Mother tongue | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 21, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:56 PM, March 19, 2013

Mother tongue

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In nature the Homo sapiens are one group of beings on earth but with a vast range of diversities caused either by the environment or by necessity. This is recognised by the world religions with their claims of being for the whole of humanity rising above the differences, contending with the diversities, for the clarity of the message conveyed. The mother language factor as an existing reality applies in all other fields of communication as well. In the context of modern day communication requirements these other aspects have become even more important in a mundane world.
As the term indicates the mother language of an individual is the language in which his mother spoke to him before he could learn any other form of language. It is the earliest mode of communication in the formative years in one's life and with the vast majority it remains the best. Perhaps it is this significance that the UN has identified in declaring this special day of 21st February.
Looking beyond the sentimental reasons of attachment common to human beings, it could be observed that the mother language is deeply interwoven with the innermost feelings in the sub conscience and with impulsive expressions. It is the mode of expression of folk garner of any given group with a distinctive language or even a dialect.
The same feelings of nostalgia are evoked by the mother language as by the sweet smell of mother's milk, long after being a babe in the arms.
Such feelings are common to all groups that have a mother language of their own in whatever stage of evolution. However, a language is not a static entity and as everything else is subject to change. This process is identified in modern terms as evolution of a language, which is mostly through natural causes of change or even through manipulation. The latter however does not gain acceptance simply by resorting to such tactics.
Expressions that gained currency through such manipulations often remained so for a period of time and vanished into thin air.
Marking the Mother Language Day that identify the right of a mother language to take its own course of evolution, the distortions and adulteration willfully perpetrated on one's mother language has to be taken into account. Most of the media organizations as well as certain pundits of language are guilty of such perpetration to suit their own ends.
The mother tongue is a tool of the masses that use it and cannot be owned by any such organisations or individuals to distort and adulterate as they please. Such adulteration are being viewed with much displeasure by all who love their mother tongue as a distinct mode of expression, that does not need arbitrary borrowing from other languages except in its colloquial form. Distortion of the link language English is tantamount to the 'murder of the Queen or the King'. No one dares tamper with that language on any account.
On calling to film the significance of a mother language and its right to be preserved with no willful or manipulated distortions of its expressions media organizations using the mother languages of Bangladesh should make a note of the fact that the distortions they make are also a murder of a language to which they have no right.

The writer is Lead Faculty, Language & Culture, NHTTI.

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