The language project aims to reconnect Bengalis to their roots through their mother tongue
How about going back to the roots through the oft-neglected vernacular—and that too with the help of an assortment of fun word games? Shabdabaaji, a language project started by a former radio jockey, digs into the history and etymology of Bengali words through a selection of puzzles, riddles and snappy wisecracks.
Shabdabaaji is the brainchild of Roy, a voice artist and former radio jockey, who began this project way back in 2010. He conceived this project with the idea of connecting Bengalis around the globe through their common language.
Eleven years later, the one-man army has grown into a 15-person team comprising academics, students and factual researchers. Their inventive word games throwing light on different aspects of the Bengali language have made this project popular among both kids and adults alike.
The team arranges workshops at schools and colleges, International Kolkata Book Fair, Bengali literary festivals and other events. It has been organising virtual workshops since the beginning of the pandemic.
Workshops for middle school students
Young people in Kolkata are fast losing touch with their own language. To reconnect them with their roots, The Shabdabaaji team conducts frequent online sessions for middle school students. These sessions focus on the fascinating stories behind some of the frequently used Bengali words; they explain how Portuguese, Arabic and English words, among others, have slipped into Bengali vocabulary! Such sessions have already been conducted at Birla High School (senior section), MCKV Liluah, BD Memorial International School, Aditya Academy Senior Secondary School and other schools in districts across West Bengal.
Educational resources for junior school students
The Shabdabaaji team has recently arranged specially curated sessions for pupils of Classes I to VI to improve their learning skills and grasp over the language. The team has invented interactive word games for students so that they can increase their vocabulary and knowledge of the Bengali language. As part of these sessions, it is also trying to develop a reading habit among these children by introducing them to the classics of Bengali children’s literature. With positive responses from students and parents, the team aims to develop this idea further in future.
Beyond the sea
Non-resident Bengalis often crave for a taste of their own literature and are keen to teach their children the language of their homeland. The Shabdabaaji team is broadening its reach to the foreign shores to inculcate the spirit of Bengali in these kids. It conducted a virtual session for a group of children from the Greater Chicago Bengali Association on August 14, reaching out to a truly global Bengali diaspora. It plans to continue to host such sessions in the near future.
Getting social on social media
The language project has steadily grown its social media presence since the days of its inception. Word games, riddles and fun facts are posted daily for visitors on its social media pages on Facebook and Instagram. These pages are also used as platforms for receiving feedback that helps the team develop the games.
A large number of followers in Shabdabaaji social media pages show the indomitable spirit of the Bengali language that has managed to stay alive in spite of repeated linguistic aggression from outside. This spirit has helped the language to absorb foreign influences and yet retain its originality in the tumultuous history of Bengal.
You can reach Shabdabaaji at email@example.com
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