on Bangin' in the 'Desh (Bangladesh), 18/Mar/2010 07:12, 34 days ago
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After six months of life in the‘Desh, I thought I’d have mastered Bengali a lot more than I have but in actual fact, it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The structure is totally different and also, I can’t read a bloody thing so I rely on mimicking others without really knowing the meaning of what I’m saying, or writing things down phonetically on scraps of paper, hoping they’ll stick in my pea-sized brain. Note: My purse is full of random bits of paper with different words on them – a killer when trying to find money in a hurry.However, the locals seem to have pretty low expectations of a‘bideshi’s’ language skills so most people I meet are pretty impressed with my limited vocab. ‘Khub shondur Bangla!’, they always say – telling me I speak beautiful Bengali. Yes, this is a good thing but after about 3 minutes, I have nothing left to say and just stand there smiling or bobbing my head from side to side. I wish that I could have more of a ‘conversation’ but my key skills lie in the following areas only:1. Bargaining to buy things and when getting transport2. Telling people to bugger offWhen these fail, I resort to speaking a mixture of English and Bengali to communicate what I need to. I like to call this special skill, Banglalish. Banglalish does have its benefits and you’d be amazed by how much you can communicate with a couple of key words and hand gestures, but mixing the two languages together has started to have a detrimental effect on my English skills. I’ve been writing a report for work recently and I feel like I can’t write properly anymore. I can’tarticulate myself and forget how things should be structured. I have so much Banglalish floating around my head that I can’t see straight. I lie in bed at night with so many words ringing in my ears… Ami onek tired (I am very tired) or ‘too much busy’ instead of ‘very busy’, or insteadof headache, the Banglalish version would be feeling ‘pressure’ or ‘tension’. It’s hard to explain but it is so confusing. When Rosa and I were in Thailand I was determined not to speak any Thai as I couldn’t handle the thought of another language messing up my Bengali. When I first arrived I was debating taking advanced French classes here at the Alliance Francaise but after speaking French to the tailor the other day, I don’t think that would be a good idea either. So, roll on with the Banglalish I say, not much else I can do in the meantime so apologies if I seem more incommunicado over time but I’m sure I’ll grow out of it eventually!