Did you know that Bengali is the 8th most spoken language in the world?
Also known by its endonym Bangla, Bengali is the most widely spoken language in Bangladesh and the second most widely spoken language of India. The Bengali language is a member of Indo-Aryan family of languages.
Endonym: Endonym is the internal name for a language or a dialect, popular inside a particular geographical location, ie. what native speakers call the language they speak.
Where is Bengali spoken?
Geographically, most of the Bengali language speakers are concentrated in Bangladesh, India, and Karachi city of Pakistan. There are about 210 million speakers of this language in the world, with about 100 million in Bangladesh and 85 million in India. A considerable number of Bengali speakers reside in the Middle East, United States, and United Kingdom.
Bengali is also an officially recognized language in the Constitution of India.
Bengali: A hot history
Before the independence of India from British rule in 1947, Pakistan and Bangladesh constituted the Indian nation. In August 1947, when Pakistan became a separate nation, present-day Bangladesh formed a part of Pakistan known as East Pakistan, which became an independent nation in 1971.
In the East Pakistan region, only 7 percent of the population spoke Urdu, while 53 percent population spoke Bengali as their first language. In order earn recognition for the Bengali language and make it the official language of Pakistan, the period between 1947 and 1952 witnessed huge protests and demonstrations for the support of this language.
In 1952, a student demonstration at the University of Dhaka led to several deaths and hundreds of injuries in the course of police efforts to quell the protests. Nonetheless, the political efforts paid off and in 1954, Bengali became the official language of Pakistan alongside Urdu. Hence, Bengali language emerged as a symbol of national identity as a consequence of the dedicated struggles of people trying to win legitimacy for a widely spoken language. The fight for Bengali also became one of the inspirations for Bangladesh’s independence in 1971.
15 Simple and Sweet Bengali Phrases
1. Fatafati (ফাটাফাটি)
This word is a Bengali synonym for “awesome.”
Fatafati is what you say when you’re happy about something but cannot quite think of the precise word to describe your joy. For instance, a beloved friend from far away is finally coming to visit your hometown: “Fatafati!”
2. Ghyama (ঘ্যাম)
Ghyama is an expressive Bengali phrase used to denote awesomeness. When something is too cool for words, you say, “Ghyama.”
3. Byapok (ব্যাপক)
Literally means extensive but now takes on the colloquial meaning of “thoroughly awesome.” This phrase is also commonly used as a synonym to Fatafati.
4. Ekṭi bhasha jôtheshṭo nôy (এই ভাষা যথেষ্ট নয়)
This is the phrase for all your Bilingua learners out there- simply put, it says “one language is never enough.”
This phrase reveals the Bengali flair for language and literature. Needless to mention, you can find many internationally acclaimed Bengali literary figures. And in general, Bengalis are proficient in at least two major languages.
5. Chalona, Rabindra sadaner sirhi te bosi (চালনা, রবীন্দ্র সদনের সির্হি তে বসি)
Feeling corny, turn to your date, look them in the eye and say this, meaning something like, “Please, can we go and sit in the staircase of Rabidrasadan?”. Jokes aside, Bengali is a nimbly poetic language and it is easy to see why one of the greatest poets of the early 20th century, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote in Bengali.
6. Jani dekha hobe (জানি দেখা হবে)
Another sweet Bengali phrase meaning, we will meet one day. This expression is generally used when one builds up a friendship with a stranger at a random place. And people speak it to express the thrill of the rendezvous feeling and the wish to meet in the future.
7. Bhalobashar nouka pahaŗ boie jae (ভালবাসার নৌকা পাহাড় বইয়ে যায়।)
This phrase literally translates to “the boat of affection can ascend mountains.”
Although Bengalis are open to love marriages (but love marriage is not very common in many parts of India and Bangladesh and many people still go for marriages arranged by their parents), this phrase indicates the faith in a love that can overcome all the obstacles of life.
8. Noyoner moni (নয়নের মণি)
This phrase simply means “an apple of the eye/favorite person.” Generally grandparents use the phrase for their beloved grandchildren.
9. Kaṣṭa nā karalē kēṣṭa mēlē nā (কষ্ট না করলে কেষ্ট মেলে না)
This Bengali phrase means no pain, no gain. Bengali people are hardworking and to motivate the youngsters in diligence, people use this phrase.
10. Tōmākē āmāra bhālō lāgē (তোমাকে আমার ভালো লাগে)
This says, “you’re really cute, babe.” No, actually it says “I’m fond of you.” But it’s the same thing, right? 😉
11. Asamaẏēra bandhu’i prakr̥ta bandhu অসময়ের বন্ধুই প্রকৃত বন্ধু।
This is the Bengali version of one of the most universal of sayings: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
12. Bidurēra khuda (বিদুরের খুদ)
If during your travels you saved a cereal box crossword puzzle that for some reason reminds you of a private joke with a friend, and if you cut out the crossword puzzle and send it to said friend in the mail, this could be “a humble gift made by a poor man with a sincere heart.”
13. Sundara sabasamaẏa’i ānandadāẏaka (সুন্দর সবসময়ই আনন্দদায়ক)
This phrase translates to “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” In the classic Bengali movies, this phrase is used to express adoration for the beauty of the beloved.
This phrase is also frequently used by art-lovers (most of the Bengalis are art lovers) to express appreciation for an artwork.
14. Kārō sāthē bhāgābhāgi karalē samasyā ardhēka haẏē yāẏa (কারো সাথে ভাগাভাগি করলে সমস্যা অর্ধেক হয়ে যায়)
This Bengali phrase means that a problem is reduced by when we share the burden. Just as we say, the joy multiplies by sharing.
15. Sukhēra samaẏagulō druta calē yāẏa (সুখের সময়গুলো দ্রুত চলে যায়)
Simply put, happy times go faster. Oh yes, they do.
Like this article? Read more about the Indian subcontinent:
How Many Languages Are There in India? (Part 1)
How Many Languages Are There in India? (Part 2)
A Simple Guide to Learning Hindi Through English
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