Bengali (বাংলা)

Bengali is an eastern Indo-Aryan language with around 265 million speakers, mainly in Bangladesh and northern Indian. In 2017 there were about 159 million Bengali speakers in Bangladesh, and in 2011 there were about 104 million speakers of Bengali in India, particularly in the states of Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Tripura and West Bengal, and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are also Bengali speakers in the UAE (337,000), Pakistan (290,000), Myanmar (286,000), the USA (258,000), UK (221,000), and a number of other countries.

Bengali at a glance

  • Native name: বাংলা (Bangla) [ˈbaŋla]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern Zone (Magadhan), Bengali–Assamese
  • Number of speakers: c. 300 million
  • Spoken in: Bangladesh, India, UAE, Pakistan, Myanmar USA, UK, Oman, and various other countries
  • First written: 11th century
  • Writing system: Brahmi and Bengali alphabets
  • Status: official language in Bengali, and one of the official languages of India

Official status

Bengali is the sole official language of Bangladesh, and is used in all courts, government offices and other institutions. It is also the de-facto national language.

Bengali is the official language of the India states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam, and the second official language of Jharkhand state. It is recognized as a secondary language in Karachi in Pakistan.

There are some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary between the Bengali of Bangladesh and the Bengali spoken in India.

Written Bengali

The Bengali alphabet (বাংলা লিপি - Bangla lipi) 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 Shadhubhôsha (সাধুভাষা - "elegant language") and the other Chôlitôbhasha (চলিতভাষা "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

Bengali alphabet (বাংলা বর্ণমালা bangla bôrnômala)

Vowels (স্বরবর্ণ) and diacritics

Bengali vowels and diacritics

Hear another recording of the Bengali vowels by Abu Saleh Mohammad Sultan

More consonant-vowel combinations

How to write Bengali vowels:

Consonants (ব্যঞ্জনবর্ণ)

Bengali consonants

Hear another recording of the Bengali consonants by Abu Saleh Mohammad Sultan

How to write Bengali consonants:

A selection of conjunct consonants

A selection of Bengali conjunct consonants

All conjunct consonants


Bengali numerals

Hear another recording of the Bengali numerals by Abu Saleh Mohammad Sultan

Download a spreadsheet with these charts (Excel)

Sample text in Bengali

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


Shômôstô manush shadhinbhabe shôman môrjada ebông ôdhikar niye jônmôgrôhôn kôre. Tãder bibek ebông buddhi achhe; shutôrang shôkôleri êke ôpôrer prôti bhratrittôsulôbh mônobhab niye achôrôn kôra uchit

Transcription (IPA)

ʃɔmost̪o manuʃ ʃad̪ʱinbʱabe ʃɔman mɔɾd͡ʒad̪a eboŋ od̪ʱikaɾ nije d͡ʒɔnmogɾohon kɔɾe. t̪ãd̪eɾ bibek eboŋ bud̪ːʱi at͡ʃʰe, ʃut̪oɾaŋ ʃɔkoleɾi ɛke ɔpoɾeɾ pɾot̪i bʱɾat̪ɾit̪ːoʃulɔbʱ monobʱab nije at͡ʃɔɾon kɔɾa ut͡ʃit̪.

Transliteration and IPA transcription by Abu Saleh Mohammad Sultan

Hear a recording of this text

Hear another recording of this text by Abu Saleh Mohammad Sultan


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)

Sample video in Bengali

Information about Bengali | Phrases | Numbers | Kinship words | Time | Tower of Babel | Learning materials

Learn Bengali with Glossika


Information about Bengali

Online Bengali lessons

Numbers in Bengali

Bengali phrases

Online Bengali Dictionaries

Bengali fonts

Online radio in Bengali,,615,00.html

Online Bengali news

Bengali and Sylheti Language Services

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Indo-Aryan languages

Awadhi, Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Chakma, Dhivehi, Dhundari, Domari, Fiji Hindi, Garhwali, Gujarati, Hajong, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Kotia, Kutchi, Magahi, Maithili, Marathi, Marwari, Modi, Nepali, Odia, Palula, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Rohingya, Romani, Saraiki, Sarnámi Hindustani, Sindhi, Sinhala, Shina, Sourashtra, Sugali, Sylheti, Torwali, Urdu

Languages written with the Eastern Nagari (Bengali) alphabet

Atong, Bengali, Garo, Hajong, Manipuri, Mundari, Sylheti

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Ahom, Badaga, Balinese, Batak, Baybayin (Tagalog), Bengali, Bilang-bilang, Bima, Blackfoot, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Carrier, Chakma, Cham, Cree, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Ditema, Dives Akuru, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fraser, Gondi, Goykanadi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanifi, Hanuno'o, Inuktitut, Javanese, Jenticha, Kaithi, Kadamba, Kannada, Kawi, Kerinci, Kharosthi, Khmer, Khojki, Kulitan, Lampung, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Lota Ende, Malayalam, Manpuri, Meroïtic, Modi, Mon, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Nandinagari, Newa, Ojibwe, Odia, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Ranjana, Redjang, Sasak, Satera Jontal, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Thaana, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari (Tulu), Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Varang Kshiti

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