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Old 05-12-20, 10:01 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Ariesen Ahubudu: Accomplished wordsmith of our time

Ariesen Ahubudu: Accomplished wordsmith of our time


By K. A. I. Kalyanaratne, Consultant - Publications, Postgraduate Institute of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
Vice President, Hela Havula

The Island 5 December 2020

Who would not be enthralled by the songs "Purthugeesi Kaaraya Rataval Allanna Sooraya", "Ko Hathuro Ko Hathuro Ko Apage Hathuro" and "Dakuna Nagenahira Batahira Uthura da Eka Kodiye Sevane" Such verbal creations were only possible as he was a Wordsmith par Excellence.

Wordsmiths are men of letters who possess some unique qualities among which are performance of the specialty to the highest standards, with unmatchable skills, and also malleability to use words, to turnout creative and original pieces of work, conforming to the norms of the language. Their writings are eloquent due to the variety and richness of the vocabulary they are able to draw. Such specialists have acquired this skill through a life committed to experimenting with words, particularly their usage in different settings, and continuous researching the meanings of words. Ariesen Ahubudu made use of his wordsmithery through his exhaustive array of roles as writer, playwright, lyricist, poet, lexicographer and journalist.

Ariesen Ahubudu - His initial guiding influence

Under the tutelage of that master wordsmith Kumaratunga Munidasa, Ariesen Ahubudu tasted the richness of the Sinhala language in all its varied facets. His "Kumaratungu Asura" (Association with Kumaratunga Munidasa) spells out in sufficient detail Kumaratunga's influence over the shaping of Ahubudu's character, and how he became an accomplished wordsmith. Of course, his close association with such scholars like Jayantha Weerasekara, Jayamaha Vellala, Abiram Gamhewa and Raphael Tennekoon, had for sure, a marked impact on his future literary works.

Ahubudu - The Lexicographer

One of the main tasks of a wordsmith is to indulge in lexicographic pursuits. Words being the basic component of a language, a key mission of a wordsmith is to explore and inquire into the etymology of words; i.e. how they are formed and the rules followed in their formation. The clarity of a sentence is determined by correct word-usage and syntactic perfection. Ahubudu was on a crusade to zealously discover the etymology of the two major components of the Sinhala language, namely, nouns and verbs.

Two Epic research publications: "Lanka Gam Nam Vahara" and "Arutha Nirutha"

Two of his publications that showed his etymological prowess are "Lanka Gam Nam Vahara" and "Arutha Nirutha". "Lanka Gam Nam Vahara", a monograph of the place names of the island is an epic research on the origins of the island's place names. Aelian de Silva, Chartered Engineer and Linguist, providing an introduction to this lexicon says

"The author has brought to bear his extensive knowledge, not only of the Sinhala language, but also of the long history of the Sinhala people. His knowledge of Sanskrit, Pali and English has placed him in good stead to handle this important task. Such attributes are very essential to intelligently collate the place names, to study the effect on them of linguistic norms, and to analyse them in the light of the historical background"?

Herein Ahubudu's task had been a painstaking one. In many instances, where the correlation of words and their meanings have got blurred due to subsequent historical developments, he went to the extent of correlating their meanings with the topography and other features. This has been, indeed, a "very intelligent approach, and one that has shed much light" on the origins of place names. The index to this lexicon provides a collection of 1730 place names, and this collection, for sure, would provide a base for any future undertakings of a similar nature. As exposed in this lexicon Bimtenne (Bintenne) is now known as Mahiyangana, which is the Pali translation. From it our Sandesa poets coined Miyungunu. Bimtenne and Miyungunu are now considered as two different places!

Commonalities adopted in the coining of Place Names

A further step taken in his "research" has been to expose the common grammatical norms/structures that had been followed by our forefathers in coining place names. This exercise itself elevates Ahubudu's endeavour to much greater heights. This is a task which would have been accomplished by a higher seat of learning. In short it is a monumental task. He has brought these names under nine categories, depending on the rules of grammar followed in their formation, and under each category he cites examples.

