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Bengali alphabet

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Central Shahid Minar, Islamic University, Bangladesh. Monument in the honor of Bangla Language movement
Bengali alphabet
Bengali: বাংলা বর্ণমালা বা লিপি
Time period
11th century to the present[1]
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
Official scriptfor Bengali language and Meitei language[2][3]
LanguagesBengali, Sanskrit, Kokborok, Kudmali, Hajong, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Meitei
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Assamese and Tirhuta
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Beng (325), ​Bengali (Bangla)
Unicode alias
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

The Bengali script or Bangla alphabet (Bengali: বাংলা বর্ণমালা, romanizedBangla bôrṇômala, Meitei: বেঙ্গলি ময়েক, romanized: Bengali mayek) is the alphabet used to write the Bengali language based on the Bengali-Assamese script, and has historically been used to write Sanskrit within Bengal. It is one of the most widely adopted writing systems in the world (used by over 265 million people).[5] It is one of the official scripts of the Indian Republic. It is used as the official script of the Bengali language in Bangladesh, West Bengal, Tripura and Barak valley of Assam Until recently, it was the usual script for the Meitei language in Manipur, but is being replaced by Meitei mayek.[6] two of the official languages of India.[7][8]

From a classificatory point of view, the Bengali writing system is an abugida, i.e. its vowel graphemes are mainly realised not as independent letters, but as diacritics modifying the vowel inherent in the base letter they are added to. It is written from left to right and uses a single letter case, which makes it a unicameral script, as opposed to a bicameral one like the Latin script. It is recognisable, as are some other Brahmic scripts, by a distinctive horizontal line known as a mātrā (মাত্রা) running along the tops of the letters that links them together. The Bengali writing system is less blocky, however, and presents a more sinuous shape than the Devanagari script.[9]



The Bengali script can be divided into vowels and vowel diacritics, consonants and Conjunct consonants, diacritical and other symbols, digits and punctuation marks. Vowels and consonants are used as letters and also as diacritical marks.



The Bengali script has a total of 11 vowel graphemes, each of which is called a স্বরবর্ণ swôrôbôrnô "vowel letter". The swôrôbôrnôs represent six of the seven main vowel sounds of Bengali, along with two vowel diphthongs. All of them are used in both Bengali and Assamese languages.

  • "" ô (স্বর অ shôrô ô, "vocalic ô") /ɔ/ sounds as the default inherent vowel for the entire Bengali script. Bengali, Assamese and Odia which are Eastern languages have this value for the inherent vowel, while other languages using Brahmic scripts have a for their inherent vowel.
  • Even though the near-open front unrounded vowel /æ/ is one of the seven main vowel sounds in the standard Bengali language, no distinct vowel symbol has been allotted for it in the script since there is no /æ/ sound in Sanskrit, the primary written language when the script was conceived. The use of "অ্যা" æ is very popular and is found to be used in many contexts of æ, such as অ্যাসিড, meaning acid. The sound is also orthographically realised by multiple means in modern Bengali orthography, usually using some combination of "" e (স্বর এ shôrô e, "vocalic e") /e/, "", ""[10] a (স্বর আ shôrô a) /a/ and the যফলা jôphôla (diacritic form of the consonant grapheme ). Thus /k/ with the vowel /æ/ will be written as ক্যা.
  • There are two graphemes for the vowel sound [i] and two graphemes for the vowel sound [u]. The redundancy stems from the time when this script was used to write Sanskrit, a language that had short and long vowels: "" i (হ্রস্ব ই rôshshô i, "short i") /i/ and "" ī (দীর্ঘ ঈ dirghô ī, "long ī") /iː/, and "" u (হ্রস্ব উ rôshshô u) /u/ and "" ū (দীর্ঘ ঊ dirghô ū) /uː/. The letters are preserved in the Bengali script with their traditional names despite the fact that they are no longer pronounced differently in ordinary speech. These graphemes serve an etymological function, however, in preserving the original Sanskrit spelling in tôtsômô Bengali words (words borrowed from Sanskrit).
  • The grapheme called "" (or হ্রস্ব ঋ rôshshô ri, "short ri", as it used to be) does not really represent a vowel phoneme in Bengali but the consonant-vowel combination রি /ri/. Nevertheless, it is included in the vowel section of the inventory of the Bengali script. This inconsistency is also a remnant from Sanskrit, where the grapheme represents the vocalic equivalent of a retroflex approximant (possibly an r-colored vowel). Another grapheme called "" (or হ্রস্ব ঌ rôshshô li as it used to be) representing the vocalic equivalent of a dental approximant in Sanskrit but actually representing the consonant-vowel combination লি /li/ in Bengali instead of a vowel phoneme, was also included in the vowel section but unlike "", it was recently discarded from the inventory since its usage was extremely limited even in Sanskrit.
  • When a vowel sound occurs syllable-initially or when it follows another vowel, it is written using a distinct letter. When a vowel sound follows a consonant (or a consonant cluster), it is written with a diacritic which, depending on the vowel, can appear above, below, before or after the consonant. These vowel marks cannot appear without a consonant and are called কার kar.
  • An exception to the above system is the vowel /ɔ/, which has no vowel mark but is considered inherent in every consonant letter. To denote the absence of the inherent vowel [ɔ] following a consonant, a diacritic called the হসন্ত hôsôntô (্) may be written underneath the consonant.
  • Although there are only two diphthongs in the inventory of the script: "" oi (স্বর ঐ shôrô oi, "vocalic oi") /oi/ and "" ou (স্বর ঔ shôrô ou) /ou/, the Bengali phonetic system has, in fact, many diphthongs.[nb 1] Most diphthongs are represented by juxtaposing the graphemes of their constituent vowels, as in কেউ keu /keu/.
  • There also used to be two long vowels: "" (দীর্ঘ ৠ dirghô rri, "long rri") and "" (দীর্ঘ ৡ dirghô lli), which were removed from the inventory during the Vidyasagarian reform of the script due to peculiarity to Sanskrit.

