Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Malayali Genius in Philology: K. Luke (1927-2010)

Following the youtube link suggested by a friend of "Vaakku blog group" I watched the interview with Dr. Rod Moag, an American linguistic professor who speaks grammatically perfect Malayalam, of course, with an Englishman’s slang. He has mastery of  7 languages. Great! However, right then I thought of introducing a simple Malayali linguist who lived among us, away from the limelight, till last year (2010). He is Dr. K. Luke. I had to wait more than a week to write about him because I needed some clarifications from one of his colleagues on certain biographical facts regarding him.

K. Luke after having obtained two Licentiates (from Gregorian University of Rome) joined the Divinity School of Chicago University (1966) and did his doctoral studies in Orientalistics. In 1971 he successfully completed his doctoral studies. His doctoral dissertation is titled “Non-Paradigmatic Forms of Weak Verbs in Masoretic Hebrew.” He had mastery over 42 languages (Mastery in the sense of speaking fluently more than 15, and mastery in the sense of knowing the grammar and syntax – all the rest). At the completion of his doctrinal studies he was offered the chair of Philology (Literary study or classical scholarship)  in the University of Chicago in 1972, which he humbly rejected in view of teaching in his own land, back in India. Such was his greatness that while living practically a very few knew of him, never did anything for publicity, (I had to search a lot for one of his photographs because he never agreed to pose for a snap), quite unassuming, ever ready to help others, and spent old age so meekly without complaints or demands immersing himself fully in research works right up to last months of his life ( I heard that in the beginning of the year of his death - June 10, 2010- he was learning a new language).

With great reverence to my great honorable professor (The Heavens blessed me for that!) here I upload a photo of him from the collection of rarities. His mortal remains are interred in the vault of the cemetery of Assisi Ashram, Bharananganam


anilkurup said...

Awe, amazing and enchanting i. wonder if the latter descriptions fits in here.
42 languages!!!

jijo moolayil said...

That is true, knowing many languages has not got much to do with Philology. But I had to put a few things together in a small write-up like this. 42 languages is not any exaggeration. He was the only Asian of that sort!

jijo moolayil said...
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