New Delhi: The
campaign to preserve vernacular mother tongues and make knowledge
accessible to students through translation across the linguistic
arc has taken a big stride with a new bilingual dictionary series
in Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada from the
source language, English.
An initiative of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL),
National Translation Mission, Regional Institute of South Asia and
Pearson Education, the six bilingual dictionaries is the first lot
of the 11 dictionaries that the government is collaborating on
with Pearson under its Longman imprint.
"The dictionaries, released in the national capital Saturday, aims
to fulfil the National Translation Mission's mandate to develop
translation tools for 22 Indian languages under the Eighth
Schedule of the Constitution," said Aditi Mukherjee, project
manager of the National Translation Mission.
The second lot of the language dictionaries that are in the works
include Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu and Urdu, Mukherjee
"One of the primary mandates of the National Translation Mission,
set up three years ago under the ministry of human resource
development, is to promote academic education across 70-odd
disciplines in 22 languages by translating 100 books in each
discipline. The lexicon is an important translation tool - kind of
a spring board to push the mother tongues, many of which are
threatened with very few speakers," Mukherjee told IANS.
The Longman-NTM-CIIL dictionaries have over 12,000 words and
phrases culled from the British National Corpus.
Translation studies as a concept took roots in the country in 1986
when the ministry of human resource development presented a
document, "Programme of Action" - to make translation an academic
and commercial pursuit.
The paper, conceptualised by late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha
Rao, a linguist, led to the establishment of the Centre for
Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies (CALTS) at the
University of Hyderabad.
It was later followed by a translation website, "Anukriti" under
the 10th Five-Year Plan and the National Translation Mission with
the CIIL as its nodal agency.
"The target group of the National Translation Mission is those
university students who do not know English. We have to look at
how to disseminate or translate from English and to English. We
have identified 105 books and have acquired rights for 23 books
from source publishers to be translated in different languages,"
The mission assigns the task of translation to the publisher or
deputes a translator from the National Register for Translators, a
pool of government translators, the project director said.
Recalling the beginning of the dictionary project, Udaya Narayan
Singh, former director of CIIL and pro-vice-chancellor of Visva
Bharati University in Shantiniketan, told IANS, "The idea for the
dictionaries was sown when Pearson published my book, 'Translation
as Growth: Towards a Theory of Language Development' in 2009. At
the time, I had just completed work on connecting Microsoft's
Windows 7 to 12 Indian languages. I was also working on bi-lingual
Singh said he was earlier a part of "Anusaraka" - the National
Language Processing Project - a linguistic collaboration between
Hyderabad University and IIT-Kanpur.
"I suggested online dictionaries to Longman from which we culled
the idea for language lexicons in print with 12,000 words," Singh
"The idea is to create a translation industry as recommended by
the National Knowledge Commission by mobilising the publishing
stakeholders (both private and public) and getting the regional
language publishers into the loop. They know how to reach the
readers," Aditi Mukherjee said.
The 22 Indian mother tongues that the National Translation Mission
has taken up for promotion have 134 dialects, Udaya Narayan Singh
"This accounts for 96 percent of India's population. The remaining
four percent speaks 600 languages," Singh said.
"The government has taken the depleting linguistic groups into
account and is relooking at the Linguistic Survey of India after
100 years. It has asked some states to come up with parallel
survey reports," CIIL director S.N. Burman told IANS.
The National Translation Mission is also trying to set up lexicon
bases for languages like Santhali, Konkani, Marathi, Bodo and
Sanskrit, Udaya Narayan Singh said.
"You need to introduce the threatened mother tongues in primary
schools which has many implications," Singh said.
Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)