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 India 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 জ. An improved form of Bangla script is seen in vijayasena's (1098-1160) Deopada inscription. By the end of the 12th century, the script had almost assumed its present form, as may be seen in laksmanasena's Anuliya grant and the Sundarban grant of 1196. The Muslim conquest of Bengal in 1204 AD briefly halted the development of bangla literature and culture, as well as further evolution of the Bangla script. However, under the patronage of the independent sultans, bangla language and literature were revived in the 15th century. Under the influence of Sri chaitanya's vaisnavism, the six Goswamins, 64 Mohantas and many other Vaisnavas wrote innumerable books in sanskrit and Bangla using the Bangla script. In srikrishnakirtan (14th century) and Vodhicharyavatar (15th century), Bangla script had more or less attained its present form. Between the 16th-18th centuries, some Bangla letters underwent a few insignificant changes. In 1778 Charles Wilkins established the first Bangla printing press at Hughli with letters modelled after the handwritten letters used in old Bangla books of verses. The first Bangla book to be printed was nathaniel brassey halhed's A Grammar of the Bengal Language (1778). Letters made by Wilkins were used for the Bangla text in the book. During the 19th century, numerous printing presses were established, leading to a reduction in the production of manuscript books. Printing ended the further evolution of the Bangla script. As long as books were written by hand, there were variations in the shapes of the letters. The introduction of printing put an end to these variations, and Bangla script assumed its present form. Current technology has provided various fonts for Bangla script, but its basic form remains unaltered.The Bangla alphabet consists of both vowels and consonants. There are eleven vowels such as অ, অা, ই and 39 consonants such as ক, খ, গ, ঘ, making a total of 50 letters. The vowels can be pronounced independently, but the consonants need the support of vowels to be pronounced. Unlike English, Bangla vowels are not always written in full, being replaced by their signs. The vowel A is considered to be part of every consonant if there is no other vowel or vowel sign. However, other vowels are necessary, appearing in their complete forms at the beginning of a word and represented by their signs thereafter. For example, অাম (অা + ম)৴, but জাম (জ + া + ম), with the vowel অা being represented by the vowel sign া.
Bangla Language next to Assamese, Bangla (Bangla) is the easternmost of the languages belonging to the Indo-European language family. This new Indo-Aryan (NIA) language is historically related to Irish, English, French, Greek, Russian, persian etc. Bangla is bounded by Oriya, Magadhi and Maithili to the west and Assamese on the east. It is flanked by various Austric languages like Santali, Mundari, Khasi and Sino-Tibetan languages like Kachhari, Boro, Garo, Tripuri etc, each of them encroaching at times on the Bangla-speaking areas. Bangla is the state language of Bangladesh and one of 18 languages listed in the Indian Constitution. It is the administrative language of the Indian states of Tripura and west bengal as well as one of the administrative languages of Kachar district, Assam. Bangla speakers number about 230 million today, making Bangla the seventh language after Chinese, English, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish, arabic and Portuguese. It is perhaps the only language on the basis of which an independent state was created. History Bangla emerged as a new Indo-Aryan language by 900-1000 AD through Magadhi apabhrangsha and abahattha, two stages of Magadhi prakrit (600 BC - 600 AD), along with two other Indo-Aryan languages, Oriya and Assamese. Until the 14th century, there was little linguistic difference between Bangla and Assamese. The evolution of Bangla may be divided into three historical phases: Old Bangla (900/1000-1350), Medieval Bangla (1350-1800) and Modern Bangla (1800- ). The earliest example of old Bangla is to be found in the poems of the charyapada, though the language of these poems is also related to eastern Magadhi languages. srikrishnakirtan or Srikrishnasandarbha of baru chandidas is an example of the early form of medieval Bangla. Other writings in medieval Bangla are the translations of the ramayana and the mahabharata, Vaishnava lyrics, poetical biographies of Sri chaitanya, various forms of the mangalkavya, narrative poetry written at the court of Arakan and Rosang, Shakta Poetry and purbabanga-gitika. An influx of Perso-Arabic words into the language took place at this point of evolution. Bangla also borrowed from