Monday, 26 January 2015

Language and Its Intricacies



The words that may very soon be extinct from the dzongkha language are the ones that we never use it or the requirement of using it does not arise as often.

The ‘jakhu’ – starchy remains of the water that is produced after cooking the rice. About a decade or so back the rice cooking is an art and it involved an experienced hand to make it, to see when it is time to take out the ‘jakhu’ and put is back on the fire. It was compulsory to filter out the ‘jakhu’ to prepare good rice, now as we know, it is healthy too to remove the starch.

The cooking of rice in the rice cooker made it so easy to cook rice without having the requirement to filter out the ‘jakhu’. My kids have never seen the ‘jakhu’ in their life. They are not going to see it in real any time soon.

‘Mebchi’ is another thing that our kids are missing out. It used to be the integral part of the kitchen to have a basket full of ‘mebchi’ to build the fire. The one who is entrusted to collect the ‘mebchi’ is excused from carrying a heavy load of firewood. He can collect a basket full of it and just return. It is even used for lighting the house, in the absence of kerosene and candles.

The sooth covered platform made with a rope tied to a two parallel pole known as ‘tshanta’ is also seen no more, with the invasion of gas stove and its accessories into the kitchen. The smoked flavored tea and curry when prepared with wet firewood can be tasted while going on trekking only, giving us the feeling of nostalgia and a vivid picture of the kitchen of the not so olden days.

The another unavoidable accessories in the kitchen that time is a black piece of cloth known as ‘zachap’, whatever its colour initially maybe, the final colour of the ‘zachap’ that you may see are always black. Blackened due to the smoke and the black pots and pans, as it is used to protect the hands from burning while the cook was trying to handle the hot pots and pans and even burning firewood.

Those are the things that may find its place in the museums now. One or two words may get obsolete but hundreds are added each day in our language. It is due to the influx of the items related to technological advancements - The gas and its accessories, rice cooker, curry cooker and boiler in the kitchen, the computers and its paraphernalia and its content through the web and the tools in the desktops.

This addition to the vocabulary in the language along with the terms related to the democratic form of government had created a new dzongkha in its own right. It had become very hard for the villagers, even in the dzongkha speaking districts of the country, to understand the news through BBS. For the educated lots, they can get it clarified, after watching the same news in English.

It is good for the language to invent and coin a corresponding word, for every new items that reaches the home or likely to reach the homes of the people, but when you try to change the names for the already commonly used and accepted nomenclature, that is when we are overdoing it.

How many call ‘ghari’ as ‘lungkhor/drilkhor’? How many use ‘ngultrum/chetrum’ instead of ‘tiru’?
How many use ‘lognen’ instead of ‘bascop’? How many of us call ‘bus’ as ‘kelden’? How many call ‘lakhor’ instead of ‘taxi’? Not much, other than in movies and in NA.


When we have to refer to the dictionary frequently for our own language, when we have to mug up some nomenclatures for our own language and when the illiterate listener of the language, finds it hard to understand the language that is spoken to him in his own language, that is time we may have to adopt some other forms of enriching our language with new words. By keeping the original name of the stuff like keyboard, mouse, internet, etc may help the illiterate man to communicate beyond the borders if the need arises.


The time is not far before there would be a new language – “Zhungkha” or “zhung dzongkha” just when we were almost successful, in breaking off from the arduous ‘choekay’.