Tomorrow is 21 February. It is a day of colossal importance not just for Bangladeshis but for everybody all around the world. That is because tomorrow is International Mother Language Day (IMLD). There are 6,500 languages in the world. Tomorrow is a day that we do not only celebrate Bangla but any native can cherish their mother language on this specific day. First announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999, it was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly with the adoption of UN resolution 56/262 Multilingualism in 2002. We are the only nation in the world who has sacrificed our lives for the sake of our mother tongue. That is the reason why on this day, the whole world pays homage to the martyrs of 1952. It will not be wrong to say that Bengalis have paved the way to preserve the sanctity and authenticity of mother languages to the extent that an entire day has been carved out to be celebrated by not just us but everyone for our mother tongues. But how good are we in preserving it? Is correct Bangla being spoken by the young people in our country? With the epidemic of ‘Bang-lish’ on the rise, are children being able to learn and pronounce bona fide Bangla? We spoke to few young people who are both present and future leaders to decipher the significance of our mother language among the youth today:
A social worker, a photographer and a teacher- Talha works with a diversified group of people. His mode of communication predominantly is Bangla. “The Bengali language is not only a language to me. It is who I am. It gives me an identity of being an individual.” Talha also spoke of the multiple emotive layers of this one language. “Bangla itself contains so many emotions - tears, joy and, of course, sacrifice! It is more than a language to me. It is our pride. The significance of this day can never spelled in words. The day has so many emotions attached to it- both of euphoria and bereavement. The day will always remind us anything can be achieved in life if we have the intention and the dedication. We should never forget our roots because this is who we are. Ekush is a symbol of pride and joy to me. It represents my love, my country, my Bangladesh!”
Tasnia FarinTasnia Farin, a fresh graduate from BRAC, Department of English and Humanities shared her keen insight related to Bangla language. “To me, Bangla is one of the loveliest languages in the world because it is very simple to speak and comprehend.” Every language is always sweet to its native people but Tasnia said that there is an exceptional sweetness in this mellifluous language. “There is no harshness in our language Bangla, well, except for some ugly words. Then again, every language has some ugly words. Hence it is our duty not to speak harsh words. Bangla language is also very important for us all because of its history with which we are deeply rooted. Our brave language martyrs who sacrificed their lives exemplify the noteworthy passion people have for this language.” Indeed, the selfless contribution of our language martyrs sets a strong example for us all how passionately we must adhere to our beloved language.
RJ of Capital FM 94.8 and News Presenter of NEWS24, Rashed Imam has many talents under his belt. His command over Bangla language is equally remarkable. All throughout the interview, Rashed spoke in excellent Bangla with precise lexicon and superb pronunciation. As an RJ and news presenter, Rashed believes it is his sacred duty. “Media is a great platform from which people learn and I believe the correct use of the language is essential on this platform,” he said. “21 February is a day of both loss and success. On this day, we earned the beautiful language Bangla. On this day, we lost our language martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Bangla. It is very important that we strive to preserve the eloquence and authenticity of our language. These days, there is a dearth of practicing clear and articulate Bangla. If you ask anybody right now to talk in Bangla without stopping for 2 minutes or more, they will most likely be unable to do so. This is very unfortunate for us and it goes to show the gap in our practices.” Rashed also said that English being an international language also has its significance but is equally important to learn and practice Bangla with the same or more élan because after all, Bangla is ours! “Children learn from elders. So it is our duty to introduce them with proper Bangla so that they can represent it to the next generation when they grow up.” Rashed urges everyone to cherish love for mother tongue not just for a day but every day of the year. “Practice begins at home. There is a unique sweetness in Bangla language which many people miss out from lack of practice and absence of proper implementation. We are the ones who have inherited this magnificent language. It is our duty to respect it and make fundamental use of it.”
Tahia Chaity, teacher of Drexel International School, believes that it is an important job for teachers to teach appropriate Bangla to students. “Teachers are the guide of a nation. It is our bounden duty to teach students good morale, discipline and also proper language.” Human beings are social beings. We are also creatures of habits. So the habit we create today rules not only what we do tomorrow but also what others learn from us. Tahia also added that everybody is a teacher to some extent. “In a family, the younger members learn from the elder ones. In school, students learn from teachers. Even in friends’ circle, there is something to learn from another person. So if one person talks in fluent Bangla others will be inspired to do so from him or her,” she concluded.
If you search in Google ‘the sweetest language in the world,’ the answer will be Bangla! According to a UNESCO survey, Bangla has been voted the sweetest language; positioning Spanish and Dutch as the second and third sweetest tongues. It is kind of unfortunate that some young people have strayed away from proper use of Bangla for other languages. It is not wrong to learn new languages. However, it is also important for us to preserve our roots.