The Tamil Nadu government has launched an ambitious project to integrate all six Tamil etymological dictionaries, including Winslow and Madras University dictionaries, and create a treasury of words (
) for all subjects with English equivalents. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had announced the project in the Assembly on Thursday. The government will allot Rs. 1 crore every year.

“Madhan Karky, son of lyricist Vairamuthu, who holds a doctorate in computer science, has developed a software for the project and we have fixed a target of creating 2,000 words per month,” Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture Mafoi K. Pandiarajan told
The Hindu
. In April, 1000 words, were coined, and by May, the project achieved its target of 2000 words. The government has opened a website — — for the purpose and created a 11-member expert committee that included Tamil scholar Ponnavaiko, former MLA Ravikumar and publisher Badri Seshadri. It is an open source platform for Tamil scholars and linguists.

“People can send in words as contributions through email. There is a toll-free number for seeking clarification and get meaning of words. One person will be available all the time to give explanation about words and other details,” Mr Pandiarajan said. Besides creating words in Tamil for emerging fields, the project would collect and resurrect words from ancient Tamil literature that were no longer in current use.

Over 5 lakh words

Mr. Pandiarajan said it had been estimated that Tamil had 5,70,000 words, three times more than English. The project would thoroughly analyse words and explain their origins. A thesaurus incorporating all idioms and phrases would be prepared.

“We use the word
in our day-to-day usage. It can be roughly translated as empty boast. We think it is slang, but the word is also found in the Silapathikaram,” the minister said. Similarly, some words are used by Tamils in other countries and may not have gained currency in other areas.

“We will come out with examples to explain the context of its usage. There is also a plan to accumulate words from other languages,” Mr Pandiarajan said, reiterating the need for a language to adapt to changing needs.

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