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(bĕngäl`ē) or


(bäng`lä), language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. See Indo-IranianIndo-Iranian,
subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by more than a billion people, chiefly in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (see The Indo-European Family of Languages, table).
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the language of the Bengali people, prevalent in the Indian state of West Bengal and in East Pakistan. It is also spoken in the Indian states of Assam, Bihar, and Orissa. About 100 million people speak Bengali (1967 estimate). It is related to the Indo-Aryan group of Indo-European languages and is divided into four dialectical groups: western, eastern, northern, and northeastern. The ancient period of the history of the language in Bengal was the period of the tenth, 11th, and 12th centuries. The period of the formation of basic structural features of the Bengali language was from the late 15th century to the early 17th century, and the period of the emergence of modern Bengali was from the late 18th century to the 19th century. Since the 1947 division of Bengal between India and Pakistan, the Bengali language in East Bengal, which became part of Pakistan, has been marked by a greater use of Arabic and Persian words than the language in the western part of Bengal, which became the Indian state of West Bengal.

The characteristics of the phonetic structure of the Bengali language are vowel harmony, the presence of nasal vowels opposed to nonnasal vowels and aspirated vowels opposed to unaspirated vowels, the doubling of consonants, and the pronunciation of unstressed “o.” The grammatical structure is based on an agglutinative type of word formation and word change, the use of auxiliary words, and reduplication and juxtaposition of grammatical and semantic conjunctive particles. The leading word is postpositioned in word combinations, as is the auxiliary element in morphological and syntactic formations. Words are formed by means of suffixes and compounds. Prefixes are used in Sanskrit words. The inflection of substantive nouns and pronouns varies according to case and number, and verb forms change according to tense and person in the indicative and imperative modes. There is no gender distinction. There are distinctions between animate and inanimate and definite and indefinite, which are reflected in the formation of declensional forms and in the use of definite and demonstrative affixes—that is, particles added to nouns and pronouns. There is a developed system of tense forms. Word groups with auxiliary verbs prevail (verbal-verbal and verbal-nominal). Pronouns and adverbs do not have negative forms.

The writing system of Bengali is Banglakkhor, and, like the Devanagari and Gurmukhi systems, it can be traced back to the Brahmin system of writing. There is a rich Bengali literature.


Bykova, E. M. Bengal’skii iazyk. Moscow, 1966.
Chatterji, S. K. The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language. Calcutta, 1926.



1. a member of a people living chiefly in Bangladesh and in West Bengal. The West Bengalis are mainly Hindus; the East Bengalis of Bangladesh are mainly Muslims
2. the language of this people: the official language of Bangladesh and the chief language of West Bengal; it belongs to the Indic branch of the Indo-European family
References in periodicals archive ?
The so-called Bengali scholars claimed to discover almost every day more and more evidence of a rich cultural heritage in Bengal's past now exposed to risk.
Malik was retained in the Cabinet no Bengali was immediately appointed to replace Fazlur Rehman.
Local Jumma villagers alleged that Bengali settlers set fire on nearby indigenous Jumma villages at the presence of the members of the Army.
If you're familiar with Indian spices, you may have heard of pancphoron (five-spice mix) made up of mustard, fenugreek, cumin seeds, aniseed and black cumin, which is used with vegetables, fish, and lentils in Bengali food.
After the Martial Law of 1958 Bengali cultural and lingual issues were used to keep the Bengali Movement alive even though without any serious danger to the Bengali itself culture.
Not many Bengali authors have practiced self-translation--not many even felt the need for it, as they were happy with the original audiences.
During World War I, Bengali sepoys saw service in East Africa, Iraq and on the Western Front.
The contradiction of inter-ethnic rivalries was more acute in East Pakistan where the adherents of a strong Bengali nationalism and the other ethnic groups which had historically sided the central governments, soon were at loggerheads with each other.
What intrigues me even more is the association of Bengali cuisine with fish to the exclusion of everything else.
The last day of the Bengali Hindu religious ceremony, held last month, is called is called 'Bijoya', when Bengalees embrace family members, friends , neighbours and strangers and greet them with sweets.
Dr Bengali also spoke about the state of development in the province.
She had a keen eye for Bengali rituals and as the pictures will tell you, was most comfortable in participating in the sindoor khela [the practice of exchange of vermillion among housewives on the eve of immersion of Durga].