A few days ago I was travelling by bus along with a sexagenarian man who was sitting next to me. While we were having a conversation a group of young boys, who most probably were coming back from a concert, got on the bus. They were speaking among themselves so loudly. One of them said, “Mamma, eita kintu joss achilo. Ami onek parar modhye asilam, kintu akhon purai jotil lagtase. Ja gaise na, osam” (friends, it was so enjoyable. I was depressed but now I am feeling really good. The singing was awesome). The man sitting beside me was listening to their conversation enthusiastically. Later he turned to me and exclaimed, “Have you noticed how these young boys are talking? What sort of accent and words are these? Do you think these boys know the meaning of the words that they are using so cheerfully?” His questions really made me think twice about the ways our young generation and some other groups such as RJs are making use of the dictions available in Bengali language. In this month of ‘International Mother Language Day’ let’s try to have a deeper look into the usage of Bengali diction.
At the present time youths of our country often use many words and it becomes very difficult for others to understand as the original meaning is quite different from the intended meanings. They commonly use words like ‘jhakkas’, ‘byapok’, ‘osthir’, ‘lul’, ‘sei’, ‘chorom’, ‘agun’, ‘rocks’ etc. for expressing happiness over something; ‘vabs’, ‘bail nai’, ‘gunlam na’, ‘off ja’ for avoiding or ignoring someone or something and ‘para’ for articulating unhappiness. Interestingly the literal meanings of these words are far away from their deliberate meanings. Meanwhile some RJs of some popular radio stations pronounce Bengali words in such a way that sometimes it really gets difficult to understand whether the word is actually from our language or from some other language. Furthermore they frequently alternate between two or more languages (code-switching), or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Such usage makes the sentence a hotchpotch, which is hardly understandable for many of us (except the youths).
Now many people may argue - what is the problem with such usage of Bengali words when the meaning is understandable to the listeners? If we want to analyze the problem, then we must take the impacts of such usage into consideration. For example- such language impurities, if inspired, can contaminate a particular language and the incorrect application of words, whether spoken or written, can sometimes get us into difficult or hilarious situations. Secondly, if it goes on and incorrect versions are used repeatedly, a wrong word becomes a norm and carries over into conversation and writing. At the beginning these sorts of words were only used in intimate conversations, specially during chatting among friends. But gradually the scopes are widening and now we see these words are very often used by social media users on the social networking sites. Moreover the trend is finding a place into popular culture as well through dramas telecast on different channels. Because of widespread popularity of distorted versions of words, some dramatists and directors are also using these words in their dramas and films. Due to such practice many people are learning wrong words and versions of language. The third and the most alarming one as well is that children are being affected by such practice. Some of them are so influenced by distorted versions of language that they even consider that as the correct form and consequently they sometimes even use those words in the answer scripts of their exams. If someone takes all these impacts into account, then someone can easily comprehend the problem with such incorrect usage of Bengali diction.
However we cannot simply put the blame on youths for including such impurities in the language. There are some other reasons that are actually contributing to the growing misuse of diction. First of all, we can mention the role of cultural intrusion by foreign languages. In this age of sky culture, we can watch programmes of different channels in different languages, which ultimately put an effect in our subconscious mind. As a result it has been observed that along with English Hindi words are also intruding into Bengali language. Secondly, a misconception has developed among many quarters that using words like ‘byapok’ and ‘jhakkas’ along with one or two English words in a sentence suggests more smartness. But the person, who uses such words, probably does not know that smartness depends on overall approach and speaking a correct sentence, whether it is in Bangla or English language. Thirdly, people nowadays put more emphasis on other languages such as English. That’s why our parents, teachers and schools are not very much eager to teach proper usage of Bengali language to the children. So the young generation does not take Bengali language seriously rather they add impurities and introduce words to make the language more fun. Fourthly, as a language English is always preferred over Bangla. English, as an international language, is prioritized everywhere, especially in the workplaces. As a result the notion of being fluent in Bangla is always ignored in the private sector. For all these reasons people act very indifferent when it comes to using Bengali language properly.
Well, there is no denying that a particular language will undergo changes. As language is culture, changes in language are affected by the changes in the lives of the users of a language. Generation by generation, pronunciations evolve, new words are borrowed or invented, the meaning of old words drifts, and morphology develops or decays. However the rate of change varies and this rate depends on the overall strength of the mother tongue. Considering this fact we must remember that we should not ignore our mother tongue to such an extent that other languages get the scope to take over our language. We have achieved our right over our mother tongue through a movement. The only way to pay respect to that sacrifice would be to cherish Bengali language properly.