Languages of Bangladesh

The vast majority of the people of Bangladesh speak Bangla (Bengali). Bangla is an Indo-Aryan language and evolved from Sanskrit. English is also used as a second language among the middle and upper classes and is also widely used in higher education and the legal system.

Bangla – Bengali

Bengali Script

The vast majority of the people of Bangladesh speak Bangla (Bengali). Bangla is an Indo-Aryan language and evolved from Sanskrit. English is also used as a second language among the middle and upper classes and is also widely used in higher education and the legal system.

The language plays an extremely important role in the hearts and minds of Bangladeshis. The Independence struggle and the subsequent liberation from Pakistani domination draw inspiration from the struggle by Bengalis to prevent Urdu being declared the state language of Pakistan. The struggle for Bangla gave impetus to the nascent Bangla nationalism which saw fruition in the advent of Bangladesh as a free nation after a nine month long War of Independence.

On-line Bangla Tutorial

You can check out a Bangla tutorial which includes a transliteration schema, an on line English – Bangla dictionary as well as sample phrases with sounds.

The Languages of Bangladesh

More on the languages of Bangladesh from Wikipedia.

The Evolution of Bangla

Bangla belongs to the easternmost branch, called Aryan or Indo-Iranian, of the Indo-European family of languages. Its direct ancestor is a form of Prakrit or Middle Indo-Aryan which descended from Sanskrit or Old Indo-Aryan. Sanskrit was the spoken as well as the literary language of Aryandom until circa 500 B.C., after which it remained for nearly two thousand years the dominant literary languages as well as the lingua franca among the cultured and the erudite throughout the subcontinent.

Like Sanskrit, Apabhramsa-Avahattha was a literary language, and in the available records it shows remarkably little local variation; practically the same form of the language appears in the poems written in Gujrat and in Bengal. But the spoken language conditioned by the regional linguistic and ethnic environments took up the different regional New Indo-Aryan languages. The emergence of these New Indo-Aryan speeches was not all synchronized. But some of them, including Bangla, certainly originated by the middle of the tenth century at the latest.

For old Bangla the only records are mystic carya songs discovered in a MS from Nepal by Haraprasad Shastri.The language of the carya songs is basically vernacular, but at the same time it is also something of a literary language.

Bangla at the present day 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 Bangla of the sixteenth century. The later is practically a creation of the present century, and is based on the cultivated form of the dialect spoken in Calcutta by the educated people originally coming from districts bordering on the lower reaches of the Hoogly. The difference between the two literary styles is not very sharp. The vocabulary is practically the same. The difference lies mainly in the forms of the pronoun and the verb. The Sadhubhasa has the old and heavier forms while the Chalitbhasa uses the modern and lighter forms. The former shows a partiality for lexical words and for compound words of the Sanskrit type, and the latter prefers colloquial words, phrases and idioms. The Chalitbhasa was first seriously taken up by Pramatha Chaudhuri at the instance of Rabindranath Tagore during the early years of the first World War. Soon after Tagore practically discarded Sadhubhasa, and Chalitbhasa is now generally favored by writers who have no particular fascination for the traditional literary style. The Sadhubhasa is always easy to write but it is somewhat faded in signification and jaded in rhythm.

The Bangla script, like all other Indian scripts, originated from Brahmi alphabet of the Asokan inscriptions.The Bangla alphabet in its present printed form took shape in 1778 when printing types were first cast by Charles Wilkins. There still remained a few archaic forms and these were finally replaced in the middle of the nineteenth century.

The Bangla Script

The bengali script is a cursive script with 12 vowels and 52 consonants. A sample of Bangla script is shown below.

Ami tomakey bhalobashey That says I love you in Bangla. Ami tomakey bhalobashey.