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Language beyond words

  • Published at 12:15 pm February 21st, 2018
Language beyond words
The year 1952 was an exceptionally year for Bangladesh, especially to those who live and breathe Bangla. The list of important days in our calendar is long and winded, but few of them are of significance to us on a day-to-day basis. Except February 21, of course. A date engraved in the annals of not just our history but the world’s, is the principal basis upon which we attribute our sovereignty. This month takes me back to the reverie I was not able to witness, to the sights and sounds that I picture in my head of young, passionate, dedicated souls struggling for our right to speak our language. Moreover, the history behind our linguistic emancipation is not without blood. If not for those who gave their lives for our right to speak our own mother tongue, history would have been written in the language of those who sought to oppress us. But language is hardly the primary focus of this month. At the heart of February lies the fight for identity -- a precursor to every instance of struggle that any nation, any community, any people have experienced in retaining their identity.
Bangla is hardly the only mode of communication in our country, there is a mélange of dialects and indigenous languages dotting our map, after all. And even though certain languages are, unfortunately, dying out, that does not mean we should let them
International Mother Language Day isn’t dedicated to Bangla alone; it is for every country around the world that has earned the freedom to speak their own tongue. Bangla is hardly the only mode of communication in our country -- there is a mélange of dialects and indigenous languages dotting our map. And even though certain languages are, unfortunately, dying out, that does not mean we should let them. The language movement was fought to preserve everyone’s right to speak their mother tongue. Of course, it’s hard to bypass the fact that reliance on foreign languages have increasingly become more common within our society, as made evident by the plethora of Indian and Western TV shows barraging our hearts and minds with their languages. But to actively go against their usage makes no sense, as it does not separate us from our oppressors back in 1952. I’ve always had a keen interest in Spanish and French, but nothing beats the comfort of speaking my own tongue with familiar friends at a local tong. I find that there is a lack of warmth in asking “how was your day?” instead of “cheherar ei haal killegaa?” in my native Noakhali dialect. “Love has no language” is the cliché that I’ve seen or heard be drummed about at least a hundred times. But I doubt I can survive a day with some person who wouldn’t feel the same as I would when I say, “aamaro poraano jaha chay, tumi tai.” I suppose love really does not need a language, it’s a language in and of itself. Rudana Tasmin Rahman is a freelance contributor.
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