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Rev. Dr. Hermann Gundert (Stuttgart, February 4, 1814 – April 25, 1893 in Calw, Germany) was a German missionary and scholar, who compiled a Malayalam grammar book, Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam (1859), the first Malayalam-English dictionary (1872), and translated the Bible into Malayalam. He worked primarily on the Malabar coast, in Kerala, India.
Hermann Gundert obtained a doctoral degree in philology from Tübingen. In Kerala, he took a deep interest in the local culture and the Malayalam language, attempting a systematic grammar of the language. This was one of the prominent non-Sanskrit-based approaches to Indic grammar. Gundert considered Malayalam to have diverged from Proto-Tamil-Malayalam, or Proto-Dravidian. Apart from the early inscriptions found on copper and stone, Gundert traced Malayalam to the Rāma Charitam, a poem predating the Sanskrit alphabet.
Gundert is held in high regard to this day among linguistic experts in Kerala for the high scholastic aptitude exhibited in his work. His dictionary has been described as "monumental" in a review of the work on Dravidian languages . He published two Malayalam journals, of which Rajya Samacharam is considered to be the first newspaper in Kerala.
Though Gundert came to Kerala as a missionary, he is remembered today mainly for his literary contributions. In Thalassery (Tellicherry), people have honored him by a statue in the city.
He was the grandfather of Hermann Hesse, German novelist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. There is a bungalow in Thalassery where he used to stay when he was there, where the Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF) is now situated.
- ^ Hermann Gundert, "Preface", A Malayalam and English Dictionary, p. iii. Mangalore, C. Stolz for Basel Mission Book Tract Depository and London, Trubner (1872). Google Books, on line.
- ^ p. 18, Bhadriraju Krishnamurti. 2003. The Dravidian Languages. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521771110.
Frenz, Albrecht. 1979. Hermann Gundert: A Biography. In IX All India Conference of Dravidian Linguists, pp. 9-15. Calicut.
Frenz, Albrecht. 1993. Gundert as a Man. In K. K. N. Kurup and K. J. John, eds., Legacy of Basel Mission and Hermann Gundert in Malabar, pp. 9-32. Calicut.
Frenz, Albrecht and Scaria Zacharia. 1993. Dr. Hermann Gundert and Malayalam Language. Kottayam: Centre for Kerala Studies.
Jenkins, Paul. 1998. Gundert, Hermann. In Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. by Gerald Anderson, pp. 270-271. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
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