Yakoob Miran Mujtahedi was born in 1931, in
Hyderabad . He completed his early education in Urdu medium from India Chanchalguda High School, . In 1954,he graduated from Hyderabad , completing Bachelor of Arts in Urdu medium. In 1960, he joined as an Urdu Translator in the Translation Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, India. After spending 29 fruitful years in the Department, he retired in 1989 as Deputy Director of Translations. Osmania University
His mission: To offer the world a modern Urdu-English dictionary with over 100,000 entries. And the world of Urdu literature that has not seen work of such monumental proportions for decades, should be bowing its head in acknowledgement.
For Mujtahedi, an Urdu-English dictionary has been a consuming passion. Having been a translator in Andhra Pradesh government, he had often felt helpless for want of an Urdu-to-English dictionary that could aid translation from the language. This aroused a quest that kept burning in him till he himself decided to take a plunge and embarked on compiling a dictionary. Languages being organic, ever-evolving and constantly absorbing changes in the wake of developments in natural and human sciences and fast pace of science and technology, were no longer static. Urdu was no exception. While all English magazines regularly monitored the changes through literary columns, Urdu had suffered as there had been no systematic effort in lexicography. Words were accepted out of compulsion.
Though there were three Urdu-to-English dictionaries compiled by John Shakespeare, Duncan Forbes and S. W. Fallon, they were over 150 years old. While on one hand they had become respositories of hundreds of obsolete words, lack of updating had rendered them irrelevant when it came to thousand of words being added to Human knowledge every day. Other works of recent origin were too limited in their purpose and left a lot to be desired. All along there had been no attempt at periodically updating them.
Mujtahedi visualized a modern dictionary where besides meanings, pronunciation in Roman script, usage, part of speech, vocabulary associated with Lucknowi, Deccani and Lahori variants of Urdu etc. were provided. Proverbs emanating from Urdu words were also listed with proximate English equivalents. In one instance, 500 proverbs coming out of the term Aankh (eye) were listed. Culture-specific words such as suhag (happy and auspicious state of wifehood) did pose ticklish moments for Mujtahedi as no single-word equivalents were readily available. These were explained through notes. Entry like Abdaal took almost 80 words to explain. One even feels surprised to know that commonly used English words such as Interview have Urdu equivalent i.e., Musaharat.
A portion of the dictionary where one can notice Mehdavia flavor
According to Mujtahedi, his dictionary with nearly 1.25 lakh entries would be the most comprehensive and authentic work of its kind. Says he, “Meticulous research has gone into ensuring the accuracy of the meaning and translations of the word. Even those who cannot read Urdu script can benefit from the work as all information in the entries is also provided in transliterated form thereby widening the scope for usage in
Words from other languages commonly finding use in Urdu and Urdu denizens in English too have been shown. Similarly, the dictionary comprises words that are technical in nature but are used in common parlance, idioms, phrases, several bureaucratic and administrative terms coined during the Nizam era such as abkari, atiyat etc too have been included. Hindi words making forays into Urdu due to audio-visual media such as pradhan mantri, tamas, atankvadi etc have also been introduced.
Though English to Urdu translation has been easy, thanks to presence of the dictionary of Maulvi Abdul Haq, the vice versa has always posed problems. Mujtahedi’s long experience enabled him to come to grips with practical problems involved in transferring the sense from one language to another.
he encyclopaedic range, large number of phrases, idioms, technical, medical and scientific terms make the dictionary the most sought after. Further, those who cannot read Urdu, can also make use of the lexicon with the help of the Roman script provided in the dictionary. The first Urdu-English dictionary was compiled by Baba-e-Urdu Dr Abdul Haq. And thereafter, seven dictionaries were published by different authors.
However, according to Mujtahedi, they serve a limited purpose. “The difficulties I faced in the process of translation during service prompted me to take up this gigantic project,” he said. Several academicians from various universities and abroad have appreciated his work. Director of South Asian Language and Area Centre, US, James H Nye, has requested Mujtahedi to allow him to host the dictionary on the website — dsal.uchicago. edu/dictionaries — for use of non-commercial purposes.
Speaking to the Times of India reporter he had said “Failing health and lack of money have affected the work. But the urge to complete the work is always there. Syed Abdul Khader Jeelani, chairman of Syed Hashim Memorial Foundation has helped me acquire a computer and also agreed to publish the dictionary”. TOI 4th Aug 2002
Due to ailing age he suffered from poor health from past one month and the legend Yakoob Miran Mujtahedi expeired on 21st July 2010 in Hyderabad "Inna Lilahi wa Inna Ilaihi Rajiwwon", we called his eldest son and passed our condolences.
Allah un ki rooh-e-paak ku apne Deedar se Nawaze, aur aise hasityon ku hamare mashire mai bheje. Aamen.
Inayath Ulla Khan, Mandya