Narrative Post English

Reflect on your own (anecdotal) experiences of using different forms of language (e.g different dialects, languages). Use examples to illustrate this.

Personally, throughout my life, I’ve had a multitude of unique experiences regarding forms and uses of language in varying contexts. My lexicon is ever-developing because of exposure to new people, media, and particularly literary texts in this higher level of study.

In my household, my parents speak both English and Bengali and since a child I was brought up the same way. My younger brother, of course, fits into the stereotype that the younger children in a family usually can’t speak their native language. At home, when conversing with my parents mostly, but also sometimes with my brother, I use a diverse mix of English and Bengali to craft my own version of the two languages, ‘Banglish’, or ‘Engali”, but that sounds odd. Strangely enough, my Bangla isn’t perfect, so when I speak pure Bengali, it is often only my parents who understand some of the Bengali speech conventions I use, as proven by my grandparents confused and lost looks when I try to tell them something I thought was pretty simple. Furthermore, because of my use of Bengali being limited to only with members of my family, I have no idea how to speak formally, nor understand when someone is speaking formally. This phenomenon reached its worst when I was doing an internship at a bank in Bangladesh and I had to ask almost everyone to either speak more simply or just speak in English.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve noticed that the language of Bengali has always been something I haven’t openly shown to the world outside of my own family. Even when I would be at home with my family but a friend would be over, I would somewhat intentionally switch my use of language to strictly English. On top of this, if I was unhappy with my mom or dad and they spoke to me in Bengali, I would intentionally linguistically diverge from them by speaking in English. It got rid of that aspect of connection and perhaps even was a sign of me trying to prove a point, by speaking proper and formal English, to use some kind of linguistic imperialism against them because of the less formal speaking style of Bengali that we use in our home.

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