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  • Writer's pictureSaeed Anwar Anuj

Echoes of the East (1): A Voyage into the Bangla Language

In the soulful heartland of the Eastern Hemisphere, one can hear the rhythm of a language that reverberates with the legacy of an ancient civilization. A tongue that has aged with the wisdom of countless generations and evolved alongside a rich and vibrant culture. It is a language whose roots delve deep into history's soil, and whose branches extend far and wide, touching the lives of millions around the globe. In this blog, we shall embark upon a sojourn into the realm of Bangla - a language that unspools like a tapestry, intricately woven with tales of yore, age-old traditions, and a resonance that sings of identity.

Bangla, also known as Bengali, is spoken by over 228 million people worldwide, making it the seventh most spoken language globally. Its presence is particularly significant in Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, and the Barak Valley of Assam, where it is the official and most widely spoken language. Its influence doesn't stop at these borders but seeps into the fabric of communities scattered around the world, as the sweet cadences of Bangla echo in the diaspora from the Americas to the Middle East.

The diversity within Bangla is reflected in its dialects, a tapestry of regional variations that tell unique stories of their own. From the traditional shuddho Bangla (aka Promito Bangla or pure) to the popularly spoken Gaudiya, Rarhi, and Varendra dialects, each variation adds to the dynamic heterogeneity of the language.

Yet, no matter the dialect, Bangla is unified in its powerful ability to convey intricate layers of human emotion, something evidenced by the nation's proud literary tradition. It is the language of Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European Nobel laureate in Literature, whose songs and poems continue to inspire, and of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, known for his fiery verses advocating freedom and justice.

Bangla's place among world languages is indeed significant. It is among the few languages in the world with a dedicated day to commemorate its importance, recognized by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day. This acknowledgment was prompted by the valiant sacrifice of language martyrs in 1952, in what is now Bangladesh, who laid down their lives fighting for their right to speak in their mother tongue, an event etched forever in global memory.

Despite its ancient roots, Bangla is a progressive language, continuously adapting and evolving with time, showing an uncanny ability to absorb new words and concepts, while preserving its unique phonetic, syntactic, and semantic characteristics. This resilience and versatility attest to its status as a complete language that continues to thrive and grow in the modern era.

In essence, Bangla transcends the boundaries of mere communication. It pulsates as a living mosaic of culture, a tapestry of life, and a beacon of identity. This is not a mere sentimental attachment, but rather an objective testament to the unwavering fortitude of its speakers. A people who, through turbulent histories, have sought refuge and forged strength in the mellifluous embrace of their ancestral tongue

As we traverse the timeline of Bangla's past, present, and venture into its future in this series, may we gain a deeper appreciation of the profound impact of language on human civilization. After all, language is the key to understanding, and understanding is the key to bettering our world. And what better world could there be, than one where every language, like Bangla, finds its rightful place under the sun?

13 June 2023

Saeed Anwar

Edmonton, Canada

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