The table below shows the vowels present in the modern (since the late nineteenth century) inventory of the Bengali alphabet:

Bengali vowels
(স্বরবর্ণ sbôrôbôrnô)
হ্রস্ব (short) দীর্ঘ (long)
(vowel phoneme)
(vowel mark)
(vowel phoneme)
(vowel mark)
- a
ি ī/ee
যুক্তস্বর (complex vowels)


  1. ^ The natural pronunciation of the grapheme অ, whether in its independent (visible) form or in its "inherent" (invisible) form in a consonant grapheme, is /ɔ/. But its pronunciation changes to /o/ in the following contexts:
    • অ is in the first syllable and there is a ই /i/ or উ /u/ in the next syllable, as in অতি ôti "much" /ot̪i/, বলছি bôlchhi "(I am) speaking" /ˈboltʃʰi/
    • if the অ is the inherent vowel in a word-initial consonant cluster ending in rôphôla "rô ending" /r/, as in প্রথম prôthôm "first" /prot̪ʰom/
    • if the next consonant cluster contains a jôphôla "jô ending", as in অন্য ônyô "other" /onːo/, জন্য jônyô "for" /dʒonːo/
  2. ^ /a/, represented by the letter আ, is phonetically realised as a near-open central vowel [ɐ] by most speakers.[11]
  3. ^ a b Although উ and ও represent the vowels /u/ and /o/ respectively, they may also represent the voiced labial–velar approximant /w/ which can occur as an allophone of /o/ and /u/ when preceding vowels word-initially, especially in loan words e.g. ওয়াদা [wada] 'promise', উইলিয়াম [wiliam] 'William'.
  4. ^ Even though the near-open front unrounded vowel /æ/ is one of the seven main vowel sounds in the standard Bengali language, no distinct vowel symbol has been allotted for it in the script, though is used. /æ/ may also be transcribed in IPA and pronounced as an open-mid front unrounded vowel /ɛ/,[12] which may also occur as an allophone of /e/, especially in English loan words.
  5. ^ /ʊ/ is the original pronunciation of the vowel , though a secondary pronunciation /o/ entered the Bengali phonology by Sanskrit influence. In modern Bengali, both the ancient and adopted pronunciation of can be heard in spoken. Example: The word নোংরা (meaning "foul") is pronounced as /nʊŋra/ and /noŋra/ (romanized as nungra and nongra) - both are heard.
The consonant () along with the diacritic form of the vowels আ, ই, ঈ, উ, ঊ, ঋ, এ, ঐ, ও and ঔ.



Consonant letters are called ব্যঞ্জনবর্ণ bænjônbôrnô "consonant letter" in Bengali. The names of the letters are typically just the consonant sound plus the inherent vowel ô. Since the inherent vowel is assumed and not written, most letters' names look identical to the letter itself (the name of the letter is itself ghô, not gh).

  • Some letters that have lost their distinctive pronunciation in modern Bengali are called by more elaborate names. For example, since the consonant phoneme /n/ is written as both and , the letters are not called simply ; instead, they are called দন্ত্য ন dôntyô nô ("dental nô") and মূর্ধন্য ণ murdhônyô nô ("retroflex nô"). What was once pronounced and written as a retroflex nasal ণ [ɳ] is now pronounced as an alveolar [n] (unless conjoined with another retroflex consonant such as ট, ঠ, ড and ঢ) although the spelling does not reflect the change.
  • Although still named murdhônyô when they are being taught, retroflex consonants do not exist in Bengali and are instead fronted to their postalveolar and alveolar equivalents.[13]
  • The voiceless palato-alveolar sibilant phoneme /ʃ/ can be written as , (তালব্য শ talôbyô shô, "palatal shô"), (মূর্ধন্য ষ murdhônyô shô, "retroflex shô"), or (দন্ত্য স dôntyô sô, "dental sô" voiceless alveolar fricative), depending on the word.
  • The voiced palato-alveolar affricate phoneme /dʒ/ can be written in two ways, as (অন্তঃস্থ য ôntôsthô jô) or (বর্গীয় জ bôrgiyô jô). In many varieties of Bengali, [z, dz] are not distinct from this phoneme, but speakers who distinguish them may use the letters and with contrast.
  • Post-reform, the letter য় was introduced to distinguish it from য [note]:
    • The semivowel য়/e̯ɔ/ cannot occur at the beginning of a word .[a] The name of য় is অন্তঃস্থ অ ôntôsthô ô ('semi-vowel y') [the y is silent in the pronunciation of its name]. The pronunciation of য়/e̯ɔ/ varies between ⟨w⟩ and ⟨j⟩ ['w' and 'y'].
    • The name of is অন্তঃস্থ য ôntôsthô jô ('semi-vowel j'). It is found almost entirely at the beginning of words.
    • When present in the middle of words, in conjuncts, য is represented as a distinct letter: ্য (যফলা jôphôla) which is mostly silent or semi-silent (see below). Jôphôla may alter the pronunciation of the surrounding vowel or double the preceding consonant or be completely silent.
  • Since the nasals ñô /ẽɔ/ and ngô /ŋɔ/ cannot occur at the beginning of a word in Bengali, their names are not ñô and ngô respectively but উঙ ungô (pronounced by some as উম umô or উঁঅ ũô) and ইঞ iñô (pronounced by some as নীয় niyô or ইঙ ingô) respectively.
  • There is a difference in the pronunciation of ড় ṛô (ড-এ শূন্য ড় ḍô-e shunyô ṛô, "ṛô (as) ḍô with a zero (the figure is used analogous to the ring below diacritic as the Bengali equivalent of the Devanagari nuqta, which is again analogous to the underdot)") and ঢ় ṛhô (ঢ-এ শূন্য ঢ় ḍhô-e shunyô ṛhô) with that of (sometimes called ব-এ শূন্য র bô-e shunyô rô for distinguishing purpose) - similar to other Indic languages. This is especially true in the parlance of western and southern part of Bengal but lesser on the dialects of the eastern side of the Padma River. ড় and ঢ় were introduced to the inventory during the Vidyasagarian reform to indicate the retroflex flap in the pronunciation of ḍô and ḍhô in the middle or end of a word. It is an allophonic development in some Indic languages not present in Sanskrit. Yet in ordinary speech these letters are pronounced the same as in modern Bengali.
Bengali consonants
(ব্যঞ্জনবর্ণ bænjônbôrnô)
বর্গীয় বর্ণ (Generic sounds)
Voicing অঘোষ (Voiceless) ঘোষ (Voiced) অঘোষ (Voiceless) ঘোষ (Voiced)
Aspiration অল্পপ্রাণ (Unaspirated) মহাপ্রাণ (Aspirated) অল্পপ্রাণ (Unaspirated) মহাপ্রাণ (Aspirated) অল্পপ্রাণ (Unaspirated) মহাপ্রাণ (Aspirated)













