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ROMANISATION / ROMANIZATION OF BENGALI

(IA4 MW( I:HI H^\@


ROUMOK OKXORE BANGWLAR LIPYONTOR
Romanisation and, unless otherwise stated, all sentence translations by W4IGH 4I(G
Please email comments and corrections to the author at roman[at]raaid[dot]com.
The author permits purely non-commercial use of these his works, provided he is at all times clearly ident
author otherwise asserts and requires respect of all the rights afforded to him under the Berne Convention
Artistic Works and under the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
A BASIC TABLE OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT
CLASSIFICATION OF SVOR LETTERS
PRONUNCIATION OF CONSONANTS
BENGALI ORTHOGRAPHY
A ROMANISATION SYSTEM FOR BENGALI
ROMANISATION RULES
1/ SILENT M O, ELISION AND HYPHEN
2/ READING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT
3/ PRONUNCIATION OF M O AS / / OR AS / O /
4/ VOWELS OCCURRING TOGETHER
5/ WHICH APOSTROPHE?
6/ M@:* ONTOHWSTHO VO (V) OR @ VORGIIYO BO (B)?
7/ EFFECT OF SILENT CONSONANTS AND SILENT HW
8/ WHEN IS NJ SILENT?
9/ WHEN IS B SILENT?
10/ HOW IS M PRONOUNCED?
11/ WHAT DOES JZ/Y/W REPRESENT?
12/ HOW IS V PRONOUNCED?
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13/ PRONUNCIATION OF SIBILANTS SH, X and S
14/ HOW IS H PRONOUNCED?
AN EXAMPLE
SYSTEM TABLE
SVOR (SONORANT) LETTERS
SYLLABIC MODIFIERS
CONSONANT LETTERS: VELAR
CONSONANT LETTERS: PALATAL
CONSONANT LETTERS: RETROFLEX
CONSONANT LETTERS: DENTAL
CONSONANT LETTERS: LABIAL
CONSONANT LETTERS: FORMER AND ACTUAL SEMI-VOWELS
CONSONANT LETTERS: FRICATIVE
INTRODUCTION
Bengali is spoken as the language of the majority of the population in the north-east of the South Asian subcontinent
Bangladesh (the country of Bengal, location of the majority of Bengali speakers), in the Indian constituent states of
parts of the Indian constituent states of Assam and Jharkhand. It is also the single most spoken language in the Anda
federal territory in the Bay of Bengal. Bengali is now in terms of numbers of speakers the sixth or seventh largest lan
literary and artistic culture.
The oldest territorial term nowadays used for Bengal was recorded in the 2nd century BCE, in a Sanskrit grammar tre
transcribed in English from Sanskrit as Vanga, has been in continuous common use thereafter, making the Bengali na
considerable antiquity. Indeed, use of the term may date back to around the beginning of the first millenium BCE, wh
ethnic group to whom the term was applied.
What is recognisable as the Bengali language, however, is of relatively recent origin, evolving from the 11th century
Sanskrit. The development of vernacular literature received a significant boost from the patronage of Alauddin Husain
1519. Modern Bengali can be regarded as starting with the 19th century CE, during which the dialect spoken in the to
(now within the Indian state of West Bengal) became the basis of standard Bengali and in the second half of which a l
primarily by the poet Michael Madhusudhan Dutt (1824-1873) and the novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-18
significant cultural figure was the poet and composer Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976). However, the greatest exponen
polymath Rabindranath Tagore (18611941), who in 1913 became the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Pr
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Map of Bengali-speaking regions
Autograph of poetry in Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali (1
Pride in the Bengali language is the most important characteristic of Bengali nationhood, a pride applying across the b
Bengal during the partition of British India on 15 August 1947. On largely religious lines, India took western Bengal,
the far east of historic Bengal) Tripura. Pakistan took most of the eastern parts of historic Bengal, with Dhaka (Dacca)
political power in Pakistan was centred in the non-contiguous west of the South Asian subcontinent, over a thousand
culture led to the rise of a Bengali language movement in East Bengal, to resist the policy of the non-Bengali elite of
the northern regions of the subcontinent, as the sole state language despite the fact that the Bengali-speaking popula
majority of the all-Pakistan population. On 21 February 1952, several student protesters from Dhaka University in th
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police gunfire. The anniversary has been marked by UNESCO since 2000 as International Mother Language Day, and
monument in the Dhaka University area to that event figures prominently in Bengali popular consciousness.
East Bengal was given the non-ethnic name of East Pakistan on 14 October 1955, but on 29 February 1956 Bengali b
language of Pakistan. The Bengali language movement meanwhile had changed into a more general movement in eas
interests, a movement eventually led by the Awami League. By sweeping up the seats reserved for East Pakistan in th
Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975) won an overall parliamentary majority in
end of 1970. The Pakistani military regime launched a crackdown on the movement on the night of 25 March 1971, a
murders of Bengali civilians by the regimes armed personnel. The atrocities ended with Pakistan
independent statehood for Bangladesh throughout the former East Pakistan.
A BASIC TABLE OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT
A basic tabulation of letters in the Bengali script follows, for ease of exposition, together with a basic Romanisation. A
appears later.
SONORANT (d SVOR) LETTERS: PURE VOWELS
o (eo) a (ea) * i 7 ii
SONORANT (d SVOR) LETTERS: FORMER SEMI-VOWELS
1 rwi rwii o lwi _ lwii
SONORANT (d SVOR) LETTERS: VOWEL COMPOUNDS
e (ee) aoi ou aou
SYLLABIC MODIFIERS
: ngw : hw

