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Bengali (), also known by its
endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
Bangla ( ), is an
Indo-Aryan language The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages form a major language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages h ...
and the ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
'' of the
Bengal Bengal (; Bengali language, Bengali: ', ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, predominantly covering present-day Bang ...

Bengal
region of Indian subcontinent. It is the most widely spoken language of
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, , ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in . It is the in the world, with a population exceeding 163 million people, in an area of , making it one of the in the world. Bangladesh shares land bor ...

Bangladesh
and the second most widely spoken of the 22
scheduled languages of India There is no national language in India. There are various official languages in India at the state/territory level. However, 343(1) of the Indian constitution specifically mentions that, "The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in ...
, after
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''May Śiv ...

Hindi
. With approximately 228 million
native speakers A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...
and another 37 million as
second language A person's second language, or L2, is a language that is not the native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1), is a language A language is a struc ...
speakers, Bengali is the and the seventh most spoken language by total number of speakers in the world. Bengali is the
official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their own or that of their superior and/or employer, public or legally ...

official
and
national language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
of Bangladesh, with 98% of
Bangladeshis Bangladeshis ( bn, বাংলাদেশি ; formerly known as Bangalees) are the citizens Citizenship is the Status (law), status of a person recognized under the law of a country (and/or local jurisdiction) of belonging to thereof. I ...
using Bengali as their first language. Within India, Bengali is the official language of the states of
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
,
Tripura Tripura () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Tripura
and the region of the state of
Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

Assam
. It is the most widely spoken language in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India consisting of 572 islands, of which 38 are inhabited, at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The territory is about north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thai ...

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
as well in the Bay of Bengal, and is spoken by significant populations in other states including
Arunachal Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh (, literally "land of dawn-lit mountains") is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arunachal Pradesh
,
Delhi Delhi (; ''Dillī''; ''Dillī''; ''Dêhlī''), officially the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, is a city and a of containing , the capital of India. * * * Straddling the river, but primarily its western or right bank, Delhi ...

Delhi
,
Chhattisgarh Chhattisgarh (lit. thirty-six forts) is a landlocked and heavily forested States and union territories of India, state located in the region of Central India. Formerly part of Madhya Pradesh it was granted statehood on Chhattisgarh Rajyotsava, 1 ...

Chhattisgarh
,
Jharkhand Jharkhand (; ; meaning 'the land of forests') is a in . The state shares its border with the states of to the north, to the northwest, to the west, to the south and to the east. It has an area of . It is the , and the . is the official la ...

Jharkhand
,
Meghalaya Meghalaya (, or , meaning "abode of clouds"; from Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the la ...

Meghalaya
,
Mizoram Mizoram () is a state in northeastern India Northeast India (officially North Eastern Region, NER) is the easternmost region of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the ...

Mizoram
,
Nagaland Nagaland is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Col ...

Nagaland
and
Uttarakhand Uttarakhand ( , or ; , lit. 'Northern Land'), formerly known as Uttaranchal ( ), is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the "Devbhumi" (literally "Land of the Gods") due to its religious significance and numerous ...

Uttarakhand
. Bengali is also spoken by the significant global Bengali diaspora (
Bangladeshi diaspora The Bangladeshi diaspora consists of people of Bangladeshi descent who have immigrated to or were born in another country. First generation migrants may have moved abroad from Bangladesh for better living conditions, to escape poverty, to suppo ...
and Indian Bengalis) communities in
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...
, the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
, and the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...
. Bengali has developed over the course of more than 1,300 years.
Bengali literature Bengali literature ( bn, বাংলা সাহিত্য, Bangla Shahitto) denotes the body of writings in the Bengali language Bengali (), also known by its endonym Bangla ( ), is an Indo-Aryan language and the '' lingua franca' ...
, with its millennium-old literary history, has extensively developed since the Bengali Renaissance and is one of the most prolific and diverse literary traditions in Asia. The Bengali language movement from 1948 to 1956 demanding Bengali to be an official language of Pakistan fostered
Bengali nationalism Bengali nationalism () is a form of nationalism that focuses on Bengalis Bengalis or Bangalis ( bn, বাঙালি ), also rendered as the Bengali people, are an Indo-Aryan peoples, Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group native to the Be ...
in
East Bengal ur, , common_name = East Bengal , status = Province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnati ...
leading to the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. In 1999,
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
recognised 21 February as
International Mother Language Day International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February to promote awareness Awareness is the state of being conscious of something. More specifically, it is the ability to directly know and perceive, to fee ...

International Mother Language Day
in recognition of the language movement. The Bengali language is the quintessential element of Bengali identity and binds together a
culturally diverse Cultural diversity is the quality of diverse or different cultures, as opposed to monoculture Monoculture is the agricultural practice of growing a single crop A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively ...
region.


History


Ancient

Although
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
was practised by Hindu
Brahmins Brahmin (; sa, ब्राह्मण, brāhmaṇa) are a varna Varna may refer to: Places Europe * Varna, Bulgaria, a large city in Bulgaria. ** Varna Province **Varna Municipality **Gulf of Varna **Lake Varna *Vahrn, or Varna, a munic ...

Brahmins
in
Bengal Bengal (; Bengali language, Bengali: ', ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, predominantly covering present-day Bang ...

Bengal
since the
first millennium BCE The 1st millennium BC was the period of time between from the year 1000 BC to 1 BC ( 10th to 1st First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best glob ...
, the local
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, an ...