For example kirillapane has been formed by the combination of kirilla (cork-tree) and Pane which means "a place". Herein he cites several other place-names that have originated in this manner, namely, Marapane, Tumpane (Tumbapane), Walapane, and Ulapane.

His second lexicon is "Arutha Nirutha", (Meaning and Etymology) an exposition revealing a new dimension in the art of formation and understanding the meanings of the terms in the Sinhala language. Ahubudu, in producing this lexicon worked on the primary premise that ?Language used by the various people also helps us to deduce certain facts about their thoughts and aspirations and their knowledge of arts and crafts. That is because man and his language are always connected with words that reflect the environment in which man lived.? Preface to Arutha Nirutha). Herein he quotes Samual Johnson who said that "Language is the pedigree of the nation." Thus, while Ahubudu brings to light the nation's broad cultural environment by unearthing the hidden facets of the people, ?examines the repetitive patterns relating to the formation of composite words in the language, and elicits the associated principles.

Given below is one of his etymological analyses:

Karawila (kariwila): (gourd = memordica charantia). This word derives its name taking into account its two main features. "kara" is knot or cone. "wili" is wrinkled or corrugated. Hence, Karawila is a combination of"kara" and "wili". ("wili" in the Sinhala Bodhi Wamsaya gives the meaning "wrinkled" or "folded").

A Wordsmith's armoury of words sans grammar and idiomatic usage

If there is no grammar and idiomatic usage of a language only a jumble of words, utterly incapable of expressing one's thoughts and feelings will remain. Ahubudu while enriching his diction over the years to ensure that he was rich and fully capable of expressing the nuances as well as the shades of meanings, mastered the grammar and idiomatic usage of the language. It is certain that Kumaratunga Munidasa's two seminal works on Sinhala grammar, i.e., Vyakarana Vivaranaya and Kriya Vivaranaya, played a decisive role in strengthening Ahubudu's acumen in the usage of Sinhala grammar. However, he had enriched the findings of these two researches, by creating a style of his own, with a fine blend of both classical and spoken idioms. This creative language, stood him in good stead, in his literary works, which included prose, verse as well as drama. J. E. Metcalfe in his "Improve Your English" says "Grammar is the basis of a language, the framework on which ideas are hung, and the loftiest imagery of thought can fall flat if ungrammatically expressed. " In all phases of human life there is a need, indeed a desire, for discipline, "The discipline of language is the thing called grammar."

However, Ahubudu's approach in disciplining Sinhala was quite different from that of many other publishers of grammar-books. What he did was to re-express grammatical rules in a simpler manner, targeting the young ones, especially school children. As he had been a successful teacher for long years, he knew the art of expressing even knotty grammatical rules in a manner that appeals to the young ones. "Detu Rukula" is mainly aimed at students sitting the GCE ordinary level examination. Ahubudu had also judiciously decided to have a separate publication on "separation of words" in Sinhala, titled, Sinhalaye Pada Beduma. (jointly authored with Liyanage Jinadasa). His decision had been primarily induced by the confusion the students faced in the separation of words in their writings.
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Last edited by sriyanj; 05-12-20 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 05-12-20, 10:02 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Realization of Unique Characteristics of the Sinhala Language

Every language has its own unique characteristics. This, in fact, is the personality of a language. It is this realization that helped Ahubudu to create literary works without debasing the grammar, language-structures as well as word-forms, as well as to create new words to express new ideas without making them feel as ?foreign bodies? or intrusions. The principle followed is to adopt Sinhala verb-roots in the coining of words; a principle that is being adopted by world languages like Russian, French, German and Japanese.

The following verse appended from the song ?Dakuna ? Nagenahira? alone would be sufficient to show how clever Ahubudu had been not only in the coining of words but also in elucidating completely new meanings to the traditional meanings.

