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Bengali Script

 

Bengali Script

[NOTE : Download & install Bengali fonts to be able to read the following article properly]

Click here to view the evolving Bengali script at different stages of history.

 

The Bengali  script  is an Abugida system of  writing belonging to the Brahmic family of scripts. Bangla Script grew out of Kutila, which was a reformed version of Brahmi. Although the Brahmi script is believed to have evolved in the ancient past, its earliest specimens are two inscriptions, dating from the 5th century BC, discovered at Pipraba and Bali. From 350-100 BC the Brahmi script, now known as Ashoka or Maurya script, underwent certain transformations. Asoka script or Maurya script can be divided into two stages: ancient and modern. Ancient Maurya script had two forms: uttari and daksini. Modern script evolved through seven stages. The second stage in the evolution of the Brahmi script is into the Kushan script, named after the Kushan royal dynasty and in use upto 100-300 AD. The third stage of its evolution was into the Gupta script, named after the Gupta royal dynasty, and current between the 4th and 5th centuries AD. During this period, some letters of the Gupta script took the shape of modern Bangla letters. For instance, in Maharaja Jayanatha's grant, B and M are similar to the Bangla letters today.

 


The next stage in the evolution of the Brahmi script was into the Kutila script, current between the 6th to 9th centuries. The name perhaps comes from the fact that Kutila letters and vowel symbols are rather complex (Kutila, meaning complicated). Almost all modern scripts of Indic languages have grown out of the two main forms of the Kutila script. Devanagari evolved from the west regional form of north-Indian Kutila, while Bangla evolved from its eastern or Magadha form. The transformation of eastern Kutila script began in the 6th century AD. Some time during the reign of the Gurjara kings, most possibly during the reign of Mahendrapala I, son of Bhoja, Kutila script entered Bengal. The copperplate inscriptions of his son Vinayakapala, dating from the 10th century AD, are in the Kutila script. Kutila script evolved further, finally developing into the basic Bangla script towards the end of the 10th century AD. Specimens of this writing are to be found in the Bangad grant of King Mahipala I (980-1036) and the Irdar grant of King Nayapaladeva (1036-1053). The Bangad grant shows the following fully developed modern Bangla letters:
অ৴ উ৴ ক৴ খ৴ গ৴ চ৴ ঢ৴ ব৴ হ৴ ও,  and .

 

 

Click here to view the evolving Bengali script at different stages of history.

While it looks similar to Devanagari, it is less blocky and presents a more sinuous  shaping. The modern script was formalized in 1778 when it was first typeset.

Clusters of consonants are represented by different and sometimes quite irregular characters; thus, learning to read the script is complicated by the sheer size of the full set of characters and character combinations, numbering about 500.  

 

The script presently has a total of 11 vowel letters, used to represent the seven main vowel sounds of Bengali, along with a number of vowel diphthongs.  Some of the vowel letters have different sounds depending on the word, and a number of vowel distinctions preserved in the writing system are not pronounced as such in modern spoken Bengali . For example, the Bengali script has two symbols for the vowel sound "i" and two symbols for the vowel sound "u". This redundancy stems from the time when this script was used to write Sanskrit, a language that had a short "i" and a long "i", and a short "u" and a long "u". These letters are preserved in the Bengali script with their traditional names of hrôshsho i (lit. 'short i') and dirgho i (lit. 'long i'), etc., despite the fact that they are no longer pronounced differently in ordinary speech.

 

Vowel signs can be used in conjunction with consonants to modify the pronunciation of the consonant (here exemplified by , kô). When no vowel is written, the vowel '' (ô or o) is often assumed. To specifically denote the absence of a vowel, a hôshonto (্) may be written underneath the consonant.

 

 

Vowels

 

Letter|

Vowel sign with [kɔ] (ক)|

Transliteration|

Crudely corresp in pronc to Eng

(none)

kô and ko

'a' as in Ball

কা

ka

'u' as in But

কি

ki

'ea' as in Tea

কী

ki

'ee' as in See

কু

ku

'oo' as in Bool

কূ

ku

'oo' as in Cool

কৃ

kri

'ry' as in Crystal

কে

kê and ke

'e' as in Pet or a in Cat

কৈ

koi

oi

কো

ko

'o' as in Coca Cola

কৌ

kou

ou

 

 

Modifiers 

 

Symbol

Symbol with [kɔ] ()

Name

Function

্‌

ক্

hôshonto

Suppresses the inherent vowel

কত্‍

khônđo tô

Final unaspirated dental-T (ত)

কং

ônushshôr

Final velar nasal

কঃ

bishôrgo

Adds voiceless breath after vowel

কঁ

chôndrobindu

Nasalises vowel

 

 

Consonants 

 

Letter|

Name of Letter|

Represents the sounds of (nearly)

 

k

 

khô

kh

 

g

 

ghô

gh

 

ungô, umô

ņ

 

chô

ch

 

chhô

chh

 

borgio jô
(burgijjô)

j

 

jhô

jh

 

ingô, niô

n (somewhat nasalized)

 

ţô

ţ ('t' as in Eng 'Toy')

 

ţthô

ţth (no equiv in Eng script)

 

đô

đ

 

đhô

đh

 

murdhonno nô
(moddhennô)

n

 

t (dental-T; no equiv in Eng script)

 

thô

th

 

d ('th' as in Eng 'The')

 

dhô

dh

 

donto nô
(dontennô)

n

 

p

 

phô

ph

 

b

 

bhô

bh

 

m

 

ôntostho jô
(ontostejô)

j

 

bôe shunno rô

r

 

l

 

talobbo shô
(taleboshshô)

sh

 

murdhonno shô

sh

 

donto shô
(donteshshô)

sh and s

 

h

 

য়

ôntostho ô
(ontosteô)

y

 

ড়

đôe shunno ŗô

ŗ (no Eng equiv sound)

 

ঢ়

đhôe shunno ŗô

ŗh (no Eng equiv sound)

 

 

 

Digits

 

Arabic numerals

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Bangla numerals

Bangla names

shunno

êk

dui

tin

char

pañch

chhôe

shat

nôe

শুন্য

 এক

 দুই

 তিন

 চার

 পাঁচ

 ছয়

 সাত

 আট

 নয়

 

 

A selection of conjunct consonants

 

 

 

Modifier symbols

 

 5 / 5

 

 

 



 

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