Bengali Alphabet
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Bengali Alphabet

Bengali alphabet
Bangla Lipi.svg
Script type
Time period
11th century to the present[1]
LanguagesBengali, Sanskrit, Khasi,[2] Kudmali
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Assamese and Tirhuta
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Beng, 325 , ​Bengali (Bangla)
Unicode alias
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.
 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 Bangla alphabet or Bengali alphabet (Bengali: , Bangla bôr?ômala) 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).[4]

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. Bengali writing system is written from left to right and use a single letter case, which make it a monocameral script, as opposed to bicameral ones like Latin alphabet. It is recognisable, as are other Brahmic scripts, by a distinctive horizontal line known as matra () running along the tops of the letters that links them together. The Bengali writing system is however less blocky and presents a more sinuous shape than the Devanagari script.[5]


The Bengali script can be divided into vowels and vowel diacritics/marks, consonants and consonant conjuncts, diacritical and other symbols, digits, and punctuation marks. Vowels & Consonant are used as alphabet and also diacritical marks.


The Bengali script has a total of 9 vowel graphemes, each of which is called a 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 (? ? shôrô ô, "vocalic ô") /?/ 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 open-mid front unrounded vowel /?/ 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 /?/ sound in Sanskrit, the primary written language when the script was conceived. As a result, the sound is orthographically realised by multiple means in modern Bengali orthography, usually using some combination of "?" e (? ? shôrô e, "vocalic e") /e/, "?", "?" a (? ? shôrô a) /a/ and the ? jôfôla (diacritic form of the consonant grapheme ? ).
  • 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 ( ? rôshshô i, "short i") /i/ and "?" ? ( ? dirghô ?, "long ?") /i:/, and "?" u ( ? rôshshô u) /u/ and "?" ? ( ? dirghô ?) /u:/. 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 ? rôshshô ri, "short ri", as it used to be) does not really represent a vowel phoneme in Bengali but the consonant-vowel combination /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 ? rôshshô li as it used to be) representing the vocalic equivalent of a dental approximant in Sanskrit but actually representing the constant-vowel combination /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 kar.
  • An exception to the above system is the vowel /?/, which has no vowel mark but is considered inherent in every consonant letter. To denote the absence of the inherent vowel [?] following a consonant, a diacritic called the hôsôntô (?) may be written underneath the consonant.
  • Although there are only two diphthongs in the inventory of the script: "?" oi (? ? shôrô oi, "vocalic oi") /oi/ and "?" ou (? ? shôrô ou) /ou/, the Bengali phonetic system has, in fact, many diphthongs.[nb 1] Most diphthongs are represented by juxtaposing the graphemes of their forming vowels, as in keu /keu/.
  • There also used to be two long vowels: "?" ? ( ? dirghô rri, "long rri") and "?" ? ( ? 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
( sbôrôbôrnô)
(short) (long)
(vowel phoneme)

(vowel mark)
(vowel phoneme)

(vowel mark)

? ô
- ? a

? i
? ? ?/ee

? u
? ? ?/oo

? ?/ri
? ? ?/rri ?

? ?/li
? ? ?/lli ?
(complex vowels)

? e
? ? oi
? o
? ? ou
The consonant ? () along with the diacritic form of the vowels ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ? and ?.


  1. ^ The natural pronunciation of the grapheme ?, whether in its independent (visible) form or in its "inherent" (invisible) form in a consonant grapheme, is /?/. But its pronunciation changes to /o/ in the following contexts:
    • ? is in the first syllable and there is a ? /i/ or ? /u/ in the next syllable, as in ôti "much" /?t?i/, ? bôlchhi "(I am) speaking" /'bolti/
    • if the ? is the inherent vowel in a word-initial consonant cluster ending in rôfôla "rô ending" /r/, as in prôthôm "first" /pr?tm/
    • if the next consonant cluster contains a jôfôla "jô ending", as in ? ônyô "other" /on:o/, ? jônyô "for" /dn:?/
  2. ^ /a/, represented by the letter ?, is phonetically realised as a near-open central vowel [?] by most speakers.[6]
  3. ^ Even though the open-mid front unrounded vowel /?/ 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.
  4. ^ is the original pronunciation of the vowel ?, though a secondary pronunciation 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 (meaning "foul") is pronounced as /nra/ and /no?ra/ (Romanized as both nungra and nongra), both.


