Chittagonian language

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Chittagong Bangla
চাঁটগাঁইয়া Chatgaiya
Native to Bangladesh, Burma
Native speakers
13 million (2006)[1]
to 16 million (2007)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ctg
Glottolog chit1275[3]

Chittagonian or Chittagong Bangla (চাঁটগাঁইয়া Chatgaiya), also Chatgaya, is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the people of Chittagong in Bangladesh and in much of the southeast of the country. It is closely related to Bengali and is often considered to be a nonstandard dialect of Bengali, but the two are not mutually intelligible.[4] It is estimated (2009) that Chittagonian has 13–16 million speakers, principally in Bangladesh.[5]


Chittagonian is a member of the Bengali-Assamese sub-branch of the Eastern group of Indo-Aryan languages, a branch of the wider and more vast Indo-European language family. Its sister languages include Sylheti, Rohingya and Bengali. Like other Bengali-Assamese languages, it is derived from Pali, and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European.[6]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Chittagonian is spoken in southeastern Bangladesh throughout Chittagong Division but mainly in Chittagong District and Cox's Bazar District. It has (2009) an estimated 13 million speakers in Bangladesh. It has no official status and is not taught at any level in schools. It is mistakenly regarded by many Bangladeshis, including most Chittagonians, to be a harder form of Bengali as all educated Chittagonians are schooled in Bengali.

Essentially, Chittagonian has no standard form and is rather a continuum of different dialects, varying with location from north to south and also by religion between Muslims (professed by most Chittagonians) and Hindus. Variation in use between Muslims and Hindus is strictly in terms of vocabulary, whereas by location, grammar is slightly varied as well as vocabulary.



Chittagonian is distinguished from Bengali by its large inventory of fricatives, which often correspond to plosives in Bengali. For example, the Chittagonian voiceless velar fricative [x] (like the Arabic "kh" or German "ch") in [xabar] corresponds to the Bengali voiceless aspirated velar plosive [kʰ], and the Chittagonian voiceless labiodental fricative [f] corresponds to the Bengali voiceless aspirated bilabial plosive [pʰ]. Some of such pronunciations are used in eastern dialects of Bengali as well. Chittagonian has lost all the voiced aspirates ("breathy-voice consonants") found in Bengali and most modern Indo-Aryan languages.


Chittagonian grammar is similar to that of Bengali, with significant variations in inflectional morphology (prefixes, suffixes, particles, etc.), and some variation in word order.

Like related languages of the eastern Indian Subcontinent, Chittagonian has a subject–object–verb basic word order. Like Assamese but unlike Bengali, Chittagonian has preverbal negation: the negative particle will precede the verb in Chittagonian; the corresponding Bengali's negative particle would follow the verb.

(ইঁতারা হাঁমত যার গুঁই।)

Ítara (They) hamót (to work) źar ģui (go).

Subject Object Verb
আঁই Aááí (I) বাঁত bát (rice) হাইঁ haí (eat).
ইতিঁ Ití (She) টিভি TV (TV) চাইঁ saí (watches).
ইতেঁ Ité (He) সাইকেঁল saikél (bicycle) চলার solar (is riding).


As in the case of Bengali, most of the vocabulary of Chittagonian is derived from Pali. Like Bengali, it also includes a significant number of imported words from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, as well as, to a lesser extent, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Indonesian. In addition, English words are widely used in spoken Chittagonian, just as they are in almost all other neighbouring languages, as a result of the legacy of the British Empire.

Although much of the vocabulary of Chittagonian Bengali is the same as that of Standard Bengali, there are several distinguishing features. The contribution of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish words to Chittagonian Bengali is far greater than that to Standard Bengali beause of Chittagong's history as a port city that was open to traders from Arabia, Persia and Turkey since ancient times, who brought with them vocabulary that was integrated into Chittagonian. That has also meant that Chittagonians were amongst the first to convert to Islam and consequently, as Muslims, they were further influenced by Arabic, Persian, and Turkish vocabulary, as they were the languages spoken by the Muslims of the time, especially the traders.

Among Europeans, the Portuguese colonists were amongst the first to reach Bengal, and Chittagong, as a port city, was for a time under the administration of the Portuguese. Thus, there is a larger proportion of Portuguese loanwords for Chittagonian-speakers than for Standard Bengali-speakers.

Sample words[edit]

             (singular) (plural)
Kéti  án (the farm) Kéti  Ğín (the farms)
Fothú án (the picture) Fothú Ğín (the pictures)
Fata wá     (the leaf) Fata  Ğín (the leaves)
Tar gán (the wire) Tar   Ğin (the wires)
Duar gán (the door) Duar gin (the doors)
Faár gwá    (the mountain) Faár gún (the mountains)
Debal lán (the wall) Debal lún (the walls)
Kitap pwá   (the book) Kitap pún (the books)
Manúish cwá  (the man) Manúish shún (the men)
Uggwá fata (a leaf) Hodún fata (some leaves)
Ekkán fothú  (a picture) Hodigin Fothú (some pictures)
    -or-                               -or-
Fata uggwá  (a leaf) Fata hodún (some leaves)
Fothú ekkán (a picture) Fothú hodien (some pictures)
Tar gán (the wire) Tar   Ğin (the wires)
Duar gán (the door) Duar gin (the doors)
Faár gwá    (the mountain) Faár gún (the mountains)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chittagonian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Chittagonian". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ "Chittagonian A language of Bangladesh". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Summary by language size". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Ethnologue (2005). "Chittagonian, a language of Bangladesh". 

External links[edit]