Monday, May 22, 2017

Mother tongue speaks the loudest

The sign outside my office door has my name written in English and my mother tongue, Bangla. This creates quite a stir in the busy hallway with students, teachers, faculty, and other people walking around.

At the least, people stop and take a close look before walking away.

And some stop to tell me how beautiful it looks, asking me what language it is.

Some keep the conversation going, wanting to know more about the place I come from.

And some come inside my office, wanting to know what their name looks like in Bangla. They always leave my office very excited at having seen their name written in a foreign language.

This has sparked many a long, important discussions, about the history of languages, language politics, the brain of those who speak multiple languages, colonization of the English language around the world, diversity and immigrant power, and so on.

Some people are so inspired that they want their names written in Bangla too, just like mine. Because it's not fair that they can speak and write only in English whereas I have the advantage of flaunting my knowledge in multiple languages.

Of course, I did not plan any of this. All I have wanted for the longest time is to have my own office one day, and have my name written in my mother tongue along with English. And so I did, sparking so many joyful, interesting, and important conversations in the process. I know so many more people in the building now, just because they stop by to read my name, introduce themselves, and ask me to write their names in Bangla too. And that is the power of the human connection.


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