sanskrit, the words known as tatsama and tadbhava, English and other languages in the modern Bangla phase. The linguistic features of these three phases of the language can be classified as follows: Old Bangla- phonological: 1. geminate clusters born out of conjunct consonants were simplified into single consonants and the preceding vowel grew longer as a result of compensatory lengthening; 2. the word-final a (অ) remained in place and the word-final ia (ইঅ) turned into long i (ঈ). Morphological: 1. feminine gender continued to be used with genitive inflections and past verbal inflections ending in l (ল); 2. inflections as used in modern Bangla started surfacing at this stage; but verbal inflexions ending in -ila (-ইল) and -iba (-ইব) began to be used with the subject of the intransitive passive voice; 3. the proto forms of modern Bangla pronouns like ahme (অােਜ਼), tuhme (তুেਜ਼) etc. surfaced at this stage of the Bangla language. Medieval Bangla- Phonological: 1. In the early phase of medieval Bangla, the half-vowels i (ই্) and u (উ্) started weakening; 2. nasal aspirates lost aspiration; 3. nasalised vowel + consonant started replacing nasal sound + consonant. Morphological: 1. verbal inflections like -il (-ইল্) and -ib (-ইব্) started to be used with the subject of the active voice, instead of intransitive passive voice; 2. post-positions, rather than verbal inflections, started to be used for intransitive passive voice; 3. phrasal and compound verbs gained currency. The last phase of medieval Bangla- Phonological: 1. the elision of the word-final a (অ); 2. the evolution and currency of epenthesis; 3. the evolution of the new vowel sound ae (অઘা) as in 'hat'. Morphological: 1. the evolution of new inflections like -r (-র), -gula (-ਊলা), -guli (-ਊিল), -dig(e)r (-িদ(ে)গর) etc. Lexical: huge loans of Sanskrit and Perso-Arabic words.Modern Bangla- Phonological: 1. the widespread use of vowel harmony or vowel height assimilation influenced by i (ই) and u (উ); 2. the elision of epenthetic i (ই্) and u (উ্); 3. an increase in the number of words beginning with the sound ae (অઘা), pronounced as in 'hat', stemming from e (এ); 4. the separation of consonant clusters in spoken form with anaptyxis or prothesis; 5. the assimilation of tatsama conjunct consonants formed with b (ব), m (ম) and y (য়). Morphological: 1. the short forms of pronouns and verbal forms in standard colloquial Bangla (tahar > tar তাহার > তার; kariyachhila > karechhila কিরয়ািছল > কেরিছল). Many features of medieval Bangla are still found in many Bangla dialects. Mixture of languages Bangla has been greatly influenced by two non-Aryan languages: Dravidian and Kol. Their influence is evident not only in the vocabulary but also in the construction of sentences. A large number of onomatopoeic words, repetitive words and conjunctive verbs in Bangla reveal non-Aryan influence; for example, words such as ghoda-toda (horses etc), kapad-chopad (clothes etc), tuk-tuk, khatkhat, khankha, dhandha, basiya pada (sitting down), lagiya thaka (to persevere), etc. There are plenty of Dravidian and other non-Aryan words in Bangla, especially in place names, indicating that Bangla passed through many stages and was influenced by various other languages.One of the main influences on Bangla was that of Sanskrit as this language was the vehicle of literature and culture for almost the whole of the subcontinent since the beginning of the Christian era. (The religious discourses of the Buddhists and the Jains were carried on in pali and Ardhamagadhi respectively.) In the days of old Bangla, many Bengalis used to write poetic works in Sanskrit. Even after the evolution of Bangla, many well-known Bengali poets, such as jaydev, umapatidhara and govardhan acharya, continued to compose their literary works in Sanskrit. The result was that many pure Sanskrit words entered Bangla from the very early stages. Following the establishment of Muslim rule in Bengal in the 13th century, Bangla came under the influence of Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Persian was the language of the court during Muslim rule in the 14th and 15th centuries. Because of this special status as well as other cultural influences, Bangla picked up many Persian words at this time. In the 16th century, with the Portuguese inroads, several Portuguese words entered Bangla; for example, words such as anaras (pineapple), ata (custard-apple) and tamak (tobacco). From the 17th century, the Dutch, French and English started arriving in Bengal. As a result, words from these languages started entering Bangla vocabulary; for example, from the French: cartouche, coupon, depot; Dutch: hartan, iskaban, iskurup; English: table, chair, lord/lat, general/jadrel, etc. During the 17th and 18th centuries effective