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Centenarian Lexicographer Prof G Venkatasubbaiah Dead

Professor Ganjam Venkatasubbaiah was 107.

Professor Ganjam Venkatasubbaiah was 107.

The grammarian who had compiled 12 dictionaries had authored around 60 books and brought out four seminal works on dictionary science in Kannada

Renowned lexicographer, Kannada writer and critic Professor Ganjam Venkatasubbaiah is no more, family sources said here. He was 107.

Prof Venkatasubbaiah, fondly addressed as GV, was suffering from renal problems for the past few days and was admitted to a hospital for treatment. He was due for discharge on Monday but suddenly his condition worsened and died on Sunday night, family members said.

Born on August 23, 1913 in Ganjam village of Srirangapatna in Mandya district, Venkatasubbaiah was the second among eight children of Ganjam Thimmannaiah. He did his schooling in Bannur and Madhugiri and higher education in Mysuru.

The grammarian who had compiled 12 dictionaries had authored around 60 books and brought out four seminal works on dictionary science in Kannada. His book Kannada Nighantu Shastra Parichaya and Klishtapada Kosha earned much acclaim in the Kannada literary circle.

Recipient of numerous awards including Padma Shri, Kannada Sahitya Akademi and Pampa Award, the centenarian was an eminent academician and a noted orator as well. He became a household name for his popular column ‘Igo Kannada’ (This is Kannada) in a Kannada daily detailing the nuances of the language, its idioms and phrases.

Looking at the popularity and demand for the column, ‘Igo Kannada’ was brought out in the form of a book. A patriot, Venkatasubbaiah was fascinated by the freedom struggle as well.

He had the opportunity to see Mahatma Gandhi who was on a drive to collect donations to sustain the freedom struggle in 1927. As a young scout of 14 years, Venkatasubbaiah was assigned to make arrangements for Gandhi’s stay in Madhugiri.

Recalling the incident on the 149th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2018, the grammarian said he was enthralled to see the huge turnout of people in Madhugiri to see the Mahatma. “Mahatma Gandhi had delivered a speech for only ten minutes, that too in Hindi language and in front of Kannada people who did not know Hindi. All of them were villagers.

They were economically weaker and poor. Most of them were women. However, people who understood Gandhi’s speech gave donations generously and participated in India’s freedom struggle," the professor had recalled. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and his cabinet colleagues joined many others in expressing grief over the demise of Venkatasubbaiah.

“The contribution of Prof G V for the development of Kannada language, its dictionary and literature is unparalleled. He has authored more than 60 books and ‘Igo Kannada’. His continuous writing till the end fills one with amazement," the Chief Minister said. Others such as Deputy Chief Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K S Eshwarappa, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani too condoled the death.

Former chief ministers H D Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah too expressed their sorrow over the death of Venkatasubbaiah.

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first published:April 19, 2021, 12:25 IST