Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Do Bhutanese Need Two Languages to Communicate?


Dzongkha is the National Language of Bhutan. For those who are not born into Dzongkha speaking community, the language is taught from the primary level of education and it is mandatory for the students to get at least pass mark to go to the next level of grade. Despite experts simplifying the language over decades, children and even adults face difficulties in learning Dzongkha with ease. Our own and only language is always a subject of complexity, ridicule, general apathy and lost enthusiasm.

Dzongkha is not a language that is borrowed or imported. Our forefathers originally developed and evolved it over centuries. But in the current scenario of a transient Bhutanese society, the language doesn’t seem to create a quest among the young learners and the people in contemporary Bhutanese (mentality) society. For instance, among the current generation of Bhutanese, there are not many who can speak the authentic language of Dzongkha without errors, leave aside the number of those who can write a piece that has correct grammar and linguistic elements. 

Bhutanese today in general take pride in declaring as of not having sufficient knowledge on Dzongkha, and can not complete a sentence without adding a small supposed spice and elixir of English vocab. Bhutanese today associate authentic and accentuated Dzongkha speaking in day to day communications as being natively backwards and of not having been able to gain exposure to the supposed developed and modernized western culture. And therefore the more you are able to speak fluent English with western accent the more exposed, modernized and developed one is perceived.

Illiterates, who have not learnt English at all, thrive hard wide eyed, to utter English vocabularies as much as possible against the odds of not having learnt nor adapted to pronounce words correctly.

Does that mean Bhutanese are so proficient in English? No, Its not. But true, comparing to Dzongkha. Many Bhutanese can write in English but with so many grammatical mistakes.   They start speaking in English only to end the sentence in Dzongkha.   

In the current scenario, the aforementioned situations have resulted in making Dzongkha language volatile to degradation whereby already it is diluted with English vocabulary.

The Bhutanese take invincible effort and pride in preserving and promoting the external tangible elements of culture. Seldom does our fellows realize that it is the intangible elements of culture i.e., our native language which is inextricably  inter-wined with other intangible cultures like our principals, morals and attachment to ones native land, thus these compound together to form the outer tangible culture. Therefore all in all, the intangible cultures in the bigger picture, gives firm ground to the outer tangible culture.

Else it doesn’t require much investment of time, resource and effort to wear gho and kira, build Bhutanese architecture coded buildings and call ourselves truly Bhutanese whilst using a foreign language to communicate within the fellow Bhutanese people with a lost national and indigenous dialect.