Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Bengali Alphabet/Script

Bengali is written in a script called the Bengali script. The letters in the Bengali script are grouped together based on the way they are pronounced. The first 11 letters are all vowels. Then follows the consonants and finally the semi vowels.

The consonants are grouped based on how they are pronounced. First comes the velar consonants, then the palatal, the retroflex, the dental, and the labial consonants. Each group contains five consonants.

All the vowels come in two versions in the script: full vowel and vowel sign. The vowel sign is much simpler than the full vowel. It is used when a vowel follows a consonant. If a vowel follows another vowel, or if a words starts with a vowel, the full vowel is used. The is no pronunciation differences between full vowels and vowel signs.

The vowel signs are written next to the preceding consonant. Some vowel signs are written before, some after, some below, and some above the consonant. And one vowel sign is simply not written at all: the absense of a sign is the sign itself! This vowel is called the inherent vowel.

If two or more consonants are following each other, then the consonants are not written in full. Instead they "melt together" and form a new symbol. Some of these symbols are easy to recognize. However, some are very different from the full versions of the consonants.

Bengali uses the same punctuation marks as English, except for the full stop which is represented by a vertical line.



tstover said...

some written above, written below, some invisible???!!!! Glad it's you learning this language. I thought English was hard! Good luck, my adventurous friend.

Mairi said...

Great work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice description. Just started learning the alphabet and some of the detail mentioned above really shed light on some dark spots... Thanks again.