A Shorter Hindi-English Dictionary
Dictionaries form a wide and varied genre of the literature of knowledge—one
of the main categories being comprised of bilingual dictionaries. Bilingual dictionaries
represent an effort to convey the meanings and significance of words, typical
usages, idioms and proverbs of one language through the medium of another—
which may or may not be blessed with matching verve and richness. The tradition
of bilingual dictionaries can be traced back to fairly ancient times in world
literature. India, too, is not without its own tradition of bilingual dictionaries
although Indian languages, today, cannot claim to be as advanced or rich as some
other languages of the world, such as Russian, English, German, French etc. And
what is true of Indian languages in general is also true of Hindi in this respect.
The first bilingual dictionary in Hindi is the Kha-lig Ba-ri: which lists Persian
(and sometimes Arabic and Turkish) equivalents of Hindi words (and phrases).
We can enumerate about half-a-dozen more, such as ‘Lugatae Hindi’ ‘Gara:ybul
luga:t', ‘Alla:khuda:i: in this tradition. Obviously, they reflect genuine efforts
on the part of triumphant Muslims to acquire fluency in the Hindi language
and to be able to understand it better. The same phenomenon was repcated,
mutatis mutandis, when the Europeans achieved sway over the northern parts of
the country and felt the imperative need to have workable knowledge of Hindi.
Hindi-English Dictionaries, numbering a score and a half, were compiled to fulfil
this need of the times. The earliest in the series was John Fergusan’s °A dictionary
of Hindustani language’ which was published in London in 1773 A.D. Among
others ‘A Dictionary : Hindustanee and English’ Calcutta, 1808 (Taylor) ‘A
Dictionary : Hindustani and English’, London 1817 (Shakespeare), "A Dictionary:
Hindustani and English’, London 1848 (Duncan Forbes)’ and ‘A Dictionary of
Urdu, Classical Hindi and English’ London, | 884 (Platts) deserve special mention.
The last mentioned work is, undoubtedly, the best of the whole lot.
The second quarter of the present century saw another dictionary compiled
by Shri R. C. Pathak (Bhargava’s Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the Hindi
language, Benares, 1946) which, although based essentially on Platts, represents a
linguistic anachronism and betrays complete ignorance of the art of lexicography. It
abounds, on the one hand, in words and meanings which never formed an essential
part of standard Hindi vocabulary and ignores, on the other, numerous words
and meanings that have very much been an asset to and form an integral part of the
language. The very fact that this dictionary has gone into several editions reflects
the poor state of our lexicographical equipment in the field.
In 1966, the Central Hindi Directorate of the Govt. of India, Ministry of
Education, brought out a small-sized ‘Hindi-English Dictionary of Common Words’
comprising about five thousand entries, at the instance of the then Prime Minister,
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. This was rather a meagre tribute to the wishes of a
great and mighty man who always believed in doing things ‘in a big way’ It,
however, reflected an approach that was much more scientific and precision-
based. With all its limitations in terms of size and selection of entries, it was a
worth-while contribution to this rather unproductive field.
In fact, none of the dictionaries mentioned above incorporates all, or nearly
all, the active vocabulary of modern Hindi and adopts comparatively newer
lexicographical techniques. The present work is an humble effort to fulfil the twin
The main characteristics of the dictionary may be summed up as follows:
(i) It comprises of almost the whole active vocabulary of modem Hindi
including words of common or literary usages as also. commonly prevalent
technical and semi-technical terms.
(ii) An effort has been made herein to incorporate all current idioms,
proverbs and peculiar usages of Hindi.
(iii) Each main entry is followed by its actual pronunciation.
(iv) While fixing the English equivalents for Hindi words, emphasis has not
been laid on conglomerating all, even remotely possible, words having
far-fetched affinity of meaning, but on the selection of semantically precise
and exact equivalents as far as possible. It is the semantic proximity, in
other words, that has mattered in the selection of words and not the
numerical strength of the equivalents. In fact, we have tried to restrict the
number of equivalents as far as possible.
It may, in short, be stated that an over-riding emphasis on practical aspect of
linguistic usages forms the keystone of its edifice. It is this factor that is sought to
be reflected in the title of the dictionary viz. ‘A Practical Hindi-English dictionary’
We seek here to discuss, in brief, the main problems of compilation in respect of
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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