Edited By Rudolf Muhr and Dawn Marley
Bengali as a pluricentric language
← 142 | 143 → Bengali as a pluricentric language
is an apt demonstration of this fact. Bengali, the seventh most widely spoken first language in the world with a thousand years of literary tradition, has official status in two countries - in India, as one of the twenty two ‘scheduled languages’ and in Bangladesh, as the national language. Evidently, in both countries the language has its own divergent varieties, though; the two standards are linguistically close to each other. In this paper I do not intend to focus on the structural differences or similarities of these two standards. Instead, I wish to see how politics, religion and culture of this area shaped the language, its varieties, to some extent its speakers and see how different nonlinguistic factors can shape the course of a language and determine the nature of its pluricentricity. In particular, I wish to trace a few such events that that took place in early twentieth century to see how such events were crucial in the formation of Bengali as a pluricentric language.
Pluricentric languages are generally defined as languages with divergent varieties where the varieties can form standards of their own. These standards are better understood as independent centres of the same language rather than as one central variety with several peripheral varieties. Here, each centre is likely to have its own “national variety” and its own codified norms. In his seminal paper on pluricentricity, Clyne (1992) conceded that pluricentricity can be of different categories depending on the history and political status of these...
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