Digital Dictionaries of South Asia
Search Turner Comparative Font Display About the Dictionary Front Matter Copyright Information Back to DDSA
A Comparative Dictionary of Indo-Aryan Languages

[page vii]

PREFACE

THE beginnings of this book go back over half a century. The year 1912 when I first met Jules Bloch saw for me the beginnings of a friendship which was to last till his death in 1953. He was then writing La Langue Marathe of which in 1914 he sent me an advance copy.1 I had myself already collected material for articles on the phonology of Gujarātī and, since coming to India in 1913, had gained some knowledge of Hindī. The following four years of active service in the Indian Army provided me with much first-hand material from another Indo-aryan language, namely Nepāli; and during these years the idea formed itself of a comparative dictionary, perhaps somewhat on the lines of W. Meyer-Lübke's Romanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, in which to present the vocabulary of the New Indo-aryan languages in so far as it was derived from Sanskrit. This idea was encouraged by Sir George Grierson, who proposed that such a dictionary should form an appendix to the volumes of his great Linguistic Survey of India then, in 1920, still in process of publication.2 Although after his death in 1941 in his ninety-first year3 and with the coming of Independence his proposal was put on one side by the Government of India, I have dedicated to the memory of this good man and great scholar a work which, imperfect and incomplete though it is, owes its existence to him.

Although the material for this book continued to be collected over a period of forty years, in the last twenty of these the claims made upon my time by duties as Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies, both during the Second World War4 and the subsequent period of rapid expansion, precluded me from fully indexing material contained in the works of both earlier and contemporary scholars. When in my seventieth year I was once more able to devote all my energies to its compilation, no one could have been more conscious than I of the lacunae which waited to be filled. There were two alternatives: either to attempt to fill them with little prospect of being given time to complete anything for publication or to put what was already collected into a form utilizable by others. The many inquiries received throughout the years for information available in these collections decided me to adopt the latter alternative and to publish the work as it now stands. I can only hope that the use to which students of the history of the Indo-aryan languages will be able to put it will make them lenient critics of its manifold imperfections and omissions.

But for one scholar these imperfections would have been far greater still. When the Publications Committee of the School of Oriental and African Studies undertook complete financial responsibility for publication, Mr. (now Professor) J. C. Wright agreed to assist in reading the proofs. In the event, over the past eight years, he has done much more and has in fact been a collaborator responsible for many improvements. All the references to and explanations of Sanskrit forms (especially from about page 300 onwards) and consequently many of the proposed etymologies owe very much to Professor Wright's profound and extensive knowledge of the vocabulary of both Vedic and Classical Sanskrit. The number of notes to which the initials J. C. W. are attached is not at all a true measure of the great contribution he has made.

As I thus come to the end of the work and look back over the fifty years that have seen its growth, the happiest memories are those of the many friends and colleagues who have so

_________________

1Owing to the outbreak of war formal publication was delayed till 1920.

2In the Preface to Volume I, Part I, it was announced as Volume I, Part III, Comparative Dictionary of the IndoAryan Languages.

3The obituary in Proceedings of the British Academy wrongly states that Grierson's last publication was an article in 1933. To the deputation presenting to him in January 1936 the volume of the Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies compiled in honour of his eighty-fifth birthday he himself presented a copy of his latest work The Test of a Man: being the Purusha-parîkshâ of Vidyâpati Ṭhakkura, published only a few days previously.

4Owing to the threat of invasion and the menace of bombing the collections lay for some years buried in a pit dug to the distant rumbling of the Dunkirk guns.



[page viii]

unstintingly given me help and advice. Not a few, alas, are, like Sir George Grierson and Jules Bloch, no longer with us: Lieut.-Col. D. L. R. Lorimer, C.I.E., who generously put at my disposal his vocabularies of Khowar and Shina1; Professor Helmer Smith; my old colleagues the Revd. W. Sutton-Page, Dr. T. Grahame Bailey, and the Revd. D. Emlyn Evans; my old pupils Dr. B. S. Pandit, Dr. B. D. Jain, and Professor Raghu Vira.

The Kafiri and Dardic groups of languages, even if politically of little import, are linguistically of great interest. We owe our knowledge of them to Professor Georg Morgenstierne more than to any other. Throughout a friendship which now goes back over more than forty years, he has constantly put his notes and vocabularies at my disposal even before their publication, while his advice and help have been a constant source of encouragement.

Three of my old pupils have been mentioned above. Among others happily still with us are my very first pupil in this field, Professor Baburam Saksena, who was with me as an Advanced Student at the Hindu University of Benares in 1921 and is now Vice-Chancellor of Raipur University; Professor Siddheshwar Varma to whom we owe important studies of West Pahāṛī dialects; Dr. S. M. Katre, Principal of the Deccan College and originator in chief of the Sanskrit Lexicon in preparation at Poona. To two others I owe a particular debt: Dr. P. B. F. Wijeratne, Editor-in-Chief of the Sinhalese Dictionary, who in his articles in BSO AS and in an etymological glossary of words from the inscriptions2 added very much to Geiger's etymological material; Dr. T. N. Dave who read through all the Gujarātī slips and made many valuable suggestions.

To Sir Harold Bailey I am deeply grateful for our long years of friendship and for the wealth of information with which he always met a query about Iranian or about Indian words in Central Asia. To Professor John Brough too I have seldom turned in vain. Mr. C. H. B. Reynolds went through all the Sinhalese material in the earlier fascicles. More recently I have had much help from Professor M. Mayrhofer whose Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen nears completion, and Professor G. Buddruss who has made a number of suggestions from his own studies of Kafiri and Dardic dialects.

To the Publications Committee of the School of Oriental and African Studies for undertaking full financial responsibility for this book I have already expressed my gratitude. To its Secretary, Mr. J. R. Bracken, I am deeply indebted for all the help and advice he has given and the patient hearing he has invariably accorded my queries and suggestions. I wish too to thank the Printer to the University of Oxford and his staff for their work in setting up a very complicated text. To Margaret Gregory-Smith whose constant care has done so much to sustain me through many strenuous years I owe a deep debt of gratitude.

Such value as this work may have will, I believe, be greatly increased by the volume of indexes of all words quoted in the Dictionary, arranged by languages and now nearly ready for printing. This, like the similar indexes of the Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language, is the work of my wife, who moreover through the forty-seven years of our married life, in the midst of all her household and public responsibilities, has taken charge of the evergrowing mass of slips. What I wrote in the Nepali Dictionary in 1930 is even more true today: without her constant help and encouragement the task would never have been accomplished.

Bishop's Stortford, April 1966
R. L. T.

_________________

1These, still unpublished, are deposited with many of his other papers in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies.

2Still unpublished, but deposited with his Ph.D. thesis, Phonology of the Sinhalese Inscriptions up to the end of the 10th century A.D., in the Library of the University of London.

Back to the Search Page  |   Back to the DDSA Page

This page was last generated on Tuesday 29 September 2009 at 13:06 by dsal@uchicago.edu
The URL of this page is: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/soas/frontmatter/preface.html