Post-reform letters ড় ṛô
ঢ় ṛhô


  1. ^ Unlike Sanskrit and other Indic languages, Bengali words cannot begin with any semi-vocalic phoneme
  2. ^ Though in modern Bengali the letters ক, খ, গ, ঘ, ঙ are actually velar consonants and the letter হ is actually a glottal consonant, texts still use the Sanskrit name "কন্ঠ্য" ("guttural").
  3. ^ When used at the beginning or end of a word, হ is pronounced voiceless /hɔ/ but when used in the middle, it is sounded voiced as /ɦɔ/.
  4. ^ Palatal letters phonetically represent palato-alveolar sounds but in Eastern dialects they mostly are depalatalised or depalatalised and deaffricated.
  5. ^ Original sound for ঞ was /ɲɔ/ but in modern Bengali, it represents /ɔ/ and in consonant conjuncts is pronounced /nɔ/ same as ন.
  6. ^ In Sanskrit, য represented voiced palatal approximant /j/. In Bengali, it developed two allophones: voiced palato-alveolar affricate /ɔ/ same as জ when used at the beginning of a word and the palatal approximant in other cases. When reforming the script, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar introduced য়, representing /ɔ/, to indicate the palatal approximant in the pronunciation of য in the middle or end of a word. In modern Bengali, য represents /ɔ/ and the near-open front unrounded vowel /æ/ as the diacritic jôphôla. It falls into voiced alveolar sibilant affricate /dzɔ/ in Eastern dialects and is also used to represent voiced alveolar sibilant /zɔ/ for Perso-Arabic loanwords.
  7. ^ a b c In Bengali, there are three letters for sibilants: শ, ষ, স. Originally all three had distinctive sounds. In modern Bengali, the most common sibilant varies between /ʃ~ɕ/ – originally represented by শ, but today, স and ষ in words are often pronounced as /ɕ~ʃ/. The other sibilant in Bengali is /s/, originally represented by স, but today, শ and ষ, in words, can sometimes be pronounced as /s/. Another, now extinct, sibilant was /ʂ/, originally represented by ষ. ষ is mostly pronounced as /ɕ~ʃ/, but in conjunction with apical alveolar consonants, the /ʂ/ sound can sometimes be found.
  8. ^ In modern text often the name দন্ত্যমূলীয় ("alveolar") or পশ্চাদ্দন্তমূলীয় ("postalveolar") is used to describe more precisely letters previously described as retroflex.
  9. ^ The original sound for ণ was /ɳɔ/ but in modern Bengali it is almost always pronounced /nɔ/, the same as ন. An exception is in conjuncts with other retroflex letters, where the original sound for ণ can occasionally be found.
  10. ^ The /r/ phoneme, represented by র, is pronounced either as a voiced alveolar flap [ɾ], voiced alveolar approximant [ɹ] or voiced alveolar trill [r]. Most speakers colloquially pronounce /r/ as a flap [ɾ], although the trill [r] may occur word-initially; with the flap [ɾ] occurring medially and finally. /r/ can also occur as an approximant [ɹ], especially in some Eastern dialects and sometimes in conjuncts before consonants.[14][15]
  11. ^ Although ফ represents the aspirated form of the voiceless bilabial stop /ɔ/ it is pronounced either voiceless labial fricative /ɸɔ/ (in Eastern dialects) or voiceless labiodental fricative /fɔ/ in ordinary speech.
  12. ^ Although ভ represents the aspirated form of the voiced bilabial stop /ɔ/ it is pronounced either voiced labial fricative /βɔ/ (in Eastern dialects) or voiced labiodental fricative /vɔ/ in ordinary speech.
  13. ^ [ɽʱ] only occurs in the individual pronunciation of the letter ঢ় [ɽʱɔ] but is usually pronounced as [ɽ] in ordinary speech.

Consonant conjuncts

The consonant ligature ndrô (ন্দ্র) : ন () in green, দ () in blue and র () in maroon.

Clusters of up to four consonants can be orthographically represented as a typographic ligature called a consonant conjunct (Bengali: যুক্তাক্ষর/যুক্তবর্ণ juktakkhôr/juktôbôrnô or more specifically যুক্তব্যঞ্জন). Typically, the first consonant in the conjunct is shown above and/or to the left of the following consonants. Many consonants appear in an abbreviated or compressed form when serving as part of a conjunct. Others simply take exceptional forms in conjuncts, bearing little or no resemblance to the base character.

