World Languages: Bengali

Number 7: Bengali

Can you guess the seventh most spoken language in the world? You guessed it! This week we are covering Bengali ¬¬– a language native to Bangladesh. Almost 180 million people speak this language across Bangladesh, where it is the official language, as well as India. Bengali accounts for roughly 3 per cent of the world’s language population.

The Bengali language derives from the Brahmi alphabet. The language first appeared in its current written form in the late 1700s and has been changed little since then. There are thirty-five consonant letters and eleven independent vowel letters. Bengali is written from left to write, following a segmental writing system known as an abugida.

Bengali has two styles of writing – Sadhubhasa, which is considered an elegant language, and Chaltibhasa which is the current language spoken. The main difference between these two styles of writing is the verb conjugation format. Most Bengali writings follow the subject-object-verb word order.

Bengali is part of the Indo-European language family and shares similarities with Punjabi and Hindu. It is directly related to the Sanskrit and Prakrit languages. There are a variety of dialects across Bangladesh, but the most commonly accepted dialect is the West-Central dialect.

Bengali is considered to be one of the more difficult languages to learn, but of course this varies based on the learner.

Come back next week as we cover the sixth most spoken language in the world!


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