the same, but because of sheer lack of support from our own people. Books are published, but not purchased by our people ! Even if purchased as a matter of obligation, they are not properly read. Where getting stuck or stumbled, no reference is made to a dictionary ! This is a vicious circle. Lack of proper patronage, lack of proper marketing chain etc. have all done their part in weakening the position.

    I know this is a debatable opinion, but I only wish and pray that the savemylanguage project may bring some more light in the minds of our people. The initiative and enthusiasm is well appreciated.

    Best regards
    Ramesh Pai

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