Often, consonant conjuncts are not actually pronounced as would be implied by the pronunciation of the individual components. For example, adding underneath shô in Bengali creates the conjunct শ্ল, which is not pronounced shlô but slô in Bengali. Many conjuncts represent Sanskrit sounds that were lost centuries before modern Bengali was ever spoken as in জ্ঞ. It is a combination of ǰô and ñô but it is not pronounced "ǰñô" or "jnô". Instead, it is pronounced ggô in modern Bengali. Thus, as conjuncts often represent (combinations of) sounds that cannot be easily understood from the components, the following descriptions are concerned only with the construction of the conjunct, and not the resulting pronunciation.

(Some graphemes may appear in a form other than the mentioned form due to the font used)

Fused forms


Some consonants fuse in such a way that one stroke of the first consonant also serves as a stroke of the next.

  • The consonants can be placed on top of one another, sharing their vertical line: ক্ক kkô গ্ন gnô গ্ল glô ন্ন nnô প্ন pnô প্প ppô ল্ল llô etc.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ব bô can hang on the vertical line under the preceding consonants, taking the shape of ব bô (includes বফলা bôphôla): গ্ব gbô ণ্ব "ṇbô" দ্ব "dbô" ল্ব lbô শ্ব "shbô".
  • The consonants can also be placed side-by-side, sharing their vertical line: দ্দ ddô ন্দ ndô ব্দ bdô ব্জ bǰô প্ট pṭô স্ট sṭô শ্চ shchô শ্ছ shchhô, etc.

Approximated forms


Some consonants are written closer to one another simply to indicate that they are in a conjunct together.

  • The consonants can be placed side-by-side, appearing unaltered: দ্গ dgô দ্ঘ dghô ড্ড ḍḍô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, bô can appear immediately to the right of the preceding consonant, taking the shape of bô (includes বফলা bôphôla): ধ্ব "dhbô" ব্ব bbô হ্ব "hbô".

Compressed forms


Some consonants are compressed (and often simplified) when appearing as the first member of a conjunct.

  • As the first member of a conjunct, the consonants ngô chô ḍô and bô are often compressed and placed at the top-left of the following consonant, with little or no change to the basic shape: ঙ্ক্ষ "ngkṣô" ঙ্খ ngkhô ঙ্ঘ ngghô ঙ্ম ngmô চ্চ chchô চ্ছ chchhô চ্ঞ "chnô" ড্ঢ ḍḍhô ব্‍ব bbô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, tô is compressed and placed above the following consonant, with little or no change to the basic shape: ত্ন tnô ত্ম "tmô" ত্ব "tbô".
  • As the first member of a conjunct, mô is compressed and simplified to a curved shape. It is placed above or to the top-left of the following consonant: ম্ন mnô ম্প mpô ম্ফ mfô ম্ব mbô ম্ভ mbhô ম্ম mmô ম্ল mlô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ṣô is compressed and simplified to an oval shape with a diagonal stroke through it. It is placed to the top-left of the following consonants: ষ্ক ṣkô ষ্ট ṣṭô ষ্ঠ ṣṭhô ষ্প ṣpô ষ্ফ ṣfô ষ্ম ṣmô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, sô is compressed and simplified to a ribbon shape. It is placed above or to the top-left of the following consonant: স্ক skô স্খ skhô স্ত stô স্থ sthô স্ন snô স্প spô স্ফ sfô স্ব "sbô" স্ম "smô" স্ল slô.

Abbreviated forms


Some consonants are abbreviated when appearing in conjuncts and lose part of their basic shape.

  • As the first member of a conjunct, ǰô can lose its final down-stroke: জ্জ ǰǰô জ্ঞ "ǰñô" জ্ব "jbô".
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ñô can lose its bottom half: ঞ্চ ñchô ঞ্ছ ñchhô ঞ্জ ñǰô ঞ্ঝ ñǰhô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ñô can lose its left half (the part): জ্ঞ "ǰñô".
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ṇô and pô can lose their down-stroke: ণ্ঠ ṇṭhô ণ্ড ṇḍô প্ত ptô প্স psô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, tô and bhô can lose their final upward tail: ত্ত ttô ত্থ tthô ত্র trô ভ্র bhrô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, thô can lose its final upstroke, taking the form of hô instead: ন্থ nthô স্থ sthô ম্থ mthô
  • As the last member of a conjunct, mô can lose its initial down-stroke: ক্ম "kmô" গ্ম "gmô" ঙ্ম ngmô ট্ম "ṭmô" ণ্ম "ṇmô" ত্ম "tmô" দ্ম "dmô" ন্ম nmô ম্ম mmô শ্ম "shmô" ষ্ম ṣmô স্ম "smô".
  • As the last member of a conjunct, sô can lose its top half: ক্স ksô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct ṭô, ḍô and ḍhô can lose their matra: প্ট pṭô ণ্ড ṇḍô ণ্ট ṇṭô ণ্ঢ ṇḍhô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct ḍô can change its shape: ণ্ড ṇḍô

Variant forms


Some consonants have forms that are used regularly but only within conjuncts.

  • As the first member of a conjunct, ঙ ngô can appear as a loop and curl: ঙ্ক ngkô ঙ্গ nggô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, the curled top of ধ dhô is replaced by a straight downstroke to the right, taking the form of ঝ ǰhô instead: গ্ধ gdhô দ্ধ ddhô ন্ধ ndhô ব্ধ bdhô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, র rô appears as a diagonal stroke (called রেফ ref) above the following member: র্ক rkô র্খ rkhô র্গ rgô র্ঘ rghô, etc.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, র rô appears as a wavy horizontal line (called রফলা rôphôla) under the previous member: খ্র khrô গ্র grô ঘ্র ghrô ব্র brô, etc.
    • In some fonts, certain conjuncts with রফলা rôphôla appear using the compressed (and often simplified) form of the previous consonant: জ্র ǰrô ট্র ṭrô ঠ্র ṭhrô ড্র ḍrô ম্র mrô স্র srô.
    • In some fonts, certain conjuncts with রফলা rôphôla appear using the abbreviated form of the previous consonant: ক্র krô ত্র trô ভ্র bhrô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, য jô appears as a wavy vertical line (called যফলা jôphôla) to the right of the previous member: ক্য "kyô" খ্য "khyô" গ্য "gyô" ঘ্য "ghyô" etc.
    • In some fonts, certain conjuncts with যফলা jôphôla appear using special fused forms: দ্য "dyô" ন্য "nyô" শ্য "shyô" ষ্য "ṣyô" স্য "syô" হ্য "hyô".


