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Influence of English on Modern-day Bengali


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Though the world knows the language by the name of Bengali, Bangla happens to be a derivative of the Indo-Aryan languages of yore; to be more precise, it is the closest kin of Sanskrit after Tamil and German. Somewhere around 70 years down the line, the language of the Bangali people orbited around the Bengali vocabulary (well, Parsi, Arabic and Hindi also had their share due to a large number of residents following Islam) but the recent times witnessed a conglomeration of English words within the Bengali dialect – the aftermath of the British colonization, the trend still continues and is gradually encapsulating the common Bengali tongue-set.


For the unaware, this is a piece that’s intended to bring into light the trend we often refer to as Benglish; it is a mixture (not blend) of purely English words within the perimeter of Bangla; often mispronounced, sometimes they appear funny, but nevertheless, the widespread usage has made the population liberal enough to accept them into the vocabulary (Frenchmen, please excuse us).


The strong influence immediately comes to notice when one gives a patient hearing to especially the college students; what started off as fun and experimentation quickly transformed into a trend that doesn’t stop by including into it a foreign vocabulary but goes up to the extent of forming a complete sentence of which, one part is Bangla and the other an excerpt in English. For example: “The space was so narrow that I had to kneel down” easily moulds into “I had to sit like hnatu murey”, where hnatu is the knee and murey means by folding.  


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Whether it’s a good thing or not is debatable; the traditionalists definitely would frown upon the whole thing whereas the modern generation claims it to be a lingua franca that allows for a more vivid and picturesque way to exchange ideas that is easy flowing and light as well. But fact remains that even a hundred years back, when certain words in English took entry into the Bengali realm like tebil (table), tifin (tiffin or snack) or cup (pushing into obscurity the word peyala), the trend was not opposed by even the scholars who found Bangla then shedding some of its weight to facilitate the required speed in its motion. However, in Bangladesh, it’s a different scenario, and they are perhaps more staunch than the French when it comes to their own mother tongue.


Bangla, like English, has distinct linguistic patterns, and that’s what has started another trend that caught up very recently; it is speaking the English language keeping the Bangla mood and syntax intact. As we all know it, repeating words is against the English grammar whereas in Bangla, it is used to denote the magnitude more vividly. Thus, instead of pretty small stuff, people hesitate not to use small small things, which is a direct translation of the idea choto choto jinish. Similarly, it feels like the weekend translates into its like Saturday-Saturday and which which places instead of what are the places we shall be visiting.


But arguments aside, all we can say is that the influence of English in Bangla has changed (or should we say, confused?) the mindset of the populace up to quite an extent; while the modern generation thinks it to be plain stupid and an indicator of backwardness to use the mother tongue, half-a-knowledge has rendered their speaking habits into a style that’s totally unique in a sarcastic way.


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