A Short Resume of the Work of the International School of Dravidian Linguistics
Menamkulam, Thiruvananthapuram – 695 586
The Silver Jubilee Year
It was the late C. Achutha Menon who as Chief Minister felt about the great
strides made in Russia, USA and other countries in linguistics and solidly stood
behind the proposal for the formation of the International School of Dravidian
Linguistics (ISDL), which celebrated for a year its completion of twenty-five
years of its work in 2002.
Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of an oceanic circle of uniting into smaller circles and later big and bigger circles the people and the nation.
The ISDL had a humble beginning and initially worked in an old house at
Kunnumpuram in Vanchiyoor, Trivandrum. In 1982, it purchased 27 acres from St.
Xavier's College management. Now with fourteen buildings and an excellent
library, a speech laboratory, a language laboratory, a computer unit and two
museums, it functions as a hub of research activities.
Besides a biannual called International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, in its
39th year, which has worldwide distribution, it has 104 publications of
long-lasting value. The Dravidian Encyclopaedia in three volumes, the
Encyclopaedia of Dravidian Tribes in three volumes and the Handbooks of Tamil
Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala are its prestigious publications.
The Historical Grammar of Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil and the
description of several Tribal languages of the Dravidian family hitherto unknown
to scholars are its noteworthy publications.
As Senior Fellows in research, T.P. Meenakshisundaram, E. Annamalai, V.Sp. Manickam for Tamil, K.N. Eluttaccan, N.V. Krishna Warrier, P. Govinda Pillai, G.K. Panikkar, Puthusseri Ramachandran, K. Retnamma, M.P. Sankunni Nair for Malayalam, D.N.S. Bhat, M.M. Bhat, D. Jaware Gowda, J.S. Kully, R.C. Hiremath for Kannada, P.S. Subrahmanyam, B. Purushottam for Telugu are a few senior Scholars who enjoyed the Fellowships.
When Prof. Sukumar Sen and Sudhi Bhushan Bhattacharya were invited as Senior
Fellows, the Government of West Bengal funded substantially for an impressive
building in the name of Gurudev Rabindranatha Tagore, a good library in Bengali
and on Bengal. Several young men and women worked in this Unit and the
relationship continues with West Bengal.
The spread of Dravidian languages, especially Brahui in Pakistan, Iran and in
Afghanistan, was focused by ISDL. About six lakhs live there. ISDL sent Prof.
G.K. Panikkar to survey in Iran and received a Pakistani, Dr. Abdul Razzaq Sabir,
in the campus at Trivandrum for six weeks. Its Journal published for the first
time the existence of Dangar, a Dravidian language spoken in Nepal.
Two senior scholars, J.D. Singh of Kurukshetra University and S.M. Katre,
formerly of Deccan College, Pune, who lived in the USA, were awarded financial
support to complete their work on the interpretation of Paanini, the great
Grammarian of Sanskrit.
Courses in Malayalam, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Gujarati and Sanskrit were conducted for Indian and foreign scholars. The beneficiaries so far are from USA (25), France, Netherlands and Germany (12 each), UK and Japan (7 each), Sweden and Zambia (5 each), Australia (3), Russia (2) and Pakistan, Philippines, Czechoslovakia and Poland (1 each). The scholars from north India, associated with ISDL, are considerable in number.
A recent advance made by the ISDL is in Voicing Braille Script in Malayalam
which when commercialised will be a boon to blind scholars who now study by
using the Braille Script. The Department of Science and Technology gave a modest
grant for carrying out this work.
Another development, which has several implications for language research, is
the study of the Brain. The ISDL admits speech defective children for
correction, observes their improvements and puts forth hypotheses.
The extensive 27 acres of sea-sand has been converted into greenery like the
Aranyakas of Rishis and the library, the laboratories, the museums and the
active researchers offer an environment to study areas untouched by others.
A detailed write-up is available for distribution for those who require it. The Silver Jubilee Celebrations were inaugurated by His Excellency Justice Sri. Sukhdev Singh Khang on 10th February 2002. Nearly 150 delegates from India and a few from foreign countries attended this three-day Conference of Dravidian linguists. The Presidential Address was delivered by Prof. N. Sivarama Murthy, former Director of the International Telugu Institute, P.S. Telugu University, Hyderabad.
Prof. G. K. Panikkar
Former Director, ISDL
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