Friday, September 30, 2011

Welcome to e-samatat

Hello Friends,
Samatat will be available online now onwards.

Please click here to read issue No. 168.


  1. It is really good now! This version offers better features than the printed version! Direct communication is possible here.
    I look forward to receiving comments especially on the Devanagari part, i.e. the experiment launched in this 168th issue from the readers..

  2. samatat is now within the reach of readers staying outside india.can the devnagari section be used for teaching preliminaries of bengali language to children who have no scope for learning it in their schools?

  3. The Devnagari experiment is pretty awesome!! Read the introductory article to it(in plain Bengali), and excerpts from the (last two)stories (in Devanagari), especially because I hadn't read such extensive expanses of Bengali literature in Devanagari..

    The first reaction was obviously to figure out what the logic of character replacement was (hadn't read the introduction then), as in phonetic, straight conversion to the Bangali parallels (adjusting the little differences) or some other approach. It wasn't difficult to figure out, as Kano in Devanagari was obviously Kano in Bengali and not Ken as one would read it first. So I got accustomed to the idea of pretending the script (characters) to be Bengali.

    But after a while, it was still a very uncomfortable read. I guess for anyone who can read Devanagari and understand Bengali, they will have two isolated sets of grammar they are accustomed to. The primary problem was these grammars having had their own phonetic differences, both as individual characters and in words as a whole (the length of vowels, for instance), not to mention the complete absence of parallel characters in some cases, no matter how hard i tried to stick to the Bengali phonetics, the fact that i was trying to override the phonetics of the script that is VISUALLY present made the task more difficult (The constant reminder of Hindi phonetics, i mean). It was almost as if (if I may exaggerate) I was trying to read one piece of text while staring at a completely different one.

    So once I was done trying to read more of it, and read the introduction (as a conclusion to the exercise) I wondered if at all the loyalty to the actual SPELLING is of the highest priority here. Sure, in the exercise of bridging the gap between two audiences differentiated primarily by language, we use one's characters for another's language (hence grammar). But even though they are not completely isolated, we do SEE the conflict of the phonetics not only in front of our eyes, but also in the discomfort that our practiced tongue goes through, trying to decide which way to say it.

    Shobder mul, dhhonir, chinnho jodi Okhhor hoy, then the characters logically should be more loyal to the phonetics than maintaining the parallels. This is, of course, a VERY personal perspective: one that is NOT concluded from actually reading a sizable mass of Bengali text in Devanagari that is phonetically spelled out. I am afraid that will end up being as, if not more, cumbersome to read, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. Maybe a middle path between the two methods might work.

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  5. Speaking of a middle path, as an afterthought, one COULD consider creating and using a Devanagari typeface that counters the visual conflict i.e. has the visual traits of a Bengali script.

  6. Thanks for very thoughtful comments, aurcoe. Personal perspective and personal observations are the items that we target at in this column. We really want to measure the amount of 'discomfort' as much as possible. Thank you for identifying some areas of discomfort. We shall get back to you for discussion. But for this moment I should say, regarding your suggestion, that modifying the Devanagari script would call for extra learning, which we really would like to avoid. One of the objectives of this experiment is to reach the goal by employing the tools that already exist with the reader, i.e. no burden of extra learning. The point is, maybe the method that is used here also involves extra learning which was not predictable at the time of its launch! Comments like yours would help us to understand the problems, thus evaluate the method. It is truly a JOINT venture!