Buddhist
population were speaking in some varieties of the Prakrita languages. These varieties generally referred to as "eastern
Magadhi Prakrit Magadhi Prakrit (Māgadhī) is of one of the three Dramatic Prakrits, the written languages of Ancient India following the decline of Pali and Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛ ...
", as coined by linguist
Suniti Kumar Chatterji Bhashacharya Acharya Suniti Kumar Chatterji (26 November 1890 – 29 May 1977) was an India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by popul ...
, as the Middle Indo-Aryan dialects were influential in the first millennium when Bengal was a part of the
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
n realm. The local varieties had no official status during the
Gupta Empire The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed from the early 4th century CE to late 6th century CE. At its zenith, from approximately 319 to 467 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period is considered as the Go ...

Gupta Empire
, and with Bengal increasingly becoming a hub of
Sanskrit literature Sanskrit literature broadly comprises texts composed in the earliest attested descendant of the Proto-Indo-Aryan language Proto-Indo-Aryan (sometimes Proto-Indic) is the Linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Indo-Aryan ...

Sanskrit literature
for Hindu priests, the vernacular of Bengal gained a lot of influence from Sanskrit.
Magadhi Prakrit Magadhi Prakrit (Māgadhī) is of one of the three Dramatic Prakrits, the written languages of Ancient India following the decline of Pali and Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛ ...
was also spoken in modern-day
Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by population and list of states and union territories of India by area ...

Bihar
and
Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

Assam
, and this vernacular eventually evolved into
Ardha Magadhi Ardhamagadhi Prakrit was a Middle Indo-Aryan language and a Dramatic Prakrit thought to have been spoken in modern-day Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Re ...
. Ardha Magadhi began to give way to what is known as
Apabhraṃśa Apabhraṃśa ( sa, अपभ्रंश, , Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi sa, 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari sa, प्राकृत, ; psu, 𑀧𑀸𑀉𑀤, ; pka, ; Kannada: ''pāgada'') are a grou ...
, by the end of the first millennium. The Bengali language evolved as a distinct language by the course of time.


Early

Though some claim that some 10th-century texts were in Bengali; it is not certain whether they represent a differentiated language or whether they represent a stage when
Eastern Indo-Aryan languages The Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, also known as Māgadhan languages, are spoken throughout the eastern Indian subcontinent, including Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of stat ...
were differentiating. The local Apabhraṃśa of the eastern subcontinent, Purbi Apabhraṃśa or
Abahatta Abahaṭ‌ṭha (Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi sa, 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari sa, प्राकृत, ; psu, 𑀧𑀸𑀉𑀤, ; pka, ; Kannada: ''pāgada'') are a group of vernacular Middle Ind ...
("Meaningless Sounds"), eventually evolved into regional dialects, which in turn formed three groups of the
Bengali–Assamese languages The Bengali–Assamese languages (also Gauda–Kamarupa languages) is a grouping of several languages. This group belongs to the Eastern zone of Indo-Aryan languages. The languages in this group as per Glottolog includes Assamese language, Assam ...
, the
Bihari languages Bihari is a subgroup of the Indo-Aryan languages that is usually included in the Eastern branch of Indo-Aryan. The Bihari languages are mainly spoken in the Indian states India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (H ...

Bihari languages
, and the
Odia language Odia (, ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatab ...
. Some argue that the points of divergence occurred much earlier – going back to even 500 CE but the language was not static: different varieties coexisted and authors often wrote in multiple dialects in this period. For example, Ardhamagadhi is believed to have evolved into Abahatta around the 6th century, which competed with the ancestor of Bengali for some time. Proto-Bengali was the language of the
Pala Empire The Pala Empire (r. 750-1161 CE) was an imperial power during the Post-classical history, post-classical period in the Indian subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal. It is named after its ruling dynasty, whose rulers bore names ...
and the
Sena dynasty The Sena Empire was a Hindu dynasty during the early medieval period on the Indian subcontinent, that ruled from Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries. The empire at its peak covered much of the north-eastern region of the Indian subcont ...
.


Medieval

During the medieval period, Middle Bengali was characterised by the
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are ...
of word-final ''ô'', the spread of compound verbs, and influence from the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
and
Turkic languages The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia (Siberia), and Western Asia. The Turkic langu ...

Turkic languages
. The arrival of merchants and traders from the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
and
Turkestan Turkestan, also spelled Turkistan ( fa, ترکستان, Torkestân, lit=Land of the Turks), is a historical region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...

Turkestan
into the
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, an ...