use of Bangla prose began through the efforts of Christian missionaries. With the start of British rule in the 18th century and the spread of English education, Bangla started absorbing increasing numbers of English words. Following the establishment of the Bengali Department at fort william college in calcutta in 1801, the efforts of its head, william carey, and his associate Bengali scholars, made Bangla fit for fine prose. During the 19th century, the efforts of Bengali writers contributed to the further growth of the language. Among them were raja rammohun roy, bhabanicharan bandyopadhyay, iswar chandra vidyasagar, bankimchandra chattopadhyay, michael madhusudan dutt and mir mosharraf hossain. The 20th century witnessed the elevation of colloquial Bangla to a written literary medium through the work of many talented writers such as rabindranath tagore and pramatha chowdhury.Dialects suniti kumar chatterji classified Bangla dialects into four broad groups: Radh, Banga, Kamarupa and Varendra; Sukumar Sen (1939) added one more and defined five groups of dialects: Radhi, Bangali, Kamrupi, Varendri and Jhadkhandi. Radhi is the basis of standard colloquial Bangla, spoken in wide areas of south-western Bengal. Bangali is chiefly spoken in the east and south-eastern areas of Bengal. Dialects in this group still retain many of the medieval Bangla features that are extinct in Radhi, such as epenthetic vowels (semi vowels), lack of vowel height assimilation, pronunciation of the consonant g (গ্) in conjunct -ng (-ਔ), maintenance of nasal consonant + consonant as in chand (চা੯দ), instead of chand (চঁাদ). Bangali dialects lack d (ড়্) and dh (ঢ়্), and the affricates like ch (চ্), chh (ছ্), j (জ্) and jh (ঝ্) are pronounced like sibilants. But the dialects of sylhet, noakhali and chittagong are so different from Bangali that it is best to consider these spoken forms as separate dialects. All the marginal dialects of the Bangla language naturally get mixed up with the neighbouring forms. Remote Bangali and Kamrupi bear close affinity with Assamese, Jhadkhandi with south-western Bihari, and the language spoken in the Kanthi area with Oriya. Forms of language Written Bangla has two forms: sadhu or chaste and chalita or colloquial or spoken. The two differ basically in verbs and pronouns. The verbs and pronouns get shortened in the colloquial form. For example: কিরয়া (kariya; to do) কের (kare); তাহার (tahar; his/hers) তার (tar). The importance of the colloquial form arose at the beginning of the 20th century but the use of chaste Bangla did not disappear totally. Chaste language continued to be used in contemporary newspapers, works of documentation and in statements by the government and on matters of serious import. Colloquial Bangla was the language of the Calcutta gentry, a considerable number of whom used the colloquial form to write literary works. The parallel currents of chaste and colloquial streams created a unique phenomenon of diglossia in Bangla. Although the main peculiarity of the colloquial stream is the shortened form of verbs and pronouns, their real difference is in temperament. The mix of sadhu and chalita, as used in poetry, has been on the wane since World War II, giving way to the chalita form only. Since March 1965, many Bangla newspapers have adopted the chalita form, discarding the sadhu one. The ittefaq, which had retained the sadhu form, has also started using the chalita form since 2001. Hindus and Muslims differ in their ways of using the language, and even West Bengalis and Bangladeshis differ somewhat in their practices. The Muslim rule in Bengal prior to the British rule led to an extensive development of Bangla and a plentiful influx of Arabic, Persian and Turkish vocabulary. Towards the end of the 18th century, even high-caste Hindus used to cultivate the court language, Persian, allowing their Bangla to be influenced by it. Even today over 2,000 Arabic and Persian words relating to war, taxation, legal and cultural matters, and crafts are in use in Bangla. Such words and their impact increased substantially in the language of the Muslim rural masses of East Bengal prior to the partition of India in 1947. A major difference exists in the language used by Hindus and Muslims in respect of words that refer to relatives or food. Hindus use Sanskrit and Bangla words, while Muslims use Urdu and Arabic words, eg kaka/chacha (uncle), ma/amma (mother), baba/abba (father), didi/bubu (sister), dada/bhaiya (brother), jal/pani (water) mangsa/gosht. At the same time, it should be noted that Muslims in the Jessore area also use the so-called 'Hindu terms' of didi and dada. Although the written language of West Bengal and Bangladesh is more or less similar, spoken Bangla differs widely. There are also many