The Info List - Bengali Language


Old Bengali


see Bengali dialects

Writing system

Eastern Nagari script
Eastern Nagari script
(Bengali alphabet) Bengali Braille

Signed forms

Bengali signed forms[4]

Official status

Official language in

 Bangladesh   India
(in West Bengal, Tripura
& Southern Assam)

Regulated by Bangla Academy Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi

Language codes

ISO 639-1 bn

ISO 639-2 ben

ISO 639-3 ben

Glottolog beng1280[5]

Linguasphere 59-AAF-u

Bengali speaking region of South Asia

Bengali speakers around the world

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This article contains Bengali text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols.

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বাঙালি Bengalis

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v t e

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A series of picture stories narrated in Bengali

Bengali (/bɛŋˈɡɔːli/),[6] also known by its endonym Bangla (/ˈbɑːŋlɑː/; বাংলা [ˈbaŋla] ( listen)), is an Indo-Aryan language
Indo-Aryan language
spoken in South Asia. It's the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh
and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi. The official and de facto national language of Bangladesh
is Modern Standard Bengali (Literary Bengali).[7][8][9][10] It serves as the lingua franca of the nation, with 98% of Bangladeshis being fluent in Bengali (including dialects) as their first language.[11][12] Within India, Bengali is the official language of the states of West Bengal, Tripura
and the Barak Valley
Barak Valley
in the state of Assam. It is also spoken in different parts of the Brahmaputra valley of Assam. There are Bengali medium schools that cater to the demands of the community. Also the language is taught in various colleges and universities across Assam. It is also the most widely spoken language in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
in the Bay of Bengal.[13] and is spoken by significant minorities in other states including Jharkhand, Bihar, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. With more than over a 300 million speakers worldwide (according to 2011 Census), Bengali is usually counted as the seventh most spoken native language in the world by population.[14] Dictionaries from the early 20th century attributed slightly more than half of the Bengali vocabulary
Bengali vocabulary
to native words (i.e., naturally modified Sanskrit
words, corrupted forms of Sanskrit
words, and loanwords from non-Indo-European languages), about 30 percent to unmodified Sanskrit
words, and the remainder to foreign words.[15] Dominant in the last group was Persian, 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.[15] Bengali literature, with its millennium-old history and folk heritage, has extensively developed since the Bengali renaissance
Bengali renaissance
and is one of the most prominent and diverse literary traditions in Asia. Both the national anthems of Bangladesh
(Amar Sonar Bangla) and India
(Jana Gana Mana) were composed in Bengali; 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,[16][17][18][19] while some even believe the anthem was originally written in Bengali and then translated into Sinhalese.[20][21][22][23] In 1952, the Bengali Language Movement
Bengali Language Movement
successfully pushed for the language's official status in the Dominion of Pakistan. In 1999, UNESCO
recognized 21 February as International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day
in recognition of the language movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Language is an important element of Bengali identity and binds together a culturally diverse region.


1 History

1.1 Ancient language of Bengal 1.2 Emergence of Bengali 1.3 Middle Bengali 1.4 Modern Bengali

2 Geographical distribution

2.1 Official status 2.2 Dialects

3 Spoken and literary varieties 4 Phonology

4.1 Stress 4.2 Consonant

5 Writing system

5.1 Orthographic depth 5.2 Uses 5.3 Romanisation

6 Grammar

6.1 Word order 6.2 Nouns 6.3 Verbs

7 Vocabulary 8 Sample text 9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 Further reading 13 External links


Silver coin with proto-Bengali script, Harikela
Kingdom, circa 9th-13th century

Ancient language of Bengal[edit] Sanskrit
was spoken in Bengal
since the first millennium BCE. During the Gupta Empire, Bengal
was a hub of Sanskrit
literature.[24] The Middle Indo-Aryan dialects were spoken in Bengal
in the first millennium when the region was a part of the Magadha
Realm. These dialects were called Magadhi Prakrit. They eventually evolved into Ardha Magadhi.[25][26] Ardha Magadhi began to give way to what are called Apabhraṃśa languages at the end of the first millennium.[27] Emergence of Bengali[edit] Along with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, Bengali evolved circa 1000–1200 AD from Sanskrit
and Magadhi Prakrit.[28] The local Apabhraṃśa of the eastern subcontinent, Purbi Apabhraṃśa or Abahatta
("Meaningless Sounds"), eventually evolved into regional dialects, which in turn formed three groups of the Bengali–Assamese languages, the Bihari languages, and the Odia language. Some argue that the points of divergence occurred much earlier — going back to even 500,[29] 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.[30] Proto-Bengali was the language of the Pala Empire and the Sena dynasty.[31][32] Middle Bengali[edit]