Buddhist
-ruling
Pala Empire The Pala Empire (r. 750-1161 CE) was an imperial power during the Post-classical history, post-classical period in the Indian subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal. It is named after its ruling dynasty, whose rulers bore names ...
, from as early as the 7th century, gave birth to Islamic influence in the region. Starting with
Bakhtiyar Khalji Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muḥammad Bakhtiyār Khaljī ( fa, اختيار الدين محمد بختيار خلجی), popularly known as Bakhtiyar Khalji ( bn, বখতিয়ার খলজী, Bokhtiyar Kholjī), was a Turko-Afghan military genera ...
's conquest in the 13th century, the subsequent Muslim expeditions to Bengal greatly encouraged the migratory movements of
Arab Muslims Arab Muslims ( ar, مسلمون عرب) are adherents of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' ...
and Turco-Persians, who heavily influenced the local vernacular by settling among the native population. Bengali acquired prominence, over Persian, in the court of the Sultans of Bengal with the ascent of
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah ( bn, জালালউদ্দীন মুহম্মদ শাহ; born as Yadu or Jadu) was a 15th-century Sultan of Bengal and an important figure in medieval Bengali history. Born a Hindu to his aristocratic fathe ...
. Subsequent Muslim rulers actively promoted the literary development of Bengali, allowing it to become the most spoken
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
language in the Sultanate. Bengali gained many vocabulary from
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, which cultivated a manifestation of
Islamic culture Islamic culture and Muslim culture refer to cultural practices which are common to historically Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", ...
on the language. Major texts of Middle Bengali (1400–1800) include Yusuf-Zulekha by Shah Muhammad Sagir and Shreekrishna Kirtana by the
Chandidas Chandidas (born 1408) was a medieval poet of Bengal Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Ind ...
poets. Court support for Bengali culture and language waned when the
Mughal Empire The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, ge ...
colonised Bengal in the late 16th and early 17th century.


Modern

The modern literary form of Bengali was developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries based on the dialect spoken in the , a west-central Bengali dialect. Bengali presents a strong case of
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
, with the literary and standard form differing greatly from the colloquial speech of the regions that identify with the language. The modern
Bengali vocabulary Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis Bengalis or Bangalis ( bn, বাঙালি ), also rendered as the Bengali people, are an Indo-Aryan peop ...
contains the vocabulary base from Magadhi Prakrit and Pali, also
tatsama Tatsama ( sa, तत्सम , lit. 'same as that') are Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo ...
s and reborrowings from Sanskrit and other major borrowings from
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
,
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
,
Austroasiatic languages The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken lan ...
and other languages in contact with. During this period, there were two main forms of written Bengali: * ''Chôlitôbhasha''; colloquial form of Bengali using simplified inflections * '' Sadhubhasha''; Sanskritised form of Bengali. In 1948, the Government of Pakistan tried to impose
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonpr ...

Urdu
as the sole state language in Pakistan, starting the Bengali language movement. The Bengali Language Movement was a popular ethno-linguistic movement in the former
East Bengal ur, , common_name = East Bengal , status = Province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnati ...
(today
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, , ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in . It is the in the world, with a population exceeding 163 million people, in an area of , making it one of the in the world. Bangladesh shares land bor ...

Bangladesh
), which was a result of the strong linguistic consciousness of the
Bengalis Bengalis or Bangalis ( bn, বাঙালি ), also rendered as the Bengali people, are an native to the region in . The population is divided between the independent country and the Indian states of , and 's . Most of them speak , a ...
to gain and protect spoken and written Bengali's recognition as a state language of the then
Dominion of Pakistan The Federation of Pakistan, also called the Dominion of Pakistan, was an independent federal dominion in South Asia established on Independence Day (Pakistan), 14 August 1947. At its inception, the Dominion of Pakistan did not include prince ...
. On 21 February 1952, five students and political activists were killed during protests near the campus of the
University of Dhaka A university () is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in several Discipline (academia), academic disciplines. Universities typ ...
. In 1956, Bengali was made a state language of Pakistan. The day has since been observed as
Language Movement Day (''Bhasha Andolôn Dibôs'') , nickname = bn, শহীদ দিবস (''Shôhid Dibôs'') , duration = 1 day , frequency = Annual , observedby = Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, :bn:বাংলাদেশ, বাংল ...
in Bangladesh and is also commemorated as
International Mother Language Day International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February to promote awareness Awareness is the state of being conscious of something. More specifically, it is the ability to directly know and perceive, to fee ...

International Mother Language Day
by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
every year since 2000. In 2010, the parliament of Bangladesh and the legislative assembly of West Bengal proposed that Bengali be made an official language, though no further action was taken on this matter.


Geographical distribution

The Bengali language is native to the region of
Bengal Bengal (; Bengali language, Bengali: ', ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, predominantly covering present-day Bang ...

Bengal
, which comprises the present-day nation of
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, , ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in . It is the in the world, with a population exceeding 163 million people, in an area of , making it one of the in the world. Bangladesh shares land bor ...

Bangladesh
and the Indian state of
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
. Besides the native region it is also spoken by the Bengalis living in
Tripura Tripura () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Tripura
, southern
Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

Assam
and the Bengali population in the Indian union territory of
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India consisting of 572 islands, of which 38 are inhabited, at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The territory is about north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thai ...

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
. Bengali is also spoken in the neighbouring states of
Odisha Odisha (English: , ), formerly Orissa (), is an States and union territories of India, Indian state located in East India, Eastern India. It is the List of states and union territories of India by area, 8th largest state by area, and the Li ...

Odisha
,
Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by population and list of states and union territories of India by area ...

Bihar
, and
Jharkhand Jharkhand (; ; meaning 'the land of forests') is a in . The state shares its border with the states of to the north, to the northwest, to the west, to the south and to the east. It has an area of . It is the , and the . is the official la ...

Jharkhand
, and sizeable minorities of Bengali speakers reside in Indian cities outside Bengal, including
Delhi Delhi (; ''Dillī''; ''Dillī''; ''Dêhlī''), officially the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, is a city and a of containing , the capital of India. * * * Straddling the river, but primarily its western or right bank, Delhi ...