regional Bangla dialects. Some dialects, such as those of Sylhet, Noakhali and Chittagong, differ so greatly from each other and standard Bangla, that people of one region can hardly communicate with people of the other. Standard colloquial Bangla: structural description Standard colloquial Bangla is used by educated people for speaking and writing. It is the language of literature and the media.Phonology There are seven standard phonemes in standard colloquial Bangla (SCB): i (ই) as in pin, u (উ) as in put, e (এ) as in get, o (ও) as in go (but monophthongal), ae (অઘা) as in hat, a (অা) as in father, a (অ) as in not (but a bit higher). Each of these sounds has nasalised counterparts. There are 30 consonant phonemes: p (প্) ph (ফ্) b (ব্) bh (ভ্) m (ম্), t (ত্) th (থ্) d (দ্) dh (ধ্) n (ন্), t (ট্) th (ঠ্) d (ড্/ড়্) dh (ঢ্/ঢ়্), k (ক্) kh (খ্) g (গ্) gh (ঘ্) n (ঙ্), ch (চ্) chh (ছ্) j (জ্) jh (ঝ্) Sh (শ্), r (র্) l (ল্) s (স্) h (হ্). S (স্) is said to be a contextual variant of Sh (শ্)). There are four non-syllabic vowel sounds: i (ই্), u (উ্), e (এ্) and o (ও্). The phonological behaviour of standard colloquial Bangla is marked by the following characteristics: 1. vowel height assimilation, in which low vowel sounds gain height, such as, pyancha > penchi (ya > e) পঁઘাচা > েপঁিচ (অઘা > এ), nat -> nati (a > o) নট > নটী (অ > ও), lekhe > likhi (e > i) েলেখ > িলিখ (এ > ই) and khoka > khuku (o > u) েখাকা > খুকু (ও > উ); 2. Sh (শ্) becoming s (স্) in loan words; 3. doubling of consonant sounds conditioned by semantic control: bado > baddo (বেড়া > বেਝা), chhoto > chhotto (েছােটা > েছােਜা). Consonant conjuncts are simplified in loan words in spoken language. Stress usually falls on the first syllable of a word and on the first word of a meaningful phrase. The primary stress of a question falls on the neuter gender interrogative pronouns ke, ki, keno (who, what, why). General statements end in low pitch, and questions, affirmative or negative, end in high pitch. The length of vowel sounds is sometimes prolonged, influenced by emotion or voice projection ki-i? ya-i! (কী-ই৶ যা-ই৲). Stress is also employed to put emphasis on a word. In compound sentences, the connecting words have the least stress.Morphology The morphology of Bangla is accidence-based, although its analytical nature has gradually evolved. It has more than 50 verb-inflections, and a fewer number of case endings. The case of the nominal word is expressed in three ways: by case endings (indirect object- dative, genitive and locative cases), by case endings and post-positions (instrumental case, gerundial) and by only post-positions (ablative case). The nominative case does not primarily take any case ending, but in case of 'collective' agents, the case takes the case ending -e (-এ), such as, manuse eman kaj kare na (মানুেষ এমন কাজ কের না). There is also no case ending for inanimate indirect objects. In standard colloquial Bangla, the case ending for indirect objects is -ke (-েক), the genitive case-ending is -(e)r [-(এ)র] and the locative case ending is -(e)te [-(এ)েত]. The word-final sound determines where the ending should be in -r or -er, and -te or -ete.The accidence of verbs is fairly complex. Finite verbs are chiefly split into two groups based on the verb inflections: indicative and imperative. In addition to the second-person imperative, Bangla has another mood called the third-person imperative. The second-person imperative has three forms: honorific (karun, করઔন), ordinary (karo, কেরা) and familiar or contemptuous (kar, কর্). The third-person imperative has two forms: ordinary and honorific (karuk, করઔক, karun, করઔন). The second-person imperative is used in both present and future tenses (karben-karun, করেবন-করઔন, koro-karo, েকােরা-কেরা, kar-karis, কর্-কিরস্).The indicative mood has three tenses: present, past and future. The present and the future tenses have three and four aspects respectively. The present tense includes simple (kari, কির), progressive (karchhi, করিছ) and perfect (karechhi, কেরিছ), while the past tense includes simple (karlam, করলাম), progressive (karchhilam, করিছলাম), perfect (karechhilam, কেরিছলাম) and habitual (kartam, করতাম). There is only one aspect of the future tense: simple (karba, করব). The progressive future requires more than one verb to express the aspect. The verb usually takes five inflections depending on the person, such as first-person (ami, অািম), second-person ordinary (tumi, তুিম), second-person familiar (tui, তুই), second-third person honorific (apni, অাপিন), third-person ordinary (se, েস), and third-person honorific (tini িতিন). These sets of verb-inflections are different for different tenses. The inflections for aspect and tense do not change depending on the person; only the personal endings--that end the