How not to love thy minority in Pashchimbanga

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ejazr, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    How not to love thy minority in Pashchimbanga | TwoCircles.net

    Pashchimbanga is the name by which West Bengal will be officially known , as the provincial assembly has resolved. It is a name that has been commonly used by the people of the province for long – West Bengal being the English translation of the same name.

    February is the month of Ekushe - in both Bengals, East and West. Ekushe refers to the momentous events of 21st February, 1952 when the East Pakistani regime gunned down several protestors in Dhaka,, who were protesting the imposition of Urdu as the national language of Pakistan. At that point, not more then 5% of the population of then-Pakistan spoke Urdu as their mother tongue, while the majority of the population in Pakistan spoke Bangla. This event has an immense amount of cultural and emotive significance in both Bengals. A curious declaration may make it seem that the government in the West has lost sight of the political currents that led to that watershed moment of 1952. The Pashchimbanga governmenet has declared that the cabinet had decided that Urdu will now be treated as a second-language in those parts of Pashchimbanga where the number of Urdu speakers exceeded 10 percent of the population in the 2001 census. Readers might be astonished and may ask where in the state does the population or Urdu speakers exceed 10%. In fact, it does, in Kolkata itself and certain areas of the Bhagirathi-Hooghly industrial belt where there are large colonies of recent and not-so-recent immigrants from the upper Gangetic areas.

    On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this declaration. After all, preservation and the means to use one’s mother tongue in all walks of life is an inalienable right of every human being. Of all people, Bengalees should be most sympathetic to this, given their long record of agitation and martyrdom to preserve their language based rights. This is something they tend to forget when they undermine the same rights to ethnic communities like Chakmas and Riyangs among others in the areas Parbotto Chattagram (Bangladesh) and Tripura (India). Urdu, like any other language, is most dear to its native speakers. However, the matter is not so simple. This becomes clear when one closely looks at page 42 of the English version ‘Vision document’ of the ruling party of Pashchimbanga, the Trinamul Congress (http://aitmc.org/vision_document_english_2011.pdf) that was published in 2011, prior to the state assembly elections that brought it to power. It outlines its Action Agenda that it promises to implement within the first 200 days of coming to power. Most interesting is the sub-heading “Creation of new universities, colleges and schools to meet people’s aspirations.” Among the 10 points under that particular topic, 6 are as follows - ‘Muslim Universities & Colleges’, ‘More Madrasas, and Urdu Schools’, ‘Implement the recommendations of the Sacchar Committee and the Ranganathan Commission, where 10% Urdu speaking Muslims are there’, ‘Set aside a portion of the State’s Budget for plans intended for the educational and economic uplift of Muslims’, ‘Give, without any hindrance, official recognition to Urdu educational Institutions, thereby facilitating them with all the constitutional benefits, which they lacked of hitherto’ and finally ‘Special Budgetary provision should be made for imparting technical education in Madrasas.’ That 6 out of 10 action items on the important front of creation of new educational institutions for the masses have kept the largest religious minority of Pashchimbanga in mind is certainly commendable. These points are revealing in so far as they give us a picture of how the party think-thank views the aspirations of the Muslims of Pashchimbanga and more importantly, their conception of Muslim polity in the state. The picture that emerges is extremely problematic, to say the least.

    First of all, what is apparent that the government conflates Muslims and Urdu. Urdu is simply a language of communication like any other, not a ‘Muslim language’ ( whatever that strange entity might be). However the government thinks that by favouring Urdu, it is somehow helping Muslims. Note how Madrasas and Urdu schools come to be mentioned together. No one has claimed that Quran’s revelation was in Urdu, so its relevance vis-a-vis Madrasas only show a shoddy attempt at clubbing together what the government conceives as ‘all things Muslim’ and making a curious goodie bag out of it. At this point, it is important to remember that most Muslims of Pashchimbanga have no real connection to Urdu whatsoever. To create this association willy-nilly is a high-stakes game for this game has a flip-side.

