Bengali or Bangla (Bengali: বাংলা, pronounced [ˈbaŋla]) is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. With nearly 230 million total speakers, Bengali is one of the most spoken languages (ranking fifthor sixth) in the world. Bengali is the national and official language of Bangladesh and one of the 23 official languages recognised by the Republic of India. It was made an official language of Sierra Leone in order to honour the Bangladeshi peacekeeping force from the United Nations stationed there.It is also the co-official language of Assam. The national anthems of both India and Bangladesh were written by the Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Although Bengali is an Indo-European language, it has been influenced by other language families prevalent in South Asia, notably the Dravidian, the Austro-Asiatic, and the Tibeto-Burman families, all of which contributed to Bengali vocabulary and provided the language with some structural forms. Slightly more than half of the Bengali vocabulary derived from native words (i.e., naturally modified Sanskrit words, corrupted forms of Sanskrit words, and loanwords from non-Indo-European languages)and about 45 percent from unmodified Sanskrit words, and the remainder to foreign words. 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.
There are two standard styles in Bengali: the Sadhubhasha (elegant or genteel speech) and the Chaltibhasha (current or colloquial speech). The former was largely shaped by the language of early Bengali poetical works. In the 19th century it became standardized as the literary language and also as the appropriate vehicle for business and personal exchanges. Although it was at times used for oration, Sadhubhasa was not the language of daily communication.
The bengali script is a cursive script with 12 vowels and 52 consonants. 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.
Vowels and vowel diacritics
A selection of conjunct consonants
Sample text in Bengali
Shômosto manush shadhinbhabe shôman môrjada ebong odhikar nie jônmogrohon kôre. Tãder bibek ebong buddhi achhe; shutorang shôkoleri êke ôperer proti bhratrittoshulobh mônobhab nie achoron kôra uchit.
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)
The Bangladesh National Anthem
In 1906, poet Rabindranath Tagore composed the song “Amar Shonar Bangla” which literally means “My Bengal of gold”. Soon after the independence was declared in 1971, the government declared the first 10 lines of the song as the national anthem of Bangladesh.
Forever your skies,
Your air set my heart in tune
As if it were a flute.
Phagune tor amer bonay
Ghranay pagol kôre,
Mori haae, haae re,
Ôghraney tor bhôra khetey
Ami ki dekhechhi modhur haashi.
In spring, O mother mine,
The fragrance from your mango groves
Makes me wild with joy,
Ah, what a thrill!
In autumn, O mother mine,
In the full blossomed paddy fields
I have seen spread all over sweet smiles.
Ki shobha, ki chhayaa go,
Ki sneho, ki maya go,
Ki ãchol bichhaayechho
Nodir kuley kuley!
Ah, what a beauty, what shades,
What an affection, and what a tenderness!
What a quilt have you spread
At the feet of banyan trees
And along the banks of rivers!
Ma, tor mukher bani
Amar kane lage,
Mori hae, hae re,
Ma, tor bôdonkhani molin hole,
Ami nôyon jôle bhashi.
O mother mine, words from your lips
Are like nectar to my ears.
Ah, what a thrill!
If sadness, O mother mine,
Casts a gloom on your face,
My eyes are filled with tears!