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     Volume 2 Issue 42 | November 04, 2007|


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Dr. Bijoy Bhushon Das, Dr. Sayeedur Rahman, M Hamidul Haque, Dr. Faheem Hasan Shahed & Sakiba Ferdousy

When we saw Dr. Binoy Barman's article 'I am not ashamed of speaking Banglish!' in the last issue of Star Campus, we started reading with keen interest. We had an expectation of getting a sociolinguistic analysis of the so-called term 'Banglish' in the current Bangladeshi socio-educational-cultural set up. Much to our disappointment, we discovered a pedantic write-up marred by confusions and loopholes.

Confusing oversimplification of the issue
The title of the article predicates a detailed discussion of the so-called 'Banglish', but as soon as readers would go into the write-up, they would simply come to learn more linguistic terms rather than discovering any head or tail of this 'Banglish'. Dr. Barman seems busy in trying to make readers undergo an elementary study of linguistic terms like register, code-mixing, regional dialect, pidgin/creole, bilingualism etc. which are purely technical. So it appears that Dr. Barman is more inclined to talk about theoretical linguistics than to show that there really exists a variety of Bangla which he calls 'Banglish'.

According to Dr. Barman, this 'Banglish' is a hybrid language distinct in its intonation pattern, apart from mixing of words. The FM radio channels are his examples in this regard. Now readers, what do we hear in those channels? We actually hear Bangla sentences with unnecessary mixture of too many English words uttered in a laughably Anglicized and childishly artificial manner.

Now, mixture of words is nothing new for any country, although the intonation may sound peculiar at times. But is that enough to award it a status of special form? When you say a sentence like this: 'Listeners, apnader jonno amra ekhon jei song-ta play korbo, ta holo really cute ekta romantic song ja geyechhen…' what socio-linguistic specialty does it contain? Who in Bangladesh, except some lollypop teenagers, has accepted this as a natural language to be used in everyday life in any kind of social need? Why should the majority accept it either? Is it the case that in Bangla we don't have the counterparts of 'listeners', 'song', 'play', 'really', 'cute'?

Dr. Barman talks about pidgin and creole but he surely knows all the fundamental reasons behind the creation of those. We won't overburden the readers with detailed description. But let us ask: is there any pidgin-like situation in our FM channels so that one must have to do such mixture due to any emergency socio-economic needs? Who are listening to these programs: Bangladeshi Bangalees, or some outer-space aliens? Can it be used and promoted in the media where the use of standard variety or any other local variety is much more liked and expected by mass people of Bangladesh?

We have heard FM radio programs of Thailand, Malaysia and some other countries around and nowhere do they use this type of mixture language. It is only in Bangladesh that it is being done. Why? Because Indian FM-walas have trained our presenters as such. No socio-linguistic reasons can be found behind it at all.

Irrelevant examples of terminologies
Dr. Barman uses the terms register, code-mixing, code-switching, pidgin/creole, and bilingualism, but it is not at all clear to us and our other colleagues around how all these can be extended to the context of so-called 'Banglish'. Each term refers to very specific sociolinguistic situation in which it is used. We cannot simply over generalize these terms to 'Banglish'. He sounds contradictory when he talks both about bilingualism and code-mixing. If we have to accept this 'Banglish' as code-mixing, then how and why on earth should the reference of bilingualism come in the same article?

He also comes up with the example of 'Hinglish'. Well, don't we know that firstly, this 'Hinglish' has not been recognized as an acceptable variety, and secondly, 'Hinglish' developed due to an unavoidable socio-linguistic reality that is, the multilingual and multi ethnic character of Indian society?

For example, In India, if you know some bit of Hindi and communicate with people from other states where Hindi is not used, you would end up using some English (which is their second language) with it to make them understand you.

We wonder how Dr. Barman compares that with this so-called 'Banglish' stuff in our FM channels.