    The people of the majority faith are also being fed this rubbish that implies some intrinsic connection between Muslims in Pashchimbanga and Urdu. In the majority community of Pashchimbanga, this only helps consolidate their long-standing charge of Muslims of Bengal being less Bengalee than their Hindu counterparts. Among the gadinashin pirzadas of Pashchimbanga who may at times suffer from Urdu-envy and consequently view Bangla as ‘less Islamic’ might do well to meditate about the long tradition of Bangla-speaking pir-aulia-ghaus-qutubs. Urdu belongs to a poor Bengalee Muslim in Murshidabad no more than the treasury of Murshid Quli Khan belonged to a landless Muslim farm-hand from Murshidabad. A false connection to past grandeur of a section of royals and gentry who happened to be Musalmans, played up by vested interests in the community, only serve to misle people away from the realities of life as it exists.

    Bangla has no less class or gravitas in expressing matters of faith. By separating Urdu issues and Muslim issues, Ms.Bandhopadhyay’s governnment shall do well not to fan the ‘Muslim-ness’ of Urdu. She must censure S. Nurul Haq, her minority affairs secretary and ask him to clarify what he means, when he says “There are many borderline areas in the 2001 Census. In those places, the Urdu-speaking population must have exceeded 10 per cent in the past decade. Such areas will be gradually included.” Why would Urdu-speakers proportionally increase more than others? Does he not consolidate the existing prejudice regarding the greater population growth rate of Muslims? Irrespective whether that is factually correct or not, this public statement yet again considers Muslims and Urdu-speakers as one and the same, and even more ignorantly, the Muslim community as a monolith about which it can make random predictions about future population growth rates.

    During British colonial times, Muslims interests in Bengal had been represented by a handful of non-Bengalee so-called sharifzada families stationed in Kolkata and Dhaka. Being largely alienated from their surrounding milieu, these intermediaries found solace and consonance in Urdu and things Islamicate in the North-Indian sense. Rafiuddin Ahmed, in his seminal work ‘The Bengali Muslims 1871-1906’, has clearly shown the pernicious role played by these self-styled intermediaries of Bengal’s Muslims to the British Raj, by recommending the compulsory study of Urdu, Arabic and Persian for Bengalee Muslims boys, but no Bangla. Times have changed, not as much as they should have.

    Ms.Mamata Bandopadhyay’s government may be earnest about the uplift of the lot of Muslims of Pashchimbanga. But it cannot do so by policies which separate Muslims from the mainstream. This is especially dangerous for one can never guess at what point some reactionary political current in the majority community may take an explicitly communal overtone. This has not happened, but this is certainly not impossible, and is to be avoided at all costs. Creating a separate employment exchange for religious minorities as she announced is certainly not a step towards social cohesion. Faith is important to any community. However, making the historic Aliah Madrasa into a university ( and ridiculously naming it Aliah Madrasa University) or building a new Hajj House for Umrah pilgrims are not the utmost priority for the Muslims of the province. While such pronouncements and activities are instantly newsworthy and sources of cheap political capital, it is also myopic. It may curry short-term favour with certain self-serving Muslim leaders, but in the long term, does nothing to address the issues that face most Muslims of Pashchimbanga, that is, food insecurity, lack of adequate and accessible health facilities, job opportunities and education that is relevant in contemporary society and economy. Unsurprisingly, these issues are the same when it comes to people of Pashchimbanga in general, irrespective of creed.

    One person many Bengalees irrespective of creed admire and hold dear is our poet Nazrul Islam. Nazrul Islam wrote poems and songs about Karbala, odes to Allah as well as some of the finest devotional songs written in Bangla about Goddess Kali /Mother Shyama. Ms.Mamata Bandopadhyay wants to set up a brand new Nazrul research centre. That is all very good. But when she goes on and on about it, especially when in a predominantly Muslim gathering, like the recent one organized in the Netaji Indoor stadium by the West Bengal Minorities Development Corporation, she is playing a dangerous game, and not a very subtle one at that. While it may be sincere, to softly underline the Muslim identity of Nazrul Islam plays to the age-old and flawed conceptions of what Muslims of Bengal want to hear. Unfortunately, there is no dearth of leaders from the Muslim community around Ms Bandopadhyay who would want her to continue making these flawed tokenisms. Certain kinds of pronouncements of separateness and exclusivity, declared or foisted upon, however much in the garb of uplift of a community, in time do become Frankenstein monsters. Our subcontinent knows that only too well. Politics of real empowerment is long and arduous, can also be unpopular to start with, may face opposition from entrenched gadinashins and other powers. But then again, who said it would be easy.
     
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  3. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    URDU is the language for Muslims and mostly Muslims speaks. in W.B, people speak Bengali and even Bangladeshi Muslims speak Bengali. No one speaks URDU there.

