Noakhali Dialect: Its Prospect of Standardization

By: Fatina Sarwar

Ronald Wardough(1986) in his book "An Introduction to Sociolinguistics"(30) explanatorily presents R.T.Bell's (1976) list of seven criteria of standardization:vitality, historicity, autonomy, reduction, mixture and de facto norms which separate dialect , a variety of language, from the standard language. The standard variety of a language is given some legal or very close to the legal status in a specific territory being marked as the utmost appropriate variety of a language which in

usual cases, is the language variety of the capital city defining selective markers of some specific region and class and is rejected by others for having the written texts maintaining the norms of spelling and grammar. On the other hand, a reduced in status or recognition of a regional or social variety of a specific standard language is a dialect distinct from other languages with the phonological, grammatical and lexical differences. It contains corresponding distinguishing accent.

Scholars of sociolingustics claim with valid grounds that a dialect can be given the status of a standard language variety of a country provided certain sociopolitical linguistic conditions are

attributed. My present paper is a sketchy examination of the prospect of the standardization of Noakhali dialect (a dialect of Bangla dominant in the south-eastern Bangladesh) in Bangladesh. An extract of a very recent Bangla novel written in the standard Bangla by a contemporary popular Bangla novelist Humayun Ahmed is presented here in its original standard form, then in its linguistic transformation into Noakhali dialect along with its English translation( for the better fascilitation of comprehending its meaning)as the primary material of the respective inquiry followed by the analysis of the prospective standardization of Noakhali dialect in Bangladesh.

The Romanized Original Standard Bangla Form of the Extract:

"Amar babar nam Moinu Mia.Khubi hashshokor nam.Kath mistri ba dorjider arokom nam

thake.Amar dadajan dorji chilen,abong tini tar moto korei cheler nam rekhechen.Tini

shopneo bhabenni ,tar chele girai hishab na kore nenometre ,picosecond-e hishab korbe.

Amar baba Moinu Mia Dhaka bishwabiddaloie folito podartho biddar oddahapok hishebe

jibon shuru korben.

Akhon oboshsho tar nam Moin Khan.Seceond year e porar shomoi-e tini prothom srenir

magistrate-er kache affidavit kore nam bodlechen.Tobe tar rokte dorjir je baparta poitrik shutre chole asheche ta akhono ache.Amar baba Moin Khan bishshwabiddaloi- er chakri

chere garments er karkhana diechen.Garments er nam "Mrimmoi Apparels".Mrimmoi amar

nam .Bhalo nam Mrimmoi,dak nam Mri.Amar bhabte khubi kharap lage je ,bideshi lokjon

babar garments factory-r shirt gae die ghure barachche.Tader gharer shonge je sticker lege

ache shekhane likha Mrimmoi.Oachena manusher gaer ghamer gondhe amake bash korte


(Mrimmoi,by Humayun Ahmed,2003)

The Romanized Noakhali Version of the Extract:

"Ar bafer nam Moinu Mia.Akkere ashoinna nam.Aicha nam kadmistiri ar dorzigo oi.Ar

dadazan dorzi osil ar haten hatener huter nam hatener moto kori rakhse.Haten shopneto

sinta koreno , hatener hut gira hishab na kori,nenometre ,hikosecond-e hishab koirbo.Ar baf

Moinu Mia Daka bishobiddaloir holito hodartho biddar mashtor hoi zindegi huru koirbo.

On abar hatener nam Moin Khan.Haten jo-on second year-e hoirto to-on haten hatener

nam hoila serenir magisterate-er tun affidabit kori bodlaisen.Tobe hatener rokte baf dadar

dinna dorzir zei dhara asilo hia roi gase.Ar baf Moin Khan bisshobiddaloi-er sarki sari

garments-er karkhana dise.Garments-er nam "Mirimmoi Apparels".Mirimmoi ar nam.Bala

nam Mirimmoi,dak nam Miri..Ar baibte bohut khoraf lage ze, bideshi mainshera ar bafer

garments factory-r shirt gai di guri barai.Hatagor gedir loge zei sticker lagi roi,heiane lia Mirimmoi.Aare osin mainsher gar gamer gonde thaikto oi."

English Translation of the Extract:

"My father's name is Mainu Mia. It is a very funny name. Only carpenters and tailors

have such names. My grandfather had been a tailor and he named his son in his own way.

He had never dreamt that his son would count in nenometres or picoseconds instead of

counting the inches of cloths to be tailored and my father Mainu Mia would start his life as

a lecturer of Applied Physics at the University of Dhaka.