'It is stylish and beautiful'!
This is what Dr. Barman eventually decides for readers. But on what evidence and logic, that is beyond our imagination. The perception of 'style' and 'beauty' is not only relative, but also abstractly vague in every society. And these cannot be established on wishful thinking. If we proclaim, 'standard Bangla is stylish and beautiful', should we be deemed wrong or guilty?

Then let's come to a further point. If he or anyone is overwhelmed by the thought that speaking 'Banglish' is more stylish and thus it indicates smartness and progress, then we have to ask: what is smartness and progress? Our neighbor Sri Lanka has almost 100 percent literacy rate and they speak in natural Sinhalese and also English in Lankan accent. Aren't they smarter than us? Thai and Chinese people in general are weak in English compared to us, and yet we stand nowhere when it comes to comparing with their advancements in literacy, economy, and technology. Indians, whose 'Hinglish' is referred to by Dr. Barman, are way ahead when it comes to value-education, and ethical standard in life styles.

Still, in this country where thousands of graduates can't speak & read proper Bangla and fail to write a single paragraph in correct English, 'Banglish', not economic and social progress, is propagated as a model of style, beauty and smartness!

Living-dead language, and Bangla
Dr. Barman tries to justify this 'hybrid' stuff called 'Banglish' (he also uses another awkward term 'Engla' which is further confusing) by saying how a language 'slips into mass disuse' and has to 'embrace the dead fate' if it 'ceases to change'. Well, for thousand years, Bangla has lived brilliantly and grown richer by adopting natural lexicons and expressions, not non-natural elements, from other languages. Pakistani rulers tried to inject lots of Urdu stuff for the sake of 'preserving our tahzeeb and tamuddun, but they miserably failed for a simple reason. Artificiality never sustains.

Eminent writer Sunil Gangopaddhay once remarked that Bangla might perish from West Bengal one day (referring to the overt influence of Hindi), but it will last forever vibrantly in the world because of Bangladeshis. Bangladeshi Bangalees love to use Bangla naturally. Therefore, we will survive, and so will our language. Our martyrs surely did not shed blood in 1952 for incorporating any artificially stylish stuff called 'Banglish' as the savior of Bangla.

We believe that Dr. Barman would agree: speaking our mother tongue Bangla in the righteous manner, instead of
the Anglicized FM manner, is not a matter of shame!

The writers are faculty members of English Language and Applied Linguistics in private and public universities.

Mushfique Amin Mallick

In their first ever project, Underground Re-united Organization (URO), organized an unplugged concert at Hookah Lunge on the 8th of September. The show featured well known bands such as Nemesis, DRockstars winners Powersurge, runners-up Radioactive, Ajob, Dreek, Abhijukto and Shunno. Germantown, Demise, Drive, Soulfire, Exiles from Noakhali, Cynic X and Trainwreck were among the underground bands featuring in the concert, organized to raise funds for the underprivileged affected by the recent floods.

With songs like Here without you (3 doors down), Megalomaniac (Incubus), Home (Chris Daughtry), Snow (RHCP), My Sacrifice (Creed), she will be loved (Maroon 5) Last Kiss & Jeremy (both Pearl Jam), the concert lived up to all the hype that only a line-up such as this could create. Noteworthy performances included that of Abhijukto, who did well, in spite of a lack of practice. Their performance included Bryan Adam's Summer of '69, Pink Floyd's Wish you were here along with some of their own tracks, and Ajob, who warmed up the crowd nicely with their own compositions - their bassist leaving the crowd in awe with his breath-taking skills. Powersurge did a great rendition of Metallica's Nothing Else Matters as well as an acoustic version of one of their own songs, Mithar Aggrashon, and Radioactive, whose use of the flute in their own emotive number Shopnokotha, as well as their performance of Skidrow's 18 n life put a neat flow into the event. Nemesis kept the crowd on its feet with a mind blowing performance that included their very own Dhushor bhabna, as well as Pardon me.

Overall the concert was a huge success, with a massive turnout that even exceeded the venue's capacity! A great concert, all for a laudable purpose made up for an unforgettable event.


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