Scientific terms translated in Bangla: Possibilities and Drawbacks | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 31, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 31, 2016

EDUCATION

Scientific terms translated in Bangla: Possibilities and Drawbacks

Among this year's HSC examinees, more than 150,000 were from the Science group. A vast majority of these students belong to the Bangla version of the national curriculum. Many of them will choose fields such as medicine, engineering, and applied science for undergraduate studies; fields that will require them to encounter a huge amount of scientific terms.

Many students will not recognise terms they have come across during college. 

The reason for this is that Bangla medium science education contains a lot of translated scientific terms. Through both the SSC and HSC levels, Bangla medium science students study using these translated words. Though the English terms are generally provided within the book, the teaching of the subjects is done mostly through the Bangla terms.

What purpose does it serve?

The primary purpose for the usage of Bangla terms is making it easy for the students to understand. All science students do not possess a similar amount of English proficiency. For some, the Bangla terms lead to better understanding of subject matters.

The effort to translate these terms into Bangla also has the effect of enriching the Bangla language itself. A vast number of loanwords related to technical and technological concepts entered the language due to the lack of proper Bangla words. The emergence of Bangla terms can help to slow this trend. 

The emergence of Bangla scientific terms can also make it possible to conduct proper scientific research in Bangla. Therefore, some scientists who might have been hindered due to a simple linguistic barrier can be empowered to carry out research due to this factor.

But using Bangla terms has many drawbacks as well.

Firstly, as mentioned above, students have to re-learn concepts they studied again, in English. Not only is this inefficient, this can also result in Bangla medium students facing an unfair competitive disadvantage against other students. 

Also, the terms can often be just as alien as their English counterparts, negating their primary purpose. For example, jaron-bijaron does not make much more sense to an average Bangla speaker than oxidation-reduction.

Having to memorise many of the difficult terms in two languages simultaneously can be a great strain on a young student's brain.

Furthermore, as nearly all the research materials available on the Internet and journals are in English; they can be hard to access for those who are accustomed to using the Bangla terms.

Finally, not knowing the proper scientific nomenclature can lead to increased difficulties in carrying out scientific research.

Mahroos Murtaza Choudhury, a student of DU with a Bangla medium Science background, stated, “A lot scientific terms just didn't make sense when translated to Bangla. Also, some terms weren't translatable and were left in English, so the textbooks were just inconsistent. To add to that, since most of the higher education in our country is still conducted in English, the learning curve can be steep for some of the students because they have to learn the same things in English again.”

As per the points put forward above, resorting to the original English scientific terminology seems to be the logical option. Science education may become more efficient and rewarding, with the usage of proper English scientific terminology.

Novo Manzoor is an athlete. He surfs the web all day. You can reach him at: novo_manzoor@yahoo.com

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