Preserving and Promoting the Bangla Language

Located in the city of Dhaka, the Bangla Academy aims to promote the Bangla language in Bangladesh and beyond its borders. In line with this aim, the Bangla Academy introduced the Bangla Academy Award in 1960 to acknowledge creativity in poetry, short stories, novels, essays, juvenile literature and translation, as well as overall contributions to promoting Bangla as a language and Bangla literature.

The Bangla Academy Award has evolved over the years, and is currently divided into three fields: Poetry, Novel and Short Story; Research, Essay and Science; Translation, Drama and Juvenile Literature. The first recipients of the Bangla Academy Awards (1960) included Abul Mansur Ahmed, Farrukh Ahmed, Md Barkat Ullah, Abul Hashed Khan, Khan Md Moin Uddin, Abdullah Hel Kafi, and Askar Ibn Shaikh. The most recent recipients (2010) were Rubi Tahman, Bulbul Chowdhury, Nasir Ahmed, Khan Sarwar Murshid, Shahjahan Kibria and Ajoy Roy.

The preservation of Bangla, or Bengali, as a language has a somewhat troubled history, with the Bengali Language Movement rising up against the decision by the Government of Pakistan to institute Urdi as the sole national language of the area which was East Pakistan at that time (1948). Huge protests by the Bengali-speaking majority of the area led to bloodshed, with student demonstrators from the University of Dhaka losing their lives. The Language Movement led to the Bengali nationalist movement and eventually the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. In memory of these events, 21 February is observed as Language Movement Day in Bangladesh. The Bangla Academy supports the remembrance of these historical events by organizing the month-long Ekushey Book Fair.

With its five distinct divisions – Research, Compilation, Translation, Publication and Library – the Bangla Academy is involved in research of the Bengali language, culture and history, as well as publishing and distributing Bengali literature, including dictionaries and an encyclopedia. The Academy’s publications include dictionaries for translation purposes. The Bangla Academy also hosts conferences and discussions, as well as cultural functions, all with the focus on promoting the Bengali language.

All around the world, throughout human history, languages have a way of evolving, with some being lost along the way. The Bangla Academy is determined to ensure that Bangla maintains its place as a language of choice for citizens of Bangladesh.