A Dictionary that Provides Native Kannada Synonyms for Sanskrit Words

A Sanskrit-Kannada dictionary 'Samskṛta Padagaḷige Kannaḍaddē Padagaḷu', co-authored by Dr D N Shankara Bhat, Y Bharat Kumar and myself was released on the 5th of August. There are several Sanskrit-Kannada dictionaries that are already available. But this dictionary is different from all of those in several ways.

The Kannada synonyms provided in the dictionary are native Kannada words. In other Sanskrit-Kannada dictionaries, one can see mostly Sanskrit words as Kannada equivalents. For example, in one such dictionary, 'buddhi' and 'prajne' are provided as Kannada equivalents of the Sanskrit word 'Dhi'. But interestingly, both these 'Kannada synonyms' are in fact Sanskrit words. Similarly, in providing 'yuvati' for 'taruni' and 'svikara' for 'parigrahana', one can see that the Kannada synonyms provided are actually Sanskrit words.

To an average reader it would be impossible to know which of the synonyms are actually native Kannada words and which ones among them are of Sanskrit origin. This new dictionary will be of great help to such a reader who would want to know native Kannada words.

It is well known that Kannada authors use plenty of loan words, especially those of Sanskrit origin, that are not easily comprehensible to an average Kannada reader. This is particularly true for scientific literature in Kannada. In science and technology, there is always the need to coin new words. Whenever there is such a need to coin a new word to describe a new invention or a new scientific concept, Kannada authors have mostly resorted to Sanskrit. Such a practice has made the scientific vocabulary hard to comprehend.

Such words are not only difficult to understand but also coining such new words to express newer and more advanced concepts becomes increasingly difficult. As a result it affects the overall educational progress of the language community. In other words, using familiar native Kannada words to build vocabulary in any subject will only help increase comprehensibility in general, and gradually improve the levels of education overall.

In fact, there are two schools of thought. One, as mentioned above, believes in resorting to Sanskrit to build new words. The other believes in borrowing vocabulary from English. But to a common Kannada reader or student, both English and Sanskrit are unfamiliar and hence any vocabulary built based on either of these languages will only make the concepts difficult to comprehend. Most of the readers would be forced to rote learn, than understand. Therefore it makes a lot of sense to construct new words in Kannada, which is easily comprehensible.

The book has about twenty five thousand Kannada words, provided with examples of usage in sentences and other word forms. To people interested in using native Kannada words and to those interested in building and coining new words in Kannada, the dictionary will give a good idea on an approach to coin and use native Kannada words.