Consonant letters are called 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 ? dôntyô nô ("dental nô") and ? murdhônyô nô ("retroflex nô"). What was once pronounced and written as a retroflex nasal ? [?] is now pronounced as an alveolar [n] (unless conjoined with another retroflex consonant such as ?, ?, ? and ?) 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.[7]
  • The voiceless palato-alveolar sibilant phoneme /?/ can be written as ?, ( ? talôbyô shô, "palatal shô"), ? ( ? murdhônyô shô, "retroflex shô"), or ? ( ? dôntyô sô, "dental sô" voiceless alveolar fricative), depending on the word.
  • The voiced palato-alveolar affricate phoneme /d?/ can be written in two ways, as ? ( ? ôntôsthô jô) or ? (? ? 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.
  • Since the nasals ? ñô // and ? ngô // cannot occur at the beginning of a word in Bengali, their names are not ñô and ngô respectively but ungô (pronounced by some as umô or ) and iñô (pronounced by some as ? niyô or ingô) respectively.
  • Similarly, since the semivowel /e/ cannot occur at the beginning of a Bengali word (unlike Sanskrit and other Indic languages, Bengali words cannot begin with any semi-vocalic phoneme), its name is not ôntôsthô yô but ? ôntôsthô ô.
  • There is a difference in the pronunciation of (?-? ?ô-e shunyô ?ô, "?ô (as) ?ô 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 ?hô (?-? ?hô-e shunyô ?hô) with that of ? (sometimes called ?-? ? 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. and were introduced to the inventory during the Vidyasagarian reform to indicate the retroflex flap in the pronunciation of ? and ? ?hô 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
( bænjônbôrnô)



? ? (Generic sounds)
Voicing -> ? (Voiceless) (Voiced) ? (Voiceless) (Voiced)
Aspiration -> (Unaspirated) (Aspirated) (Unaspirated) (Aspirated) (Unaspirated) (Aspirated)

? khô
? ghô
? ngô

? chô/sô
? chhô/ssô
? ?hô
? ñô
? shô

? ?hô
? ?hô

? thô
? dhô
? sô/shô

? phô/fô
? bhô/vô
Post-reform letters



  1. ^ Though in modern Bengali the letters ?, ?, ?, ?, ? are actually velar consonants and the letter ? is actually a glottal consonant, texts still use the Sanskrit name "" ("guttural").
  2. ^ When used at the beginning or end of a word, ? is pronounced voiceless /h?/ but when used in the middle, it is sounded voiced as /??/.
  3. ^ Palatal letters phonetically represent palato-alveolar sounds but in Eastern dialects they mostly are depalatalised or depalatalised and deaffricated.
  4. ^ Original sound for ? was /??/ but in modern Bengali, it represents /??/ and in consonant conjuncts is pronounced /n?/ same as ?.
  5. ^ In Sanskrit, ? represented voiced palatal approximant . In Bengali, it developed two allophones: voiced palato-alveolar affricate /d??/ same as ? when used at the beginning of a word and the palatal approximant in other cases. When reforming the script, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar introduced , representing /e??/, to indicate the palatal approximant in the pronunciation of ? in the middle or end of a word. In modern Bengali, ? represents /d??/ and the open-mid front unrounded vowel /?/ as the diacritic jôfôla. It falls into voiced alveolar sibilant affricate /dz?/ in Eastern dialects and is also used to represent voiced alveolar sibilant /z?/ for Perso-Arabic loanwords.
  6. ^ a b c In Bengali, there are three letters for sibilants: ?, ?, ?. Originally all three had distinctive sounds. In modern Bengali, the most common sibilant varies between /?~?/ - originally represented by ?, but today, ? and ? in words are often pronounced as /?~?/. The other sibilant in Bengali is , originally represented by ?, but today, ? and ?, in words, can sometimes be pronounced as . Another, now extinct, sibilant was , originally represented by ?. ? is mostly pronounced as /?~?/, but in conjunction with apical alveolar consonants, the sound can sometimes be found.
  7. ^ In modern text often the name ("alveolar") or ("postalveolar") is used to describe more precisely letters previously described as retroflex.
  8. ^ The original sound for ? was /??/ but in modern Bengali it is almost always pronounced /n?/, the same as ?. An exception is in conjuncts with other retroflex letters, where the original sound for ? can occasionally be found.
  9. ^ The /r/ phoneme is pronounced either as a voiced alveolar trill [r], voiced alveolar flap [?] or voiced alveolar approximant [?]. Most speakers pronounce /r/ as a flap [?], although the trill [r] may occur word-initially; with the flap [?] occurring medially and finally. /r/ is usually realised as an approximant [?] in some Eastern dialects.[8][9]
  10. ^ Although ? represents the aspirated form of the voiceless bilabial stop /p??/ it is pronounced either voiceless labial fricative /??/ (in Eastern dialects) or voiceless labiodental fricative /f?/ in ordinary speech.
  11. ^ Although ? represents the aspirated form of the voiced bilabial stop /b??/ it is pronounced either voiced labial fricative /??/ (in Eastern dialects) or voiced labiodental fricative /v?/ in ordinary speech.