Delhi
,
Mumbai Mumbai (, ; also known as Bombay — List of renamed Indian cities and states#Maharashtra, the official name until 1995) is the capital city of the Indian States and union territories of India, state of Maharashtra. According to the United ...

Mumbai
,
Thane Thane () is a metropolitan city in Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...
,
Varanasi Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as Kashi, is a city on the Ganges river in North India, northern India that has a central place in pilgrimage, death ...

Varanasi
, and
Vrindavan Vrindavan (; ), also spelt Vrindaban and Brindaban, is a historical city in the Mathura district Mathura district situated along the banks of the river Yamuna The Yamuna ( Hindustani: ) is the second-largest tributary A tributary ...
. There are also significant Bengali-speaking communities in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
, Singapore, Bangladeshis in Malaysia, Malaysia, Bangladeshis in Australia, Australia, Bangladeshi Canadian, Canada, the British Bangladeshi, United Kingdom, and Bangladeshis in Italy, Italy.


Official status

The 3rd article of the Constitution of Bangladesh states Bengali to be the sole official language of Bangladesh. The Bangla Bhasha Prachalan Ain, 1987, Bengali Language Implementation Act, 1987 made it mandatory to use Bengali in all records and correspondences, laws, proceedings of court and other legal actions in all courts, government or semi-government offices, and autonomous institutions in Bangladesh. It is also the ''de facto'' National language, national language of the country. In India, Bengali is one of the 23 Languages with official status in India, official languages. It is the official language of the Indian states of
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
,
Tripura Tripura () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Tripura
and in of
Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

Assam
. Bengali is a second official language of the States and union territories of India, Indian state of
Jharkhand Jharkhand (; ; meaning 'the land of forests') is a in . The state shares its border with the states of to the north, to the northwest, to the west, to the south and to the east. It has an area of . It is the , and the . is the official la ...

Jharkhand
since September 2011. It is also a recognised secondary language in the City of Karachi in Pakistan. The Department of Bengali in the University of Karachi also offers regular programs of studies at the Bachelors and at the Masters levels for Bengali Literature. The national anthems of both Bangladesh (''Amar Sonar Bangla'') and India (''Jana Gana Mana'') were written in Bengali by the Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Additionally, the first two verses of ''Vande Mataram'', a patriotic song written in Bengali by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, was adopted as the "national song" of India in both the colonial period and later in 1950 in independent India. Furthermore, it is believed by many that the national anthem of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Matha) was inspired by a Bengali poem written by Rabindranath Tagore, while some even believe the anthem was originally written in Bengali and then translated into Sinhala language, Sinhala. After the contribution made by the Bangladesh UN Peacekeeping Force in the Sierra Leone Civil War under the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, the government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah declared Bengali as an honorary official language in December 2002. In 2009, elected representatives in both Bangladesh and West Bengal called for Bengali language to be made an Official languages of the United Nations, official language of the United Nations.


Dialects

Regional variation in spoken Bengali constitutes a dialect continuum. Linguist Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay grouped the dialects of the eastern Magadhan languages into four large clusters that included Assamese and Oriya – Rarhi dialect, Rarhi, Bangali dialect, Vangiya, Kamarupi Prakrit, Kamrupi and Varendri dialect, Varendri; but many alternative grouping schemes have also been proposed. The south-western dialects (Rarhi dialect, Rarhi or Nadia district, Nadia dialect) form the basis of modern standard colloquial Bengali. In the dialects prevalent in much of eastern and south-eastern Bangladesh (Barisal Division, Barisal, Chittagong Division, Chittagong, Dhaka Division, Dhaka and Sylhet Divisions of Bangladesh), many of the stops and Affricate consonant, affricates heard in
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
are pronounced as Fricative consonant, fricatives. Western Alveolo-palatal consonant, alveolo-palatal affricates , , correspond to eastern , , . The influence of Tibeto-Burman languages on the phonology of Eastern Bengali is seen through the lack of nasalised vowels and an alveolar articulation of what are categorised as the "cerebral" consonants (as opposed to the postalveolar articulation of
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
). Some variants of Bengali, particularly Chittagonian language, Chittagonian and Chakma language, Chakma, have contrastive tone (linguistics), tone; differences in the pitch of the speaker's voice can distinguish words. Rangpuri language, Rangpuri, Kharia Thar and Mal Paharia are closely related to Western Bengali dialects, but are typically classified as separate languages. Similarly, Hajong language, Hajong is considered a separate language, although it shares similarities to Northern Bengali dialects. During the standardisation of Bengali in the 19th century and early 20th century, the cultural centre of Bengal was in Kolkata, a city founded by the British. What is accepted as the standard form today in both West Bengal and Bangladesh is based on the Rarhi dialect, West-Central dialect of Nadia District, located next to the border of Bangladesh and 76 miles north of Kolkata. There are cases where speakers of Standard Bengali in
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
will use a different word from a speaker of Standard Bengali in Bangladesh, even though both words are of native Bengali descent. For example, the word salt is ''nun'' in the west which corresponds to ''lôbôṇ'' in the east. Bengali exhibits
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
, though some scholars have proposed triglossia or even n-glossia or heteroglossia between the written and spoken forms of the language. Two styles of writing have emerged, involving somewhat different vocabularies and syntax: # ''Shadhu-bhasha'' ( "uptight language") was the written language, with longer verb inflections and more of a Pali and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
-derived ''Tatsama'' vocabulary. Songs such as India's national anthem ''Jana Gana Mana'' (by Rabindranath Tagore) were composed in this style. Its use in modern writing however is uncommon, restricted to some official signs and documents in Bangladesh as well as for achieving particular literary effects. # ''Cholito-bhasha'' ( "running language"), known by linguists as Standard Colloquial Bengali, is a written Bengali style exhibiting a preponderance of colloquial idiom and shortened verb forms, and is the standard for written Bengali now. This form came into vogue towards the turn of the 19th century, promoted by the writings of Peary Chand Mitra (''Alaler Gharer Dulal'', 1857), Pramatha Chaudhuri (''Sabujpatra'', 1914) and in the later writings of Rabindranath Tagore. It is modelled on the dialect spoken in the Shantipur region in Nadia district, West Bengal. This form of Bengali is often referred to as the "Nadia standard", "Nadia dialect", "Southwestern/West-Central dialect" or "Shantipuri Bangla". Linguist Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar categorises the language as: * Madhya Rādhi dialect * Kanthi (Contai) dialect * Kolkata dialect * Shantipuri (Nadia) dialect * Shershabadia (Maldahiya/ Jangipuri) dialect * Barendri dialect * Rangpuriya dialect * Sylheti dialect * Dhakaiya (Bikrampuri) dialect * Jessor/Jessoriya dialect * Barisal (Chandradwip) dialect * Chattal (Chittagong) dialect While most writing is in Standard Colloquial Bengali (SCB), spoken dialects exhibit a greater variety. People in southeastern West Bengal, including Kolkata, speak in SCB. Other dialects, with minor variations from Standard Colloquial, are used in other parts of West Bengal and western Bangladesh, such as the Midnapore dialect, characterised by some unique words and constructions. However, a majority in Bangladesh speak in dialects notably different from SCB. Some dialects, particularly those of the Chittagong region, bear only a superficial resemblance to SCB. The dialect in the Chittagong region is least widely understood by the general body of Bengalis. The majority of Bengalis are able to communicate in more than one Variety (linguistics), variety – often, speakers are fluent in ''Cholitobhasha'' (SCB) and one or more regional dialects. Even in SCB, the vocabulary may differ according to the speaker's religion: Muslims are more likely to use words of Persian and Arabic origin, along with more native words respectively whereas Hindus are more likely to use tatsama, words derived from Sanskrit. For example:


Phonology

The phoneme, phonemic inventory of standard Bengali consists of 29 consonants and 7 vowels, as well as 7 Nasalization, nasalised vowels. The inventory is set out below in the help:IPA, International Phonetic Alphabet (upper grapheme in each box) and romanisation (lower grapheme). Bengali is known for its wide variety of diphthongs, combinations of vowels occurring within the same syllable. Two of these, and , are the only ones with representation in script, as and respectively. may all form the glide part of a diphthong. The total number of diphthongs is not established, with bounds at 17 and 31. An incomplete chart is given by Sarkar (1985) of the following:


Stress

In standard Bengali, Stress (linguistics), stress is predominantly initial. Bengali words are virtually all trochee, trochaic; the primary stress falls on the initial syllable of the word, while secondary stress often falls on all odd-numbered syllables thereafter, giving strings such as in ''shô-hô-jo-gi-ta'' "cooperation", where the boldface represents primary and secondary stress.


Consonant clusters

Native Bengali words do not allow initial consonant clusters; the maximum syllabic structure is CVC (i.e. one vowel flanked by a consonant on each side). Many speakers of Bengali restrict their phonology to this pattern, even when using Sanskrit or English borrowings, such as ''geram'' (CV.CVC) for ''gram'' (CCVC) "village" or ''iskul'' (VC.CVC) for ''skul'' (CCVC) "school".


Number system

Bengali numbers are written as follows.