verb forms--change (present: -i (-ই), -o (-ও), -is (-ইস্), -e (-এ), -en (-এন): kari (কির), kar (কর), karis (কিরস), kare (কের), karen (কেরন). The causative verbs are formed with an -a (-অা) appended to the verb root (kare > karrai, কের > করাই); an -a (-অা) appended to root can also be classified as nominal verb root: ghumai, santrai (ঘুমাই৴ সঁাতরাই) etc. The order of endings in a verb root has the following order: (root) + causative ending + aspect ending + tense ending + personal ending (kar + ai > i + echh + il + am, কর্ + অাই > ই + এছ্ + ইল্ + অাম).The Bangla roots are basically either monosyllabic or bisyllabic, such as, kar-, kara- (কর্-৴ করা-). The causative and the nominal verb roots are by nature bisyllabic. But there are also roots with more than two syllables: jhalmala-, chakmaka- etc. The conjunctive has four forms: verbal noun (kara, করা), completive (ka're, ক'ের), conditional (karle, করেল) and inchoative (karte, করেত). Another set of verbs like dakadaki (ডাকাডািক), ghoraghuri (েঘারাঘুির) is formed in compliance with the rules of correlative compounds. Phrasal verbs are formed with finite forms of verbal roots like kar (কর্), ha (হ) or mar (মার্) placed after nouns or adjectives, such as upakar kara (উপকার করা), bhalo haoya (ভােলা হওয়া), chokh mara (েচাখ মারা) etc. Compound verbs are formed with verbs like uth (উঠ্), pad (পড়্), phel (েফল্), thak (থাক্) and the like placed after completive or inchoative conjunctives, as in ka're otha (ক'ের ওঠা), base pada (বেস পড়া), bale phela (বেল েফলা), etc.The formation of the substantive with affixes is not an unlimited proposition in Bangla. There are not many original Bangla affixes. It borrows -ta (-তা), -tv (-তઁ), -ima (-ইমা) very often from Sanskrit for substantive formation. Comparatives (-tara -তর, -tama -তম) and ordinals (pratham পચথম, dvitiya িਦতীয় etc) are dependent on Sanskrit affixes. Although there are not many primary and secondary affixes in Bangla, affixes for enclitic definitives (-ta -টা, -ti -িট, khana খানা), suggesting largeness or ungainliness (jhola, েঝালা), suggesting smallness or prettiness (jhuli, ঝুিল), loveableness (ramu, রামু) and unloveableness (rama, রামা) are worth considering.Sequence The order of words in Bangla is what is called left branching, ie, adjectives are placed on the left of nouns; and adverbs precede the verbs. The sequence of words in a sentence is as follows: subject + temporal phrase + locative phrase + indirect object + direct object + adverbial phrase + verb: ami kal steshane runake kathata kane kane balechhi (অািম কাল েੈশেন রઔনােক কথাটা কােন কােন বেলিছ, I uttered the words into Runa's ear yesterday at the station). The place of the locative phrase can change, affecting the meaning of the sentence. Sentences without the copula, as in Russian, Tamil or Japanese, are in use in Bangla-amar nam ruhul kuddus (অামার নাম রઔਗ਼ল কুਣুুস, My name [is] Ruhul Quddus). Intransitive passive voice as in English is rare in Bangla, but the passive voice formed with a verb used as a noun is a common feature of the language: tomar khaoya hayechhe? e pathe faridpur jaoya chale? (েতামার খাওয়া হেয়েছ৶ এ পেথ ফিরদপুর যাওয়া চেল৶ Has your eating been done? Can going to Faridpur be done through this road?). Interrogative sentences in Bangla are formed with question words. The connective words in complex and conditional sentences are worth noting: yakhan o asbe takhan ar ami thakba na (যখন ও অাসেব তখন অার অািম থাকব না, I will not be here when he comes).Lexicon The main inherited elements of the Bangla language are: tadbhava (produced from that, ie Sanskrit; the Sanskrit word that has changed at least twice in the process of becoming Bangla), tatsama (same as that, i.e. Sanskrit; the Sanskrit word loaned into Bangla, with changed pronunciation but retaining the original spelling) and ardha-tatsama (half tatsama in nature; the Sanskrit words changed in the spoken form in Bangla, such as pratyasha > pityesh, পચতઘাশা > িপেতઘশ). In addition, Bangla has a large number of words of unknown etymology, also known as deshi or local words, which might have their origin in old loans from Dravidian, Austric or Sino-Tibetan languages. The new loans are from Persian, Arabic, English, Portuguese and other languages. Sunitikumar Chatterji, taking jnanedra mohan das's Bangala Bhashar Abhidhan into account, showed that Bangla has 51.45 per cent tadbhava words, 44.00 per cent tatsama words, 3.30 per cent Perso-Arabic words and 1.25 per cent from English, Portuguese and other languages. But these figures are not quite accurate. Although Jnanendra Mohan Das's lexicon has around 150,000 words, the total number of Bangla words, including dialect words, is much more.The Bangla alphabet The Bangla alphabet evolved from Kutila lipi, which in turn evolved from ancient