nw
CONSONANT LETTERS: VELAR
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* k (q) kh A g d gh
CONSONANT LETTERS: PALATAL
L c ch * j (z) (gj) 4 jh
CONSONANT LETTERS: RETROFLEX
b td 3 tdh T dt ( rr) b dth (5 rrh)
CONSONANT LETTERS: DENTAL
U t A th d h dh
CONSONANT LETTERS: LABIAL
^ p ph (f) d b U bh
CONSONANT LETTERS: ACTUAL AND FORMER SEMI-VOWELS
^ jz ( y) ( w) d r l d v
CONSONANT LETTERS: FRICATIVES
sh ^ x A s * h
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Early modern Bengali orthography: illustrative plate in Nathaniel
Brassey Halhed's A Code of Gentoo Laws (1776)
Central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka

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CLASSIFICATION OF SVOR LETTERS
The first 14 letters (of which the last three are not in modern use) of the Bengali alphabet are called
and for ease of exposition will be referred to as d svor (sonorant) letters. Among these, the letters
convey pure vowel sounds or their prolongation (although not always the same vowel sounds). However, only the
letters o, a, * i, 7 ii, T u and uu are regarded grammatically as representing pure vowels or their prolonga
aou are regarded grammatically as representing combinations of vowel elements (in each of which combinations th
a). The letters aoi and aou convey diphthongs. The letter 1 rwi and the archaic letter o
in Sanskrit the sound of r in English jeRk and the sound of l in English huLk, but without the presence of any distinct
respectively in modern Bengali the sound of ri in English bRIm and the sound of li in English sLIm. The archaic letter
Sanskrit semi-vowels that were prolongations of the sounds respectively of 1 rwi and o lwi.
Up until the table containing a full exposition of the Romanisation system, in the discussion that follows the three lett
ignored as being archaic. However, their existence is still significant for word formation, and distinctions need to be u
semi-vowels: e.g. between 1 rwi in * (* U) krwit- ([archaic stem of verb] to cut) and rwii
to communicate).
PRONUNCIATION OF CONSONANTS
As can be seen from the basic table above, Bengali consonant letters are classified as primarily being (although not ne
velar (*^ konhtdhyo - literally: "guttural"), palatal (Uld talovyo), retroflex (XhA muurdhonyo
ouxtdhyo), semi-vowel (d:7 ontohwstho - literally "boundary-standing" or "marginal" because they occur only at th
or next after a svor letter) or fricative (TH uuxmo - literally: "thermal").
To achieve a velar pronunciation, the back of the upper surface of the tongue during articulation is pressed against th
the mouth).
To achieve a palatal pronunciation, the upper surface of the tongue during articulation is bunched against the middle
mouth.
To achieve a retroflex pronunciation, the tip of the tongue during articulation is moved upwards and back against the
the roof of the mouth).
To achieve a dental pronunciation, the tip of the tongue during articulation is pressed against the backs of the upper i
To achieve a labial (or, rather, bilabial) pronunciation, the lips during articulation are compressed together and then r
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The pronunciations of the four consonants primarily classified as being semi-vowel in nature will be dealt with
The four consonants primarily classified as being fricative are produced by forcing air between a part of the tongue an
mouth.
BENGALI ORTHOGRAPHY
The Brahmi script used for classical Sanskrit originated in the eighth to seventh centuries BCE. The Bengali script der
and was largely complete by the 12th century CE. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820-1891) standardised Bengali typo
continued to the present day.
The Bengali script resembles the Devanagari script used for medieval Sanskrit and modern Hindi, a script also derived
less blocky and more sinuous. The sequence of alphabetic letters used in the Brahmi and Devanagari scripts still obtai
the Bengali script: except that Bengali contains a few additional letters. Letters in Bengali are sequenced into (i) the
diphthongs and (what originally were) semi-vowels; (ii) a special trio of (^lAdl* ojzougvaho (literally: distinctive
modifiers (these being : ngw, : hw and