    URDU is spoken by only Muslims of Hyderabad, Lucknow and some other places. Rest no one speaks nor anyone has any interest.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Since when did the Language movement affect West Bengal? Clearly forcing a connection when there isn't.

    Even quite few words and sentences are totally different.

    The writer is making a mountain of a molehill and is tending to mislead those who do not know Bengal.

    Bengalis of Bengal, both sides, do not speak Urdu. They speak Bengali with some of their unique words and sentences being the difference.

    The Urdu speaking mass in Bengal are the labour class from UP and Bihar.

    If Urdu is to be given prominence, it should be given where the Urdu speaking people come from. Even in Murshidabad, which is a Muslim majority district of Bengal, the Muslims speak Bengali.

    So, what does the writer wants to convey?

    That she is one of the drawing room chatterati with bleeding heart and oozing with diamonds while sipping pink champagne?

    These bleeding hearts, are the ones who are dividing society by highlight issues that are not there, but can affect people who have some deep seated grievances on some other issues by adding one more to the kitty!
     
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  5. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    I second Ray Sir. The Urdu (and Hindi) speaking population here you can see are from Bihar and UP. If you travel in the city you can understand how big this population has grown. But I will mend one thing; they are not all labour class- there are some old aristocratic families too. Though most of them now speak fluent Bengali, there are significance difference with these people and the original Bengalies. However, our present CM is often seen surrounded by so called leader of these Udru speaking groups. Communal person like Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque can often be seen in her company. And because of these people the government is far from doing anything that can actually help the poor Muslims. At least Buddha Babu declared the need of modernizasion of the Madrsahs and by establishing Madrasah Service Commission he took a bold step to free these institution from curb of so called Muslim leaders. One thing I must mention, only handful of Madrasahs are actually Urdu medium. Most of them are Bengali medium and Arabic and History of Islam are included in the curriculum. But, if Mamata didi dont leave the company of these stupid people (which propably ensure her some votes of uneducated Bihari Muslims in Kolkata) all hard work of Buddha babu will go in vain. One more thing (some people may not like it) --- if you check the crime profile of the state; these population is second to none; be it pick pocketers in Raja Bazar or the rich guys involved in Park Street Rape case. My father and many others often mourn about the fall of Md Sporting Football club and cursh these Bihari Muslims who now control the club. One of the ex-president is now serving 10 years term in a murder case ; the current one is a MP who defeted famous CPM leader Md Selim.
     
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  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I interact with Bengali Muslim on a regular basis.

    I have never found reasons to believe that they speak Urdu and not Bengali.

    In fact, because of my being more conversant with Hindustani, at times I do use Urdu or Hindi words to explain a point and they find it humorous and wonder if I am from Bihar or UP!

    Yes, there are aristocratic Muslims families in Bengal too! I did not elaborate this aspect.

    And I can say this that the usual stereotype of Muslims that is there in India, cannot be applied to Bengali Muslims. The Bengali Muslims are calm and they think with their brains than emotions.

    Criminals are there in every community, but the ones who are from the Muslim community are mostly those who have settled in Bengal from other States.

    Mamata Bannerjee associates herself with the radicals because that shows how wedded she is to the cause. She does not use her brains and all she has in mind, is the votes.

    Her premature and silly comment on the rape victim that it was a fabrication to malign her party has come back to haunt her since the Police, against much political pressure, did their duty and proved that the case was a rape and the culprits have been caught. It is said that Damayanti Sen, Jt Commissioner (Crime) and Jawed Shamin Jt Commissioner (HQ) are up for a high jump because they solved the case in record time and which has proved Ms Bannerjee to be Quickfire Murugan with her mouth!
     
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  7. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    My Bangladeshi friends often don't understand when I speak Hindi with Urdu words. Try saying words like tassabbur, sarhad, tajruba, etc., to a Bengali Muslim. He will stare at your face.
     