Silver Taka from the Sultanate of Bengal, circa 1417

During the medieval period, Middle Bengali was characterized by the elision of word-final অ ô, the spread of compound verbs and Arabic and Persian influences. Bengali was an official court language of the Sultanate of Bengal. Muslim rulers promoted the literary development of Bengali.[33] Bengali became the most spoken vernacular language in the Sultanate.[34] This period saw borrowing of Perso- Arabic
terms into Bengali vocabulary. Major texts of Middle Bengali (1400–1800) include Chandidas' Shreekrishna Kirtana. Modern Bengali[edit]

The Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka commemorates the Bengali Language Movement. UNESCO
commemorates the movement as International Mother Language Day

The modern literary form of Bengali was developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries based on the dialect spoken in the Nadia region, a west-central Bengali dialect. Bengali presents a strong case of diglossia, with the literary and standard form differing greatly from the colloquial speech of the regions that identify with the language.[35] The modern Bengali vocabulary
Bengali vocabulary
contains the vocabulary base from Magadhi Prakrit and Pali, also tatsamas and reborrowings from Sanskrit
and other major borrowings from Persian, Arabic, Austroasiatic languages
Austroasiatic languages
and other languages in contact with. During this period, the

চলিতভাষা Chôlitôbhasha form of Bengali using simplified inflections and other changes, was emerging from সাধুভাষা Sadhubhasha (Proper form or original form of Bengali) as the form of choice for written Bengali.[36]

In 1948 the Government of Pakistan tried to impose Urdu
as the sole state language in Pakistan, starting the Bengali language movement.[37] The Bengali Language Movement
Bengali Language Movement
was a popular ethno-linguistic movement in the former East Bengal
(today Bangladesh), which was a result of the strong linguistic consciousness of the Bengalis
to gain and protect spoken and written Bengali's recognition as a state language of the then Dominion of Pakistan. On the day of 21 February 1952 five students and political activists were killed during protests near the campus of the University of Dhaka. In 1956 Bengali was made a state language of Pakistan.[37] The day has since been observed as Language Movement Day
Language Movement Day
in Bangladesh
and was proclaimed the International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day
on 17 November 1999, marking Bengali language
Bengali language
the only language in the world to be also known for its language movements and people sacrificing their life for their mother language. A Bengali language
Bengali language
movement in the Indian state of Assam
took place in 1961, a protest against the decision of the Government of Assam
to make Assamese the only official language of the state even though a significant proportion of the population were Bengali-speaking, particularly in the Barak Valley. In 2010, the parliament of Bangladesh
and the legislative assembly of West Bengal
West Bengal
proposed that Bengali be made an official UN language.[38] Their motions came after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suggested the idea while addressing the UN General Assembly
UN General Assembly
that year.[38] Geographical distribution[edit] Bengali language
Bengali language
is native to the region of Bengal, which comprises Indian states of West Bengal
West Bengal
and the present-day nation of Bangladesh.

A Bengali sign in Brick Lane
Brick Lane
in London, which is home to a large Bengali diaspora

