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Monday, February 8, 2016, Magh 26, 1422 BS, Rabius Sani 27, 1437 Hijri


Multilingualism versus minority language
Siddhartha Shankar Joarder
Published :Monday, 8 February, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 27
In history, the most essential invention for human being is of course language. In the primitive age, when no scientific way of communication among men was conceived, language was still there but in different forms. Indeed, human being has nothing but language to communicate with its neighbours. Besides, animal has also some sort of ways to exchange views within their own species.
As a part of social being language is used as a medium to make a rapport with others, and of course it enables one to make the bridge for successful communication. For communication, a common language between two different languages works invariably in order to make the relationship meaningful. My friend Rainer Ebert, for example, is a native German speaker; instead I have no knowledge about German. However we are able to communicate by using English language since it works as an international vehicle to exchange our views. As a result, language for many purposes brings different people together in the world. But it is surprising that languages are quite different to each other which mostly depend upon race and anthological divisions. Even, in a single nation same language is found with different accent and in intonation depending on place and diversity. Expert says that in every eight kilometres language is found in different forms.
Interestingly, language is deeply related with human races and places where they make their respective abode. As a result, human races find their comfortable way to make the best use of their mother language - the language which is adopted naturally without having its technique to use. It is not an easy task to find the origin of language because language is very old-as old as human races. But, it can easily be presumed that there had been an inter-linguistic commutability although language is dominated by language according to its strength of mastery. Here, the number of users and its necessity in human life determine the supremacy. To be sure, language is very dynamic and always takes a form by mixing up with others according to its socio-economic demands. Many languages were died without adopting a new one; again, many were merged with new one by changing its organization and structure.
It is really difficult to compute the exact figure how many languages are being used in the present world and how many are suffering in extinction due to non-use. Stephen R Anderson, an American linguistic researcher, finds that nearly seven thousand distinct languages are being used today throughout the world in which most of them originated from Indo-European language-tree. Statistics shows some important results which are in most part difficult to demarcate between different origins of languages. Linguists affirm that there are about two hundred Indio-European languages in the world whose genetic affiliations were not clearly determined. European people use only 230 different languages out of the whole whereas 2,197 in Asia. Surprisingly, 3.9 million people of Papua New Guinea use 832 languages alone. In North America, over 300 languages are spoken in which only eight are spoken by ten thousand people. It shows that there are 165 indigenous languages in the continent. Very roughly, experts apprehend 3,000 languages will be in extinction in the next century --- which is very alarming for the small ethnic group. Moreover, without proper patronization many indigenous languages are suffering badly and governments care very little about bringing them to the light.
Truly, globalization appears to be the major threat for small languages in the world. Major part of the threat comes from the people who actually drive the wheel of economy and play the prime role in social change. So, survival of a language mostly depends upon its internal and external potentiality and of course its accessibility to the people without much complication. Many languages couldn't survive long because of its internal weakness and the users' insignificant role in social building.
So, there has always been a serious tussle between mother language and the language that dominates over human sustenance. Hence, to keep on the diversity and to preserve small ethnic group and their small languages, UNESCO declared International Mother Language Day to remember every year the heroic immolation of Bangla language in 1952. The Bengali youth set up the rare example in history by embracing martyrdom for language only. This day is being observed since February 2000 across the world.
But, the question strikes at first: would it be possible to carry the project on? Surely not, because the case of language is essentially related to some other events that partially make the ground of linguistic atmosphere. In general, the users of language feel the necessity to adopt with the new climate. Sanskrit, for example, has become an almost dead language like Hebrew, because people haven't felt like carrying it on. More strategically one language loses its originality with the inclusion of other which is economically dominant in the society or the state as well. It is rather an important event for language that it always changes the mode by mixing up with others. So, the so-called originality in language had never remained intact for any time. Bangla, Hindi, Mandarin, Japanese, French and even English were mingled with others due to the constant juxtapositions.
All governments and concerned people should come forward to save their own heritage, own people who make them diverse. Multiculturalism is of much needed factor in the present world because it ensures development, progress and makes people patient and endurable. The present crisis of the world is mostly deepening due to the devouring attitude to the small. If it fails to stop right now, the world may once turn into a linguistic imperialist.
Siddhartha Shankar Joarder is Chairperson and Associate Professor at Philosophy department, Jagannath University









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