Languages

Bengali

Fact corner

Introduction

Bengali is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent, evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit, Pāli and Sanskrit languages.

Usually three periods are identified in the history of Bengali:

  • Old Bengali (900/1000 CE–1400 CE)—texts include Charyapada, devotional songs; emergence of pronouns Ami, tumi, etc; verb inflections -ila, -iba, etc. Oriya and Assamese branch out in this period.
  • Middle Bengali (1400–1800 CE)—major texts of the period include Chandidas's Srikrishnakirtan; elision of word-final ô sound; spread of compound verbs; Persian influence. Some scholars further divide this period into early and late middle periods.
  • New Bengali (since 1800 CE)—shortening of verbs and pronouns, among other changes (e.g. tahar → tar "his"/"her"; koriyachhilô → korechhilo he/she had done).

The verb

Verbs are inflected for person and honour, but not for number. There are five forms: first person, second person (very familiar), second person (familiar), third person (familiar), and second/third person (polite).

Sample verb: বলা 'bôla'

 12 (VF)2 (F)3 (F)2/3 (P)
Simple present tenseami bolitui bolishtumi bôloshe bôleapni bôlen
Simple present tenseআমি বলিতুই বলিসতুমি বলোসে বলেআপনি বলেন
Simple past tenseami bollamtui bollitumi bolleshe bolloapni bollen
Simple past tenseআমি বললামতুই বললিতুমি বললেসে বললোআপনি বললেন
Habitual past tenseami boltamtui boltishtumi bolteshe boltoapni bolten

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