Preface

Bengali or Bangla (বাংলা) is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent which evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages circa 1000 AD. Bangla is native to the Indian state of West Bengal and the country, Bangladesh. People who speak this language are called বাঙালি (baNgali). There are nearly 230 million speakers of Bangla, according to a 2007 census, making it the sixth most used language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic and Hindi).

The vocabulary used in spoken language ("Cholti Bhasha" - colloquial language) is distinct from the highly Sanskritized words used in some literature and formal contexts ("Sadhu Bhasha" - literary language). Many words have both colloquial and Sanskritic versions. Standard Colloquial Bangla is based on the language currently spoken in Kolkata. We will focus on the colloquial version of words as we learn Bangla in this book.

This eBook is written to teach conversational Bangla to:

  1. Children of Bengali parents who want to communicate with elderly relatives, 
  2. Spouses and friends of Bengali speakers who want to participate in conversations, 
  3. English speakers who want to learn some Bangla but are unable to invest significant effort in doing so.

We will assume that the student is proficient in English or ইংরেজি (ingreji). English grammatical structures and words will be used to introduce similar constructs in Bangla. Languages consist of Words. There are Rules that define how these words are put together into sentences - these Rules form the Grammar of the language. We will stress understanding the Grammar (Rules) with Vocabulary (Words) introduced to give you a clearer understanding of the rules. We hope that a minimal vocabulary will be established as part of your study here, enabling you to carry on a conversation. The Grammar rules established will make sure that you can incorporate new words into your conversations as you learn them.

To learn a new language, you have to familiarize yourself with the "alphabet" used for the language. The Bangla alphabet consists of Consonants and Vowels.

To learn the Bangla alphabet, please refer to the companion document entitled "Learning the Bangla Alphabet - Bangla Writing System and Phonetic English Representation. You can access it by clicking on Learn the Bangla Alphabet.

Words are formed from the letters in the alphabet. The parts of speech familiar to English speakers like nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives also exist in Bangla.

Linguists have established that ALL languages have a common structure in forming sentences. Every sentence has a "Subject" (person, place or thing that the sentence is about) and a "Predicate" (what the subject is doing).

For example, an English sentence "Mary had a little lamb." has a Subject ("Mary") and a Predicate ("had a little lamb"). Linguists further break down the Predicate into an Verb ("had") and an Object of the Verb ("a little lamb").

The Universal rule in all languages is that a Sentence consists of 3 parts - Subject, Verb and Object.

In English, the order of these 3 parts is Subject-Verb-Object(S-V-O).

The sentence structure in Bangla is different from English. In Bangla (and in other Sanskrit-based Indic languages) the sentence structure is Subject-Object-Verb(S-O-V).

English Structure - S-V-O

SubjectVerbObject
Maryhada little lamb

Bangla Structure - S-O-V

SubjectObjectVerb
Marya little lambhad
merir ekoTi chhOTo bheRa chhilo
মেরির একটি ছোট ভেড়া ছিল

In the very simple sentence shown above, you will see the first difference in the construction of a grammatical sentence in Bangla.

In introducing the language, we will focus on 2 things.

  1. The Rules of Grammatical Construction
  2. A vocabulary of the most common words you need to know to construct sentences that will express what you want to communicate

To make sure that you develop an adequate and useful vocabulary, I have chosen words from Top 86800 frequently used words in English. I have also tried to put related words together in the vocabulary section of each chapter.

We will first discuss how to make grammatically correct Bangla sentences. We will introduce some Rules based on Linguistic Theory. We will review the Parts of Speech (Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs etc) in English. We will then use some Pronouns (I, you), some Verbs (to go, to eat) and some Nouns (home, rice) so that we can make simple sentences with these words.

We will then look at new Rules that take different Parts of Speech and guide us in how they are to be used in a Sentence. We will continue to build your vocabulary by adding more words corresponding to different grammatical Parts of Speech. You will see many Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions and Conjunctions. In each Chapter, you will see phrases and sentences that combine the words that you have just learnt in meaningful ways. I hope that the words and their contextual use will make the learning more robust.

In the Summary of Grammar Rules, we will list the Grammar rules that we have discussed throughout the book. It is meant to be used as a reference as you begin to start making your own Bangla sentences.

The Phonetic English used in this book is called Suborno, and is the same as the scheme used for writing Bangla (Write Phonetic Bangla). All Bangla content for this book was generated using this Phonetic Editor.

This eBook contains words in Bangla, their Phonetic representation and words in English. The color coding scheme used is as follows:

Source English Word Bangla Word Phonetic English Part of Speech
Color Code Example I আমি ami Pronoun