Re: Bengali Script

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Sat Jul 10 2010 - 15:11:30 CDT

  • Next message: Tulasi: "Re: Bengali Script"

    Javier Sola <lists at khmeros dot info> wrote:

    > I have been doing localization of software to Bangla for several
    > years. I work with the Bangla Academy (note the work Bangla in the
    > English name of the academy), the Ministry of information Teachnology,
    > the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Education. Among
    > other things we are working on the standardization of computer
    > language in Bangla.
    > I only speak English with them... and they will never say Bengalí,
    > always refer to their language as Bangla (in English), and insist that
    > that is the name in English.
    > The process of moving names back to the original from the colonial
    > English is not new to South Asia. In India for example, nowadays in
    > English, you still have to say Mumbai or Chennai, in spite of the old
    > English names of Bombay or Madras. These are official English language
    > used in those countries.

    I took a brief, informal, non-scientific survey of three of my
    co-workers who moved to the U.S. from various parts of India between 5
    and 10 years ago, to see if things were as black and white as this. I
    asked them:

    When speaking in English, in the United States, would you say...

    1. Kolkata or Calcutta?
    2. Chennai or Madras?
    3. Mumbai or Bombay?
    4. Bengali or Bangla? (language)
    5. Meitei or Manipuri? (language)

    (The questions about Kolkata/Calcutta and Meitei/Manipuri were thrown in
    as extras, to avoid putting sole focus on the three words discussed in
    this thread.)

    All three responded that they would say Calcutta (old name), Chennai
    (new name), Bengali (old name), and Manipuri (alternate name, apparently
    Meitei is preferred in some circles). Two respondents said they would
    use Mumbai; one preferred Bombay.

    Further discussions revealed that the preference of old vs. new name is
    often a conscious political or cultural decision; some speakers will
    intentionally choose one name or the other to make a point.

    The bottom line seems to be that, while "Bangla" may well be preferred
    among some, it is simply not the case that "Bengali" is flat-out wrong
    and in need of swift correction. This whole thread got started because
    Tulasi called the language "Bangladeshi," which I am sure is not
    anyone's preferred name for it.

    I note that the Bangla Academy is located in Bangladesh; perhaps the
    preference for "Bangla" is stronger there than in India.

    > Standards are standards, and should not change, so it will probably
    > remain as bengalí in 369.

    The ISO 639 registration authorities are quite willing to add or change
    names, which are intended to be descriptive, to correct errors or
    reflect preferred usage. See for a list of
    the changes made in ISO 639-2 since 1989, and note how many of these are
    name changes or additions of new names.

    It might be appropriate, if some groups prefer "Bangla" as the English
    name, to submit a request to the ISO 639 authorities to have this added
    as an additional name (not a name change).

    Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA |
    RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14 | ietf-languages @ is dot gd slash 2kf0s ­

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