Consonant conjuncts

The consonant ligature ndrô ()  () in green, ? () in blue and ? () in maroon.

Clusters of up to four consonants can be orthographically represented as a typographic ligature called a consonant conjunct (Bengali: ?/ juktakkhôr/juktôbôrnô or more specifically ). 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 , 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 . It is a combination of ? ?ô and ? ñô but it is not pronounced "?ñô" 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: kkô gnô glô nnô pnô ppô llô etc.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? bô can hang on the vertical line under the preceding consonants, taking the shape of ? bô (includes ? bôfôla): gbô "?bô" "dbô" lbô "shbô".
  • The consonants can also be placed side-by-side, sharing their vertical line: ddô ndô bdô b?ô p?ô shchô 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: dgô dghô ô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? bô can appear immediately to the right of the preceding consonant, taking the shape of ? bô (includes ? bôfôla): "dhbô" bbô "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 ? ?ô and ? bô are often compressed and placed at the top-left of the following consonant, with little or no change to the basic shape: "ngk?ô" ngkhô ngghô ngmô chchô chchhô "chnô" ? 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: tnô "tmô" "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: mnô mpô mfô mbô mbhô mmô mlô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ? ?ô 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: ?kô ô ?pô ?fô ?mô.
  • 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: skô skhô s?ô stô sthô snô spô sfô "sbô" "smô" 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, ? ?ô can lose its final down-stroke: ô "?ñô" "jbô".
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ? ñô can lose its bottom half: ñchô ñchhô ñ?ô ñ?hô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? ñô can lose its left half (the ? part): "?ñô".
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ? ?ô and ? pô can lose their down-stroke: ô ptô psô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ? tô and ? bhô can lose their final upward tail: ttô tthô trô bhrô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? thô can lose its final upstroke, taking the form of ? hô instead: nthô sthô mthô
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? mô can lose its initial down-stroke: "kmô" "gmô" ngmô "?mô" "?mô" "tmô" "dmô" nmô mmô "shmô" ?mô "smô".
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? sô can lose its top half: ksô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct ? ?ô, ? ?ô and ? ?hô can lose their matra: p?ô ô ô hô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct ? ?ô can change its shape: ô

Variant forms

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

  • As the first member of a conjunct, ? ngô can appear as a loop and curl: ngkô nggô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, the curled top of ? dhô is replaced by a straight downstroke to the right, taking the form of ? ?hô instead: gdhô ddhô ndhô bdhô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, ? rô appears as a diagonal stroke (called ref) above the following member: rkô rkhô rgô rghô, etc.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? rô appears as a wavy horizontal line (called ? rôfôla) under the previous member: khrô grô ghrô brô, etc.
    • In some fonts, certain conjuncts with ? rôfôla appear using the compressed (and often simplified) form of the previous consonant: ?rô ?rô ?hrô ?rô mrô srô.
    • In some fonts, certain conjuncts with ? rôfôla appear using the abbreviated form of the previous consonant: krô trô bhrô.
  • As the last member of a conjunct, ? jô appears as a wavy vertical line (called ? jôfôla) to the right of the previous member: "kyô" "khyô" "gyô" "ghyô" etc.
    • In some fonts, certain conjuncts with ? jôfôla appear using special fused forms: "dyô" "nyô" "shyô" "?yô" "syô" "hyô".


