Monday, May 25, 2015

Premer Ko`tha Bolbo Kake?--প্রেমের কথা বলব কাকে?--To Whom Shall I Speak Of My Love?

The verses in Bengali, using its traditional script and standard spelling, are followed by a loose translation into English, and then by a transcription into Roman letters.
প্রেমের কথা বলব কাকে?

যে প্রেমের কথা বলার ছিল,
সে কথা ত রয়ে গেল সব৷
রইলে না যে তুমি, যাকে
বলার ছিল কথাগুল৷
প্রেমের কথা বলব কাকে?
থেকে গেল আমার বুকে৷
দুঃখে এখন কাটাই জীবন৷
তাও ত দেখ হাসি ভুলে৷

বলব কি সেই দুখের কথা?
গাইব কি সেই প্রেমের গান?
হাসছি আমি মৃদু হাসি,
তোমার হাসি দেখছি আজ৷
গানের আলাপ, গানের সুর,
গানের ছন্দ, গানের শেষ...
গানের মত এলে তুমি,
গানের মাঝে ছাড়লে দেশ...

কোন দেশে আজ গাইছ তুমি?
কোন বেলাতে আসবে ফিরে?
সে দেশ থেকে ফিরবে না, হায়!
দেখতে দেখতে সন্ধ্যে এল৷

বুকের কথা বলব কাকে?
বলব বোধহয় হাওয়ার কানে৷
বইবে হাওয়া, নিয়ে যাবে
প্রেমের কথা কারোর কানে৷

বিকেল ৪:৪৯, সোমবার, ২৫এ মে (মেমোরিয়াল ডে ),২০১৫ খ্রি
(মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে, মৃত সৈনিকদের স্মারক দিবস )
বেন্সন্হার্স্ট, ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক
To Whom Shall I Speak Of My Love?
The words I had to say, with love,
those words are still with me,
but not the one, to whom I should
have softly said them then. 
To whom shall I speak those words of love?
They’ve stayed within my heart.
I pass my days in sorrow, yet
you see I smile by chance.
Should I now recount my grief
or sing my song of love?
Or should I smile because I see
the way you once had smiled? 
The humming and the rhythm and
the tune and then the end…
You came like music and like song,
but in their midst you left.
Where is your song and where are you?
And when will you return?
You never will return from there!
The evening comes apace.

To whom will I speak the words in my heart?
Perhaps in the ear of the wind?
The wind, it will blow and carry the words
of my love to a hearer afar.
2015, 25th May, Mon*, 4:49 pm
(* Memorial Day, in the U.S.A., for soldiers killed in wars)
Bensonhurst. Brooklyn, New York

That Roman transcription below follows the standard (West Bengali) pronunciation, but not the standard spelling currently used with the traditional script.

Although the traditional script is beautiful and irreplaceable, the standard spelling is based upon a pronunciation that is now either archaic or borrowed.  This spelling faithfully preserves and represents the old roots, but is better suited, phonetically, for Sanskrit or for the eastern Indo-Aryan dialects of Bihar than it is for the dialects of Bengali that have prevailed in most of the Bengal delta, probably for the past several centuries.

For the purposes of correctly representing the pronunciation of Bengali in Roman letters, it might be best, therefore, to abandon the non-phonetic or quasi-phonetic aspects of standard Bengali orthography.

Of course, standard English spelling is even worse at representing English speech.  Indeed, the spelling of English is probably as far from phonetic as one could possibly get without lapsing into total arbitrariness.

So while a Romanization might be of service to those who come to Bengali with literacy in a Western European language, it is surely advisable to also avoid the vagaries, limitations and ambiguities of English spelling.

So one has to devise or borrow a system of Romanization that can faithfully mirror the actual pronunciation of Bengali words.

In doing so, however, one might have to abandon any attempt to preserve the old root words that might ease the comprehension of written Bengali for those familiar with an ancestral or sibling tongue, such as Sanskrit or any of the Indo-Aryan tongues, or even those Dravidian languages that have borrowed heavily, especially in their literary forms, from Sanskrit or its daughters.

A similar complaint may be lodged against any phonetic rationalization of English spelling, which might of course obscure the Latin and other root-words whose fossils are still recognizable in the current spelling of English.

A brief outline of the transcription scheme used below may be found in the preface at:

Premer Ko`tha Bolbo Kake?

Je premer ko`tha bo`lar chilo,
xe ko`tha to roe ge`lo xo`b.
Roile na je tumi, jake
bo`lar chilo  ko`thagulo.

Premer ko`tha bolbo kake?
Theke ge`lo amar buke.
Dukkhe e`khon kat’ai jibon.
Tao to de`kho haxi bhule.

Bolbo ki xei dukher ko`tha?
Gaibo ki xei premer gan?
Haxchi ami mridu haxi.
Tomar haxi dekchi aj.

Ganer alap, ganer xur,
ganer cho`ndo, ganer xex…
Ganer moto ele tumi,
ganer majhe char’le dex…
Kon dexe aj gaicho tumi?
Kon belate axbe phire?
Xe dex theke phirbe na go.
Dekhte dekhte, xondhe elo.
Buker ko`tha bolbo kake?
Bolbo bodh ho`e haoar kane.
Boibe haoa, nie jabe
Premer ko`tha karor kane.
bikel 4:49, xombar, 25-e me, 2015 khri
(memorial d’e)
(markin juktoraxtre, mrito xoinikder xarok dibo`x) 
benso`nharst’, bruklin, niu io`rk

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