Indian Brahmi. The first printed book to use Bangla type was nathaniel brassey halhed's A Grammar of Bengal Language, which refined and standardised Bangla letters. Thanks to efforts by Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, the increasing use of Bangla type in the printing presses helped to stabilise the shape of the letters. Iswar Chandra also introduced new letters and rearranged the order of the alphabet. He dispensed with ঋৃ and ৯৯ and placed anusvara (ং) and visarga (ঃ) at the end of the consonant section of the alphabet and introduced ড়, ঢ় and ਅ. Nevertheless, the Bangla alphabet continues to be based on the scheme of the Sanskrit alphabet, consisting of 12 vowels and 30 consonants. These symbols do not, however, always represent the spoken sound of the language. The long vowels and letters such as ঞ্৴ ণ্৴ য্৴ ষ্ etc do not have specific sounds associated with them. At some points in history, Bangla was written in Perso-Arabic script and sylheti nagri. Apart from the dadi (|), or full stop, the other punctuation marks are European.Generally, the peculiarities and distinctions between consonants that pertain in Sanskrit exist in Bangla as well, such as alpapran (non-aspirated)/mahapran (aspirated), aghosa (voiceless)/ghosa (voiced), dantya (dental)/pratibestita (alveolar-retroflex). As in Sanskrit, every independent consonant syllable has the inherent vowel অ (a), unless another vowel is specified. For instance, ক্ (k) is actually ক+ অ (k + a), ত is ত্+ অ (t + a). However, there are significant variations in pronunciation. Thus, unlike Sanskrit, the pronunciation of অ is not always regular and stable. At times it is pronounced almost as o (ও). Such instability creates problems of spelling in Bangla. However, as in the case of many languages of the Indo-Aryan family, অ (a) at the end of syllables in Bangla often disappears. Some vowels are nasalised, changing the meaning and import of the word; for instance, the pronunciation of the honorific pronoun for third person is the nasalised তঁার (tanr), clearly distinguishing the pronoun from the third person general তার (tar). If the basic ড (d) of Sanskrit falls within or at the end of a Bangla word, the sound is pronounced ড় (d). In this way the letters ড় (d) and ঢ় (dh) were added to Bangla in the 19th century. Sanskrit distinguishes between a consonant ব (b) and a semi-vowel ব (v). However, in Bangla both letters are pronounced ব (b). Compound consonants are often pronounced as double consonants; for instance, িবশੴ > িবশ্শ / লਉী > লক্খী (bishva > bishsha, laksmi > lakkhi). The Sanskrit letter য (y) is pronounced জ (j) in Bangla. Thus the following Bangla words from Sanskrit are spelled যম (yam) and যাਠা (yatra) but are pronounced as if spelled জম (jam) and জাਠা (jatra). There are three s letters in Bangla, শ৴ ষ৴ স (sh, s, s). In most cases, however, all three letters are sounded শ (sh). However, if স (s) is compounded, its pronunciation remains intact. For example, অাসেত (aste) is pronounced as if it had been spelled অাশ্েত (ashte), but অােએ੪- is pronounced aste. Similarly, রাએ੪া- is pronounced rasta.Language situation Bangla is the country's state language and is used extensively except in some isolated tribal habitations. Most official work within the country is done in Bangla, but English is used in diplomatic communications, trade contacts and in higher education and research. People speak in dialect at home, but will generally use spoken Bangla outside and standard colloquial Bangla for academic and literary purposes. Usually, standard Bangla is used in literary and artistic work, plays and mass communication, but recently the use of dialects in these activities has increased. [Mohammad Daniul Huq and Pabitra Sarkar]Bibliography SK Chatterji, The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language, Calcutta University, Calcutta, 1926; Muhammad Shahidullah, Bangla Bhasar Itibrtta, Dhaka, 1965; PS Ray and Abdul Hai, Bengali Language Handbook, Washington DC, 1966; Sukumar Sen, Bhasar Itibrtta (The History of Language, 13th edn), Eastern Publishers, Calcutta, 1979; MH Klaiman, Volitionality and Subject in Bengali: A Study of Semantic Parameters in Grammatical Process, Bloomington, 1981; Humayun Azad ed, Banla Bhasa, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1984-85; CP Masica, The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991; AKM Morshed and William Radice, 'Bengali Language' in RE Asher ed, The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Vol. l, Oxford, 1994.