Besides the native region it is also spoken by the Bengalis
living in Tripura, southern Assam
and the Bengali population in the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Bengali is also spoken in the neighboring states of Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand, and sizable minorities of Bengali speakers reside in Indian cities outside Bengal, including Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Vrindavan. There are also significant Bengali-speaking communities in the Middle East,[39][40][41] the United States,[42] Singapore,[43] Malaysia, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom and Italy. Official status[edit] See also: States of India
by Bengali speakers Bengali is national and official language of Bangladesh, and one of the 23 official languages in India.[44] It is the official language of the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura
and in Barak Valley
Barak Valley
of Assam.[45][46] Bengali is a second official language of the Indian state of Jharkhand
since September 2011. It is also a recognized secondary language in the City of Karachi
in Pakistan.[47][48][49] 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.[50] The national anthems of both Bangladesh
and India
were written in Bengali by the Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.[51] In 2009, elected representatives in both Bangladesh
and West Bengal called for Bengali language
Bengali language
to be made an official language of the United Nations.[52] Dialects[edit] Main article: Bengali dialects Regional variation in spoken Bengali constitutes a dialect continuum. Linguist Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay
Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay
grouped these dialects into four large clusters—Rarh, Banga, Kamarupa and Varendra;[53] but many alternative grouping schemes have also been proposed.[54] The south-western dialects (Rarh or Nadia dialect) form the basis of modern standard colloquial Bengali. In the dialects prevalent in much of eastern and south-eastern Bangladesh
(Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka and Sylhet Divisions of Bangladesh), many of the stops and affricates heard in West Bengal
West Bengal
are pronounced as fricatives. Western alveolo-palatal affricates চ [tɕɔ], ছ [tɕʰɔ], জ [dʑɔ] correspond to eastern চ [tsɔ], ছ [tsʰɔ~sɔ], জ [dzɔ~zɔ]. The influence of Tibeto-Burman languages
Tibeto-Burman languages
on the phonology of Eastern Bengali is seen through the lack of nasalized vowels and an alveolar articulation of what are categorised as the "cerebral" consonants (as opposed to the postalveolar articulation of West Bengal). Some variants of Bengali, particularly Chittagonian and Chakma, have contrastive tone; differences in the pitch of the speaker's voice can distinguish words. Rangpuri, Kharia Thar and Mal Paharia are closely related to Western Bengali dialects, but are typically classified as separate languages. Similarly, Hajong is considered a separate language, although it shares similarities to Northern Bengali dialects.[55] During the standardization of Bengali in the 19th century and early 20th century, the cultural center of Bengal
was in the city of Kolkata, founded by the British. What is accepted as the standard form today in both West Bengal
West Bengal
and Bangladesh
is based on the West-Central dialect of Nadia District, located next to the border of Bangladesh.[56] There are cases where speakers of Standard Bengali in West Bengal
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 নুন nun in the west which corresponds to লবণ lôbôn in the east.[57] Spoken and literary varieties[edit] Bengali exhibits diglossia, though some scholars have proposed triglossia or even n-glossia or heteroglossia between the written and spoken forms of the language.[35] Two styles of writing have emerged, involving somewhat different vocabularies and syntax:[56][58]

Shadhu-bhasha (সাধুভাষা "upright language") was the written language, with longer verb inflections and more of a Pali
and Sanskrit-derived Tatsama
vocabulary. Songs such as India's national anthem Jana Gana Mana
Jana Gana Mana
(by Rabindranath Tagore) were composed in Shadhubhasha. However, use of Shadhubhasha in modern writing is uncommon, restricted to some official signs and documents in Bangladesh
as well as for achieving particular literary effects. Cholito-bhasha (চলিতভাষা "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
Peary Chand Mitra
(Alaler Gharer Dulal, 1857),[59] Pramatha Chaudhuri
Pramatha Chaudhuri
(Sabujpatra, 1914) and in the later writings of Rabindranath Tagore. It is modeled 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".[54]

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.[60] The dialect in the Chittagong region is least widely understood by the general body of Bengalis.[60] The majority of Bengalis
are able to communicate in more than one variety—often, speakers are fluent in Cholitobhasha (SCB) and one or more regional dialects.[36] Even in SCB, the vocabulary may differ according to the speaker's religion: Hindus are more likely to use words derived from Sanskrit and of Austroasiatic Deshi origin whereas Muslims are more likely to use words of Persian and Arabic
origin respectively.[61] For example:[57]

Predominantly Hindu usage Predominantly Muslim usage translation

নমস্কার nômôshkar আসসালামু আলাইকুম Assalamu-Alaikum hello

নিমন্ত্রণ nimôntrôn দাওয়াত daoat invitation

জল jôl পানি pani water

স্নান snan গোসল gosôl bath

দিদি didi আপু apu sister / elder sister

দাদা dada ভাই bha'i brother / elder brother[62]

মাসী mashi খালা khala maternal aunt

কাকা kaka চাচা chacha paternal uncle

প্রার্থনা prarthona দো'আ do'a / du'a pray

প্রদীপ prodip বাতি bati light[63]

Phonology[edit] Main article: Bengali phonology

Spoken Bengali

The phonemic inventory of standard Bengali consists of 29 consonants and 7 vowels, as well as 7 nasalized vowels. The inventory is set out below in the International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
(upper grapheme in each box) and romanization (lower grapheme).