  • When followed by র rô or ত tô, ক kô takes on the same form as ত tô would with the addition of a curl to the right: ক্র krô, ক্ত ktô.
  • When preceded by the abbreviated form of ঞ ñô, চ chô takes the shape of ব bô: ঞ্চ ñchô
  • When preceded by another ট ṭô, ট is reduced to a leftward curl: ট্ট ṭṭô.
  • When preceded by ষ ṣô, ণ ṇô appears as two loops to the right: ষ্ণ ṣṇô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, or when at the end of a word and followed by no vowel, ত tô can appear as : ৎস "tsô" ৎপ tpô ৎক tkô etc.
  • When preceded by হ hô, ন nô appears as a curl to the right: হ্ন "hnô".
  • Certain combinations must be memorised: ক্ষ "kṣô" হ্ম "hmô".

Certain compounds


When serving as a vowel mark, উ u, ঊ u, and ঋ ri take on many exceptional forms.

  • উ u
    • When following গ gô or শ shô, it takes on a variant form resembling the final tail of ও o: গু gu শু shu.
    • When following a ত tô that is already part of a conjunct with প pô, ন nô or স sô, it is fused with the ত to resemble ও o: ন্তু ntu স্তু stu প্তু ptu.
    • When following র rô, and in many fonts also following the variant রফলা rôphôla, it appears as an upward curl to the right of the preceding consonant as opposed to a downward loop below: রু ru গ্রু gru ত্রু tru থ্রু thru দ্রু dru ধ্রু dhru ব্রু bru ভ্রু bhru শ্রু shru.
    • When following হ hô, it appears as an extra curl: হু hu.
  • ঊ u
    • When following র rô, and in many fonts also following the variant রফলা rôphôla, it appears as a downstroke to the right of the preceding consonant as opposed to a downward hook below: রূ rū গ্রূ grū থ্রূ thrū দ্রূ drū ধ্রূ dhrū ভ্রূ bhrū শ্রূ shrū.
  • ঋ ri
    • When following হ hô, it takes the variant shape of ঊ u: হৃ hri.
  • Conjuncts of three consonants also exist, and follow the same rules as above: স sô + ত tô +র rô = স্ত্র strô, ম mô + প pô + র rô = ম্প্র mprô, জ ǰô + জ ǰô + ব bô = জ্জ্ব "ǰǰbô", ক্ষ "kṣô" + ম mô = ক্ষ্ম "kṣmô".
  • Theoretically, four-consonant conjuncts can also be created, as in র rô + স sô + ট ṭô + র rô = র্স্ট্র rsṭrô, but they are not found in native words.
  • Also theoretically, 5-letter conjuncts can be created, as র rô + স sô + ট tô + র rô + ঁ = র্স্ট্রঁ (pronounced rsṭrô but nasalised: rsṭrôñ). Here ঁ is a diacritic which nasalises the previous vowel. A theoretical 6-letter conjunct would be র্স্ট্রাঁ (rsṭrañ/rsṭra), with the addition of a (আ) to র্স্ট্রঁ, and a theoretical 7-letter conjunct would be like র্স্ট্র‍্যাঁ (rsṭrya/rsṭryañ) with the addition of য to র্স্ট্রাঁ.

Diacritics and other symbols


These are mainly the Brahmi-Sanskrit diacritics, phones and punctuation marks present in languages with Sanskrit influence or Brahmi-derived scripts.

সংশোধক বর্ণ sôngshodhôk bôrnô
Name Function Romanization IPA
[nc 1] খণ্ড ত
khôndô tô
Special character. Final unaspirated dental [t̪] t /t̪/
[nc 2] অনুস্বার
Diacritic. Final velar nasal [ŋ] ng /ŋ/
[nc 2] বিসর্গ
1. Doubles the next consonant sound without the vowel (spelling feature) in দুঃখ dukkhô, the k of khô was repeated before the whole khô
2. "h" sound at end, examples: এঃ eh!, উঃ uh!
3. Silent in spellings like আন্তঃনগর āntônôgôr meaning "Inter-city"
4. Also used as abbreviation, as in কিঃমিঃ (similar to "km" in English), for the word কিলোমিটার "kilometer", or ডাঃ (similar to "Dr" in English) for ডাক্তার dāktār "doctor".

But now using বিসর্গ bishôrgô for making abbreviations is considered grammatically wrong and now dot is used for making abbreviations (as in কি.মি. for the word কিলোমিটার " kilometer", or ডা. for ডাক্তার dāktār "doctor" which are respectively similar to "km" and "Dr" in English) is grammatically correct.[16][17]

