Monday, February 22, 2010

The Beauty of Different Language Alphabets

My name -- Jerome D'Costa -- in different
language alphabets (scripts)

(You may double click the above image to read it in its enlarged form)

From my childhood, I have been amazed by and curious about languages. I became more interested in it when I used to see and hear American Catholic priests (missionaries) in my village church communicate with each other in English, their mother language. When my father would return to our village home on weekends, he used to communicate with them in English, too. I would wonder how they made unfamiliar sounds but understood each other! They also wrote differently than ours and still they could decipher meanings from them. How wonderful it was!

When I gradually began to read and write English, a wider door of knowledge opened for me. I began to go through my father's collection of books and magazines like The Orient, Calcutta Municipal Gazette, and others. Later, when studying history in Notre Dame College, Dhaka, I came across different writing methods, for example, hieroglyphic (pictorial or symbolic writing of the Egyptians), cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing of the Mesopotamian civilizations), phonetic (writing the sounds -- Latin, English, Bangla or Bengali, etc.), and the like. The invention of these writing styles are fantastic.

Then it was the last quarter of 1974. Caritas Bangladesh, then known as Christian Organization for Relief and Rehabilitation (CORR), sent its Regional Director of Chittagong Flavian Quiah and me (Information Officer at the Central Office in Dhaka) to Bangalore of the Karnataka State, India, for a training on the Community Organization and Development. The training was at the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute Training Centre.

There were several dozen trainees from different regions of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bangladesh.

As I was getting familiarized with the participants, one day, the idea came to my mind that I let them write my name in their language alphabets. On a sheet of paper, I wrote my name first in English and Bangla (Bengali) and then I requested others to write my name in their own language alphabets. The result you can now see in the above image.

On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, I present this little piece of gem for the international readers!

What do you think of the beauty of different languages and their importance in this world?

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