“…55 years after a group of scholars began composing the authoritative dictionary of Sanskrit, the long-dead language of India’s ancient glory, they are almost done — with the first letter. ‘Sanskrit,’ sighed Vinayaka Bhatta, chief editor of the dictionary project at Deccan College, ‘is not easy to translate.'” From a Washington Post story on the first authoritative Sanskrit dictionary, which should be completed in another 50 years.

From Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman: “It took more than seventy years to create the twelve tombstone-sized volumes that made up the first edition of what was to become the great Oxford English Dictionary.” Nor are the Sanskrit scholars in Pune more than a few decades off schedule with the collection of all words starting with the first letter of the alphabet: “Twenty-seven years had passed since Richard Chenevix had given his famous address in which he called for a new English dictionary. Now, in a muddy off-white cover and with its sheets half uncut, was the first part, 352 pages worth of all the known English words from a to ant…”

The Babu thinks it is worth noting that the first “properly current word” in the fascicle was aal, a Bengali or Hindi name for a plant related to the madder.

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