Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Descent of our Tongue

By Adnan M. S. Fakir

Our beloved mother tongue Bangla, went through different phases of evolution at different times, catering to different needs. It went through a period of romantic renaissance when Tagore used it to describe love and love in any form possible or imaginable or not imaginable; it went through a phase of rage during our liberation when Nazrul scorned at British occupation, followed by a phase of failed anger management by the commons against our politicians, giving birth to many of our beautiful and descriptive slangs. And finally, during this very day and time, it is going through another evolutionary or rather de-evolutionary phase that, the clever and innovative creatures that we are, commonly refer to as Bang-lish. Sadly though, this is one phase that may obliterate Bangla from the hearts and mouths of many; not because Bangla is in any way substandard, but because “ami Bangla bolte pari na” has sadly become a very acceptable and 'in' thing often denoting a higher social class where such people are blinded by the blinding power of western culture. Idiots.

At the end of the day we did shed blood for it and we were accredited with the International Mother Language Day. So who are the main culprits behind this downright atrocity of perverse culture? The identification requires a bit more differential diagnostic of our social environment, which in turn requires a certain level of intellect, which many who do not know how to properly speak Bangla (and is proud of it) may not possess. Please do excuse my undertone. Regardless, have no fear that is why we are here! Heck we could even make this a rajakar conspiracy theory, but let's not wander that deep into the rabbit hole. We do not want to dirty our fluffy white tail that much.

The Pride of Parents
It is perfectly normal for your parents to be proud of you; whether you are a sports star, or an artist or even a no-body who sits around at home doing nothing. That's the beauty of parents. Sadly though there are some parents who happen to be infected with a “knowing English means you are more educated” virus. By injecting its overpowering DNA into the nucleus, the virus then manipulates the same majestic pride to its own use, and there lies a great inherent problem of our society. Some mothers go, “Bangla! Amar bacha bangla thik moto porte e pare na, likhbe ki?” and some go, “Soroth Chandra! Matha kharap! Tar toh dath e bhenge jabe!” The problem is they don't say it with sadness, but rather with a convoluted sense of dignity and pride with a smile worn around their lips as their wicked subconscious goes, “Heh. My son knows better English than any of you and is much more educated with a bright shining future waiting ahead of him.” Oh the poor infected souls; that is when our mother tongue starting screaming in agony. If we are going to address this, then the parents have to stop ushering these statements with pride but rather with genuine concern, and force, if necessary, the ignored ignorant children to properly learn and indulge in Bangla. By Bangla, I do not mean a Bangla which sounds like British or Mexican for that matter; but proper, decent and genuine Bangla.

The Envy of Education
It is very irritating, at least to me, when people say that students going to English medium schools do not know Bangla. It is absolutely outrageous! But sadly it is true to some extent. The English medium curriculum, which very conveniently bypasses our national curriculum (the effects of which you feel much later), definitely does not pay proper heed to Bengali. Bangla in the O Levels is sloppy and meant for Bangla to remain as a second language to English. As daunting as it may sound, introducing classical Bangla literature in schools from lower classes till at least the O Levels examination as compulsory will definitely help to offset this, if nothing else. It never hurts to be thoroughly bilingual. Of course there are some parents who are aware of this and fix this through home enforcement, but that is a rare case. For a more through amendment, we need to introduce Bangla literature in the curricula to the least. It's always best to be a Bangladeshi who actually knows Bangla, not just know Bangla.

The Sloth of Students
Students are inherently a lazy, ignorant, foolish and rampant species who are commonly guided (and misguided) by their hormones. The studious righteous ones are the abnormal ones. Sadly though, the world does follow Darwin's survival of the fittest postulate and the abnormal ones do ultimately end up dominating. This sad reality is another reason why students have to stop being the lazy lost souls and also stop being ignorant of Bangla. If you are planning to stay back in Bangladesh or helping this country or being a part of this heritage, you will need to know proper Bangla, or at some point (possibly many points) you will face humiliation (I pity the fools). The faster you realize this and get a head start (if you already haven't) in self-educating yourself, the more idle times you will be able to spend when you really need it (like those un-lazy times with your more stable future partner). So do yourself a favour and read a Bangla book for the 21st and help our country's humanity. As Captain Planet says, the power is yours!



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