h /ḥ/
‍ঁ চন্দ্রবিন্দু
Diacritic. Vowel nasalization ◌̃ / ṃ /◌̃/
‍্ হসন্ত
Diacritic. Suppresses the inherent vowel [ɔ] (ô)
‍ঽ অবগ্রহ
Special character or sign. Used for prolonging vowel sounds
Example1: শোনঽঽঽ shônôôôô meaning "listennnn..." (listen), this is where the default inherited vowel sound ô in is prolonged.
Example2: কিঽঽঽ? kiiii? meaning "Whatttt...?" (What?), this is where the vowel sound i which is attached with the consonant is prolonged.
‍্য যফলা
Diacritic. Used with two types of pronunciation in modern Bengali depending on the location of the consonant it is used with within a syllable
Example 1 - When the consonant it is used with is syllable-initial, it acts as the vowel /æ/: ত্যাগ is pronounced /t̪æɡ/
Example 2 - When the consonant it is used with is syllable-final, it doubles the consonant: মুখ্য is pronounced /mukʰːɔ/
Notably used in transliterating English words with /æ/ sounding vowels, e.g. ব্ল্যাক "black" and sometimes as a diacritic to indicate non-Bengali vowels of various kinds in transliterated foreign words, e.g. the schwa indicated by a jôphôla, the French u, and the German umlaut ü as উ্য uyô, the German umlaut ö as ও্য oyô or এ্য eyô
ê / yô /æ/ or /ː/
‍‍্র রফলা
Diacritic. [r] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. r /r/
‍‍র্ক রেফ
Diacritic. [r] pronounced preceding a consonant phoneme. r /r/
‍্ব বফলা
Diacritic. Used in spellings only, if they were adopted from Sanskrit and has two different pronunciations depending on the location of the consonant it is used with
Example 1 - When the consonant it is used with is syllable-initial, it remains silent: স্বাধীন is pronounced as /ʃad̪ʱin/ rather than /ʃbad̪ʱin/
Example 2 - When the consonant it is used with is syllable-final, it doubles the consonant: বিদ্বান is pronounced /bid̪ːan/ and বিশ্ব is pronounced /biʃːɔ/
However, certain Sanskrit sandhis (phonetic fusions) such as 'ঋগ্বেদ', 'দিগ্বিজয়', 'উদ্বেগ', 'উদ্বৃত্ত' are pronounced /riɡbed̪/, /d̪iɡbidʒɔe̯/, /ud̪beɡ/, /ud̪brittɔ/ respectively while usage with the consonant defies phonological rules: 'আহ্বান' and 'জিহ্বা' are properly pronounced /aobɦan/ and /dʒiobɦa/ rather than /aɦban/ and /dʒiɦba/, respectively.
Also used in transliterating Islam-related Arabic words
Note: Not all instances of bô used as the last member of a conjunct are bôphôla, for example, in the words অম্বর ômbôr, লম্বা lômba, তিব্বত tibbôt, বাল্ব balb, etc.
- /ː/
‍৺ ঈশ্বর
Sign. Represents the name of a deity or also written before the name of a deceased person
anji /siddhirôstu
Sign. Used at the beginning of texts as an invocation


  1. ^ ৎ (khôndô tô "part-") is always used syllable-finally and always pronounced as /t̪/. It is predominantly found in loan words from Sanskrit such as ভবিষ্যৎ bhôbishyôt "future", সত্যজিৎ sôtyôjit (a proper name), etc. It is also found in some onomatopoeic words (such as থপাৎ thôpat "sound of something heavy that fell", মড়াৎ môrat "sound of something breaking", etc.), as the first member of some consonant conjuncts (such as ৎস tsô, ৎপ tpô, ৎক tkô, etc.), and in some foreign loanwords (e.g. নাৎসি natsi "Nazi", জুজুৎসু jujutsu "Jujutsu", ৎসুনামি tsunami "Tsunami", etc.) which contain the same conjuncts. It is an overproduction inconsistency, as the sound /t̪/ is realised by both ত and ৎ. This creates confusion among inexperienced writers of Bengali. There is no simple way of telling which symbol should be used. Usually, the contexts where ৎ is used need to be memorised, as they are less frequent. In the native Bengali words, syllable-final ত /t̪ɔ/ is pronounced /t̪/, as in নাতনি /nat̪ni/ "grand-daughter", করাত /kɔrat̪/ "saw", etc.
  2. ^ a b -h and -ng are also often used as abbreviation marks in Bengali, with -ng used when the next sound following the abbreviation would be a nasal sound, and -h otherwise. For example, ডঃ dôh stands for ডক্টর dôktôr "doctor" and নং nông stands for নম্বর nômbôr "number". Some abbreviations have no marking at all, as in ঢাবি dhabi for ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় Dhaka Bishbôbidyalôy "University of Dhaka". The full stop can also be used when writing out English letters as initials, such as ই.ইউ. i.iu "EU".

Digits and numerals


The Bengali script has ten numerical digits (graphemes or symbols indicating the numbers from 0 to 9). Bengali numerals have no horizontal headstroke or মাত্রা "matra".

Bengali numerals
Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Bengali numerals

Numbers larger than 9 are written in Bengali using a positional base 10 numeral system (the decimal system). A period or dot is used to denote the decimal separator, which separates the integral and the fractional parts of a decimal number. When writing large numbers with many digits, commas are used as delimiters to group digits, indicating the thousand (হাজার hazar), the hundred thousand or lakh (লাখ lakh or লক্ষ lôkkhô), and the ten million or hundred lakh or crore (কোটি koti) units. In other words, leftwards from the decimal separator, the first grouping consists of three digits, and the subsequent groupings always consist of two digits.

For example, the English number 17,557,345 will be written in traditional Bengali as ১,৭৫,৫৭,৩৪৫.

Punctuation marks


Bengali punctuation marks, apart from the downstroke দাড়ি dari (।), the Bengali equivalent of a full stop, have been adopted from western scripts and their usage is similar: Commas, semicolons, colons, quotation marks, etc. are the same as in English. Capital letters are absent in the Bengali script so proper names are unmarked.

An apostrophe, known in Bengali as ঊর্ধ্বকমা urdhbôkôma "upper comma", is sometimes used to distinguish between homographs, as in পাটা pata "plank" and পাʼটা pa'ta "the leg". Sometimes, a hyphen is used for the same purpose (as in পা-টা, an alternative of পাʼটা).

Characteristics of the Bengali text

An example of handwritten Bengali script. Part of a poem written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1926 in Hungary.

