What's with the youth and Jdha?
With the dawn of modernization in Bhutan, people are also modernized. Like a car can't leave behind its wheels, in the same way a place can't be modernized without the people getting involved in the process. Modernization is not only the clear water in a cup, but also the dust which has already settled at the bottom and most of the time, evade our eyes. People want to see what they like to see, and they believe what they think is best for them. Although there are many drawbacks of modernization, the most subtle (according to me) is the change in the language, which has been escaping the sharp ears of the listeners.
Youth today has inculcated in themselves the habit of saying 'jdha' or 'ja' after every few words. Be it in a school, a market or office, the most commonly used word you find a speaker speaking is 'jdha' or 'ja'. I being a teacher, hesitate most of the time walking beside or along groups of students who are conversing, it's par for the course that sooner or later, you will hear one of them uttering this mono-syllabic word. The amount of reprimanding has no effect on them whatsoever. It seems as if, the word has already and unknowingly attached itself with their language. It is either a suffix or prefix for them. Sometimes, when they utter this word in front of their family members, they don't even blink an eye, because they are not aware of the fact that, they have used that word. This is how much comfortable and spontaneous they have become using it. They have been exposed too much to different kinds of ICT whereby, they watch movies where the characters are mostly seen using the 'F' word in every situation, and they also read books, where again the 'F' word is mentioned time and again.
Linguists say that language is culturally transmitted, hence, the society we live in has a direct influence over the kind of language we use. So. should we blame the modernized society or the youth themselves? But, before we play the blame game or pass the ball in somebody's court, I would like to put forward few instances on which I have first hand experience. I have seen a father uttering this word in front of his son, a friendly neighbor teaching this word to a toddler because when the toddler repeats it they find it amusing. I have also seen a friend teaching this word to a friend. And worst of all, I have heard (not personally experienced) that they were and still are teachers who use this word in their classroom.
According to the Behaviorist Theory of language acquisition, a child learns language through constant reinforcement and imitation. In other words, a child learns language by observing and listening to its environment in parrot fashion, they speak what they hear, or simply put, they just imitate the elders. And this theory also states that, in the process of language acquisition, constant reinforcement is necessary. So, if the child uses right language, positive reinforcement should be provided and if the child uses negative or abusive language, negative reinforcement should be given.
Now the questions arise, was there nobody to reinforce them when they started uttering this words? Or were they oblivious? Is it the parents/friendly neighbor/teachers/friends or society as whole responsible for the type of language they are using?
I can't ignore the fact that, yes, they get negative reinforcement whenever they use abusive language and also the fact that they know they are not supposed to use it. But still, why? The only logical explanation I can find is that, it is already deep rooted in their mind. It has already become a habit for them to use it and they do so unconsciously. Had there been someone to guide them while they were in the early stages of learning language, I believe they will be more careful.
It is an undebatable fact that, the youth today not only use these words to express surprise, sadness, happiness or shock but also that they can't speak few words without the help of this word. So, we as a parent, teacher, a member of society, a neighbor, should ask ourselves, what can we do to correct our youth? How can we bring change in their language? How can we prevent our future generation from using this abusive language? .