Baul a mendicant folk sect, generally inhabiting the districts of kushtia, meherpur, chuadanga, jhenaidah, faridpur, jessore, and pabna and associated with devotional songs known as Baul songs. Bauls practice secret devotional rites, centering on the belief that the human body is the seat of all truths. In this there is a fusion of the sahajiya and Sufi concepts of devotion with sufism enjoying some predominance. Bauls do not believe in organised religion and do not frequent mosques or temples. They are iconoclasts and humanists who believe that all human beings are equal, irrespective of caste and creed. One is not born a Baul, but becomes one, after initiation by a guru. While there are some ascetic Bauls, there are no restrictions on men and women living together. In fact, certain Baul rites are based on the combined devotional practices of a man and a woman. Little is known about when the sect originated or of the origin of the word 'Baul'. By the 15th century, however, the sect had made its appearance as is evident from the use of the term in Shah Muhammad Sagir's yusuf-zulekha, Maladhar Basu's srikrishnavijay, Bahram Khan's laily-majnu, and Krishnadas Kaviraj's Srichaitanyacharitamrita. Regarding the origins of the sect, one recent theory suggests that Bauls are descendants of a branch of Sufism called ba'al. Votaries of this sect of Sufism in Iran, dating back to the 8th-9th centuries, were fond of music and participated in secret devotional practices based on sexual free-mixing. They used to roam about the desert singing. Like other Sufis, they also entered the South Asian subcontinent and spread out in various directions. It is also suggested that the term derives from the Sanskrit words vatul (mad, devoid of senses) and vyakul (wild, bewildered) which Bauls are often considered.Like the ba'al who rejects family life and all ties and roams the desert, singing in search of his beloved, the Baul too wanders about searching for his maner manus (the ideal being). The madness of the Baul may be compared to the frenzy or intoxication of the Sufi diwana. Like the Sufi, the Baul searches for the divine beloved and finds him housed in the human body. Bauls call the beloved sain (lord), murshid (guide), or guru (preceptor), and it is in his search that they go 'mad'.There are two classes of Bauls: ascetic Bauls who reject family life and Bauls who live with their families. Ascetic Bauls renounce family life and society and survive on alms. They have no fixed dwelling place, but move from one akhda to another. Men wear white lungis and long, white tunics; women wear white saris. They carry a jhola or shoulder bag for alms. They do not beget or rear children. They are treated as jyante mara or outcastes. Women, dedicated to the service of ascetics, are known as sevadasis (seva, service+dasi, maidservant). A male Baul can have one or more sevadasis, who are associated with him in the act of devotion. Until 1976 the district of Kushtia had 252 ascetic Bauls. In 1982-83 the number rose to 905; in 2000, they numbered about 5,000.Those who choose family life live with their wives, children and relations in a secluded part of a village. They do not mix freely with other members of the community. Unlike ascetic Bauls, their rituals are less strict. In order to become Bauls, they recite some mystic verses and observe certain rituals. An ascetic Baul alone can initiate a person into the cult; the relation between the initiator and the initiate is similar to that between a pir and his murid or disciple. Once inducted into the cult, even non-ascetic Bauls are forbidden to have children, though some may do so with their guru's permission. Currently, the trend to become Bauls has been growing among farmers, weavers, and traders. Many of them are factory workers and day labourers. A sevadasi may leave one Baul and go away with another. The number of Bauls opting for domestic life is lately on the rise.Bauls have ghars (literally, house, lineage) or guru-traditions. These ghars are named after the principal Baul gurus: Lalon Shahi, Panju Shahi, Delbar Shahi and Panchu Shahi. A special section of the Bauls is known as kartabhaja. They follow Vaisnava traditions and are known as sati mayer ghar. These ghars or gurudharas have some slight differences in devotional rites and music. In the Lalon Shahi tradition, for example, there is a predominance of Sufistic and tantric beliefs and sahajiya rituals, while in the Panju Shahi tradition, tantric beliefs and sahajiya practices are absent. Ascetic Bauls have no settled homes, but take shelter in community houses called akhda. Akhdas are located at some distance from the rest of the village communities. Akhdas also grow up round abodes or graves of gurus. During the lifetime of lalon shah, there were akhdas of Baul fakirs in many parts of Bangladesh, especially at vikramapura, narsingdi, manikganj, sylhet, comilla, rangpur, nilphamari, Pabna, Faridpur, rajbari, Jessore, magura, Jhenaidah, Chuadanga, Meherpur and Kushtia. An