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An Introduction to Bangla: 3 simple steps to get started

 

Considered by many scholars a language as romantic and subtle as French, Bangla is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language that found roots in the Indo-European language family way back in the 500 BC. According to some, the language saw the daylights in the South Asian regions as the truest successor of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, inheriting bits and pieces (well, chunks, if you demand) from all the three since 1000 CE, though counter opinions are galore. The contradictions state that Bangla took form as a separate language in 1000 AD; however, a deeper study would reveal the stages in between – it was the adulterated Magadhi Prakrit (apabhrangsha and abahattha) that formed the foundation of the archaic Bangla along with Oriya and Assamese, among which, there used to exist a negligible amount of linguistic difference till Medieval Bengali originated in 1400 AD and started ruling supreme.

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Modern Bengali i.e. the Bangla people speak nowadays is a much recent phenomenon that is existent since 1800 AD.

  

  Getting down to the further nitty-gritty, Bangla can be further sub-divided into two separate forms; while one follows a rigid syntax without flinching a single bit, the other exhibits a form that’s much easier to understand and hence has been adopted to fit the bill for a colloquial language. The latter; however, follows the basic syntax and has incorporated a lot from other languages as well, taking in a considerable number of words from Arabic, Persian, Portuguese and English. Shadhubhasha and Cholitobhasha, as they are commonly termed as respectively, there is also a third face to the language that has given rise to the different dialects; Ancholik or regional Bangla, while comprising the standard Bangla pronunciation, made its way to the modern Bangla writing system, drawing mostly from Shantipur (Nadia district), West Bengal and most of the districts bordering the lower reaches of the River Hooghly.

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Till now we spoke about the origin and the categories; coming down to the written part of the language shall show us the Bangla alphabet to have evolved from the Kutila lipi, a derivative of the ancient Indian Brahmi script. Evident from the works of Nathaniel Brassey Halhed (A Grammar of Bengal Language, a refined and standardized list of Bangla letters) and Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar’s Barnaparichay (an introduction to letters), it was also the increasing use of Bangla type in the printing presses that helped in the stabilization of the shape of the letters, though the base depended on the scheme of the Sanskrit alphabet.   Consisting of 12 vowels and 30 consonants in total, examples are aplenty that Bangla also made use of the Perso-Arabic and Sylheti Nagri scripts and till today, it uses the punctuation marks of the European heritage. But everything apart, it’s the peculiarities and distinctions between the consonants that make Bangla a language of a most trenchant type; as we proceed, we shall be clearly noting the aspirations bringing forth significant fluctuations in the way Bangla words are pronounced now and were in the days of yore.

 

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