THE government’s directing all private television channels and radio stations to form a preview committee aimed at stopping ‘distortion in the use of the Bangla language and its pronunciation’ in their programmes is a welcome step towards stopping the unnecessary use of Bangla with a faux westernised accent that mostly grates on ears. This may help in ensuring the use of the Standard Colloquial Bangla, by and large agreed upon socially and historically, the way it is written and the way it is spoken, across the board. Yet this could also be a matter of worry if it somehow makes space for language policing and if the expected results of the initiative — linguistic adherence to the Bangla language as used by the Bengalis in all spheres — are given a short shrift in the implementation of the move.
The distortion of a language in the absence of a precise definition of what could be termed distortion means nothing as all deviations and aberrations from what is viewed to be the standard form of a language, equally along with what is viewed as the correct and appropriate form or forms constitute that language. If this phenomenon is kept out of consideration, any move against the distortion of or aberration from the standard form of a language would turn to be repressive handle and, thus, unacceptable. Yet even then, the standard form of a language, any language for that matter, is often spiced up in literature, serious and popular, with the sprinkles of what is considered non-standard linguistic forms and there should be no reason for anyone, not even any authority, linguistic or otherwise, to make any efforts to stop such use and mingle of, and experiment in, the arguably standard and non-standard forms of languages.
All languages have polished forms that are in use in literature, in academia, in official matters and in the formal world. But citizens the world over are taught the form and trained in its use through schooling, formal or non-formal. Children grow up hearing the form, using the form and getting used to the form while drawing from other regional variations and learning how to keep the difference depending on the formal or informal occasions. When the children grow up, they will all use the standard form, according to their convenience or when the occasion arises after several decades. And with the process rolling on, there needs to be no move to check against the deviation and aberration from the standard form. But in order for that to happen, the teachers, more in pre-primary and primary schooling and all of them teaching any subject, need to be trained first in the standard forms of written and spoken Bangla and they need to be trained how to effectively instil this in the young minds.
The government, therefore, of course, need to put in efforts to ensure adherence to the standard form of Bangla in all spheres, it must attend to the issue of schooling first, early and in earnest.
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