akhda has grown up at Kulbere Harishpur village in Harinakunda upazila, Jhenaidah, near the grave of panju shah. Lalon Shah's akhda is located at Cheuria village in Kushtia. Devotees assemble at the akhdas and perform religious rites and sing Baul songs. There is an annual three-day festival at Cheuria during the full moon in Falgun, where sadhus are also entertained. While Bauls have had many admirers, they have also been reviled by both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists. Lalon Shah himself was a victim of this hatred. Among the reasons for this antipathy are the unorthodox beliefs and practices of the Bauls, particularly their sexual promiscuity. Baul songs form an important genre of folk songs and are believed to date back to at least the 15th century. Famous Baul singers and poets include Lalon Shah, Panju Shah, Siraj Shah and duddu shah. These songs are also known in rural areas as dhuya gan or bhav sangit (devotional songs). Baul songs are usually of two kinds: dainya and prabarta. These are also known as raga dainya and raga prabarta. These ragas are not the ragas of classical music but of bhajans (devotional songs). Baul songs are inspired by vaisnavism, with the songs expressing love or longing for the divine. This sentiment is especially noticeable in raga dainya. Baul songs may be sung at Baul akhdas or in the open air. At akhdas, songs are sung in the style of hamd (song in praise of God), ghazal or nat (song in praise of the Prophet muhammad (Sm)), in a mellow voice and to a soft beat. Baul songs at open-air functions are sung at a high pitch, to the accompaniment of instruments such as the ektara, dugdugi, khamak, dholak, sarinda, and dotara. The common tals are dadra, kaharba, jhumur, ektal or jhanptal. The singers dance as they sing. Baul songs sung in the akhda are not accompanied by dancing. Bauls may present songs singly or in groups. There is usually one main presenter; others join him for a chorus or dhuya.Baul songs generally have two tunes, one for the first part of the song and another for the second. Towards the end, part of the second stave is rendered again at a quick tempo. The first and middle staves are very important. The first stave is often called dhuya, mukh or mahada. In songs with a fast tempo, the first stave is repeated after every second stave. Some songs have ascending and descending rhythms, while others are accompanied by dancing, believed to have originated from the rural panchali.Some Baul songs have been influenced by the kirtan, reflecting the Vaisnava influence. Baul songs, however, have also been heavily influenced by Sufism. Baul songs are common to Bangladesh and west bengal, but differ somewhat in tune and theme. In Baul songs from West Bengal there is a strong influence of Sahajiya Vaisnavism, whereas in Bangladesh the influence of Sufi ghazals is stronger. Baul songs are elegiac in tone, reflecting the pain of deprivation or longing. They are inspired by the idea that the human body is the seat of all truths and by the search for a guru or maner manus. Every song may be interpreted in two ways: in terms of human love and in terms of divine love. Bauls refer to these two ways as the lower stream and the upper stream.There are five gharanas of Baul songs, devolving from the well-known exponents of this genre: Lalon Shahi, Panju Shahi, Delbar Shahi, Ujal Shahi and Panchu Shahi. Although Baul songs come mainly from the region of Kushtia, singers of other regions bring in different influences particularly in tunes and style. At times even the words vary. In the past there were no fixed tunes for Baul songs. Subsequently, Lalon's disciple, Maniruddin Fakir, and his disciple, Khoda Baksh, attempted to put these songs into a particular frame. Khoda Baksh's disciple, Amulya Shah, was a reputed musicologist who set Baul songs, especially Lalon songs, to music. These songs were developed by his disciples: Behal Shah, Shukchand, Dasi Fakirani, Chandar Gauhar, Nimai Shah, Mahendra, Kanai Kshyapa and Moti Fakirani. These were further developed in later years by Mahim Shah, Khoda Baksh Shah, Jhadu Shah, Karim, Bella, Fakirchand, Jomela, Khorshed Fakir, Laily and Yasin Shah. Baul and Lalon songs were modernised by the radio and television artiste, Moksed Ali Khan, whose disciple, Farida Parveen, is now their foremost exponent in Bangladesh. At times Baul songs reflect the influence of bhatiyali tunes. majhees (boatmen) also sing these songs while plying their boats in the rivers. Baul songs are not confined to Bauls, as non-Bauls too have adopted them because of their profound themes. During epidemics, villagers ask Bauls to sing and pray, believing that this will cleanse their village of pestilence.
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