June 23, 2021

Praveen's Webspace

writing, mostly, on contemporary issues of human rights, politics & social justice

Coming across a Linguist

There are many things unnoticeable but what happening is we at once encounter such things. There’s a statement ‘Common sense is a sense that is uncommon in common people’. This obviously is not untrue. Even a common issue, which common people don’t care, may be the subject to discuss and scrutinize intensely for those who have interests in specific topics. Here’s an anecdote which I get to meet during a trip to my home town Rajbiraj from Birgunj, a prominent economical hub of Nepal.

As I was going to my birth place Rajbiraj, the headquarters of Saptari district, I boarded the bus at the bus park from Birgunj. I noticed a quite common thing that is likely to be uncommon for the common. The conductor in the bus asked me for fare in Bhojpuri, a language mostly used in Birgunj and nearby areas. Though I am not a competent and fluent speaker of the local language, I did not amaze thinking that he belonged to the language community. The way and his confident of speaking the language made me trust that he belonged to that language community.

As the bus reached Pathlaiya, I found him speaking in Nepali with passengers who belonged to Pahadi community. He was very fluent in the National language too. This time I didn’t get astonished because I thought that he might have done schooling where the language is obligatory for teaching.

Then we just headed towards our destination what exhausts me in traveling in crowd. The crowd stayed till the bus halted at Dhalkebar. Thank god, I got relaxed as the crowd lost there. The place separates from the road which leads to Janakpur, a religious and tourist site in Terai. At the station two western couple got into the bus. They got their seat at the couch. I talked to them. They felt nice to talk to me since they didn’t face difficult to comprehend me and they also needed to get some information about traveling to Biratnagar.

Meantime, as usual the conductor came over there and asked them, “Excuse me, sir…. could you please pay me the fare and where are you going to”.

I kept on staring at the brief excerpt between the tourists and the conductor. I, being a language student teacher had my brain stormed on the crucial issue of linguistics. That was not just the end, the bus got to Lahan, a famous town of Siraha district where almost all the people speak Maithali language. Similarly, I found him conversing with passengers in Maithili fluently. I knew he is familiar with four languages though he lacks the theoretical knowledge of those languages. But I would like to call him a linguist simply. Is it right for us to call so?