NSU presents discourse on the English Language and its relation with the Army
M Golam Mohiuddin
The NSU Institute of Modern Languages presented one of its most interesting and informative lectures on the English language on 25 March, 2012. Lt General (Ret) Muhammad Noor Uddin Khan, former Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh Army and Minister of the Bangladesh Government, delivered his lecture on the use of language in Bangladesh Army. The lecture was an event of IML Discourse I, a co-curricular lecture series - the most innovative and prestigious of its kind not only at NSU, but virtually in South Asia and beyond. The discourse was attended by students of NSU and DU.
The discourse Language in the Army was initiated by Mohammed Shahedul Haque, Head of Institute of Modern languages at NSU. He said the armed forces, especially the army of a nation form an important occupational speech community with distinct and sophisticated language behavior, and the modern military terms and concepts almost certainly display the strength of English as a powerful means of strategic communication. The Bangladesh Army upholds the dignity of the nation not only by performing brilliantly in the worldwide peace missions, responding to national emergencies in our country, but also by giving the due share of respect to the Bengali language in various areas of activity in the military administration.
General Noor Uddin Khan began his lecture by giving an overview of the development of the English language from a historical frame of reference and proved that the history of English is intertwined with the history of the military expeditions of the mankind. The military expeditions of the German tribes in Britain in the 5th century laid the foundation of the English language. His power-point presentation provided a great deal of analysis of how the proto-typical English, in course of time, through waves of transformations due to linguistic, social and political changes, gradually morphed into the Middle, Early Modern, and Modern English.
The former Chief of Army said that after the inception of the Bengal Regiment in 1960s, and especially, after the Independence in 1971, Bengali was accepted for words of command in parade, verbal and operational orders in the Battalion level and below, pamphlets, booklets, and training manuals.
General Noor Uddin Khan informed the class that English continues to remain in the military doctrines, operational and training directives from the Army Headquarters down to Brigade level in Bangladesh. English dominates in the Staff College and its entrance exams. English is also used at training schools for commissioned officers and cadets in the military academies. In response to a question about language-choice, the former Chief of Staff said English is widely used in Bangladesh Army and is also essential in multinational missions worldwide, so English will always be preferred in the Army.
The discourse ended with more of such interesting questions and answers.
(The writer is Research Assistant, IML, NSU; MA (ELT), IML, DU.)