Writing system

Bengali-Assamese script is an abugida, a script with letters for consonants, diacritics for vowels, and in which an inherent vowel (অ ''ô'') is assumed for consonants if no vowel is marked. The Bengali alphabet is used throughout Bangladesh and eastern India (Assam, West Bengal, Tripura). The Bengali alphabet is believed to have evolved from a modified Brahmic scripts, Brahmic script around 1000 CE (or 10th–11th century).Bangalah
in
Note that despite Bangladesh being majority Muslim, it uses the Bengali alphabet rather than an Arabic alphabet, Arabic-based one like the Shahmukhi script used in Pakistan. However, throughout history there have been instances of the Bengali language being written in Perso-Arabic. The use of the Sylheti Nagari script also emerged in the Sylhet region of the Bengal. The Bengali script is a cursive script with eleven graphemes or signs denoting nine vowels and two diphthongs, and thirty-nine graphemes representing consonants and other modifiers. There are no distinct Letter case, upper and lower case letter forms. The letters run from left to right and spaces are used to separate Word#Orthography, orthographic words. Bengali script has a distinctive horizontal line running along the tops of the graphemes that links them together called ''matra''. Since the Bengali script is an abugida, its consonant graphemes usually do not represent phonetic Segment (linguistics), segments, but carry an "inherent" vowel and thus are Syllable, syllabic in nature. The inherent vowel is usually a back vowel, either as in "opinion" or , as in "mind", with variants like the more open . To emphatically represent a consonant sound without any inherent vowel attached to it, a special diacritic, called the ''virama, hôsôntô'' , may be added below the basic consonant grapheme (as in ). This diacritic, however, is not common, and is chiefly employed as a guide to pronunciation. The abugida nature of Bengali consonant graphemes is not consistent, however. Often, syllable-final consonant graphemes, though not marked by a ''hôsôntô'', may carry no inherent vowel sound (as in the final in or the medial in ). A consonant sound followed by some vowel sound other than the inherent is orthographically realised by using a variety of vowel allography, allographs above, below, before, after, or around the consonant sign, thus forming the ubiquitous consonant-vowel typographic ligatures. These allographs, called ''kar'', are diacritical vowel forms and cannot stand on their own. For example, the graph represents the consonant followed by the vowel , where is represented as the diacritical allograph (called ''i-kar'') and is placed ''before'' the default consonant sign. Similarly, the graphs , , , , , , , and represent the same consonant combined with seven other vowels and two diphthongs. In these consonant-vowel ligatures, the so-called "inherent" vowel is first expunged from the consonant before adding the vowel, but this intermediate expulsion of the inherent vowel is not indicated in any visual manner on the basic consonant sign . The vowel graphemes in Bengali can take two forms: the independent form found in the basic inventory of the script and the dependent, abridged, allograph form (as discussed above). To represent a vowel in isolation from any preceding or following consonant, the independent form of the vowel is used. For example, in "ladder" and in "Hilsa fish", the independent form of the vowel is used (cf. the dependent form. A vowel at the beginning of a word is always realised using its independent form. In addition to the inherent-vowel-suppressing ''hôsôntô'', three more diacritics are commonly used in Bengali. These are the superposed ''chôndrôbindu'' , denoting a suprasegmental for nasalisation of vowels (as in "moon"), the postposed ''ônusbar'' indicating the velar nasal (as in "Bengali") and the postposed ''bisôrgô'' indicating the voiceless glottal fricative (as in "ouch!") or the gemination of the following consonant (as in "sorrow"). The Bengali consonant clusters ( ''juktôbênjôn'') are usually realised as ligatures, where the consonant which comes first is put on top of or to the left of the one that immediately follows. In these ligatures, the shapes of the constituent consonant signs are often contracted and sometimes even distorted beyond recognition. In the Bengali writing system, there are nearly 285 such ligatures denoting consonant clusters. Although there exist Bengali alphabet#Consonant conjuncts, a few visual formulas to construct some of these ligatures, many of them have to be learned by rote. Recently, in a bid to lessen this burden on young learners, efforts have been made by educational institutions in the two main Bengali-speaking regions (West Bengal and Bangladesh) to address the opaque nature of many consonant clusters, and as a result, modern Bengali textbooks are beginning to contain more and more "transparent" graphical forms of consonant clusters, in which the constituent consonants of a cluster are readily apparent from the graphical form. However, since this change is not as widespread and is not being followed as uniformly in the rest of the Bengali printed literature, today's Bengali-learning children will possibly have to learn to recognise both the new "transparent" and the old "opaque" forms, which ultimately amounts to an increase in learning burden. Bengali punctuation marks, apart from the downstroke ''daṛi'' – the Bengali equivalent of a full stop – have been adopted from western scripts and their usage is similar. Unlike in western scripts (Latin, Cyrillic, etc.) where the letter-forms stand on an invisible baseline, the Bengali letter-forms instead hang from a visible horizontal left-to-right headstroke called ''matra''. The presence and absence of this matra can be important. For example, the letter ''tô'' and the numeral "3" are distinguishable only by the presence or absence of the ''matra'', as is the case between the consonant cluster ''trô'' and the independent vowel ''e''. The letter-forms also employ the concepts of letter-width and letter-height (the vertical space between the visible matra and an invisible baseline). There is yet to be a uniform standard collating sequence (sorting order of graphemes to be used in dictionaries, indices, computer sorting programs, etc.) of Bengali graphemes. Experts in both Bangladesh and India are currently working towards a common solution for this problem.


Orthographic depth

The Bengali script in general has a comparatively orthographic depth, shallow orthography, i.e., in most cases there is a one-to-one correspondence between the sounds (phonemes) and the letters (graphemes) of Bengali. But grapheme-phoneme inconsistencies do occur in certain cases. One kind of inconsistency is due to the presence of several letters in the script for the same sound. In spite of some modifications in the 19th century, the Bengali spelling system continues to be based on the one used for Sanskrit, and thus does not take into account some sound mergers that have occurred in the spoken language. For example, there are three letters (, , and ) for the voiceless postalveolar fricative , although the letter retains the voiceless alveolar sibilant sound when used in certain consonant conjuncts as in "fall", "beat", etc. The letter also retains the voiceless retroflex sibilant sound when used in certain consonant conjuncts as in "suffering", "clan", etc. Similarly, there are two letters ( and ) for the voiced postalveolar affricate . Moreover, what was once pronounced and written as a retroflex nasal is now pronounced as an alveolar when in conversation (the difference is heard when reading) (unless conjoined with another retroflex consonant such as , , and ), although the spelling does not reflect this change. The open-mid front unrounded vowel is orthographically realised by multiple means, as seen in the following examples: "so much", "academy", "amoeba", "to see", "busy", "grammar". Another kind of inconsistency is concerned with the incomplete coverage of phonological information in the script. The inherent vowel attached to every consonant can be either or depending on vowel harmony () with the preceding or following vowel or on the context, but this phonological information is not captured by the script, creating ambiguity for the reader. Furthermore, the inherent vowel is often not pronounced at the end of a syllable, as in "less", but this omission is not generally reflected in the script, making it difficult for the new reader. Many consonant clusters have different sounds than their constituent consonants. For example, the combination of the consonants and is graphically realised as and is pronounced (as in "coarse"), (as in "capability") or even (as in "harm"), depending on the position of the cluster in a word. The Bengali writing system is, therefore, not always a true guide to pronunciation.


