15 Years of DU Linguistics
Dr Feroza Yasmin & Syed Shahrier Rahman
The department of Linguistics, University of Dhaka has celebrated 15 years of its inception through a daylong programme on 2 June 2008 at the Teacher Student Centre (TSC) Auditorium. The programme started early in the morning with a colorful rally, participated by teachers, students and alumni of the department. The main event included three parts: the opening ceremony, a seminar and a cultural function staged by renowned artistes of the country.
The honourable Vice-chancellor of the Dhaka University Professor S.M.A. Faiz inaugurated the programme as the chief gust while Professor A.F.M. Yusuf Haider was the special gust in the programme. Dr. Feroza Yasmin, the chairperson of the department presided over the opening event. In his address, Professor Faiz highlighted the importance of studying linguistics as a branch of ancient knowledge. Distinguished faculty members of Dhaka University, teachers of the different public and private universities, members of the civil society, and current and old students of the department were present.
A seminar was organised followed by the opening session. Professor Daniul Haq presented the main paper entitled “Linguistics in Bangla”. Many of the participants took part in the discussion and showed deep concerns about various problems and prospects of studying linguistics.
The honourable chairman of Bangladesh University Grants Commission Professor Nazrul Islam was present as the chief guest in the seminar session and remarked upon the future of linguistics in Bangladesh as well as in other countries. The seminar session was presided over by Professor Rafiqul Islam, Vice-chancellor, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB). The daylong celebration programme ended through an innovative cultural programme. Apart from the departmental students, renowned singers Shubir Nandi and Mahmuduzzaman Babu also performed in the event.
Linguistics in Bangladesh
Language is considered a crucial human phenomenon without which it is almost impossible for a social human being to go even for a single day. Linguistics, scientific study of language and its elements, always makes an important contribution to the human society regarding investigating the nature of human communication as well as its diverse influences to the social activities of mankind.
In Bangla-speaking areas, Dhaka is one of the two epicentres for studying and researching linguistics individually or academically along with Kolkata, India. Dr Muhammad Shahidullah, legendary figure of linguistics in this region, made a pioneering role both in studying this discipline and inspiring people to give attention to it. Apart from Dr Muhammad Shahidullah Prof. Munir Chowdhury, Prof. Mofazzol Haider Chowdhury, Prof Kai Din Mohammad, Prof. Rafiqul Islam, Pro. Abul Kalam Monjur Morshed, Prof. Humayun Azad, Prof. Mohammad Daniul Haq, Prof. Moniruzzaman, Prof. Rajib Humayun and Prof. Monsur Musa's names can be mentioned as the scholars who engaged themselves in this field.
As an academic subject, Linguistics has been developed as a sister concern of the Department of Bangla in Dhaka University (DU), though there exists some courses of Linguistics in the Department of English in DU. The Department of Bangla finally took initiatives to introduce Linguistics in the country and finally the Dept. of Linguistics was established as a separate and an independent entity.
Department of Linguistics at Dhaka University
The Department of Linguistics in DU was established in 1992 and since then it has been working as the only university department as well as linguistic research centre in the country. The Department admitted students to its Masters Programme in Linguistics from the academic session 1992-1993. It started admitting students to BA (Honours) programme from session 1996-1997. Since 2006-2007 according to the decision of the faculty members, a semester system has been introduced.
The Department has a unique environment for studying linguistics and doing research on language and its elements with expert, energetic and potential faculty members.
Now, eleven faculty members are serving permanently. Most of them have been trained in Europe. Besides them a large number of eminent professors like Prof. Dr. Rafiqul Islam, Dr. Daniul Huq and Dr. A. K. M. Nur-un-Nabi are associated with this department to teach many peripheral courses related to linguistics.
The Department takes students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds arts, science and business. There is a four years BA (Hons) and a one year MA course in the department. Some MPhil and PhD researchers have also been studying in the department as well.
Importance of studying Linguistics in Bangladesh
The importance of studying linguistics in the country is beyond controversy. Linguistics as well as the emerging linguists of Bangladesh can contribute in various ways to develop our society. The significance of linguistics in this country can be explored in the following manners:
To Set Planning and Policy of Language and to Eradicate Illiteracy
Language planning and eradicating illiteracy are two immediate needs for the development of Bangla language. Many governmental and non-governmental organizations have taken efforts to get rid of the curse of illiteracy. But those attempts weren't always fruitful. It can be stated here firmly that any illiteracy project or programme can bring rapid result if linguists are involved with it and if it is chalked out and run by them. Linguists are capable to manage these hurdles and so can contribute in this field.
To promote Educational Linguistics
Educational Linguistics is a new idea for the most of the people of Bangladesh. The educational linguist can contribute a lot in the field of curriculum design, classroom management and teaching methodology and English Language Teaching (ELT) and teaching of other languages as well.
To Prepare Primers for the Indigenous Children
In Bangladesh we have more than forty indigenous languages. It should be an essential duty to prepare primers for the indigenous children and to classify their languages in accordance with the language typology. The work should be done properly with the proper knowledge of linguistics.
To introduce Language Technology
In the modern world, Language is treated as a technology. Bangladesh can change its future with the help of language technology. For this, an integrated collaboration between the computer scientists and linguists will be needed.
To promote Clinical Linguistics
Speech disability is not a very rare phenomenon in Bangladesh. But unfortunately no adequate facilities are provided for them. The language experts as well clinical linguists can do a lot for the betterment of the speech disable community.
To promote Dialectology
We have many dialects and the dialectic study of the country can unfold a very interesting domain of our language situation. We did not take part to make any linguistic census in Bangladesh. It is necessary to initiate a language census with the close supervision of the language experts.
The twenty-first century is the century of globalisation and information technology. To meet the challenges of this century, curricula of the human sciences should be thought of in a new dimension. It is our great pleasure that linguistics has achieved a vital role in America and Europe. The educators, computer programmers, IT engineers, social scientists, physicists, psychologists, therapists and even the environmentalists have been working with linguists together for the greater interest of mankind. Hence, In Bangladesh the necessity of linguistics should need utmost consideration.
Dr Feroza Yasmin is the Chairperson, Department of Linguistics, University of Dhaka and Syed Shahrier Rahman is an Assistant Professor of the Department.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008