  8. SHURIDH

    SHURIDH Senior Member Senior Member

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    we indian bengali muslims has no interest in urdu.urdu is an another language for us.11%of world muslim population speaks in bengali.only 5%of world muslim speaks in urdu.so but for only 5% it becomes muslim language funny.
    language and religion are two different thing.as a bengali muslim we have same right on bengali language like a bengali hindu.our religion can be islam but we are also bengali at the same time.bengali muslim makes 96%of west bengal muslim population.so if mamta do something for urdu it won't help muslim of west bengal.but if mamta do something for bengali language it will help bengali muslims and other bengali for sure.why she did not understand it.mamta shakes hands with super communal deboandi influanced pdf leader siddiquallh chowdhuri and tipu sultan mosque's imam a deboandi also.they are trying to erase liberal sufi idology among bengali muslim of west bengal.there has no base of pdf in west bengal.muslim have majority in 54 assembly sits in west bengal.muslim are 25-50% in another 83 sits.but pdf only able to file candidate in 13 sits and in those 13 sits their best performance is 4.5% vote in one sits.i don't understand why mamta makes alley with him.
    this types of steps are not good for west bengali muslims.she should not try to disintrigate bengali muslim from bengali socitey in west bengal.
     
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  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I hope Indians who are not Bengalis understand the difference between Bengalis and others.

    Religion is not a dividing factor as it may be elsewhere.

    Honestly, there is no such animosity or hostility..

    We don't even have this OBC business in Bengal!

    When I was given my Regt which was a SC Regt, others wept. I did not understand why till the told me.

    I had to understand what SC meant.

    But I did not care. I liked the cap badge. It was unusual!

    I have been brought up by my family retainer from Behar. It is later that I learnt he was SC. Never felt it that way ever. He was there from my childhood to my marriage. He was a tower of strength and we left our house and all belongings to his care. He was a family member!

    My maid and cook is a Muslim. So what?

    She is a damn good worker and very reliable!

    She ahs a hang up she does not eat mutton and so we give her chicken. Though I don't understand how the slaughtering could be different, but I don't raise the issue.

    Maybe it is not religion, it could be that she is a health freak!

    IamanIdiot may not appreciate us, but then we, Bengalis, Hindus, Muslims. Christians and Brahmos are different. We revel in our culture and openness to the world!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  10. SPIEZ

    SPIEZ Senior Member Senior Member

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    Wow! you are really a great left winger. But from where do you get all this stats ???
     
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  11. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    @ SHURIDH

    When i said, URDU is more like a Muslim language. Mt point was that maximum people who speak URDU are Muslims even in vast demographic.

    I lived in place like Lucknow. I heard many people saying "URDU is common in Lucknow region". 25% population are Muslims and only they speak. No Hindu speaks URDU. Even Muslims speak Mixture of Urdu + Hindi and not pure URDU. Even this Mixture of URDU-Hindi is the language of their Mohalas or/and when they converse with Muslims only.

    Now, Visit to Old Delhi. Hindi is spoken. Muslims speak Hindu with few URDU words. Same story everywhere.

    There is nothing called "URDU" in India. It's mixture of URDU + Hindi, which is spoken by some section of Muslims in different places.

    why URDU is considered as Muslim language because of written script. It's not based on Indian script but Arab/Persian whatever. Be it Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil - These are Indian languages and spoken by all Indians irrespective of religion.
     
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Galaxy and Spiez,

    Urdu maybe the language of the North Indian Muslims, but not in Bengal or even Bangladesh..

    Bangladesh's genesis is from the Language Movement where they opposed Urdu being imposed on Bengali as the Muslim Language.

    We are different.

    It has nothing to do with Left or Right wing.

    It has to do with the fact that we are Bengalis!
     
  13. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    It's called Nastaʿlīq script. Persian uses more symbols than Arabic.

    Majority of Muslims do not speak Urdu.

    Majority of Urdu speakers are not Muslims (in India). The Hindi we speak is not exactly Hindi, as you correctly pointed out. It is a mixture of Hindi and Urdu, often called Hindustani. So if we count them, majority of Urdu (as in Hindustani) speakers far exceeds Sanskritised Hindi speakers and are majority Hindu.
     
  14. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Bengali to the best of my knowledge is not Devnagiri script!
     
  15. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    URDU is not spoken in North India also........That was my main point.

    Only some Muslims speaks URDU in some part and even that is not URDU but Hindi with some URDU words.

    I use some Punjabi, English, Bengali, haryanvi, Bhojpuri words even sometime Spanish, French when i speak Hindi....But I can say i speak HINDI only.
     
  16. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    [​IMG]
    Genealogically, Bengali belongs to the group of Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, here marked in yellow.
     
