How much Bangla should we really know?
Recently, I noticed in a conversation between my mother and brother, that they were arguing about but their language was quite different.
My brother was speaking in English, and my mother responded in Bangla. Even though their communicative expressions were different, they understood each other. However, what really bugged me was that my brother wasn't very efficient in speaking Bangla. It got me thinking.
Many people in my bubble, including myself, often use English as the go-to language for communication. I text, speak, and have a better understanding of the English vocabulary than Bangla. While this is completely fine because I can express myself, to a certain extent, this is also a bit concerning. Because I should have better flexibility around my mother tongue. Likewise, I believe we should at least know Bangla to an extent where we can express our thoughts adequately.
In today's age, the English language has this "ceiling". Corporate environments, educational institutions and local societies have this unspoken concept that we all should know English. Hence, people put a significant emphasis on English and how to use it as a language. This has led to educational institutions enforcing more students to speak English the entire time they stay there. This has also led to increased sales of spoken English tutorial books. In a broader sense, this has also made English proficiency a prime requirement in the job market. People are now constantly trying to consume more English media from the internet. Compared to Bangla media, the significant amount of English media doesn't help either.
I find this narrative a bit troublesome since it allows people to use English as their only mode of communication. This impacts people to a point where they are more comfortable with English. As a result, they lose their proficiency in Bangla. Don't get me wrong; I believe knowing English to a certain level is essential in today's competitive culture. Not at an expense where you lose your ability to speak in your mother tongue, though.
I'm not asking the average individual to be the next Nazrul. But I am asking them to be more serious about reading or talking in Bangla. Things like knowing all the numbers or the alphabets, or simply writing a sentence however you like should be the bare minimum.
Some can argue that understanding the history behind Bangla being the language we know today should also be known. That is a bonus. Some also argue that one should go to lengths to study Bangla literature. That is also tough to pick up on unless you already have a reading habit. It could be good practice, but I think expressing your thoughts in Bangla should be respectful enough.
Before I get called out for gatekeeping, it's okay if you don't use Bangla. But it's not okay if you don't know how to use it. Learn it, explore it. It's the least it deserves.
Malik Araf is running out of ideas. Help him at [email protected]