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Why is Bengali called a sweet language?

There is a whole phonetic science behind why Bengali sounds sweet and why most people voted it the sweetest language in the UNESCO survey

Bengali Language

Bengali couple dancing

Bengali is an officially recognized language in Constitution of India.  It evolved from Magadhi Prakrit in the 10th Century AD. It happens to be the 6th most spoken language in the world and 2nd most spoken language in India. However, there exists more than a single kind of Bengali. Bengali dialects are found all over Bengal and Bangladesh e.g. Sylleheti Bangla, spoken in Bangladesh or Standard /Kolkata Bangla, Manbhumi dialect, Rangpuri dialect, Rarhi dialect, Sunderbani dialect, Varendri dialect and so on. Bengali is spoken as a mother tongue and a state language all over India especially in West Bengal, Assam, Bangladesh, Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar Island. 

Types of Bengali

Bengali has couple of literary styles: one is called Shadhubhôsha (সাধুভাষা - elegant language) and the other Cholithobhasha চলিতভাষা (current language). The former is the traditional literary style based on Middle Bengali of the sixteenth century, while the latter is a 20th century creation and is based on the speech of educated people in Calcutta. The differences between  the two styles are not huge and involve mainly forms of pronouns and verb conjugations.

Let’s have a glance to understand the difference between Standard Bangla Language and Sylleheti Bangla. Standard Bangla is commonly spoken in Kolkata whereas Syllheti Bangla is spoken over primarily in the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh, the Barak Valley and Hojai district of Assam, and North Tripura and Unakoti district of Tripura, India.

Standard Bangla versus Sylleheti Bangla

How are you' is 'kemon acho' in standard Bangla and 'bhalo aso' in Sylleheti Bangla

Similarly 'what are you doing' is 'ki koro' and 'kita Koro' respectively; and 'I love you' becomes 'ami tomake bhalobashi' and 'ami tomare bhalo pai'.

There is Chittagongian Bangla also. It is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in parts of the Chittagong Division in Bangladesh. Its speakers identify with Bengali culture and the Bengali language, but Chittagonian and Bengali are not actually mutually intelligible. In Chittagonian 'I love you' is said as 'ante toare beshi gaum lage'.

Where are you goin in standard Bangla is 'tumi kothaye jaccho' and in Chittagonian it becomes 'tuin honde jaunr'?

Bengali! The sweet language from the land of Bengal sweets!

Bengali sweets

India our Pride, is known for being multicultural and multilingual. While every language spoken here has its beauty, have you ever wondered why people say that Bengali sounds so sweet?

Is Bengali really a sweet language? The secret is in the phoenics of the language:

“Ra” is a retroflex in Bangla along with ण ड़ ढ़ consonants in Hindi, and are pronounced softly as র  Ra. Whereas in Bengali the consonant ण is pronounced with retroflex of Na that sounds न as in Hindi.

Since Retroflex sounds are viewed as harsh and tough, by avoiding these Bangla sounds softer and free-flowing.

, , , sound sha shha and sa in Hindi. However  the corresponding , ,    in Bangla all sound  Sha.

Bengali language script

Bengali script was derived out of Siddham Script as some words are pronounced accordingly. In time, other scripts, particularly Devnagari, replaced Siddhaṃ in India, while Siddhaṃ's northeaster derivative called Gaudi evolved to become Assamese, Bengali, Tirhuta, Odia and also the Nepalese scripts in the eastern and Northeastersn regions of South Asia, leaving East Asia as the only region where Siddhaṃ is still used. Siddham is offspring of Brahmi which is the origin of all languages due to which Bengali language has 12 vowels and 37 consonants. ‘A’ is pronounced as ‘O’ in Bangla like Jal in Hindi is Jol in Bangla, Antar is pronounced as Ontor and so on. Also words having alphabets sh become kh, for example:

Lakshmi - Lokkhi  

Akshay - Okkhoye

 Bhiksha - Bhikkha

Bhisma - Bhissho 

Daksha - Dokkho              

Diksha - Dikkha                  

Pariksha - Porikkha

Bengalis keep Consonant + Vowel structure and do not follow Consonant - Consonant pair. In Bengali, the pronunciation is O or “au” is abundant.

For E.g.- Vasant is Bosonto , Jal is Jol and Ant is onto, Antar is Ontor etc.

Bangla is surrounded by Oriya, Magadhi and Maithili to the West and Assamese on the East, It is flanked by various Languages like –Santhali, Mundari, Khasi, and Sino Tibetan languages like Kacchari, Boro, Garo,Tripuri each of them encroaching at times on the Bangla speaking area.

In the early stage of medieval Bangla, the half vowel (i) and (u) started weakening. Nasal aspirates lost aspiration. Nasalized Vowel Consonant started replacing Nasal Sound + Consonant.

For example, the nasalized vowel is transcribed as [ɑ̃]. As we have seen, nasalization of vowels typically occurs when the vowel immediately precedes, or follows, a nasal consonant /m, n, ŋ/, as in words such as man [mæ̃n], now [naʊ̃ː] and wing [wɪ̃ŋ]. Hing , Neoa/Newa .

Bengali voted the sweetest language 

Bengali sweetest language

Recently found, as the UNESCO Survey, Bangla has been voted by people as the sweetest language in the world, ranking Spanish and Dutch as second and third sweet tongue. So as it really does turn out that, the language from the land of Bengal sweets is also the sweetest!

 

Which are the other sweet Indian languages? Can you guess which other Indian language is called sweet 🍬? In fact none other than the Bengali icon Rabindranath Tagore  himself called it the 'sweetest Indian language'. Do you know what language that is? Let us know in comments below.



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