Bengali text is written and read horizontally, from left to right. The consonant graphemes and the full form of vowel graphemes fit into an imaginary rectangle of uniform size (uniform width and height). The size of a consonant conjunct, regardless of its complexity, is deliberately maintained the same as that of a single consonant grapheme, so that diacritic vowel forms can be attached to it without any distortion. In a typical Bengali text, orthographic words, words as they are written, can be seen as being separated from each other by an even spacing. Graphemes within a word are also evenly spaced, but that spacing is much narrower than the spacing between words.

Unlike in western scripts (Latin, Cyrillic, etc.) for which the letter-forms stand on an invisible baseline, the Bengali letter-forms instead hang from a visible horizontal left-to-right headstroke called মাত্রা matra. The presence and absence of this matra can be important. For example, the letter ত 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 trô 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).

Grapheme Percentage

According to Bengali linguist Munier Chowdhury, there are about nine graphemes that are the most frequent in Bengali texts, shown with its percentage of appearance in the adjacent table.[18]



ā i ī u ū e ai o au


k kh g gh c ch j jh ñ ṭh ḍh t th d dh n p ph b bh m ẏ,y r l,ḷ w ś s h kṣ
Bengali য,য় ওয় (ৱ) ক্ষ জ্ঞ
Odia ଯ,ୟ ଲ,ଳ କ୍ଷ ଜ୍ଞ
Devanagari ल,ळ क्ष ज्ञ

Vowel diacritics

ka ki ku kṛ kṝ kḷ kḹ ke kai ko kau
Bengali কা কি কী কু কূ কৃ কৄ কৢ কৣ কে কৈ কো কৌ
Odia କା କି କୀ କୁ କୂ କୃ କୄ କୢ କୣ କେ କୈ କୋ କୌ
Devanagari का कि की कु कू कृ कॄ कॢ कॣ के कै को कौ



In the script, clusters of consonants are represented by different and sometimes quite irregular forms; thus, learning to read is complicated by the sheer size of the full set of letters and letter combinations, numbering about 350. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar introduced punctuation marks in Bengali language and wrote a book named Barnaparichay to standardize Bengali alphabets. While efforts at standardising the alphabet for the Bengali language continue in such notable centres as the Bangla Academy at Dhaka (Bangladesh) and the Pôshchimbônggô Bangla Akademi at Kolkata (West Bengal, India), it is still not quite uniform yet, as many people continue to use various archaic forms of letters, resulting in concurrent forms for the same sounds.



Romanization of Bengali is the representation of the Bengali language in the Latin script. There are various ways of Romanization systems of Bengali, created in recent years but failed to represent the true Bengali phonetic sound. While different standards for romanisation have been proposed for Bengali, they have not been adopted with the degree of uniformity seen in languages such as Japanese or Sanskrit.[nb 2] The Bengali alphabet has often been included with the group of Brahmic scripts for romanisation in which the true phonetic value of Bengali is never represented. Some of them are the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration or "IAST system"[19] "Indian languages Transliteration" or ITRANS (uses upper case alphabets suited for ASCII keyboards),[20] and the extension of IAST intended for non-Sanskrit languages of the Indian region called the National Library at Kolkata romanisation.[21]

Sample texts


Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The first line is the Bengali alphabet; the second a phonetic Romanization, the third IPA.









































































































সমস্ত মানুষ স্বাধীনভাবে সমান মর্যাদা এবং অধিকার নিয়ে জন্মগ্রহণ করে। তাঁদের বিবেক এবং বুদ্ধি আছে; সুতরাং সকলেরই একে অপরের প্রতি ভ্রাতৃত্বসুলভ মনোভাব নিয়ে আচরণ করা উচিত।

Šomosto manush šadhinbhabe šoman morjada ebong odhikar niye jonmogrohon kore. Tãder bibek ebong buddhi achhe; šutôrang šokoleri æke oporer proti bhratrittošulobh monobhab niye achoron kora uchit.

ʃɔmost̪o manuʃ ʃad̪ʱinbʱabe ʃoman mɔrdʒad̪a eboŋ od̪ʱikar nie̯e dʒɔnmoɡrohon kɔre. t̪ãd̪er bibek eboŋ bud̪ːʱi atʃʰe; ʃut̪oraŋ ʃɔkoleri æke ɔporer prot̪i bʱrat̪rit̪ːoʃulɔbʱ monobʱab nie̯e atʃorɔn kɔra utʃit̪

All human free-manner-in equal dignity and right taken birth-take do. Their reason and intelligence exist; therefore everyone-indeed one another's towards brotherhood-ly attitude taken conduct do should.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.



Bengali script was added to the Unicode Standard in October 1991 with the release of version 1.0.

The Unicode block for Bengali is U+0980–U+09FF:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+09Bx ি
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also



  1. ^ Different Bengali linguists give different numbers of Bengali diphthongs in their works depending on methodology, e.g. 25 (Chatterji 1939: 40), 31 (Hai 1964), 45 (Ashraf and Ashraf 1966: 49), 28 (Kostic and Das 1972:6–7) and 17 (Sarkar 1987).
  2. ^ In Japanese, there is some debate as to whether to accent certain distinctions, such as Tōhoku vs Tohoku. Sanskrit is well-standardized because the speaking community is relatively small, and sound change is not a large concern.


