Media: Five Dzongkha newspapers, five different spellings, grammar and usage of words, this is going to kill the newspapers.

This was the agreement among reporters and editors who met yesterday to standardize and improve the newspaper published in the local language. They agreed that all publications should use the same orthography (spelling system).

One decision made on the spot was omitting the alphabet  “Ga” when spelling Thimphu. Editor of Druk Gyalchi Sarsho, Goenpo Dorji argued that since no great scholars of the past have used “Ga” it was appropriate to drop it.

Dzongkha spelling is confusing, but getting it wrong on the paper will have ramifications, said a senior reporter. He said, for instance, the spelling for chu (water) and wash (chu) are different, but because they are pronounced the same, a lot of people make mistake.

“If such words are messed up in the newspapers, it could mislead the readers,” he said.

Organized by the Journalist Association of Bhutan (JAB), the daylong discussion forum is expected to improve the use of words and spellings and minimize errors and confusion.

JAB’s president, Rinzin Wangchuk said it was important to meet and streamline and standardize Dzongkha spelling to improve the content among Dzongkha papers.

“Such effort will also revive the declining quality of reading and writing in Dzongkha over the years,” said Rinzin Wangchuk who is also the Dzongkha editor of Kuensel.

Rinzin Wangchuk added that while there is no one to monitor the quality and content of the Dzongkha newspapers, Dzongkha is suffering because of poor quality of content. “Newspapers are commercially driven and the focus is always on English,” he said.

Rinzin Wangchuk added that JAB would take the initiative to review the quality and content of the language newspapers. “Some papers print Dzongkha newspapers as inserts.  Such practice could in the long run compromise journalism ethics.

Organized with financial assistance from the Department of Media and Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications, JAB plans for a series of discussion forums to improve the national language.

Tenzin Namgyel