Uses

The script used for Bengali, Assamese and other languages is known as Bengali alphabet, Bengali script. The script is known as the Bengali alphabet for Bengali and its dialects and the Assamese alphabet for Assamese language with some minor variations. Other related languages in the nearby region also make use of the Bengali alphabet like the Meitei language in the Indian state of Manipur, where the Meitei language has been written in the Bengali alphabet for centuries, though the Meitei script has been promoted in recent times.


Romanisation

There are various Romanisation systems used for Bengali created in recent years which have failed to represent the true Bengali phonetic sound. The Bengali alphabet has often been included with the group of Brahmic scripts for romanisation where the true phonetic value of Bengali is never represented. Some of them are the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration or IAST system (based on diacritics), "Indian languages Transliteration" or ITRANS (uses upper case letters suited for ASCII keyboards), and the National Library at Kolkata romanisation. In the context of Bengali romanisation, it is important to distinguish transliteration from transcription (linguistics), transcription. Transliteration is orthographically accurate (i.e. the original spelling can be recovered), whereas transcription is phonetically accurate (the pronunciation can be reproduced). Although it might be desirable to use a transliteration scheme where the original Bengali orthography is recoverable from the Latin text, Bengali words are currently Romanized on Wikipedia using a phonemic orthography, phonemic transcription, where the true phonetic pronunciation of Bengali is represented with no reference to how it is written. The most recent attempt has been by publishers Mitra and Ghosh with the launch of three popular children's books, ''Abol Tabol'', ''Hasi Khusi'' and ''Sahoj Path'' in Roman script at the Kolkata Book Fair 2018. Published under the imprint of Benglish Books, these are based on phonetic transliteration and closely follow spellings used in social media but for using an underline to describe soft consonants.


Grammar

Bengali nouns are not assigned gender, which leads to minimal changing of adjectives (inflection). However, nouns and pronouns are moderately declension, declined (altered depending on their function in a sentence) into four grammatical case, cases while verbs are heavily grammatical conjugation, conjugated, and the verbs do not change form depending on the gender of the nouns.


Word order

As a Head-directionality parameter, head-final language, Bengali follows a subject–object–verb word order, although variations on this theme are common. Bengali makes use of Preposition and postposition, postpositions, as opposed to the prepositions used in English and other European languages. Determiners follow the noun, while numerals, adjectives, and possession (linguistics), possessors precede the noun. Yes-no questions do not require any change to the basic word order; instead, the low (L) tone (linguistics), tone of the final syllable in the utterance is replaced with a falling (HL) tone. Additionally, optional grammatical particle, particles (e.g. ''-ki'', ''-na'', etc.) are often clitic, encliticised onto the first or last word of a yes-no question. Wh-questions are formed by fronting the wh-word to focus (linguistics), focus position, which is typically the first or second word in the utterance.


Nouns

Nouns and pronouns are inflected for declension, case, including Nominative case, nominative, Accusative case, objective, genitive case, genitive (possessive), and locative case, locative. The case marking pattern for each noun being inflected depends on the noun's degree of animacy. When a article (grammar), definite article such as ''-ṭa'' (singular) or ''-gulo'' (plural) is added, as in the tables below, nouns are also inflected for grammatical number, number. In most of the Bengali grammar books, cases are divided into 6 categories and an additional possessive case (possessive form is not recognised as a type of case by Bengali grammarians). But in terms of usages, cases are generally grouped into only 4 categories. When counted, nouns take one of a small set of measure words. Nouns in Bengali cannot be counted by adding the numeral directly adjacent to the noun. An appropriate measure word (MW), a Classifier (linguistics), classifier, must be used between the numeral and the noun (most languages of the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area are similar in this respect). Most nouns take the generic measure word ''-ṭa'', though other measure words indicate semantic classes (e.g. ''-jôn'' for humans). There is also the classifier ''-khana,'' and its diminutive form ''-khani'', which attach only to nouns denoting something flat, long, square, or thin. These are the least common of the classifiers. Measuring nouns in Bengali without their corresponding measure words (e.g. ''aṭ biṛal'' instead of ''aṭ-ṭa biṛal'' "eight cats") would typically be considered ungrammatical. However, when the semantic class of the noun is understood from the measure word, the noun is often omitted and only the measure word is used, e.g. ''Shudhu êk-jôn thakbe.'' (lit. "Only one-MW will remain.") would be understood to mean "Only one person will remain.", given the semantic class implicit in ''-jôn''. In this sense, all nouns in Bengali, unlike most other Indo-European languages, are similar to mass nouns.


