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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: There are a number of interesting things to consider in this issue. And lots of work to do on it. Research topic, anyone?

1. Bengali is a vital language, in both speech and writing. There are plenty of children getting their education in Bengali, either monolingually, or alongside English and (in India) Hindi. Masses of stuff is published in Bengali. It's not at risk of losing its alphabet.

2. A language is more than its writing system. We have to accept language change, and we have to accept that users of a language will change it in all sorts of ways. The language does not exist as a thing outside the practice of its users. The only thing that can damage a language is if it stops being used -- Bengali, with millions of speakers in two countries (and smaller communities elsewhere) is not endangered!

3. The online users of Bengali are nearly always speakers and writers of English as well as of Bengali. Some of them may have better literacy skills in English than in Bengali, and for all of them, the Roman alphabet is easier to use electronically than is the Bengali alphabet. Therefore, they find it easier to use romanised Bengali than Bengali script. You could argue that doing this promotes the use of Bengali: if they did not feel able to do this, they would be more likely to use English.

4. Scholars have developed romanisations of Bengali, usually to help learners, but there is no official romanisation. What has emerged is therefore an informally developed orthography. It is fascinating to see how the conventions have developed to become a spelling system. 'Bhalo' or 'valo' for example?

So.... just do it!

Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 11-Jan-2014
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (09-Jan-2014)
  2. Re: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (09-Jan-2014)
  3. Re: Importance of using the alphabet of one's own language    Susan D Fischer     (10-Jan-2014)

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