Front Central Back

Close ই~ঈ i i

উ~ঊ u u

Close-mid এ e e

ও ʊ~o u/o

Near-open এ্যা/অ্যা æ or ɛ ê

অ ɔ ô


আ a a

Nasalized Vowels

Front Central Back

Close ইঁ~ঈঁ ĩ ĩ

উঁ~ঊঁ ũ ũ

Close-mid এঁ ẽ ẽ

ওঁ õ õ

Near-open এ্যাঁ / অ্যাঁ æ̃

অঁ ɔ̃


আঁ ã


Labial Dental/ Alveolar Retroflex Palatoalveolar Velar Glottal

Nasal ম mɔ mô ঞ ~ ণ ~ ন nɔ nô   ঙ ŋɔ ngô  

Plosive voiceless প pɔ pô ত t̪ɔ tô ট ʈɔ ṭô চ tʃɔ~tsɔ cô/sô ক kɔ kô

aspirated ফ pʰɔ~ɸɔ fô থ t̪ʰɔ thô ঠ ʈʰɔ ṭhô ছ tʃʰɔ~tssɔ chô/ssô খ kʰɔ khô

voiced ব bɔ bô দ d̪ɔ dô ড ɖɔ ḍô জ ~ য dʒɔ~dzɔ jô ~ zô গ ɡɔ gô

aspirated ভ bʱɔ~βɔ vô ধ d̪ʱɔ dhô ঢ ɖʱɔ ḍhô ঝ dʒʱɔ jhô ঘ ɡʱɔ ghô


শ ~ স sɔ şô

শ ~ ষ ~ স ʃɔ shô

হ hɔ hô


ল lɔ lô


র rɔ rô ড় ~ ঢ় ɽɔ~ɽʱɔ rô / rhô

Bengali is known for its wide variety of diphthongs, combinations of vowels occurring within the same syllable.[64] Two of these, /oi̯/ and /ou̯/, are the only ones with representation in script, as ঐ and ঔ respectively. /e̯ i̯ o̯ u̯/ 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:[65]

e̯ i̯ o̯ u̯

a ae̯ ai̯ ao̯ au̯

æ æe̯








o oe̯ oi̯ oo̯ ou̯



Stress[edit] In standard Bengali, stress is predominantly initial. Bengali words are virtually all 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 সহযোগিতা shô-hô-jo-gi-ta "cooperation", where the boldface represents primary and secondary stress. Consonant
clusters[edit] Main article: Bengali consonant clusters Native Bengali words do not allow initial consonant clusters;[66] 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 গেরাম geram (CV.CVC) for গ্রাম gram (CCVC) "village" or ইস্কুল iskul (VC.CVC) for স্কুল skul (CCVC) "school". Writing system[edit] Main articles: Bengali alphabet
Bengali alphabet
and Bengali Braille

An example of handwritten Bengali. Part of a poem written in Bengali (and with its English translation below each Bengali paragraph) by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
in 1926 in Hungary.

