Weighing words that create uproad in Parliament

Bangladesh’s first woman speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury has help on hand.  Even as she promised to examine whether an expression by BNP lawmaker Rehana Akhter Ranu was unparliamentary and needs to be expunged from the proceedings, Kolkata’s Ananda Bazar Patrika turned to linguists to explore whether Ranu’s “chudurbudur’ was indeed obscene, abusive and unparliamentary.On Sunday, when Ranu hit out at the ruling benches saying “there was no scope for chudurbudur” with BNP’s demand for caretaker, the Awami League MPs rose to protest in tandem.
Awami League chief whip ASM Feroz called for expunging the expression from the parliament’s proceedings and Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury promised to examine that, hinting she would turn to Bangla Academy and other linguists for expert opinions.
Now she has the Ananda Bazar’s caveat on the issue – Ranu’s “chudurbudur” is no obscene or unparliamentary expression but something that is often used in East Bengali dialects and now even in West Bengal which has received huge inflow of refugees from the East since Partition.
Ananda Bazar Patrika is known for modern coinage in Bangla prose.
It has always had a battery of well known writers like the late Sunil Gangopadhyay and Samaresh Majumder or even the late maverick poet Shakti Chattopadhyay on its staff.
Over the years it has moved away from using very chaste expressions and now is quite liberal about using grassroots expressions.
Two top linguists reinforced Ananda Bazar’s observation that “chudurbudur” meaning “dalliance” or “being wishy-washy” was surely not something used by pundits keen on chaste Bangla but it is surely not obscene.
“It is commonly used in Feni-Noakhali and also in Tripura’s southern district opposite it . It is no abuse ,” said Professor Nirmal Das, now heading the Bangla department in Tripura University.
Das said the people of East Bengali origin in Tripura – a majority now – use ‘chudurbudur’ more as emphasis to mean no-nonsense rather than as an abuse.
Calcutta’s top linguist Pabitra Sarkar, a former vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University and one who works closely with Dhaka’s Bangla Academy, agreed.
“It is a non-Aryan word. Possibly come from either of three non-Aryan sources that helped develop Bangla language – Austric, Tibeto-Burman or Dravidian,” said Sarkar.
“It is surely not a word that bhadraloks use, it is used by rural folks specially in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) but it is certainly not an obscene expression, not an abuse,” Sarkar insisted.
Rehana is from Feni – “chudurbudur come to her naturally when she would be passionate, Sarkar said.
Political sociologist Ranabir Sammadar, heading the Calcutta Research Group and known for several highly acclaimed books, says the “vocabulary of political expressions will change as the social composition of those coming to the parliament changes.”
“This is happening in both Bangladesh and West Bengal, this is happening elsewhere in India. As more and more men and women from the grassroots get elected to the House, the language of the parliament will inevitably change,” said Sammadar , author of the recent “Passive Revolution in West Bengal”.
Which is why the expressions used by West Bengal chief Mamata Banerji, who hails from the grassroots, upsets former chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya so much, that she said recently: “ It is difficult to accept her language”.
“But that is the language of the masses,” says Sammadar.
Feminists have a different take on the Ranu controversy.
“The furore was not for the expression but because it was used by a women. Men always want women to be coy and use nice words which is why Ranu got accused of unparliamentary language,” says feminist academic Paula Banerji who teaches in Calcutta University.
Abusive or not, ‘chudurbudur’ appears there to stay. Surely after the controversy Ranu triggered.
(Source:  bdnews24.com)

Leave a Reply