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  18. SPIEZ

    SPIEZ Senior Member Senior Member

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    i wasn't generalizing Brig! Was just pointing something out that's all. Everyone is different in their own way. :D
     
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Bengali exhibits diglossia between the written and spoken forms of the language.[37] Two styles of writing, involving somewhat different vocabularies and syntax, have emerged:[35][38]

    Sadhu bhasa (সাধু shadhu = 'chaste' or 'sage'; ভাষা bhasha = 'language') was the written language with longer verb inflections and more of a Pali/Sanskrit-derived (তৎসম tôtshômo) vocabulary. Songs such as India's national anthem Jana Gana Mana (by Rabindranath Tagore) and national song Vande Mātaram (by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay) were composed in Shadhubhasha. However, use of Shadhubhasha in modern writing is uncommon, restricted to some official signs and documents in Bangladesh as well as for achieving particular literary effects.
    Cholito bhasha (Bengali: চলিত ভাষা) (চলিত cholito = 'current' or 'running'), known by linguists as Manno Cholit Bangla (Standard Colloquial Bengali), is a written Bengali style exhibiting a preponderance of colloquial idiom and shortened verb forms, and is the standard for written Bengali now. This form came into vogue towards the turn of the 19th century, promoted by the writings of Peary Chand Mitra (Alaler Gharer Dulal, 1857),[39] Pramatha Chowdhury (Sabujpatra, 1914) and in the later writings of Rabindranath Tagore. It is modeled on the dialect spoken in the Shantipur region in Nadia district, West Bengal. This form of Bengali is often referred to as the "Nadia standard" or "Shantipuri bangla".[33]

    While most writing is in Standard Colloquial Bengali, spoken dialects exhibit a greater variety. South-eastern West Bengal, including Kolkata, speak in Standard Colloquial Bengali. Other parts of West Bengal and western Bangladesh speak in dialects that are minor variations, such as the Medinipur dialect characterised by some unique words and constructions. However, a majority in Bangladesh speak in dialects notably different from Standard Colloquial Bengali. Some dialects, particularly those of the Chittagong region, bear only a superficial resemblance to Standard Colloquial Bengali.[40] The dialect in the Chattagram region is least widely understood by the general body of Bengalis.[40] The majority of Bengalis are able to communicate in more than one variety—often, speakers are fluent in cholitobhasha (Standard Colloquial Bengali) and one or more regional dialects.[16]

    Even in Standard Colloquial Bengali, Muslims and Hindu use different words. Due to cultural and religious traditions, Hindus and Muslims might use, respectively, Pali/Sanskrit-derived and Perso-Arabic words.[41] Some examples of lexical alternation between these two forms are:[36]

    hello: nômoshkar (S) corresponds to assalamualaikum/slamalikum (A)
    invitation: nimontron/nimontonno (S) corresponds to daoat (A)
    water : jol (S) corresponds to paani (S)
    father : baba (P) corresponds to abbu/abba (A)

    (here S = derived from Sanskrit and/or Pali, P = derived from Persian, A = derived from Arabic)
    [edit] Writing system
    Main article: Bengali script

    The Bengali alphabet is an abugida, a script with letters for consonants, diacritics for vowels, and in which an "inherent" vowel is assumed if none is written.[42] The script is a variant of the Assamese/Bengali Script used throughout Bangladesh and eastern India (Assam, West Bengal and the Mithila region of Bihar). The Assamese/Bengali Script is believed to have evolved from a modified Brahmic script around 1000 CE[43] and is similar to the Devanagari abugida used for Sanskrit and many modern Indic languages (e.g. Hindi, Marathi and Nepali). The Bengali script has particularly close historical relationships with the Assamese script, and Mithilakshar (the native script for Maithili language) and little resemblance with the Oriya script (although this relationship is not strongly evident in appearance).[44]

    The Bengali script is a cursive script with eleven graphemes or signs denoting nine vowels and two diphthongs, and thirty-nine graphemes representing consonants and other modifiers.[43] There are no distinct upper and lower case letter forms. The letters run from left to right and spaces are used to separate orthographic words. Like Devanagari, Bengali script has a distinctive horizontal line running along the tops of the graphemes that links them together.