The Bengali script
Bengali 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.[67] The Bengali alphabet is used throughout Bangladesh
and eastern India
(Assam, West Bengal, Tripura). The Bengali alphabet
Bengali alphabet
is believed to have evolved from a modified Brahmic script around 1000 CE (or 10th – 11th century).[68] Note that despite Bangladesh
being majority Muslim, it uses the Bengali alphabet
Bengali alphabet
rather than an Arabic-based one like the Shahmukhi script
Shahmukhi script
used in Pakistan. The Bengali script
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.[68] There are no distinct upper and lower case letter forms. The letters run from left to right and spaces are used to separate orthographic words. Bengali script
Bengali script
has a distinctive horizontal line running along the tops of the graphemes that links them together called মাত্রা matra.[69] Since the Bengali script
Bengali script
is an abugida, its consonant graphemes usually do not represent phonetic segments, but carry an "inherent" vowel and thus are syllabic in nature. The inherent vowel is usually a back vowel, either [ɔ] as in মত [mɔt̪] "opinion" or [o], as in মন [mon] "mind", with variants like the more open [ɒ]. To emphatically represent a consonant sound without any inherent vowel attached to it, a special diacritic, called the hôsôntô (্), may be added below the basic consonant grapheme (as in ম্ [m]). 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 ন in মন [mon] or the medial ম in গামলা [ɡamla]). A consonant sound followed by some vowel sound other than the inherent [ɔ] is orthographically realized by using a variety of vowel allographs above, below, before, after, or around the consonant sign, thus forming the ubiquitous consonant-vowel typographic ligatures. These allographs, called কার kar, are diacritical vowel forms and cannot stand on their own. For example, the graph মি [mi] represents the consonant [m] followed by the vowel [i], where [i] is represented as the diacritical allographি (called ই-কার i-kar) and is placed before the default consonant sign. Similarly, the graphs মা [ma], মী [mi], মু [mu], মূ [mu], মৃ [mri], মে [me~mæ], মৈ [moj], মো [mo] and মৌ [mow] represent the same consonant ম combined with seven other vowels and two diphthongs. In these consonant-vowel ligatures, the so-called "inherent" vowel [ɔ] 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 ম [mɔ]. 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 মই [moj] "ladder" and in ইলিশ [iliɕ] "Hilsa fish", the independent form of the vowel ই is used (cf. the dependent formি). A vowel at the beginning of a word is always realized 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 nasalization of vowels (as in চাঁদ [tɕãd] "moon"), the postposed ônusbar (ং) indicating the velar nasal [ŋ] (as in বাংলা [baŋla] "Bengali") and the postposed bisôrgô (ঃ) indicating the voiceless glottal fricative [h] (as in উঃ! [uh] "ouch!") or the gemination of the following consonant (as in দুঃখ [dukʰːɔ] "sorrow"). The Bengali consonant clusters
Bengali consonant clusters
(যুক্তব্যঞ্জন juktôbênjôn) are usually realized 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 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
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 recognize 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.[53] 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 মাত্রা matra. The presence and absence of this matra can be important. For example, the letter ত tô and the numeral ৩ "3" are distinguishable only by the presence or absence of the matra, as is the case between the consonant cluster ত্র trô and the independent vowel এ 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[edit] The Bengali script
Bengali script
in general has a comparatively 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,[53] and thus does not take into account some sound mergers that have occurred in the spoken language. For example, there are three letters (শ, ষ, and স) for the voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant [ɕɔ], although the letter স retains the voiceless alveolar sibilant [sɔ] sound when used in certain consonant conjuncts as in স্খলন [skʰɔlɔn] "fall", স্পন্দন [spɔndɔn] "beat", etc. The letter ষ also retains the voiceless retroflex sibilant [ʂɔ] sound when used in certain consonant conjuncts as in কষ্ট [kɔʂʈɔ] "suffering", গোষ্ঠী [ɡoʂʈʰi] "clan", etc. Similarly, there are two letters (জ and য) for the voiced alveolo-palatal affricate [dʑɔ]. Moreover, what was once pronounced and written as a retroflex nasal ণ [ɳɔ] is now pronounced as an alveolar [nɔ] when in conversation (the difference is seen heard when reading) (unless conjoined with another retroflex consonant such as ট, ঠ, ড and ঢ), although the spelling does not reflect this change. The near-open front unrounded vowel [æ] is orthographically realized by multiple means, as seen in the following examples: এত [æt̪ɔ] "so much", এ্যাকাডেমী [ækademi] "academy", অ্যামিবা [æmiba] "amoeba", দেখা [d̪ækʰa] "to see", ব্যস্ত [bæst̪ɔ] "busy", ব্যাকরণ [bækɔrɔn] "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 [ɔ] or [o] depending on vowel harmony (স্বরসঙ্গতি) 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 কম [kɔm] "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 ক্ [k] and ষ [ʂɔ] is graphically realized as ক্ষ and is pronounced [kkʰɔ] (as in রুক্ষ [rukkʰɔ] "rugged") or [kkʰo] (as in ক্ষতি [kkʰot̪i] "loss") or even [kkʰɔ] (as in ক্ষমতা [kkʰɔmɔt̪a] "power"), depending on the position of the cluster in a word. The Bengali writing system is, therefore, not always a true guide to pronunciation. Uses[edit] The script used for Bengali, Assamese and other languages is known as Bengali-Assamese or Eastern Nagari script. The script is known as the Bengali alphabet
Bengali alphabet
for Bengali and its dialects and the Assamese alphabet for Assamese language
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
Bengali alphabet
for centuries, though the Meitei script
Meitei script
has been promoted in recent times. Romanisation[edit] Main article: Romanisation of Bengali There are various ways of Romanisation systems of Bengali created in recent years which have failed to represent the true Bengali phonetic sound. The Bengali alphabet
Bengali alphabet
has often been included with the group of Brahmic scripts
Brahmic scripts
for romanisation where the true phonetic value of Bengali is never represented. Some of them are the International Alphabet of Sanskrit
or IAST system (based on diacritics),[70] "Indian languages Transliteration" or ITRANS (uses upper case alphabets suited for ASCII
keyboards),[71] and the National Library at Kolkata
romanization.[72] In the context of Bengali romanisation, it is important to distinguish transliteration from 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 using a phonemic transcription, where the true phonetic pronunciation of Bengali is represented with no reference to how it is written. Grammar[edit] Main article: Bengali grammar Bengali nouns are not assigned gender, which leads to minimal changing of adjectives (inflection). However, nouns and pronouns are moderately declined (altered depending on their function in a sentence) into four cases while verbs are heavily conjugated, and the verbs do not change form depending on the gender of the nouns. Word order[edit] As a head-final language, Bengali follows subject–object–verb word order, although variations to this theme are common.[73] Bengali makes use of postpositions, as opposed to the prepositions used in English and other European languages. Determiners follow the noun, while numerals, adjectives, and possessors precede the noun.[74] Yes-no questions do not require any change to the basic word order; instead, the low (L) tone of the final syllable in the utterance is replaced with a falling (HL) tone. Additionally, optional particles (e.g. কি -ki, না -na, etc.) are often encliticized onto the first or last word of a yes-no question. Wh-questions are formed by fronting the wh-word to focus position, which is typically the first or second word in the utterance. Nouns[edit] Nouns and pronouns are inflected for case, including nominative, objective, genitive (possessive), and locative.[27] The case marking pattern for each noun being inflected depends on the noun's degree of animacy. When a definite article such as -টা -ṭa (singular) or -গুলা -gula (plural) is added, as in the tables below, nouns are also inflected for number.

