Dictionary with novel features | Sunday Observer

Dictionary with novel features

14 June, 2020

  Reviewed by R.S. Karunaratne

  Sarasavi Dictionary for Schools

  Compilers: Percy Jayamanne and Thilak Gamage

  Sarasavi Publishers, Nugegoda

  613 pages

  Price: Rs. 1,200

Lexicography or the profession of writing dictionaries is no easy task. The dictionary is one reference book that it would be hard to do without. It is found in millions in homes, offices, and classrooms. It tells almost anything that there is to know about any word. Early dictionaries were the efforts of individual men. Modern dictionaries, on the other hand, are the work of many compilers and editors. Moreover, the dictionary is never a finished product for it changes and grows as the years pass. Brand new words are added to the language every year. Many words change in meaning or acquire new meanings. Other words die out, and some expressions that were once considered slang become standard words.

The ‘Sarasavi Dictionary for Schools’ has been compiled by Percy Jayamanne who has been a competent lexicographer and a senior journalist. He has been assisted by Thilak Gamage who is an author, science teacher and feature writer.

Their target readership is the students from Grade 6 to 11. I find that the dictionary will be useful even for teachers and the general reader.

The dictionary consists of more than 15,000 English and Sinhala words. For all the key Sinhala words, English equivalents are given.

This would help students to learn the meaning of Sinhala words and the relevant English words simultaneously.

The dictionary has four unique features. There is a separate section that illustrates certain scientific terms lucidly.

Another section gives important details about Sri Lanka’s waterfalls, rivers, Heads of State from 1948 to 2015, a brief history of Sinhala and English newspapers, and a list of mountains. In addition, the dictionary gives a list of commonly misspelt English and Sinhala words. The index is in English with Sinhala equivalents. It facilitates the reader to use the dictionary without wasting his time.

Apart from schoolchildren, even undergraduates following degree courses in translation methods will find the dictionary useful. They can easily find English words for Sinhala words or vice versa.

The publishers have requested readers to send them any words or expressions not included in the dictionary. This is a very salutary approach because all dictionaries have to be updated from time to time.

We have to follow the precedent set by leading English dictionaries which are updated periodically.

As dictionaries cannot be borrowed from libraries, students should have their own copy of the dictionary for quick reference. The ‘Sarasavi Dictionary for Schools’ has been produced in such a way that it can be carried anywhere in your schoolbag or brief case.

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