Verbs

There are two classes of verbs: finite verb, finite and non-finite. Non-finite verbs have no inflection for tense or person, while finite verbs are fully inflected for grammatical person, person (first, second, third), grammatical tense, tense (present, past, future), grammatical aspect, aspect (simple, perfect, progressive), and honorific, honour (intimate, familiar, and formal), but ''not'' for number. conditional mood, Conditional, imperative, and other special inflections for grammatical mood, mood can replace the tense and aspect suffixes. The number of inflections on many verb roots can total more than 200. Inflectional suffixes in the morphology (linguistics), morphology of Bengali vary from region to region, along with minor differences in syntax. Bengali differs from most Indo-Aryan Languages in the zero copula, where the Copula (linguistics), copula or connective ''be'' is often missing in the present tense.Bangla language
in
Thus, "he is a teacher" is ''se shikkhôk'', (literally "he teacher").Among Bengali speakers brought up in neighbouring linguistic regions (e.g. Hindi), the lost copula may surface in utterances such as ''she shikkhôk hocche''. This is viewed as ungrammatical by other speakers, and speakers of this variety are sometimes (humorously) referred as "hocche-Bangali". In this respect, Bengali is similar to Russian and Hungarian language, Hungarian. Romani language, Romani grammar is also the closest to Bengali grammar.


Vocabulary

Bengali has as many as 100,000 separate words, of which 50,000 are considered Tadbhavas, 21,100 are Tatsamas and the remainder loanwords from Austroasiatic languages, Austroasiatic and other foreign languages. However, these figures do not take into account the large proportion of archaic or highly technical words that are very rarely used. Furthermore, different dialects use more
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
and
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
vocabulary especially in different areas of Bangladesh and Muslim majority areas of
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
. Hindus, on the other hand, use more Sanskrit vocabulary than Muslims. While standard Bengali is based on the Bengali dialects, Nadia dialect spoken in the Hindu majority states of West Bengal, about 90% of Bengalis in Bangladesh (ca. 148 million) and 27% of Bengalis in West Bengal and 10% in Assam (ca. 36 million) are Muslim and speak a more "persio-arabised" version of Bengali instead of the more Sanskrit influenced Standard Bengali dialects, Nadia dialect. The productive vocabulary used in modern literary works, in fact, is made up mostly (67%) of tadbhavas, while tatsamas make up only 25% of the total.Tatsama
in
Tadbhaba
in
Loanwords from non-Indic languages account for the remaining 8% of the vocabulary used in modern
Bengali literature Bengali literature ( bn, বাংলা সাহিত্য, Bangla Shahitto) denotes the body of writings in the Bengali language Bengali (), also known by its endonym Bangla ( ), is an Indo-Aryan language and the '' lingua franca' ...
. According to
Suniti Kumar Chatterji Bhashacharya Acharya Suniti Kumar Chatterji (26 November 1890 – 29 May 1977) was an India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by popul ...
, dictionaries from the early 20th century attributed about 50% of the Bengali vocabulary to native words (i.e., naturally modified Prakrit words, corrupted forms of Aryan words, and non-Indo-European languages). About 45% percent of Bengali words are unmodified Sanskrit, and the remaining words are from foreign languages. Dominant in the last group was
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, which was also the source of some grammatical forms. More recent studies suggest that the use of native and foreign words has been increasing, mainly because of the preference of Bengali speakers for the colloquial style. Because of centuries of contact with Ethnic groups in Europe, Europeans, Turkic peoples, and Persians, Bengali has absorbed numerous words from foreign languages, often totally integrating these borrowings into the core vocabulary. The most common borrowings from foreign languages come from three different kinds of contact. After close contact with several indigenous Austroasiatic languages, and later the Mughal Empire, Mughal invasion whose court language was Persian, numerous Chagatai language, Chagatai, Arabic, and Persian words were absorbed into the lexicon. Later, East Asian travellers and lately European colonialism brought words from Portuguese language, Portuguese, French, Dutch language, Dutch, and most significantly English during the British Raj, colonial period.


Sample text

The following is a sample text in Bengali of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Bengali in the Bengali alphabet : Bengali in Romanization of Bengali, phonetic Romanization :Dhara êk: Sômôstô manush shadhinbhabe sôman môrjada ebông ôdhikar niye jônmôgrôhôn kôre. Tãder bibek ebông buddhi achhe; sutôrang sôkôleri êke ôpôrer prôti bhratrittôsulôbh mônobhab niye achôrôn kôra uchit. Bengali in the International Phonetic Alphabet : Gloss :Clause 1: All human free-manner-in equal dignity and right taken birth-take do. Their reason and intelligence exist; therefore everyone-indeed one another's towards brotherhood-ly attitude taken conduct do should. Translation :Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They possess conscience and reason. Therefore, everyone should act in a spirit of brotherhood towards each other.


See also

* Bangla Academy * Bengali dialects * Bengali numerals * Bengali-language newspapers * Chittagonian language * Languages of Bangladesh * Rangpuri language * Romani people * Sylheti language


Notes


References

* * * * * * * Byomkes Chakrabarti, Chakraborty, Byomkes, A Comparative Study of Santali and Bengali, K.P. Bagchi & Co., Kolkata, 1994, . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Shaw, Rameswar ''Sadharan Bhasabigna O Bangal Bhasa'', Pustak Bipani, Kolkata, 1997. * Haldar, Narayan ''Bengali Bhasa Prsanga: Banan Kathan Likhanriti'', Pustak Bipani, Kolkata, 2007. *


Further reading

* Thompson, Hanne-Ruth (2012).
Bengali
'. Volume 18 of London Oriental and African Language Library. John Benjamins Publishing. .


External links

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{{Authority control Bengali language, Eastern Indo-Aryan languages Languages of Bangladesh Official languages of India Subject–object–verb languages Languages of West Bengal Languages of Tripura Languages of Assam