Singular noun inflection

Animate Inanimate

Nominative ছাত্রটি chatrô-ṭa the student জুতাটা juta-ṭa the shoe

Objective ছাত্রটিকে chatrô-ṭa-ke the student জুতাটা juta-ṭa the shoe

Genitive ছাত্রটির chatrô-ṭa-r the student's জুতাটার juta-ṭa-r the shoe's

Locative – জুতাটায় juta-ṭa-y on/in the shoe

Plural noun inflection

Animate Inanimate

Nominative ছাত্ররা/ছাত্রগণ chatrô-ra the students জুতাগুলা/জুতোগুলো juta-gula/juto-gulo the shoes

Objective ছাত্রদের(কে) chatrô-der(ke) the students জুতাগুলা/জুতোগুলো juta-gula/juto-gulo the shoes

Genitive ছাত্রদের chatrô-der the students' জুতাগুলা/জুতোগুলোর juta-gula/juto-gulo-r the shoes'

Locative – জুতাগুলা/জুতোগুলোতে juta-gula/juto-gulo-te on/in the shoes

When counted, nouns take one of a small set of measure words. Similar to Japanese, the nouns in Bengali cannot be counted by adding the numeral directly adjacent to the noun. The noun's measure word (MW) must be used between the numeral and the noun. Most nouns take the generic measure word -টা -ṭa, though other measure words indicate semantic classes (e.g. -জন -jôn for humans). There is also the classifier -khana, and its diminutive form -khani, which only attach to nouns which are flat, long, square, or thin. These are the least common of the classifiers. [75]

Measure words

Bengali Bengali transliteration Literal translation English translation

নয়টা গরু Nôy-ṭa goru Nine-MW cow Nine cows

কয়টা বালিশ Kôy-ṭa balish How many-MW pillow How many pillows

অনেকজন লোক Ônek-jôn lok Many-MW person Many people

চার-পাঁচজন শিক্ষক Car-pãc-jôn shikkhôk Four-five-MW teacher Four or five teachers

Measuring nouns in Bengali without their corresponding measure words (e.g. আট বিড়াল aṭ biṛal instead of আটটা বিড়াল 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. শুধু একজন থাকবে। 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 -জন -jôn. In this sense, all nouns in Bengali, unlike most other Indo-European languages, are similar to mass nouns. Verbs[edit] There are two classes of verbs: finite and non-finite. Non-finite verbs have no inflection for tense or person, while finite verbs are fully inflected for person (first, second, third), tense (present, past, future), aspect (simple, perfect, progressive), and honor (intimate, familiar, and formal), but not for number. Conditional, imperative, and other special inflections for 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 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 or connective be is often missing in the present tense.[53] Thus, "he is a teacher" is সে শিক্ষক se shikkhôk, (literally "he teacher").[76] In this respect, Bengali is similar to Russian and Hungarian. Romani grammar is also the closest to Bengali grammar.[77] Vocabulary[edit]

