About 50 people attended the launch of a new dictionary of Middle Khmer, “Un Dictionaire du Khmer- Moyen,” at the Buddhist institute last week. The new dictionary was initiated and written by 88-year-old scholar and author Pou Saveros.
According to Chhom Kunthea, director of the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor museum and a lecturer in Sanskrit at the Royal University of Fine Arts, she and her colleague Chav Veasna submitted the new dictionary to the Buddhist institute for publication. She said she also edited parts of the dictionary.
Ms Kunthea said Ms Saveros had spent her life studying and researching. The project was a painstaking process and took her many years to finish.
“Given her age, the author prefers not to use a computer and is not a good typist, but she worked on it every day until it was done,” Ms Kunthea said.
She said the dictionary is Khmer-French because Ms Saveros speaks French fluently, but not English. The entries in the dictionary are much more detailed than those in a previous version she published in 1992.
“The author has spent almost her whole life reading. Before taking on this dictionary project, she read many Middle Khmer inscriptions, palm manuscripts, and dictionaries,” Ms Kunthea said.
Ms Kunthea said the work was a labour of love and showed the author’s commitment to Cambodia. She added that Ms Saveros wanted to convey a message to Cambodians to move forward and think of their country.
Ms Kunthea said Ms Saveros had four key messages for Cambodians: “First, I am old and I cannot walk, yet I am able to work; second, I have two more projects I want to complete, which are “Lberk Angkor Wat” [The construction of Angkor Wat] and a book of proverbs; third, I call for assistants to handle my work in composing the new books. And lastly, I want my library [The books are at her house in France] to be taken to Cambodia after I pass away, but my desire is that it be used to benefit the public.”
Ms Kunthea said Ms Saveros had written 155 books. Mostly, they focus on Khmer culture, civilisation, and linguistics. The reason she agreed to submit her works to the Buddhist institute for publication was because the institute had always been a place where documents and other forms of wisdom were stored.