As a Bangladeshi rooted woman born and raised in the U.S, I often struggle with how I related to revolution and language in the homeland and how to translate it into my work today. The above video is a beautiful TedX talk by the Bangladeshi musician Anusheh Anadil and her talk about the intersection of arts, folks music, language, grassroots politics and feminine energy.
One of the things I’ve been sitting with lately has been the intersection of music, revolutionary change and the use of Bangla language. It’s particularly and personally frustrating at this intersection knowing the language of revolutionary change is so close in blood, yet the only one that flows from my tongue is that of the colonizer. I think Ahusheh’s talk leaves a lot to think about - and primarily the message I’m re-reminded is how love needs to be the driving force in all that we do.
Check out Anusheh Anadil’s song Dhik Dhik on her album Bahok here.
English, Engliss, Engliji?
J. and I were speaking about our tongues and I realized that while Engliss was a familiar friend, it was not mine entirely.
Engliji instead of Engliss is more accurate for me, although, neither of them represents how I actually pronounce the word. Because, truth be told, I mostly sound Amreekan with some Austrian, and British (English) thrown in.
But that is only true for when I speak English all the time only. When I speak Bangla, the Engliji comes out, and it just goes to show how this colonialism business went down because there’s a lot of Engliji that gets mixed in!
Let me tell you a story:
I was watching the news in Bangla with my dad, and I remarked that the people on the TV peppering their Bangla with the occasional English words were probably educated in English medium schools. But as we continued watching, we realised that everyone who spoke was using some English, except for Sheikh Hasina (but she’s PM and has a speech writer). My dad said “Ma, eta amader Bangalider character” [Ma, this is the character of us Bengalis] and then noticed what he’d said and went “Dekhso, ami “character” bebohar korlam, Bangla shobdota jodiyo chinni.” [Did you see, I used “character” even though I know the Bangla word for it.]
And I thought, yes. Even those who have never been abroad, who have never learnt English in school, will use words that are English, like “table” or “chair” instead of their Bangla equivalents, even though I’m pretty sure tables and chairs existed before English became a common language to speak.
So yes, think of this as my introductory tongues confession.
Hello, my name is Numa and I speak English, Engliss, and Engliji.
It’s like the first day at a new job. Except, instead of brownies, I have writings to offer when I say Hello.
Pliss, submit your tales of Engliss for purpose of part sedition and part pleasure. Up to you, only, of course <3