  • When followed by ? rô or ? tô, ? kô takes on the same form as ? tô would with the addition of a curl to the right: krô, ktô.
  • When preceded by the abbreviated form of ? ñô, ? chô takes the shape of ? bô: ñchô
  • When preceded by another ? ?ô, ? is reduced to a leftward curl: ô.
  • When preceded by ? ?ô, ? ?ô appears as two loops to the right: ô.
  • As the first member of a conjunct, or when at the end of a word and followed by no vowel, ? tô can appear as ?? "tsô" tpô tkô etc.
  • When preceded by ? hô, ? nô appears as a curl to the right: "hnô".
  • Certain combinations must be memorised: "k?ô" "hmô".

Certain compounds

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

  • ? u
    • When following ? gô or ? shô, it takes on a variant form resembling the final tail of ? o? gu shu.
    • When following a ? tô that is already part of a conjunct with ? pô, ? nô or ? sô, it is fused with the ? to resemble ? o ntu ? stu ? ptu.
    • When following ? rô, and in many fonts also following the variant ? rôfôla, it appears as an upward curl to the right of the preceding consonant as opposed to a downward loop below? ru ? gru ? tru ? thru ? dru ? dhru ? bru ? bhru ? shru.
    • When following ? hô, it appears as an extra curl? hu.
  • ? u
    • When following ? rô, and in many fonts also following the variant ? rôfôla, it appears as a downstroke to the right of the preceding consonant as opposed to a downward hook below? r? ? gr? ? thr? ? dr? ? dhr? ? bhr? ? shr?.
  • ? ri
    • When following ? hô, it takes the variant shape of ? u? hri.
  • Conjuncts of three consonants also exist, and follow the same rules as above sô + ? tô +? rô = strô, ? mô + ? pô + ? rô = mprô, ? ?ô + ? ?ô + ? bô = "bô", "k?ô" + ? mô = "k?mô".
  • Theoretically, four-consonant conjuncts can also be created, as in ? rô + ? sô + ? ?ô + ? rô = ? rs?rô, but they are not found in native words.
  • Also theoretically, 5-letter conjucts can be created, as ? rô + ? sô + ? tô + ? rô + ? = (pronounced rs?rô but nasalised: rs?rôñ). Here ? is a diacritic which nasalises the previous vowel. A theoretical 6-letter conjunct would be (rs?rañ/rs?ra), with the addition of a (?) to , and a theoretical 7-letter conjunct would be like (rs?rya/rs?ryañ) with the addition of ? to .

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.

? sôngshodhôk bôrnô
Name Function Romanization IPA
?[nc 1] ? ?
khôndô tô
Special character. Final unaspirated dental [t?] t /t?/
?[nc 2]
Diacritic. Final velar nasal [?] ng /?/
?[nc 2]
1. Doubles the next consonant sound without the vowel (spelling feature) in ? dukkhô, the k of ? khô was repeated before the whole ? khô
2. "h" sound at end, examples: eh!, uh!
3. Silent in spellings like ôntônôgôr meaning "Inter-city"
4. Also used as abbreviation, as in (similar to "km" in English), for the word "kilometer", or (similar to "Dr" in English) for d?kt?r "doctor"
h /?/

Diacritic. Vowel nasalization ñ /ñ/

Diacritic. Suppresses the inherent vowel [?] (ô) - -

Special character or sign. Used for prolonging vowel sounds
Example1: shônôôôô meaning "listennnn..." (listen), this is where the default inherited vowel sound ô in ? is prolonged.
Example2: kiiii? meaning "Whatttt...?" (What?), this is where the vowel sound i which is attached with the consonant ? is prolonged.
- -
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 /?/: is pronounced /tg/
Example 2 - When the consonant it is used with is syllable-final, it doubles the consonant: is pronounced /muk?:?/
Notably used in transliterating English words with /?/ sounding vowels, e.g. ? "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 jôfôla, the French u, and the German umlaut ü as uyô, the German umlaut ö as oyô or eyô
ê / yô /?/ or /:/
? ?
Diacritic. [r] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. r /r/

