From Assam with Love is about all aspects of Assam from the viewpoint of a Proud Assamese.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is it too difficult to learn Assamese?

      English is overpowering. Kids are learning Hindi like first language, courtesy Cartoon channels. So, does the space for Assamese is shrinking? Are your kids learning Assamese? Or are the speakers of other language like Hindi, Bengali, Manipuri are learning Assamese at their own wishes. Leave aside the question of accuracy and fluency of the Assamese language, are our kids learning Assamese willingly?

These are the questions that rose in my mind recently. At recent Kolkata Book Fair 2013 we entered the stall of Asom Prakashan Parishad. We inquired about some books and started a conversation with the persons sitting there. Entered a Bengali Speaking gentleman alone. He asked in Bengali, "I want to learn Assamese. Is there any book for learning Assamese available?'' (Ami Asomiya sikhte Chai. Kono boi pawa jabe?" He was responded negatively. It was such sad and happy  moment altogether that I cannot explain how I felt. This man has no requirement to learn Assamese. A middle aged gentleman only wants to learn Assamese so that he can enjoy Assamese literature and speak Assamese  when he visits Assam. And he is not able to find one.

Yes, I too was in search of such a book actually to gift one of my friend. While I can deliver from free learn Assamese lesson to my friend, I would never meet this enthusiastic gentleman again. Won't it be a very happy sight for us to see him grabbing a copy of a learn Assamese through English/Hindi/Bangla. We were told in the stall that actually Prakashan Parishad's job is to promote Assamese books of a higher level like literature or art etc, not to publish books for basic learners of the language. That must be true. But who will think of expanding the reach of the Assamese language to those who wish to learn the Assamese language for their love for the culture and language?

 While there are books available to learn Assamese at beginners stage, there are not much which cover both spoken and written aspect of Assamese for a Non-Assamese speaker. Another example of  growing interest in people about learning Assamese is a retired CRPF official in my localilty. He stayed in Assam in almost all throughout his job and started developing interest on Shankardeva and still cannot speak Assamese. He is also a  Bengali.

At home we have kids who find Assamese difficult, less scoring in exam, quite difficult to write and even more old-fashioned to speak it in school! On the other hand there are people who want to be part of the Assamese culture and language experiences.


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