Letter To The Editor
Say it if you can speak it
This expose is in response to the article entitled “Say What” authored by STS that was published in last week's issue and in general to the recent criticism of certain players from the Dhaka Warriors team in the ICL.
In my view, the opinions expressed by the author are unjust for several reasons. Firstly, the ICL is a tournament based in India. It is a relatively small venture (compared to ICC cricket events), so hiring interpreters would probably be out of the question. The players themselves chose to answer Mayanti Langer's questions in Hindi when they could have spoken in English. So it was not a matter of obligation for them. In his/her article, the author mentions a hypothetical excuse “…some might say that it's better to speak Hindi semi-fluently than to make a fool of oneself by speaking broken English” which he/she then refutes.
I partially agree with the quoted statement in that it is better to speak semi-fluent Hindi than broken English, not because it is shameful to speak broken English (it is not, because English is not our mother tongue or an official language in Bangladesh) but because it is easier for the players to communicate in Hindi. As the author mentions, this is probably because of their fondness for Indian films.
I mean, give the guys a break! Having already been publicly disgraced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board, these players are out there (still representing their country by the way) pumping their guts and turning in stellar performances while they are at it. They should be praised for such achievements rather than be scrutinised for actions not related to cricket.
The author also mentions Spain as “some remote European country” while drawing contrasts to India and saying that it is okay for a Bangladeshi to speak Spanish in Spain. That first part in particular made me laugh out loud. Jokes aside, it would be relevant to compare such linguistic issues in cricket and football.
In European leagues, most players learn the local language of the country they are playing in. They learn it for press purposes and also because it makes sense to speak the language that millions of people (and in this case hundreds of millions) around them are speaking if they are dwelling there for professional purposes.
So what makes Alok Kapali and Aftab Ahmed any different? The reference that the author makes here to our cultural heritage and neighbouring tensions (which by the way is not really the case) is a prime example of needlessly bringing up history and politics in this regard (i.e. sport).
Another shocking feature about last week's issue was that in the “What's Out?” section, all this was mentioned as well. I believe the term used was “shameless”. The “What's In?” and “What's Out?” sections always catch my attention because they are usually quite informative and refreshing. But to refer to this Hindi speaking issue was in my opinion, very harsh.
As a magazine that promotes lifestyle, it does not make sense to state such strong opinions as cold-hearted facts. Not every one feels the same way about this issue so it is not fair to summarize such views into one.
Ironically, the only issue I agree with the author on is one, which does not have anything to do with the article. He/she mentions that many Indians and Pakistanis assume that most Bangladeshis can speak Hindi or Urdu. This is a rather naïve preconceived notion (on the part of the Indians and Pakistanis) and also quite insensitive given our past (again the irony!).
I would like to conclude by saying that politics and sports should never be colluded. That defeats the purpose of sport, which is to unite the world through non-violent and fair means. That is why the Olympics are such a celebrated event, one that brings the whole world together. I am in no way trying to speak out against our country's values, culture and heritage. I am merely sticking to the matter in hand, which is sport.
- Auyon Rahman
I thank you for your views. It is always a pleasure to get feedback from our valued readers. Regarding the article in last week's issue titled 'Say What?' while I agree with a few of your points, I would also like to clarify that nowhere in the article did we say that it is shameful to speak broken English. We merely suggested the use of an interpreter to allow our players to speak Bangla.
I also beg to differ from your assertion that the ICL is a relatively small league and so incapable of appointing interpreters. It is a multi-million dollar enterprise that has succeeded in luring thirteen of our national players to India to play in an unsanctioned league. Neither did we say in the article that we blame the ICL for making Kapali and Aftab speak Hindi. It was clearly their choice. In response to your article we can only reiterate what has already been written.
The Dhaka Warriors and its players represent Bangladesh, and while doing that they should speak in our language, or in English as it is the internationally recognised language. Just to be clear, we do not condemn the speaking of Hindi or any other language that one has made the endeavour to learn.
It is okay for Bangladeshis to speak Hindi in India, as it will no doubt help them with their day-to-day activities to know the language of the country they are in. However, on the international stage, while representing Bangladesh, speaking in Hindi or any other language other than the lingua franca, cannot be condoned because it undermines our image and our sovereignty, because, as mentioned in our article our language forms a large part of our identity as a nation.