If education is the backbone of a country, language is the backbone of education. A language is a medium of learning and, therefore, it is essential that it is learned and used in its purest form to ensure quality of education as much as a mirror needs to be clean for clear reflection. It goes without saying that how correctly people speak their language is an indication of their education system.
While much criticism has been levelled against the quality of our education system, the recent years have seen a serious decline in spelling and grammar raising concern if we are at all bothered about the quality of our language. The spelling and grammar mistakes in our textbooks have been repeatedly discussed in the country. But if you look at banners, signboards, leaflets, visiting cards, nameplates, and any kind of communication or promotional material in the country, the numbers of spelling, and grammatical errors are simply outrageous. Such mistakes have been found even in publications coming out of textbook boards and the Bangla Academy, which is meant to be the standard bearer of Bengali language.
Is it a big deal that we do not correctly use our language? If knowledge is for knowing, how does it matter whether or not we know the language right? Does language matter outside the spheres of literature? Does it matter in scientific inventions or business propositions if we spell the words correctly or write the sentences without grammatical mistakes?
The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because wrong spelling can change the meaning of a word, thereby creating confusion in communication. No, because spelling or construction of a sentence has nothing to do with the birth of an idea or hypothesis. The problem lies elsewhere.
And it is a problem of hygiene that, if neglected, can become a threat to one’s health. Language has a health of its own, which is the discipline that promotes common and mutual understandings. It is important to maintain the hygiene of language for the same reason we need to drink clean water or brush our teeth. Impure language contaminates communication, which can have its multiplier effect. The havoc of that effect may not be obvious in one or two generations, but is bound to catch up eventually and throw us in utter chaos.
It is unfortunate that this chaos persists in the midst of us, and we are not worried about its consequences. It runs contrary to the spirit of the Language Movement of 1952 and the martyrs who shed their blood for the dignity of our mother tongue. If we have inspired the world to adopt February 21 as the International Mother Language Day, it is not simply acceptable that we should be so callous to compromise its standards.
One thing leading to another, the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will undermine our language if the current trend is not urgently reversed. So far, no major initiatives have been undertaken to enforce that reversal, and our language continues to be taken for granted. It is a shame that wrong words and sentences are being written without anyone having the slightest interest to verify if those are right or wrong. There was a time in this country when people felt embarrassed if they wrote or spoke incorrect words.
The erosion of standard in every walk of life is also taking its toll on language. This is all the more reason why we should take it seriously before this erosion is compounded by further erosion, leading to a greater crisis. A nation that fails to keep its language tidy may eventually find that it does not have a sound mind.