Now, in fact, his name is Main Khan. When he was a sophomore at the University he

changed his name by making an affidavit from a first class magistrate. However, there

still is the inherent tailorship running along with the flows of his blood . My father Main

Khan quit his job of the University and has established a factory of garments. The name of

the garments' factory is "Mrimmoi Apparels" .I am Mrimmoi. It is my surname and my

nickname is Mri. Whenever I wonder that the foreigners are wandering around putting on

the shirts of my father's garments' industry, I feel sick. My name Mrimmoi is written on the

stickers of the shirts stuck over their shoulders. I have to live in the sweaty stink of the

strangers' bodies."

Basing on the following sociolinguistic features of standardization let us start checking out the prospect of standardization of Noakhali dialect:


&bullGrammatical Recordings

&bullSystem of Pronunciation

&bullInstitutional Back-up

&bullLegal Status

&bullPublic Use

&bullCanonized Literature


&bullTeaching Status

&bullSlectional Status

The status of a standard language requires one or more than one inter-lingual and intra-lingual dictionary that must retain the lexical and orthographic recognition of that language. While converting the presented written extract of Bangla into Noakhali version, beside the autonomy of a genuine speaker of Noakhali in producing the dialect I could not find any dictionary to assist me in this regard. Though a webpage of Banglapedia refers a dictionary named "Ancholic Bhashar Abhidhan" (1965) by Abul Kalam Manjoor Morshed published by Bangla Academy, it presumably gives Noakhali the status of one of the existing dialects of Bangladesh not the assurance of the probable standardization of Noakhali. A closer look of the converted discourse in Noakhali would reveal that there are more variations of this respective dialect at the phonological aspects than in the vocabulary or spelling. Though some distinct vocabulary of Noakhali dialect are there like 'hut' of

the Noakhali version of standard Bangla which is 'chele' meaning son in English or the Noakhali

'ashoinna' for the standard Bangla meaning funny in English, the words bishshabiddaloi,'

'dorji','kath mistri' and the others are the same in the standard and Noakhali versions of Bangla

except some allophonic pronunciation variations. As long as no dictionary is there to acknowledge

Noakhali as the standard language and to provide Noakhali equivalents of the total vocabulary of

standard Bangla , the possibility of standardization of Noakhali remains nil in respect of the point of its recognition through a standardized dictionary.

Noakhali dialect does not have any recognized grammar recording. My firsthand experience of transforming a standard written discourse of Bangla into Noakhali discloses that the syntactical formation of it is as syntagmatic as what is in the prescribed grammar of Bangla ratifying the status of Bangla of Nadia region of Bangladesh as the standard one and Noakhali as its regional variety reduced in its status of use.

To make it standardized the pronunciation of a language should attain the recognition of the elite and educated group to be free from regional affects. The phonological features of Noakhali are not independent of the regional distinction as the language of Nadia, which retains the position of being the acrolect of standard Bangla.

No separate authoritative language institution is there for the persistence of the promotion of Noakhali to be the standard language, which is established by the government of Bangladesh.However, it is there for the existing standard variety of Bangla named "Bangla Academy" actively carrying on the publications in larger and smaller scales in promoting the prestige of standard Bangla .

There is no formal use of Noakhali in public-in courts, or in legislature like the existent standard Bangla. It stays as the language of the people of Noakhali region of Bangladesh.After the

transformation into Noakhali of the specimen extract from the novel 'Mrimmoi' written in standard Bangla ,the discourse becomes less serious for several readers with an inadvertent tint of humor because of its presupposed reduced pragmatic status in its usage despite the fact that jest is not meant in this respect. A popular entertaining program "Ittadi" of Bangladesh Television (BTV) always incorporate this dialect as the language of its brief comedic pieces which grounds the predisposition of the mass of Bangladesh to consider it a language of farce and fun. No canon literature or vital translation is made in this dialect. It is not taught in schools and is not selected as the standard dialect of exposure for the foreign language (FL) learners of Bangla. The educated, elite, political and influential groups of Bangladesh bearing Noakhali homogeneity or being intrinsically exposed to the socio-cultural phenomenon of Noakhali usually prefer the standard form of Bangla for their wider communication and keep this dialect as their private means of linguistic exchange only with the members of the indigenous community of Noakhali. Hence, no strong political and social support is there to make it the standard language of Bangladesh.

To bring down the curtain, if I started this paper with the mental hypothetical intention of

proving Noakhali dialect's strong prospects of being the standard language of Bangladesh in some

distant future, my present brisk and handy exploration during the journey of writing down the paper digs out that it does not have any possibility of so.


1. Ahmed, Humayun.Mrimmoi.Dhaka: Anyaprokash, 2003.

2.Wardhaugh, Ronald.An Introduction to Sociolinguisctis.Oxford: Blackwell, 1986.

3.Richards, J.Platt, J and Weber, H.Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics.

UK: Longman, 1985.

4. October 2006.

5. Online.30 October 2006.


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