?Ipaduna apa hata lak polove ? Suru viru kam upatin huruwe.

Dakvamu daskam lakkam viskam ? Vismavamin mulu lo.?

This verse provides a set of new meanings to the traditional renderings provided by our lexicographers. Viskam = marvels; Lakkam = products of Lanka ; Vismavamin (coined as a single word from the two words vismaya and mavanava. Resultantly, in place of two words to express ?creating wonders? the Sinhala language has now been enriched by a new word ?vismavayi? to express ?creating wonders?. This word could either be used as a verb by conjugating it as vismavayi, vismavati,vismavami, vismavamu? or as a noun which could be declined as vismavanna, vismavanno, vismavannee?

Malleability of Language

Malleability of language is the capability of stretching a language into different shapes, as demanded of by the occasion or the literary genre, similar to how William Shakespeare began to adapt the traditional styles to suit his own purposes. Any writer who is rich in his diction when uses a language constantly and consciously the ultimate result would be the development of a writing style of his own. In fact, his style of writing becomes unique to him. It is why the style of Gurulugomi (in the Amavatura) differs considerably from that of Dharmasena thero?s Saddharmarathnavaliya. Raphael Tennekoon?s writing style is a product of his own, which is full of satire and locally spun words, as seen in his ?Gemi Bana?.

Ariesen Ahubudu, in his long years of engagement as a writer, had developed that quality of language-malleability, the end-product of which has been his unique style of writing. The base of his language is the richness of his diction which suits different occasions and different literary genres. A writer?s most prized possession is his or her own unique writing style, which is the single most valuable investment a writer can make. The rules are about what a writer does; style is about how the writer does it.

Vocabulary and Style to suit All Literary Genres

Unlike prose which is the most common form of writing, Ahubudu, armed with his rich vocabulary and styles discovered through long years of indulgence in versification, showed his prowess by producing works belonging to a host of literary genres: mainly poetry, lyrics and drama. Poetry is accepted as the most intense form of writing among a nation?s literary works.

Ahubudu?s Usage of Words in Song-lyrics

His poetic and lyrical creations are so exhaustive, that it would not be possible in the space provided to comment on every one of them. The ?Sakvithi Kith Resa? (The Collective Fame of the Universal Monarch) compiled and edited by Shrinath Ganewatta, President, Hela Hawula, contains a near total collection of Ahubudu?s song-lyrics. Appended below are two stanzas from the song lyrics of ?Ko Hathuro?, a song coming in the film ?Sandesaya?. Ahubudu being blessed with an unboundedly rich vocabulary did not come across any impediment in expressing his sentiments. How wonderful are the new word-clusters he had created to express new meanings as well as to teach a lesson to budding lyricists as to how words could be selectively used to generate new tastes and experiences. Aren?t Kaduwata kaduwai heeyata heeyayi Papuwata papuwai new expressions to accentuate sentiments? A further secret is the choice of words, and that too, to fall in line with the tune.

?Ekakuth apa gen nesuwath hathuran
Un gen seeyak helapiyav
Kaduwata kaduwai heeyata heeyayi
Papuwata papuwai dee palayawu.?

The word combination ?maruwatath maru wune? in this song expresses several meanings. It?s a literary device normally referred to as ?pun?. The literary meaning of the combination of these words is that they surpassed even Mara in the act of killing. However, the hidden and subtle meaning Ahubudu wishes to convey is that ?they brought death even to Mara (demon causing death and destruction to others.)

Ahubudu?s Poetic Compositions

Even if taken as a separate entity, his poetic compositions could be considered as an ?industry? of its own. His poetic compositions by way of its volume is incomparable. Two of his compositions that stand tall among the rest of his works are ?Rasadahara?, an epic poem, and ?Pareviya ? Sama Asna? a poem that is akin to our Sandesa poems of the Kotte period and the period immediately thereafter, as it contains all the ingredients of the compositions of that genre; the only deviation being that while all our Sandesa poems are happenings confined to the country, Pareviya is devoted to the loadable act of getting a pigeon to carry a message of peace to the three leading countries of China, Russia and the United States of America.

