Bangla: An Intersection of Languages

Bangla language bears one of the world’s most profound heritages. The language is not only limited to a means of communication of the Bangalee people. It bears the thousand year history of the people of this land. The stories of tyranny, the stories of oppression, the stories of triumph, the stories of celebration – all of these are etched in the syllables of this language.

This land has attracted people from all around the world throughout thousands of years. Some came here for business, some came here for conquest, some came for religion, while others simply for travel. This diaspora left its mark in Bangla by contributing many different words to our language. Hence, Bangla contains many words whose root origins were not today’s Bangladesh or India’s West Bengal but different regions of the world.

Map : An illustration of how words have travelled from different parts of the world to Bangla

‘রিকশা’ is the most common 3 wheeler in this part of the world. But “Rickshaw” is not a bangla word. It originated from Japan. It is common knowledge that the word ‘রেঁস্তোরা’ is the bangalee meaning of ‘Restaurant’. However, the origins of the word ‘রেঁস্তোরা’ can be traced back to France. Words like ‘চা’, ‘চিনি’ are Chinese words. Today it has become part and parcel in the tongue of every Bangalee. The persian words ‘তারিখ’, ‘দোকান’, ‘কারখানা’’ have found their place in Bangla. The British were here for roughly 400 years. They left their mark in our language as well. ‘ইউনিয়ন’, ‘স্কুল’, ‘কলেজ’ are all English words that we use daily in a way as if they are Bangla. The arabic words ‘আদালত’ , ‘উকিল’, ‘নগদ’, ‘বাকি’ have also found their home in Bangla. Besides these, Bangla was also impacted by words from, Portugal, Netherlands, Myanmar, Turkey and many other

Article Written By:

Ismot Hasnine Masrur E Khuda
Student, University of Dhaka

Zareen Tasnim Aboni
Student, University of Dhaka

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