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
- 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
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
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
More consonant-vowel combinations
A selection of conjunct consonants
All conjunct consonants
Download a spreadsheet with these charts (Excel format, 80K)
Sample text in Bengali
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
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
Information about Bengali
Online Bengali lessons
Numbers in Bengali
Ekushey - an add-on for MS Word which enables you to type in Bengali or Assamese
Online Bengali Dictionaries
Free bengali fonts
Online radio in Bengali
Online Bengali news
Bengali and Sylheti Language Services
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:
Languages written with the Bengali alphabet
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.
Mongolian Horizontal Square Script,
New Tai Lue,