  1. ^ "Ancient Scripts". Archived from the original on 16 November 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2007.
  2. ^ "GAZETTE TITLE: The Manipur Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2021". manipurgovtpress.nic.in. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2023. "Manipuri Language" means Meeteilon written in Meetei Mayek and spoken by the majority of Manipur population: Provided that the concurrent use of Bengali Script and Meetei Mayek shall be allowed in addition to English language, for a period up to 10 (ten) years from the date of commencement of this Act.
  3. ^ "Manipuri language and alphabets". omniglot.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  4. ^ Daniels, Peter T. (2008). "Writing systems of major and minor languages". In Kachru, Braj B.; Kachru, Yamuna; Sridhar, S. N. (eds.). Languages in South Asia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 285–308. ISBN 978-0-521-78141-1.
  5. ^ "Bengali alphabet". Archived from the original on 26 January 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2005.
  6. ^ "GAZETTE TITLE: The Manipur Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2021". manipurgovtpress.nic.in. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2023. "Manipuri Language" means Meeteilon written in Meetei Mayek and spoken by the majority of Manipur population: Provided that the concurrent use of Bengali Script and Meetei Mayek shall be allowed in addition to English language, for a period up to 10(ten) years from the date of commencement of this Act.
  7. ^ "Bengali alphabet, pronunciation and language". omniglot.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  8. ^ "Manipuri language and alphabets". omniglot.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  9. ^ George Cardona and Danesh Jain (2003), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415772945
  10. ^ Thompson, Hanne-Ruth (2020). Bengali: A Comprehensive Grammar (Routledge Comprehensive Grammars), 1 (1 ed.). Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 978-0415411394.
  11. ^ Khan, Sameer ud Dowla (2010). "Bengali (Bangladeshi Standard)" (PDF). Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 40 (2): 222. doi:10.1017/S0025100310000071. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 March 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  12. ^ Khan (2010), p. 222.
  13. ^ Mazumdar, Bijaychandra (2000). The history of the Bengali language (Repr. [d. Ausg.] Calcutta, 1920. ed.). New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 57. ISBN 8120614526. yet it is to be noted as a fact, that the cerebral letters are not so much cerebral as they are dental in our speech. If we carefully notice our pronunciation of the letters of the 'ট' class we will see that we articulate 'ট' and 'ড,' for example, almost like English T and D without turning up the tip of the tongue much away from the region of the teeth.
  14. ^ Ferguson, Charles A.; Chowdhury, Munier (1960). "The Phonemes of Bengali". Language. 36 (1). Charles A. Ferguson and Munier Chowdhury: 22–59. doi:10.2307/410622. JSTOR 410622. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  15. ^ Khan (2010), pp. 223–224.
  16. ^ Amin, Mohammed. "বিসর্গবিধি ও উচ্চারণ" (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 14 November 2022. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  17. ^ "সহজ বাংলা বানানের নিয়ম" [Simple Bengali Spelling Rules]. The Daily Janakantha (in Bengali). 4 May 2019. ৪১. বিসর্গ (ঃ ) ব্যবহার: বিসর্গ একটি বাংলা বর্ণ এটি কোনো চিহ্ন নয়। বর্ণ হিসেবে ব্যবহার করতে হবে। বিসর্গ (ঃ) হলো অঘোষ ‘হ্’-এর উচ্চারণে প্রাপ্ত ধ্বনি। ‘হ’-এর উচ্চারণ ঘোষ কিন্তু বিসর্গ (ঃ)-এর উচ্চারণ অঘোষ। বাংলায় ভাষায় বিস্ময়াদি প্রকাশে বিসর্গ (ঃ )-এর উচ্চারণ প্রকাশ পায়। যেমন- আঃ, উঃ, ওঃ, ছিঃ, বাঃ । পদের শেষে বিসর্গ (ঃ) ব্যবহার হবে না। যেমন ধর্মত, কার্যত, আইনত, ন্যায়ত, করত, বস্তুত, ক্রমশ, প্রায়শ ইত্যাদি। পদমধ্যস্থে বিসর্গ ব্যবহার হবে। যেমন অতঃপর, দুঃখ, স্বতঃস্ফূর্ত, অন্তঃস্থল, পুনঃপুন, পুনঃপ্রকাশ, পুনঃপরীক্ষা, পুনঃপ্রবেশ, পুনঃপ্রতিষ্ঠা ইত্যাদি। অর্ধ শব্দকে পূর্ণতা দানে অর্থাৎ পূর্ণ শব্দকে সংক্ষিপ্ত রূপে প্রকাশে বিসর্গ ব্যবহার করা হলেও আধুনিক বানানে ডট ( . ) ব্যবহার করা হচ্ছে। যেমন- ডাক্তার>ডা. (ডাঃ), ডক্টর>ড. (ডঃ), লিমিটেড> লি. (লিঃ) ইত্যাদি। বিসর্গ যেহেতু বাংলা বর্ণ এবং এর নিজস্ব ব্যবহার বিধি আছে— তাই এ ধরনের বানানে (ডাক্তার>ডা., ডক্টর>ড., লিমিটেড> লি.) বিসর্গ ব্যবহার বর্জন করা হয়েছে। কারণ বিসর্গ যতিচিহ্ন নয়। [সতর্কীকরণ: বিসর্গ (ঃ)-এর স্থলে কোলন ( : ) কোনোভাবেই ব্যবহার করা যাবে না। যেমন- অত:পর, দু:খ ইত্যাদি। কারণ কোলন ( : ) কোনো বর্ণ নয়, চিহ্ন। যতিচিহ্ন হিসেবে বিসর্গ (ঃ) ব্যবহার যাবে না। যেমন- নামঃ রেজা, থানাঃ লাকসাম, জেলাঃ কুমিল্লা, ১ঃ৯ ইত্যাদি।]. Archived from the original on 14 November 2022. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  18. ^ See Chowdhury 1963
  19. ^ "Learning International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration". Sanskrit 3 – Learning transliteration. Gabriel Pradiipaka & Andrés Muni. Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  20. ^ "ITRANS – Indian Language Transliteration Package". Avinash Chopde. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  21. ^ "Annex-F: Roman Script Transliteration" (PDF). Indian Standard: Indian Script Code for Information Interchange — ISCII. Bureau of Indian Standards. 1 April 1999. p. 32. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2006.


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