The use of Bangla language in various sectors seems to be on the wane, as the young generation appears to be distancing itself from the language. Even though Bangla is one of the most-spoken languages in the world — almost 200 million people speak it — and ranks as 7th among most-spoken languages, the importance of Bangla is decreasing among the youth of the country.
Experts The Independent spoke to are of the opinion that in most cases, the young generation now delves into borrowing from other languages, especially English, and creating their own brand of a "mongrel" language, which is meaningless.
They said to save Bangla from obscurity, there is a need of revival of a collective conscience and measures. National Professor Dr Anisuzzaman told The Independent that the young generation has shown their reluctance in using or learning Bangla properly because of globalization.
“Globalisation has made the world a small place where even a young boy from a village in Bangladesh gets to know what cultural norms are dominating the everyday discourse,” he said.
Dr Anisuzzaman, who has been a Professor of the Bangla Department of Dhaka University for nearly five decades, said English is turning out to the new global language. “The dominance of English is very evident and you need to learn English to stay ahead of the competition. That’s why the young generation is leaning towards learning English.”
He said the use of Bangla remains confined to lectures inside the classroom. “People now study Bangla only for academic purpose. In practical life, the use of Bangla is limited. That’s probably the main reason behind the declining popularity of the language.”
Linguisticians stressed that our state language is Bangla and the Constitution is also written in Bangla. But the language of our lifestyle is not Bangla.
They emphasized Bangla to be the medium of communication everywhere — from the High Court to the classroom. As an example, they said Japan is advanced because it relies solely on the Japanese language. It has embedded the language in their lives, he added.
Talking to The Independent, Khaled Hossain, a Professor of the Bangla Department of Jahangirnagar University, said people can only express their thoughts and feelings in their mother tongue. “Mankind has made rapid advancement when they started writing and publishing books in the mother tongue — be it in science or literature.” Professor Khaled said: “If we look at history, we will find that once the dominant language of the world was Latin, as most of the scientific studies, or religious scriptures were published in Latin. People needed to learn Latin to march forward in the realm of science and civilization. New things will come in the language and old things will be missed. This is the process for living languages.”
In this era, languages like English or Spanish become more dominant, so people opt to learn these, he said. “But there is no alternative to the mother tongue, because scientific study has proven that no person can be bi-lingual. So, a person can express his emotions fully only in his mother tongue,” he said.
He said especially in literature, there is no alternative to using the mother tongue. “Rabindranath got his Nobel prize for his works that was originally written in Bangla. Although his works were later translated for the global audience, had he not used his mother tongue in penning Geetanjali, he wouldn’t be able to express his emotions to the fullest,” said Prof Khaled.
However, the use of the Bangla language in a distorted way on the social media and regular lifestyle has crossed all normal limits. The distorted way seems to have become the new style.
A section of the new generation unintentionally uses English language, not really knowing how it should be used. Dr Soumitra Shekhar, professor of Bangla at Dhaka University, told The Independent: “If we look at the great civilizations of Europe, we will find that each of the race there has been able to reach the pinnacle of success by nurturing its mother tongue.
“Now, there is no doubt that we need to emphasize more on a language like English over Bangla to secure a job in the competitive market. But to be frank, securing a job is not everything. This mentality among us is the result of British rule for over two centuries,” he said.
“The truth is, if you want to do something original, if you want to create something original, you have to do that in your mother tongue, because that’s the language of your comfort. This is the post-colonial mentality. In fact, the whole mindset of the government centres on it,” he said.
Professor Shekhar said without strong proliferation of Bangla at every level, the country will never be able to reach the zenith of success. “The saddening fact is, we don’t learn from Europe, even we don’t learn from Asian giants like China or Japan who have attained significant success without succumbing to any dominant language of the world,” he said.