    Since the Bengali script is an abugida, its consonant graphemes usually do not represent phonetic segments, but carry an "inherent" vowel and thus are syllabic in nature. The inherent vowel is usually a back vowel, either [ɔ] as in মত [mɔt̪] "opinion" or [o], as in মন [mon] "mind", with variants like the more open [ɒ]. To emphatically represent a consonant sound without any inherent vowel attached to it, a special diacritic, called the hôshonto (্) (cf. Arabic sukūn), may be added below the basic consonant grapheme (as in ম্ [m]). This diacritic, however, is not common, and is chiefly employed as a guide to pronunciation. The abugida nature of Bengali consonant graphemes is not consistent, however. Often, syllable-final consonant graphemes, though not marked by a hôshonto, may carry no inherent vowel sound (as in the final ন in মন [mon] or the medial ম in গামলা [ɡamla]).

    A consonant sound followed by some vowel sound other than the inherent [ɔ] is orthographically realized by using a variety of vowel allographs above, below, before, after, or around the consonant sign, thus forming the ubiquitous consonant-vowel ligature. These allographs, called kars (cf. Hindi matras) are dependent, diacritical vowel forms and cannot stand on their own. For example, the graph মি [mi] represents the consonant [m] followed by the vowel , where is represented as the diacritical allograph ি (called i-kar) and is placed before the default consonant sign. Similarly, the graphs মা [ma], মী [mi], মু [mu], মূ [mu], মৃ [mri], মে [me]~[mæ], মৈ [moj], মো [mo] and মৌ [mow] represent the same consonant ম combined with seven other vowels and two diphthongs. It should be noted that in these consonant-vowel ligatures, the so-called "inherent" vowel [ɔ] is first expunged from the consonant before adding the vowel, but this intermediate expulsion of the inherent vowel is not indicated in any visual manner on the basic consonant sign ম.

    The vowel graphemes in Bengali can take two forms: the independent form found in the basic inventory of the script and the dependent, abridged, allograph form (as discussed above). To represent a vowel in isolation from any preceding or following consonant, the independent form of the vowel is used. For example, in মই [moj] "ladder" and in ইলিশ [iliɕ] "Hilsa fish", the independent form of the vowel ই is used (cf. the dependent form ি). A vowel at the beginning of a word is always realized using its independent form.

    In addition to the inherent-vowel-suppressing hôshonto, three more diacritics are commonly used in Bengali. These are the superposed chôndrobindu (ঁ), denoting a suprasegmental for nasalization of vowels (as in চাঁদ [tɕãd] "moon"), the postposed onushshôr (ং) indicating the velar nasal [ŋ] (as in বাংলা [baŋla] "Bengali") and the postposed bishôrgo (ঃ) indicating the voiceless glottal fricative [h] (as in উঃ! [uh] "ouch!") or the gemination of the following consonant (as in দুঃখ [dukʰːo] "sorrow").

    The Bengali consonant clusters (যুক্তব্যঞ্জন juktobênjon in Bengali) are usually realized as ligatures (যুক্তাক্ষর juktakkhor), where the consonant which comes first is put on top of or to the left of the one that immediately follows. In these ligatures, the shapes of the constituent consonant signs are often contracted and sometimes even distorted beyond recognition. In Bengali writing system, there are nearly 285 such ligatures denoting consonant clusters. Although there exist a few visual formulas to construct some of these ligatures, many of them have to be learned by rote. Recently, in a bid to lessen this burden on young learners, efforts have been made by educational institutions in the two main Bengali-speaking regions (West Bengal and Bangladesh) to address the opaque nature of many consonant clusters, and as a result, modern Bengali textbooks are beginning to contain more and more "transparent" graphical forms of consonant clusters, in which the constituent consonants of a cluster are readily apparent from the graphical form. However, since this change is not as widespread and is not being followed as uniformly in the rest of the Bengali printed literature, today's Bengali-learning children will possibly have to learn to recognize both the new "transparent" and the old "opaque" forms, which ultimately amounts to an increase in learning burden.

    Bengali punctuation marks, apart from the downstroke daÅ—i (|), the Bengali equivalent of a full stop, have been adopted from western scripts and their usage is similar.[2]

    Whereas in western scripts (Latin, Cyrillic, etc.) the letter-forms stand on an invisible baseline, the Bengali letter-forms hang from a visible horizontal headstroke called the matra (not to be confused with its Hindi cognate matra, which denotes the dependent forms of Hindi vowels). The presence and absence of this matra can be important. For example, the letter ত [tɔ] and the numeral ৩ "3" are distinguishable only by the presence or absence of the matra, as is the case between the consonant cluster ত্র [trɔ] and the independent vowel এ [e]. The letter-forms also employ the concepts of letter-width and letter-height (the vertical space between the visible matra and an invisible baseline).