Diacritic. [r] pronounced preceding a consonant phoneme. r /r/
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: ? is pronounced as /?adin/ rather than /?badin/
Example 2 - When the consonant it is used with is syllable-final, it doubles the consonant: ? is pronounced /bid?:an/ and is pronounced /bi?:?/
However, certain Sanskrit sandhis (phonetic fusions) such as '', '', '', '' are pronounced /rigbed?/, /d?igbide?/, /ud?beg/, /ud?britt?/ respectively while usage with the consonant ? defies phonological rules: '' and '' are properly pronounced /aob?an/ and /d?iob?a/ rather than /a?ban/ and /d?i?ba/, respectively.
Also used in transliterating Islam-related Arabic words
Note: Not all instances of ? bô used as the last member of a conjunct are bôfôla, for example, in the words ômbôr, lômba, tibbôt, balb, etc.
- /:/

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. ^ ? (khôndô tô "part-") is always used syllable-finally and always pronounced as /t?/. It is predominantly found in loan words from Sanskrit such as ? bhôbishyôt "future", ? sôtyôjit (a proper name), etc. It is also found in some onomatopoeic words (such as ? thôpat "sound of something heavy that fell", môrat "sound of something breaking", etc.), as the first member of some consonant conjuncts (such as tsô, tpô, tkô, etc.), and in some foreign loanwords (e.g. natsi "Nazi", ? jujutsu "Jujutsu", ? tsunami "Tsunami", etc.) which contain the same conjuncts. It is an overproduction inconsistency, as the sound /t?/ is realised by both ? and ?. This creates confusion among inexperienced writers of Bengali. There is no simple way of telling which symbol should be used. Usually, the contexts where ? is used need to be memorised, as they are less frequent. In the native Bengali words, syllable-final ? /t/ is pronounced /t?/, as in /nat?ni/ "grand-daughter", ? /k?rat?/ "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, dôh stands for dôktôr "doctor" and nông stands for nômbôr "number". Some abbreviations have no marking at all, as in ? dhabi for ? Dhaka Bishbôbidyalôy "University of Dhaka". The full stop can also be used when writing out English letters as initials, such as ?.. 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 "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 ( hazar), the hundred thousand or lakh ( lakh or ? lôkkhô), and the ten million or hundred lakh or crore (? 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 ?,,,.

Punctuation marks

Bengali punctuation marks, apart from the downstroke 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 urdhbôkôma "upper comma", is sometimes used to distinguish between homographs, as in ? pata "plank" and ' pa'ta "the leg". Sometimes, a hyphen is used for the same purpose (as in -, an alternative of ').

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 matra. The presence and absence of this matra can be important. For example, the letter ? and the numeral ? "3" are distinguishable only by the presence or absence of the matra, as is the case between the consonant cluster trô and the independent vowel ? 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
? 11.32
? 8.96
? 7.01
? 6.63
? 4.44
? 4.15
? 4.14
? 3.83
? 2.78

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.[10]

Comparison of Bengali script with ancestral and related scripts


a ? i ? u ? ? ? ? ? e ai o au
Bengali ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Odia ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Devanagari ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Siddham Siddham a.svg Siddham aa.svg Siddham i.svg Siddham ii.svg Siddham u.svg Siddham uu.svg Siddham ri.svg Siddham rii.svg Siddham li.svg Siddham lii.svg Siddham e.svg Siddham ai.svg Siddham o.svg Siddham au.svg


k kh g gh ? c ch j jh ñ ? ?h ? ?h ? t th d dh n p ph b bh m ?,y r l,? w ? ? s h
Bengali ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?, ? ? - ? ? ? ?
Odia ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?,? ? ?,? ? ? ? ? ?
Devanagari ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?,? ? ? ? ? ?
Siddham Siddham k.svg Siddham kh.svg Siddham g.svg Siddham gh.svg Siddham ng.svg Siddham c.svg Siddham ch.svg Siddham j.svg Siddham jh.svg Siddham ny2.svg Siddham tt.svg Siddham tth.svg Siddham dd.svg Siddham ddh.svg Siddham nn.svg Siddham t.svg Siddham th.svg Siddham d.svg Siddham dh2.svg Siddham n.svg Siddham p.svg Siddham ph.svg Siddham b.svg Siddham bh.svg Siddham m.svg Siddham y.svg Siddham r.svg Siddham l.svg Siddham v3.svg Siddham sh1.svg Siddham ss.svg Siddham s.svg Siddham h.svg

Vowel diacritics

ka k? ki k? ku k? k? k? k? k? ke kai ko kau
Bengali ?
Odia ?
Devanagari ?


