HYDERABAD: The Sindhi Language Authority (SLA) has been accused of plagiarising words from one dictionary to another.
Dr NA Baloch’s family members allege that the scholar’s work, a five-volume Sindhi lexicon, is being used by the authority to compile a 20-volume Sindh dictionary without him being given due credit.
The authority had set up a Sindhi Dictionary Board to compile dictionary over a period of three years. In September 2012, they were allocated Rs35 million by the Sindh culture department.
According to Baloch’s family, the language authority stole the late scholar’s work. “We will not let anyone tamper with one of my father’s masterpieces,” said Baloch’s son, Ali Muhammad, a former provincial secretary who also headed the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA).
Ali Muhammad, his brother Muhammad Rafique and sister Hameeda filed a formal written objection with the language authority on Wednesday, implicating them of copying their father’s work.
Baloch, an anthropologist, historian, researcher, writer, lexicographer and educationist, was given the task of compiling a concise Sindhi dictionary in 1952. The Sindhi Adabi Board, established in 1951, published the first volume titled Jamia Sindhi Lughat in December 1954.
“He was inspired and guided by people like late Allama II Qazi and late G M Syed,” said his son. “My father travelled to every nook and cranny of Sindh and met intellectuals, tribals and country folk to get the words and phrases.” He added that his father spent 12 hours every day and sometimes more to complete the dictionary.
While working on the dictionaries, Baloch was also busy heading Sindh University and held other official positions. It took him a good 34 years to complete the next four volumes of the dictionary. By 1988, Baloch had five volumes with 930,000 words and phrases written over 3,088 pages.
Three years after this, the Sindh Language Authority came into existence with Baloch as its first chairperson and republished his work again in three volumes. The SLA is an autonomous institution working under the Sindh culture department and works for the promotion of the Sindhi language.
A copy of the letter submitted by Baloch’s family to the SLA is available with The Express Tribune. It warns the authority of legal action if any violation has occurred.
It reads: “Copyrights are inviolable asset of authors, scholars and the very scheme is a sheer travesty of laws recognised throughout the world. Dr Baloch’s original work bears his intellectual imprint and hallmark and any addition, alteration, amendment, deduction in the malafide name of improvement will be a violation.”
While talking to The Express Tribune, SLA’s secretary Taj Joyo claimed that Baloch’s dictionary was being used as a reference document. He added that it was not plagiarism.
“Shah Jo Risalo is used in books and other publications for reference,” he said. “Does this mean that all those people [using Risalo] are violating copyrights or that they should go to the descendants of Shah Bhitai to seek permission?”
According to Joyo, the SLA Sindhi Dictionary Board is using more than a dozen Sindhi reference dictionaries for the new lexicon. These, he said, will also include terminologies from Science and the English language. He added that the proposed 20-volume dictionary will be titled Mufasil Sindhi Lughat.
Discussing the lughat, Joyo said it is being led by a team of lexicographers, including linguistics expert Dr Ghulam Ali Allana, a former head of Sindh University.
Almost a year after the project started, Joyo claims, that they have just completed one volume. He said that this was because of the provincial government’s delay in releasing the funds. So far, he added, they have only received Rs5 million.
A source at the SLA told The Express Tribune that it will take longer than the allocated period to wrap up the project as it has taken them 18 months to finish one volume. The source added that most of the project’s content will be taken from the existing lexicons.
The board’s director, Syed Sher Shah, and Allana could not be contacted for their versions.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2014.
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