    There is yet to be a uniform standard collating sequence (sorting order) of Bengali graphemes. Experts in both India and Bangladesh are currently working towards a common solution for this problem.

    Bengali language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  20. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Usually three periods are identified in the history of Bengali:[9]

    Old Bengali (900/1000–1400)—texts include Charyapada, devotional songs; emergence of pronouns Ami, tumi, etc.; verb inflections -ila, -iba, etc. Assamese (Ahomiya) branches out in this period and Oriya just before this period (8th century-1300). The scripts and languages during this period were mainly influenced by the Kamrupi language (script-Kamrupa Prakrit) as the entire region- Assam, Bengal and parts of Bihar and Orissa was under the Kamrupa kingdom (now known as Assam).
    Middle Bengali (1400–1800)—major texts of the period include Chandidas's Shreekrishna Kirtana; elision of word-final ô sound; spread of compound verbs; Persian influence. Some scholars further divide this period into early and late middle periods.
    New Bengali (since 1800)—shortening of verbs and pronouns, among other changes (e.g. tahar → tar "his"/"her"; koriyachhilô → korechhilo he/she had done).

    Historically closer to Pali, Bengali saw an increase in Sanskrit influence during the Middle Bengali (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu era) and also during the Bengal Renaissance.[12][citation needed] Of the modern Indo-European languages in South Asia, Bengali and its neighbors, Oriya and Assamese (Ahomiya), in the east maintain a largely Pali/Sanskrit vocabulary base, as doesMarathi in the center-west. Standard Hindi and others such as Punjabi, Sindhi and Gujarati are more influenced by Arabic and Persian.[13]

    One should note that spoken Hindi and spoken Urdu are identical at base. However, the current standard literary form of Hindi employs a great deal of imported Sanskrit vocabulary, while the literary form of Urdu is replete with borrowings from Arabic and Persian.

    The influence of the Turkic languages of Central Asia can also be seen in Bengali and the other Indo-Aryan languages of non-peninsular India. More significantly, although the vocabulary bases are quite different, the Indo-Aryan languages share, with the Dravidian languages to their south, and with Turkic and certain other language groups of Eurasia (extending even to Mongolian, Korean and Japanese) a similar syntax (especially as regards word-order and the use of post-positions and other devices). This points, perhaps, to deep ancient connections among the people now speaking these languages that differ so much in vocabulary. These connections may have been obscured by conquests—and the subsequent adoption, in ancient times, of much of the vocabulary (but far less of the syntax) of the languages of conquerors such as the Arya by the conquered peoples of Bengal—and other places in South Asia where Indo-Aryan tongues are currently spoken.
    Shaheed Minar, or the Martyr's monument, in Dhaka, commemorates the struggle for the Bengali language.

    Until the 18th century, there was no attempt to document Bengali grammar. The first written Bengali dictionary/grammar, Vocabolario em idioma Bengalla, e Portuguez dividido em duas partes, was written by the Portuguese missionary Manuel da Assumpção between 1734 and 1742 while he was serving in Bhawal Estate.[14] Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, a British grammarian, wrote a modern Bengali grammar (A Grammar of the Bengal Language (1778)) that used Bengali types in print for the first time.[2] Ram Mohan Roy, the great Bengali reformer,[15] also wrote a "Grammar of the Bengali Language" (1832).

    During this period, the Choltibhasha form, using simplified inflections and other changes, was emerging from Shadhubhasha (older form) as the form of choice for written Bengali.[16]

    Bengali was the focus, in 1951–52, of the Bengali Language Movement (Bhasha Andolon) in what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).[17] Although the Bengali language was spoken by the majority of Bangladesh's population, Urdu was legislated as the sole national language.[18] On February 21, 1952, protesting students and activists were fired upon by military and police in the University of Dhaka and three young students and several other people were killed.[19] Later in 1999, UNESCO decided to celebrate every 21 February as International Mother Language Day in recognition of the deaths of the three students.[20][21] In a separate event on May 19, 1961, police in Silchar, India, killed eleven people who were protesting legislation that mandated the use of the Assamese language.
    Bengali language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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