Why we, Bhutanese, are bad in debates

The BKP, a registered political party, has issued a press release on what it feels are some shortcoming by the government. However, there was no debate on that – just some partisan reactions. Some agreeing with it totally. Others shooting it down completely. I thought there were some valid points in it, while I didn’t agree with everything, especially with some of the languages used.

This brings about a larger topic of why we, modern Bhutanese, are so bad in having a healthy debate? The answer lie in the language – on the vocabulary. It starts with the petty-mindedness that slams different views and as opposing views and opponents. The trouble, however, begins when these words are translated to local language, where it become བྱང་ཕྱད (enemy). E.g. During elections I have often heard the question: Who is his བྱང་ཕྱད? Meaning who is your enemy? Opponents are not enemies.

Next, do language and terminologies, matter? You bet! At an eduTALK on education that I was asked to moderate, I requested one panelist to switch from “vocational training” to “technical education” if we want more Bhutanese to acquire and practice technical skills. Any sociolinguist would tell you that language, vocabularies and terminologies are not inconsequential. Thankfully, the session was informed that Bhutan will hereafter avoid this word, vocational.

Coming to the question, if we need better debates, we need to coin less violent words.

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