Venkatasubbaiah, Kannada’s preeminent lexicographer, passes away

Published : April 19, 2021 14:31 IST

G. Venkatasubbaiah. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

It was the end of an era when 107-year-old G. Venkatasubbaiah, the preeminent lexicographer of the Kannada language, passed away early today in Bengaluru. GV, as he was popularly known, wore many hats in his professional career. Apart from being a lexicographer, he was also a grammarian, writer, editor and critic. GV was born on August 23, 1913 and secured his post-graduate degree in Kannada from Mysuru (then Mysore) in 1937. He taught at the Maharaja College of Mysuru and Vijaya College in Bengaluru before retiring in 1973, when he began to work on his Kannada dictionary.

Feted several times in his career for his work on compiling a well-researched Kannada to Kannada dictionary, GV always remained modest about his accomplishments. In an interview to Frontline last year recalling this mammoth task, GV had said: “I started work on the dictionary about five decades ago. At that time, over 90 people started collecting words and later we organised them in alphabetical order. It took nearly a decade or so. We worked for nearly three decades to bring out this Kannada dictionary of eight volumes of 10,000 pages. No other language in the country has a dictionary of this kind.”

Apart from this major work, he also authored several other works, including a dictionary of complex Kannada words. GV also served as the vice-president of the Lexicographical Association of India for 17 years and presided over the 77th Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held in Bengaluru in 2011. He was honoured with at least 28 prominent awards in his career for his contribution to Kannada lexicography and language. These awards include the Padma Shri and the Bhasha Samman awards. At the State level, GV was awarded the Pampa Award, Karnataka Rajyotsava Award and the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Award.

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