The rapid globalization has resulted in an all-pervasive spread (or intrusion) of the English language. And it is a common knowledge that it has threatened the survival of a number of languages in the world. (However, the languages that are getting extinct or are on the verge of extinction are actually victims of inadequate speakers, and not of the “invasion” of the English language).
So how to address this situation?
Well, an ordinary person as I am, I have decided to show the audacity of presenting some suggestions.
I feel there is a very simple solution for the problem – the native speakers of a language should keep speaking the language in a liberal way.
Now, what do I mean by speaking a language in a liberal way? Well, it means speaking the language without getting too much conscious about its purity and sanctity. Rather you should accept the ground reality, and speak the language by borrowing certain terms and words from the global language, i.e. English.
Let us be practical. Evolution is part and parcel of every aspect of human civilization, and human language is no exception. Your love for your language is understandable. But if you follow a puritan attitude, and try to speak the language without any touch of the modern world, then that will be more threatening for the survival of your language. Because if a language (or for that matter any form of socio-cultural expression) tries to deny evolution by remaining stagnant, then its very survival gets threatened. Because stagnancy is in direct conflict with survival. A language has only two choices - either to evolve and grow, or to die a gradual death. There is no room for the third choice, i.e. maintenance of a so-called purity (read stagnancy).
And why should you feel that borrowing words from the English language will reduce the sanctity of your language? Rather it will further enrich your language. I can give the examples of three languages of India, all of which are known to be rich (actually all Indian languages are rich). These three languages are Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. Significantly, all these languages have borrowed a huge number of words from various other languages. In fact, Urdu itself was born as an amalgamation of seven languages. As a native speaker of Bengali I know how proud we are about our mother language. But incidentally the Bengali that we speak today is embellished with a number of words from Portuguese, Arabian, Persian, Hindi, Urdu, English and many other languages. The so-called pure Bengali that was spoken by our forefathers is long extinct. But we do not feel that by borrowing words from other languages we have reduced the sanctity of our language. Nor we have any embarrassment about it. Rather we feel that the “intrusion” of non-Bengali words into our language has further enriched our already rich language, and has also made it sustainable.
And yes, we modern Bengalis use many new English words/terms/expressions which our predecessors would not use even just 30-40 years back, like “globalization”, “global warming”, “Information Technology”, and so on. And in general the use of English words while speaking in Bengali has increased a lot. But this practice has neither threatened the survival of our language nor has reduced its sanctity. If we would refuse to include these modern words and terms in our language, then it would have reduced the expressive quality of Bengali. We would find it difficult to express ourselves in our mother language, and would be forced to resort to other languages completely. And it is in this case that the survival of our mother language would have been threatened. And why has the use of English words increased? Well, it is a direct result of globalization, which we can not avoid.
In fact, English itself has always been open to change, and has borrowed a lot from other languages, starting from Latin and Sanskrit to French, German, Hindi, and so on (the list is actually endless). And it is actually this that has made that language so rich and expressive. English would not have become the global lingua franca if its native speakers still tried to speak it in the way it was spoken during the days when England was called Albion. Why, today’s English is so different from even the way it was spoken at the time of William Shakespeare.
So my friends, let us take pride in our respective mother languages, and speak the same with pride and passion. At the same time let us not have any flawed sense of pride, which will make us too much puritan about our language. Let us be open to change, and let us make our language both sustainable and further enriched by freely borrowing from the English language. It will not reduce the status of our language in comparison to that of English. Because English itself is indebted to many of our languages.
Shed your flawed idea of lingual purity, and be open to words and expressions from English (and other languages). That will not only ensure the survival of your beautiful mother language, but will also make it more rich, more lively and more vibrant.