Today, many members of the Baptist Churches all over the world pay great tribute to the great English Reformer-Missionary to the then Bengal, William Carey, for the great works that he did in social, cultural and economic reforms alongside his missionary works. Carey was born on 17 August, 1761 in England. He arrived at Kolkata on November 10, 1793. Ever since then his love for Bengal and the Bangla language, till his death on June 9, 1834, was unparallel among the expatriate people in Bengal. Carey's 'Kothopokothon' was the first printed book in common Bangla prose.
With great reverence we remember Carey today as we realise the immense love for our vernacular, Bangla, a language for which people gave blood, gave all they had. William Carey's 41 years of dedicated work for the improvement Bangla prose inspired many Bengali scholars to take Bangla language to a scientific and literary form. His labour in translating the Bible into many local languages, especially Bangla, and developing Bangla prose form, got a big boost at the Serampore College, which he founded, and by the establishment of Fort William College in Kolkata in 1800 where he worked as professor of Bangla and Sanskrit languages.
This appointment provided Carey a very strong foothold in his pursuit of working with and in Bangla language. A great testimony to this fact is to be found in what written by Ram Kamal Sen in his well-known work, A Dictionary in English and Bengali (1834): “The College Pundits … produced many excellent works….I must acknowledge that whatever had been done towards the revival of the Bengalee language, its improvement, and in fact the establishing it as a language must be attributed to the excellent man Dr. Carey and his colleagues, by whose liberality and great exertions many works have been carried through the press and the general tone of the language of this province so greatly raised.”
Carey worked as the professor of Bangla in Fort William College till 1831. He devoted time, treasure and talent for the promotion of our mother tongue, Bangla, compiled dictionaries and wrote grammar books as he did his works as a Christian missionary in the-then Bengal. We join many others in paying this humble tribute to him and what he did for our mother tongue, Bangla Bhasha.
The writer is Principal of College of Christian Theology Bangladesh.