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. 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. Among the various regional variations within this script, only the Assamese and Bengali variations exist today in the formalised system.


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"[11] "Indian languages Transliteration" or ITRANS (uses upper case alphabets suited for ASCII keyboards),[12] and the extension of IAST intended for non-Sanskrit languages of the Indian region called the National Library at Kolkata romanisation.[13]

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.





















































































? ? ? ; ? ?

?omosto manush ?adhinbhabe ?oman morjada æbong odhikar niye jonmogrohon kore. Tãder bibek æbong buddhi achhe; ?utôrang sokoleri æke oporer proti bhratritto?ulobh mono?bhab niye achoron kora uchit.

most?o manu? ?adinb?abe man m?rd?ad?a ebo? odikar nie?e dnmo?rohon k?re. t?ãd?er bibek ebo? budd:i ate; sut?ora? s?koleri ?ke ?porer prot?i b?rat?rit?:osul?b? monob?ab nie?e at?oron k?ra ut?it?

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 14.0
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 T?hoku 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 2007.
  2. ^ "ScriptSource - Khasi". Retrieved 2021.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Bengali alphabet". Archived from the original on 26 January 2008. Retrieved 2005.
  5. ^ George Cardona and Danesh Jain (2003), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415772945
  6. ^ Khan, Sameer ud Dowla (2010). "Bengali (Bangladeshi Standard)" (PDF). Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 40 (2): 222. doi:10.1017/S0025100310000071.
  7. ^ 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 '?' class we will see that we articulate '?' and '?,' for example, almost like English T and D without turning up the tip of the tongue much away from the region of the teeth.
  8. ^ Ferguson, Charles A.; Chowdhury, Munier (1960). "The Phonemes of Bengali". Language. Charles A. Ferguson and Munier Chowdhury. 36 (1): 22-59. doi:10.2307/410622. JSTOR 410622. Retrieved 2020.
  9. ^ Khan (2010), pp. 223-224.
  10. ^ See Chowdhury 1963
  11. ^ "Learning International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration". Sanskrit 3 - Learning transliteration. Gabriel Pradiipaka & Andrés Muni. Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 2006.
  12. ^ "ITRANS - Indian Language Transliteration Package". Avinash Chopde. Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 2006.
  13. ^ "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 20 January 2013. Retrieved 2006.


  • Ashraf, Syed Ali; Ashraf, Asia (1966), "Bengali Diphthongs", in Dil A. S. (ed.), Shahidullah Presentation Volume, Lahore: Linguistic Research Group of Pakistan, pp. 47-52
  • Chatterji, Suniti Kumar (1939), Vasha-prakash Bangala Vyakaran (A Grammar of the Bengali Language), Calcutta: University of Calcutta
  • Chowdhury, Munier (1963), "Shahitto, shônkhatôtto o bhashatôtto (Literature, statistics and linguistics)", Bangla Academy Potrika, Dhaka, 6 (4): 65-76
  • Kostic, Djordje; Das, Rhea S. (1972), A Short Outline of Bengali Phonetics, Calcutta: Statistical Publishing Company
  • Hai, Muhammad Abdul (1964), Dhvani Vijnan O Bangla Dhvani-tattwa (Phonetics and Bengali Phonology), Dhaka: Bangla Academy
  • Jones, William (1801), "Orthography of Asiatick Words in Roman Letters" (PDF), Asiatick Researches, Calcutta: Asiatick Society[permanent dead link]
  • Salomon, Richard (1998). Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the Other Indo-Aryan Languages. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Sarkar, Pabitra (1987), "Bangla Dishôrodhoni (Bengali Diphthongs)", Bhasha, Calcutta, 4-5: 10-12

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