Learn German and Russian languages through MarathiEducation — By The Desk on February 18, 2009 at 11:56 AM
Times of India: If you are learning a foreign language, say German or Russian, why must you do so through the English language? Why not through Marathi? Now, learning German and Russian is all set to become easier with a first-of-its-kind trilingual Marathi-Russian-German dictionary taking shape at the department of foreign languages, University of Pune.
According to Sunanda Mahajan, co-researcher of the project and a teacher of German at the department, said the dictionary is bound to benefit all students, from the basic to the masters courses, technical writers and even programmers of automated translation. “The dictionary will not only provide equivalent words in Russian and German, but also will provide genders of words, their usages and contexts.”
Explaining the scope of the project, Mahajan said, “It is an ambitious project, as the dictionary will have a wider reach than just being an academic endeavour. It will benefit students of all the three language Marathi, German and Russian.”
The project has been funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and is headed by Yogendra Kumar, who has already worked on a Russian- Marathi dictionary. “Each entry in the dictionary opens with a lead word in Marathi, its gender and then its equivalents in Russian and German respectively. We have sought help from the native speakers of these languages to make it more user-friendly and comprehensive. Julia Khadkikar and Nikolai Sidelev are helping us with German and Russian respectively,” Kumar said.
Anagha Bhat, a member of the team working on the dictionary, said, “A German to Russian dictionary is already available in the market. However, for Marathi students, such a tri-lingual dictionary is the need of the hour.” Bhat, who teaches Russian at the department and a member of the city-based Kalasakta group, which translates literary works from foreign languages into Marathi, added: “Besides Pune and Mumbai, there are schools at Karad in Satara and Kolhapur which teach Russian. The dictionary will be a big help for them.”
Endorsing the argument, Mahajan said, “Responses to foreign language courses are on the rise and a dictionary like this will find a wider audience. Currently, we are looking for a good publisher with a strong network, as this dictionary will have more than 7,500 words and their equivalents.”
The UGC has sanctioned Rs 4 lakh for the project and the dictionary will be finalised by Diwali this year.
Other than helping local students master the foreign languages, the dictionary will also help native speakers of the foreign languages, especially German nationals interested in learning Marathi. “Officials of German companies in the state, who are interested in learning the language can also use the book. We have already received enquiries in the regard,” Mahajan said. Apart from India, the dictionary will be available in all major libraries, oriental research institutes and in Indology departments at German and Russian universities.
Explaining how the dictionary will help people use automatic translation machines, Bhat said the equivalent words and their appropriate usage with cultural, regional context cover a major section of automatic translation. For preparing automated translation programmes, such a dictionary can serve as a foundation. The dictionary will also be made available at government-sponsored programmes for translation and cultural exchange programmes run at various universities in Moscow and other cities in Russia, she added.
Currently, search engine major Google offers automated translation facility, but it’s still in nascent stages.
Mugdha Jathar, who is doing her masters in German, said, “I am waiting for the dictionary to be available in the market. Currently, we are using Marathi into English and English into German dictionaries for studying the language. We feel the dictionary will help in understanding the flow of the language.”
Sudhakar Bhat, a masters student of Russian at the foreign languages department, said, “I have studied Russian. Now, I want to grasp the essence of the language. If possible, I would like to translate spiritual literary works from Marathi into Russian and the dictionary will be of great help.”
Marathi works in German and Russian
In 1980s, famous Marathi novel Banagarwadi’ by Vyankatesh Madgulkar was translated into German by Gunther Sontheimer, who was studying the shepherd community. He had stayed at Jejuri near Pune for years to complete his study. After that several books from Marathi and Sanskrit were translated into German.
In the past, several Marathi books were translated into Russian as part of a government-sponsored project. Recently, Letters to Tolstoy’ by veteran socialist thinker G P Pradhan was translated into Russian. Works of poet Narayan Surve, Govind Karandikar, and Saint Dnyaneshwar’s Dnyaneshwari and stories by Asha Bage and Sania have also been translated into Russian. But being a voluntary work, it has seen a limited reach.