Bengali alphabet   বাংলা Bangla (Bengali)

Origin

The Bengali alphabet is derived from the Brahmi alphabet. It is also closely related to the Devanagari alphabet, from which it started to diverge in the 11th Century AD. The current printed form of Bengali alphabet first appeared in 1778 when Charles Wilkins developed printing in Bengali. A few archaic letters were modernised during the 19th century.

Bengali has two literary styles: one is called Sadhubhasa (elegant language) and the other Chaltibhasa (current language). The former is the traditional literary style based on Middle Bengali of the sixteenth century, while the later is a 20th century creation and is based on the speech of educated people in Calcutta. The differences between the two styles are not huge and involve mainly forms of pronouns and verb conjugations.

Some people prefer to call this alphabet the Eastern Nagari script or Eastern Neo-Brahmic script

Notable features

  • The Bengali alphabet is a syllabic alphabet in which consonants all have an inherent vowel which has two different pronunciations, the choice of which is not always easy to determine and which is sometimes not pronounced at all.
  • Vowels can be written as independent letters, or by using a variety of diacritical marks which are written above, below, before or after the consonant they belong to.
  • When consonants occur together in clusters, special conjunct letters are used. The letters for the consonants other than the final one in the group are reduced. The inherent vowel only applies to the final consonant.

Used to write:

Bengali (বাংলা), an eastern Indo-Aryan language with around 211 million speakers in Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal and also in Malawi, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia, the UAE, UK and USA.

Assamese, an eastern Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 15 million people in the Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, and also spoken in Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Manipuri, one of the official languages of the Indian state of Manipur in north-east India and has about 1.1 million speakers. It is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family, and also has its own alphabet

Garo, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by about 800,000 people in the Indian states of Meghalaya and Assam, and also in Bangladesh.

Mundari, a Munda language with about two million speakers in eastern India, mainly in the Indian state of Bihar, also in Bangladesh and Nepal. It has been written with the Devanagari, Bengali, Oriya and Latin alphabets.

Vowels and vowel diacritics

Bengali vowels

More consonant-vowel combinations

Consonants

Bengali consonants

A selection of conjunct consonants

A selection of Bengali conjunct consonants

All conjunct consonants

Modifier symbols

Additional Bengali symbols

Numerals

Bengali numerals

Download a spreadsheet with these charts (Excel format, 80K)

Sample text in Bengali

Sample text in Bengali (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Transliteration (by Arif Ahmed)

Shomosto manush shadhinbhabe shoman morjada ebong odhikar niye jonmogrohon kore. Tader bibek ebong buddhi achhe; shutorang shokoleri ekey oporer proti bhratrittoshulobh monobhab niye achoron kora uchit.

Listen to a recording of this text

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Bengali | Bengali phrases | Bengali numbers | Bengali kinship words | Tower of Babel in Bengali | Bengali learning materials

Links

Information about Bengali
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengali_language
http://www.betelco.com/bd/bangla/bangla.html
http://www.viswayan.com/

Online Bengali lessons
http://www.bangla-online.info
http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/bengali_index.html
http://www.jaspell.co.uk/learnbengali.htm
http://mylanguages.org/learn_bengali.php
http://www.bangla-online.info
http://www.bangalinet.com/learn_bangla.htm

Numbers in Bengali
http://mylanguages.org/bengali_numbers.php
http://www.connect-bangladesh.org/bangla/Numbers.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iQtAKx8K40

Bengali phrases
http://www.bengali-dictionary.com
http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/bd_phrases.html
http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/language/bangla-phrases.html
http://tinyurl.com/36e49p

Ekushey - an add-on for MS Word which enables you to type in Bengali or Assamese
http://www.altruists.org/projects/ek/

Online Bengali Dictionaries
http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/dictionary.html
http://www.bengali-dictionary.com
http://www.bdword.com/english-to-bengali-dictionary
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/biswas-bengali/
http://ovidhan.org

Free bengali fonts
http://www.ekushey.org/index.php/page/otf_bangla_fonts
http://scriptsource.org/scr/Beng
http://www.omicronlab.com/bangla-fonts.html
http://www.nongnu.org/freebangfont/
http://banglafont.com
http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Bengali.html

Online radio in Bengali
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bengali/
http://www.washingtonbanglaradio.com/
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,615,00.html
http://www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/bengali/top/
http://www.banglaradio.org.au
http://www1.voanews.com/bangla/news/

Online Bengali news
http://www.parabaas.com
http://www.kheyal.com
http://ajantrik.8m.net
http://www.abasar.net
http://www.sulekhapatrika.com

Bengali jokes
http://www.banglajokes.net/

Bengali and Sylheti Language Services
http://www.bengaliandsylheti.com

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform: http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/~jmag0042/alphabet.html

Indo-Aryan languages

Awadhi, Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Chakma, Dhivehi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Kotia, Kutchi, Maithili, Marathi, Marwari, Modi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Romany, Saraiki, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sourashtra, Sugali, Sylheti, Urdu

Languages written with the Bengali alphabet

Bengali, Garo, Manipuri, Mundari, Sylheti

Also used to write: Bishnupriya, Bodo, Chakma, Chiru, Koda, Nisi, Deori, Dimasa, Hajong, Koch, Khasi, Kudmali, Tiwa, Sauria Paharia, Miri, Chothe Naga, Thangal Naga, Moyon Naga, Maring Naga, Rabha, Rangpuri, Santali, Sadri, Oraon Sadri, Sulung, Panchpargania, Tippera, Kok Borok, Toto and Usui.

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Ahom, Badaga, Balinese, Batak, Baybayin (Tagalog), Bengali, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Chakma, Cham, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dives Akuru, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fraser, Gondi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanuno'o, Javanese, Jenticha, Kaithi, Kannada, Kharosthi, Khmer, Khojki, Kulitan, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Malayalam, Manpuri, Modi, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Mro, New Tai Lue, Oriya, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Ranjana, Redjang, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari (Tulu), Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Varang Kshiti