Monday, April 26, 2010

Bengali to English

"Prepone” is now a word in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. So is “airdash”. For those who squirm at the made-in-India opposite of “postpone”, the dictionary-makers say: “It enriches the language”. Not just Indian English. Shuddh Hindi words like attar, dhoti, dal are already there in the dictionary.

At the same time, the latest edition of Samsad Bangla Abhidhaan contains words as intrinsically English as “blade”, “blackboard”, “breakfast”, “captain”, “calendar”, “estate”, “envelope” and “engine”, to mention only the first part of the tome. Why not enrich the English dictionary with some Bengali? Worldwide, there are 20-25 crore speakers of Bangla.

Educationist Pabitra Sarkar says it is difficult to find the English equivalents of two kinds of words in Bengali. One: cultural terms like abhisar and abhiman, used to such rich effect in Vaishnava padabalis. Two: kinship terms — beyai, beyan, bhayra bhai, nonod, ja, bhashur… Metro draws up a list:

Abhiman: The original meaning was pride, but the current usage — anger, or something close to it, at being upset with a loved one. This one word is one whole chapter in any relationship, be it between lovers or between parent and child or between siblings or friends. Or just think Radha, when Krishna comes back after having spent the night with Chandrabali.

Full report here Telegraph

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