Here again Ahubudu performs miracles with his rich diction and creative-clustering of appropriate words. This is, indeed, a miracle that could only be performed by a high caliber wordsmith. Through his rich verbiage and masterly use of words he draws an enthralling imagery. The messenger ?pareviya? (pigeon) is made to realize the rejoicing atmosphere borne of the spring-time by painting a colourful picture, through such words as,

?Mal gomu gumu gumu ganvannee
Mee vadavale peni puravanne
Kurulu sarin kan pinavannee
Mulu lova uyanak karavannee?

Through this verse Ahubudu makes the spring-environment dance in ecstasy. These words also manifest how supple the Sinhala language is. In the same poem the pigeon while flying over Africa he hears the agitation of the Africans against their European rulers, as the African natives now remain a downtrodden community. See how ferociously the poet expresses their feelings:

?Sudda udda padd lav
Bellen alla holla lav
Atten yutten beri nam ovu
Ketten pollen sun kerelavu

Negita varo negita varo
Rotta ma negita varo?

This is a combination of short words and a unique metric composition.

The reader sees through the word-drama the native Africans getting their men to rally round to defeat their oppressors! Herein Ahubudu has become a verbal artist. It is said that an artist dreams a picture and then pictures his dream.

Kalanaruwan Sumandas, a critique, providing an introduction to Ahubudu?s ?Rasadahara? says that the services rendered by Ahubudu to amplify and broad-base Sinhala poetry could only be compared to what Ravindranath Tagore did for Vanga poetry. Every line of every verse in the ?Rasa Dahara? manifests the poet?s cleverly coined word-clusters and imagery.

Ahubudu?s Contribution to the Sinhala Language and Literature

A recent publication titled ?Viritha ha Arutha? jointly authored by Prof. Wimal Disanayake and Shrinath Ganewatta, President, Hela Havula, attempts at establishing the harmony between meter and meaning. Meaning is based on lyrical composition. A poem is a piece of writing in which the words are chosen for their beauty and sound to produce an intensely imaginative interpretation of the subject. Based on this definition Ahubudu as a wordsmith, through his wondrous lyrical compositions has, for certain, stolen the hearts of the reader.

Cited below is an instance Ahubudu became a word-artist through his pen-brush to command a river to flow for the service of humanity. The poet while challenging the river to empty its waters to the sea, without helping the mankind, also indirectly challenges anyone to make a lyrical composition expressing the same sentiments, within the same or similar metric composition, to this effect!

?Emba ganga
Navatinu navatinu navatinu navatinu gangave.

Kanda kapav
Gal peralavu
Veli bandiv
Gamana bindiv

Conclusion ? A Cursory Treatment

Ariesen Ahubudu?s life-long commitment delving deep into the origins of Sinhala words, unearthing the grammatical bases of our place names, rendering a yeoman service by reproducing rules of grammar to the younger generation, setting examples by way of showing how the language could be used malleably to express innate, inner and deep thoughts and sentiments, and making Sinhala both a lovable and lively medium that could be moulded to suit all occasions, demand a deeper analysis and research. Ariesen Ahubudu is a living embodiment of executing what he had found and preached, for the furtherance of the Sinhala language and literature. In this committed attempt he hailed through example that the Sinhala verse as a medium of expression is equal to such attempts that have been made by any other world language. Herein, his indirect message is ?a nation which is incapable of poetry is incapable of any kind of literature except the cleverness of a decadence?. It is, therefore, apt to conclude this short essay with a quotation of Goethe (considered as the greatest German literary figure of the modern era), as it fits in well with the tasks and the mission Ariesen Ahubudu fulfilled during the tenure of his life.

?Knowing is not enough;
We must apply.
Willing is not enough;
We must do.?


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