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Subject: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language
Question: It is possible to write Bengali online. But it is difficult
compared to English. Therefore, many people in my country
(Bangladesh) are using English alphabet to write Bengali. That is,
they are using English letters to write Bengali sentences in
Facebook, emails, and other online sites. The number of people who
are doing this is increasing day by day. I was wondering how this
will affect my language. I guess this practice is very bad for the
future of Bengali. I would like to have a more clear idea about the
impact of ignoring Bengali alphabet while writing in Bengali. In
general, I want to know about the importance of practicing one's
own language and keeping the identity of a language. Could you
recommend me some good research articles, other articles, books, or
websites related to this topic? Thank you.

Reply: This is an interesting question.

I think one thing to remember is that a language can switch scripts and still thrive. A
good example is Turkish which switched from the Arabic alphabet to the Western
alphabet. One could argue that if users are not able to use the native alphabets, at least
they are still using Bengali online.

I have to say that from a technology point of view, vendors have had difficulties
designing systems which can accurately render the Bengali script. That definitely
influences people to just use the Western alphabet.

Having said that, there are important cultural and psychological factors in favor of
using and maintaining a non-Western script. I don't think any linguist would want a
script to be discontinued, particularly if it's because vendors don't understand how to
support an Indic script. Fortunately, there are plenty of dedicated programmers and
technologists who do want the Bengali script to be used online.

Changing a script does not necessarily spell the end of a language per se, but it often
signals an important cultural shift. It is also an emotionally charged issue, much as
spelling reform is for Western languages.
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 09-Jan-2014
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (09-Jan-2014)
  2. Re: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language    Susan D Fischer     (10-Jan-2014)
  3. Re: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (11-Jan-2014)

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