Sources of modern literary Bengali words   67% native   25% Sanskrit
reborrowings   8% indigenous and foreign loans

Main article: Bengali 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 and other foreign languages. However, these figures do not take into account the large proportion of archaic or highly technical words, rarely used. Furthermore, different dialects use more Persian and Arabic
vocabulary especially in different areas of Bangladesh
and Muslim majority areas of West Bengal
also Hindus use more Sanskrit
vocabulary than Muslims and while standard Bengali is based on the Nadia dialect of spoken in the Hindu majority states of West Bengal, about 90% of Bengalis
in Bangladesh
( approx 148 million Muslim) and 27% of Bengalis
in West Bengal
West Bengal
and 10% in Assam
(Together 36 million Muslims) are Muslim and speak a more persio-arabised version of Bengali instead of the more Sanskrit influenced Standard Nadia dialect. The productive vocabulary used in modern literary works, in fact, is made up mostly (67%) of tadbhavas, while tatsamas comprise only 25% of the total.[78][79] Loanwords from non-Indic languages comprise the remaining 8% of the vocabulary used in modern Bengali literature. Because of centuries of contact with Europeans, Turkic peoples, and Persians, the Bengali language
Bengali language
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,[80][81][82][83] and later the Mughal invasion whose court language was Persian, numerous Chagatai, Arabic, and Persian words were absorbed into the lexicon.[37] Later, East Asian travelers and lately European colonialism brought words from Portuguese, French, Dutch, and most significantly English during the colonial period. Sample text[edit] The following is a sample text in Bengali of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Bengali in the Bengali alphabet

ধারা ১: সমস্ত মানুষ স্বাধীনভাবে সমান মর্যাদা এবং অধিকার নিয়ে জন্মগ্রহণ করে। তাঁদের বিবেক এবং বুদ্ধি আছে; সুতরাং সকলেরই একে অপরের প্রতি ভ্রাতৃত্বসুলভ মনোভাব নিয়ে আচরণ করা উচিত।

Bengali in 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

d̪ʱara æk ʃɔmɔst̪ɔ manuʃ ʃad̪ʱinbʱabe ʃɔman mɔrdʒad̪a ebɔŋ ɔd̪ʱikar nie̯e dʒɔnmɔɡrɔhɔn kɔre t̪ãd̪er bibek ebɔŋ budd̪ʱːi atʃʰe sut̪ɔraŋ sɔkɔleri æke ɔpɔrer prɔt̪i bʱrat̪rit̪ːɔsulɔbʱ mɔnobʱab nie̯e atʃɔrɔn kɔra utʃit̪


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.


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[edit]

Bengali portal


Book: Bengali

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


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Studies, Calcutta.  Shah, Natubhai (1998). Jainism: The World of Conquerors. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 1-898723-31-1.  Tagore, Rabindranath; Das, Sisir Kumar (1996). The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-0094-5.  Wilson, A. J.; Dalton, D. (1982). The States of South Asia: Problems of National Integration. Essays in Honour of W. H. Morris-Jones. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1183-6.  Bonazzi, E (2008). Grammatica Bengali. Bologna: Libreria Bonomo Editrice. ISBN 978-88-6071-017-8.  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[edit]

Thompson, Hanne-Ruth (2012). Bengali. Volume 18 of London
Oriental and African Language Library. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 9027273138. Dasgupta, Probal (2003). Bangla. In George Cardona and Dhanesh Jain, (eds) The Indo-Aryan languages. London/New York: Routledge, 351-390.

External links[edit]

Bangla edition of, the free encyclopedia

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Definitions from Wiktionary Media from Wikimedia Commons Texts from Wikisource Textbooks from Wikibooks Travel guide from Wikivoyage Learning resources from Wikiversity Data from Wikidata

Bengali language
Bengali language
at Curlie (based on DMOZ) Bangla Academy The South Asian Literary Recordings Project, The Library of Congress. Bengali Authors.

v t e

Bengali language
Bengali language

Written Bengali

Alphabet (Grammar Consonant
clusters Romanization) Numerals Braille

Spoken Bengali

Phonology Vocabulary tôtsômô Dialects

Language Institutions

Bangla Academy PôshchimBônggô Bangla Akademi Bônggiyô Sahityô Pôrishôd Bishwô Sahityô Kendrô Pôshchim Bônggô Natyô Akademi


Folk literature Authors Poets

Literary Awards

Bangla Academy
Bangla Academy
Literary Award Ekushey Padak Rabindra Puraskar Sahitya Akademi Award Bankim Puraskar Ananda Purashkar


