‘Triglossia in Bangla’

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Indian Statistical Institute

March 4, 2012

SOUTH ASIAN LANGUAGE REVIEW XI, pp. 173-186, Omkar N. Koul and P. Umarani, eds., 1999

This paper as it attempts to prove triglossia instead of diglossia in Bangla avoiding the usual method of sociolinguistic research and using a so-called ‘folktale’ to understand the state of affairs in the colonial context of 19th C. Bengal. This narration may be called, following Nandy (1983), simply a “myth¬graphical” account of past linguistic situation of Bengal. This paper scrutinized different discursive formation of the linguistic issues perceived by the then Intelligentsia arising out of the nationalist movement of last phase of 19th Century and the first phase of 20th century. Taking cue from an analogy given by Tagore (1936/1961:436) the author depicted the diglossic situation of Bangla literary language and lastly opened a file of a hidden variety, which he preferred to call ‘pracolit’. Tagore used a Bengali folktale of a king who has two wives, Suorani (preferred queen) and Duorani (neglected queen). Bangla Language, the incarnated king, had also two queens: one is Sadhu bhasa and another one is colit bhasa. The Sadhu bhasa is an archaic high code used in the literary text and the colit literary text is based on the colloquial speech of Standard Colloquial Bangla (SCB). Generally this dichotomous relation is referred to as diglossia. Besides these two codes, the author argued, there was another code called Cockney (meaning, cock’s egg; this pejorative term is generally used to refer to the so-called ‘dialect’ of the natives of the Eastern part of London.) and is renamed here as ‘procolit’. Thus, the king ‘Bangla’ had another wife, totally neglected by the new language managers, emerging from Westernized Middle Class (the propounder of the colit-movement) and the Traditional Sanskritists (the Pro-Sadhu group) and was mostly spoken by the old moneyed class living in North Kolkata and was pejoratively referred to as ‘Cockney’ as a mimic of London’s speech. There was an epistemological obstacle to understand the existential status of this defeated variety and it was categorized as an outcast, a Duorani or not at all a Duorani–she was just like an unknown ‘kept’. Consequently, speakers of this procolit were engaged in culture called “babu culture”, which was, as it is found in ‘Hutum PEMcar nakSa’ (writtten in pracolit), exclusively related to women and wine. This variety talked overtly on sex, used so-called ‘obscene’ and ‘vulgar’ words as per Victorian norms. This native language of Kolkata was not accepted as a norm for Bangla, and was antagonized and rejected by the Westernized middle class of 20th century Bengal. They not only denied the existence of this defeated language but also supplemented it by censoring it with their new colit. This paper extensively discussed the vocabulary, phonology and morphology of this neglected variety on the basis of fieldwork and discourse analysis. Thus, this paper captured a moment of negotiating/choosing a standard language of Bangla nation state by analyzing the discourse of language managers of the newly born civil society in the context of 19 C colonial Bengal.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: mythography, Diglossia. Triglossia, n-glossia, donor-receptor


About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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