Mon, Jun 18, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Bangladesh tribals fear linguistic ‘genocide’
孟加拉部落擔心「語言滅絕」

Bangladeshi children carry bags on their heads in Teknaf, Bangladesh on June 15.
孟加拉孩童六月十五日在孟加拉的塔克納夫,用頭頂著袋子行走。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

Bangladesh can justly claim to be a nation born of language, but its status as a cradle of linguistic diversity is under threat from nationalist pride and economic growth.

Of the more than 30 recognized languages spoken in Bangladesh, experts say 20 are now on the verge of extinction.

Many languages are inherently vulnerable, having no script and relying instead on a rich but fragile oral tradition of folk songs and story telling.

Bangla, or Bengali, is the undisputed heavyweight in Bangladesh’s linguistic arena, spoken by 95 percent of the population and the sole passport to a decent education and career.

National pride in the Bangla language runs deep and is cemented with the blood of the “language martyrs” — students shot dead by police on Feb. 21, 1952, when Bangladesh was still East Pakistan.

The students were protesting the Pakistani government’s Urdu-only policy and demanding that Bangla be recognised as an official language. The deaths triggered the start of a nationalist struggle that finally ended with the creation of Bangladesh after victory in the 1971 independence war with Pakistan.

But now Bangla’s dominance in schools, the workplace and cultural life in general is threatening those rights in Bangladesh itself.

(AFP)

孟加拉可以名正言順地自稱為是由語言而誕生的國家,但孟加拉身為語言多元化發源地的地位,卻正受到民族自尊與經濟成長的威脅。

在孟國逾三十種獲官方認可的語言中,專家認為有二十種正瀕臨滅絕。

許多語言原本就很容易消失,因為這些語言沒有文字,只能仰賴民謠與說故事等豐富卻脆弱的口語傳統流傳下來。

在孟加拉的語言競技場中,孟加拉語毫無疑問地是重量級語言,全國有百分之九十五的人口說孟加拉語,這也是通往良好教育和職業的唯一道路。

孟加拉人對孟加拉語有著根深蒂固的民族自豪,又因「語言烈士」為其所拋灑的鮮血而更形凝聚,這些烈士是在一九五二年二月二十一日遭警方射殺,當時孟加拉仍屬於東巴基斯坦。

遇害學生是抗議巴基斯坦政府施行獨尊烏爾都語的政策,要求承認孟加拉語為官方語言之一。學生的死亡揭開了孟加拉民族獨立鬥爭的序幕,在孟加拉於一九七一年打贏與巴基斯坦間的獨立戰爭、建立國家後才告終。

但現在孟加拉語在學校、職場與整體文化生活中的獨大地位,卻已威脅到孟加拉境內其他語言的權利。

(法新社/翻譯:俞智敏)

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. cradle n.

發源地 (fa1 yuan2 di4)

例: Fossil records indicate that Africa was the

cradle of early human evolution.

(化石紀錄顯示,非洲是早期人類演化的發源地。)

2. script n.

文字 (wen2 zi4)

例: The oracle script, or Jiaguwen, is considered

the oldest script in China.

(甲骨文是中國最古老的文字。)

3. passport n.

通行證 (tong1 xing2 zheng4)

例: Many students opt for business studies simply

because it sounds like a passport to a good job.

(許多學生選擇唸商業科系,只是因為它像是通往好工作

的通行證。)


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