Rammohan Roy Kazi Nazrul Islam Rabindranath Tagore Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Nathaniel Brassey Halhed John Beames Suniti Kumar Chatterjee Sukumar Sen Asit Kumar Banerjee


Ekushey Book
Fair Kolkata


Cinema of Bangladesh Cinema of West Bengal


Bengali Language Movement
Bengali Language Movement
(Bangladesh) Language Movement Day
Language Movement Day
(Bangladesh) Shoheed Minar International Mother Language Day Bengali Language Movement
Bengali Language Movement
in Assam Bengali Language Movement
Bengali Language Movement
(Manbhum) Bengali Input methods in Computers States of India
by Bengali speakers

v t e

Languages of Bangladesh

Official language


Semiofficial language



Assamese Bengali Bihari Bishnupriya Chakma Chittagonian Rangpuri Rohingya Sadri Sylheti Hajong


Shö A'Tong Bawm Sak Kukish Falam Garo Haka Khumi Koch Kokborok Megam Meitei (Manipuri) Mizo Mru Pangkhu Rakhine Marma Riang Tanchangya Tippera Usoi


Khasi Koda Mundari Pnar Santali War-Jaintia


Kurukh Sauria Paharia

v t e

Languages of India

Official languages


Hindi English

8th schedule to the Constitution of India

Assamese Bengali Bodo Dogri Gujarati Hindi Kannada Kashmiri Konkani Maithili Malayalam Meitei (Manipuri) Marathi Nepali Odia Punjabi Sanskrit Sindhi Santali Tamil Telugu Urdu

State-level only

Garo Gurung Khasi Kokborok Lepcha Limbu Mangar Mizo Newari Rai Sherpa Sikkimese Sunwar Tamang

Major unofficial languages

Over 1 million speakers

Angika Awadhi Bagheli Bagri Bajjika Bhili Bhojpuri Bundeli Chhattisgarhi Dhundhari Garhwali Gondi Harauti Haryanvi Ho Kangri Khandeshi Khortha Kumaoni Kurukh Lambadi Magahi Malvi Marwari Mewari Mundari Nimadi Rajasthani Sadri Surjapuri Tulu Wagdi Varhadi

100,000 – 1 million speakers

Adi Angami Ao Dimasa Halbi Karbi Kharia Kodava Kolami Konyak Korku Koya Kui Kuvi Ladakhi Lotha Malto Mishing Nishi Phom Rabha Sema Sora Tangkhul Thadou

v t e

Modern Indo-Aryan languages


Dameli Domaaki Gawar-Bati Indus Kohistani Kalami Kalash Kashmiri Khowar Kundal Shahi Mankiyali Nangalami Palula Pashayi Sawi Shina Shumashti Torwali Ushoji



Doteli Jumli Nepali Palpa


Garhwali Kumaoni


Dogri Kangri Mandeali

North- western





Hindko Khetrani Pahari-Pothwari Saraiki


Jadgali Kutchi Luwati Memoni Sindhi



Aer Gujarati Jandavra Koli Lisan ud-Dawat Parkari Koli Saurashtra Vaghri


Bhili Gamit Kalto Vasavi


Bagri Goaria Gujari Jaipuri Malvi Marwari Mewari Dhatki


Domari Khandeshi Romani

list of languages



Braj Bhasha Bundeli Haryanvi Hindustani


Bombay Hindi


Dakhini Hyderabadi Urdu Rekhta

Khariboli Kannauji Sansi Sadhukadi


Awadhi Bagheli Chhattisgarhi Fiji Hindi


Danwar Parya



Angika Bhojpuri Caribbean Hindustani Vajjika Magahi Maithili Majhi Sadri

Bengali– Assamese

Assamese Bengali


Bishnupriya Manipuri Chakma Chittagonian Goalpariya Hajong Kamrupi Kharia Thar Kurmukar Rangpuri Rohingya Sylheti Tanchangya


Odia Kosli Bodo Parja Kupia Reli


Halbi Bhatri Kamar Mirgan Nahari


Mal Paharia



Konkani Kukna Marathi others..


Maldivian Sinhalese


Chinali Sheikhgal

Pidgins/ creoles

Andaman Creole Hindi Haflong Hindi Nagamese Nefamese Vedda

See also: Old and Middle Indo-Aryan; Indo-Iranian languages; Nuristani languages; Iranian languages

Authority control