Evolution of Assamese language in the 21st century

Written by: Yasmin Sultana

Language is like a flowing river, with a flow that is unobstructed and constant. Like a river, a language continues to grow at its own pace at different stages of history in different circumstances, situations, just like the river has to be swayed. The development of a language involves various elements like social, cultural, political, etc. The Assamese language has undergone change since ancient times, nurtured by its own script and written literature. This language, used by nearly 20 million people as their mother tongue and scheduled at the eighth position the Indian Constitution, is a lively language widely used in various books, magazines, research papers, newspapers, electronic media, the internet, etc. Assamese language has also been used as a connecting language in the nearby states of Assam. The origin of the Assamese language is the Indian Aryan language and in the 10th century A.D. this language began to take its unique form. But non-Aryan languages in Assam and Northeast have been influencing the Aryan native Assamese language from the very beginning. The Arabic-Zoroastrian language in the Middle Ages and the English language in the post-independence period made serious contributions to the Assamese language. Various factors have led to changes in Assamese language from time to time, two of the most influential factors in the last two decades are discussed below: 

Social and Cultural

Motion ​​is the lifeline of a language. We accept words from other languages ​​found near our hands over time or living with the nine tools of enterprise and science. People who speak other languages ​​also join the local people society also contribute to the change of one language. The change in the Assamese language has been more or less an influence of modern Indian languages ​​such as Bengali, Hindi, etc. as a large number of Bengali and Hindi-speaking people started living in Assam. Moving towards a new era of civilization, new words are used in place of some old words, such as in place of ‘blind'(অন্ধ), ‘deaf/hearing impaired’ (কলা/বধিৰ), ‘dumb'(বোবা), etc, ‘differently abled'(বিশেষভাৱে সক্ষম) is used these days.

Advancement of technology

The new possibility of internet revolution started in different parts of the world about two decades ago, it has had a wide impact in the Assamese language as well. Apart from print, online media has also generated a lot of users for Assamese. Until the first decade of the 21st century, internet facilities were limited to computers if we look at it. Computers marked the beginning of a new era of knowledge and information around the world but usage of Assamese was not that simple, as a result, significant content was not available in the Assamese language. Messages were exchanged on mobile phones using Roman script instead of Assamese script. In contrast, Assamese language use on the Internet has increased rapidly over the last decade. With the availability of various writing tools on computers, mobile phones, etc., it has been possible to write the language easily. As a result, people on the Internet or social media currently exchange or create a variety of content in the Assamese language itself. Presence on online social media and blogging has been notable in recent times.  

The expansion of the Internet and inclusivity

Some specialized terms have also become part of everyday life as a result of the widespread application of social media and the Internet. It is not that these words do not have Assamese synonyms, but people have become familiar with these words and have adopted these foreign words as the original English word is always used. Some of the words used are ‘Computer’, ‘Mouse’, ‘SMS’, ‘Internet’, ‘Website’, ‘Blog’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Message’, Share, ‘Viral’ , and ‘portal’, etc. On the other hand, many Assamese words are on the way to being lost due to no longer being used. Although there are synonyms, many English words, such as newspapers, semester, position, station, lecture, practical, customer, news coverage, assignment, etc. have become like Assamese words these days and people have stopped using the original Assamese words.

Currently global brands like Google, Facebook have also started offering their services in the Assamese language, as people are giving importance to using the Assamese language in the same way as that of English. The usage of the Assamese language is being observed in various online shopping platforms too. With more and more brands taking interest in localizing content into the vernacular, it can be safely said that the future of this language is very exciting.

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