nw); and (iii) consonant letters or d"Ad+ vyeonjjon


Words are written in the Bengali script from left to right, with consonant letters and some svor letters hanging from a
Xll matra (literally: limit), although elements may appear above that horizontal line. A consonant can be written i
form or joined in a conjunct form with (an)other consonant(s) or, in a few cases in older orthography, joined in a conj
contrast, conjuncts of letters in the Roman script are rare and involve only vowels: a+e written as the conjunct , an
Svor letters in Bengali orthography have each an independent form, written (i) at the beginning of a word, (ii) after a
syllabic modifier

nw (neither : ngw nor : hw can be followed by a vowel). Except in the case of the vowel
in independent form), a svor letter also and more commonly will appear in greatly mutated conjunct form joined wi
sounded immediately before it and in the same syllable. The special trio of syllabic modifiers each have only one form
letters.
The vowel o is not written, and in the absence of contrary indication is assumed to exist even i
consonant-conjunct. Conversely, a consonant is assumed immediately to be followed by an inherent but unwritten vow
unless the consonant: (i) has an elision sign, the sign known as *Ad hosonto (literally: consonant closure), attac
conjunct with any following consonant(s) (each consonant in a consonant-conjunct other than the last consonant is de
has any svor letter (besides o) appear as a conjunct with it.
Each of the svor letters a, * i, 7 ii, e, aoi, ou and aou will join in a conjunct with any consonant or co
immediately before it and in the same syllable. As a conjunct, each of these svor letters has only one form. Each of th
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conjunct is written immediately after such consonant or consonant-conjunct. Each of the svor letters
immediately before such consonant or consonant-conjunct. Each of the svor letters ou and aou
such consonant or consonant-conjunct.
Each of the svor letters T u , uu and 1 rwi will be fused to a part of any consonant or consonant-conjunct that is
the same syllable. As part of a conjunct, each of these svor letters has a usual conjunct form, which is written immed
a part of such consonant-conjunct. As part of a conjunct, each of these svor letters also has at least one other conjun
immediately below such consonant or consonant-conjunct.
When two or more consonants occur next to each other, they usually are represented in consonant-conjuncts in a Z p
the upper left to the upper right, then down and to the left, and then finally to the right) in the order in which they oc
letter that is written as part of a conjunct may greatly change from the form it has when written alone, may have sev
may have only an element (such as a stroke or a curve) of it appearing in a consonant-conjunct. Sometimes there is
of the elements of a consonant-conjunct and any of the elements of one of the constituent consonants when written a
A partial list of letter-combinations can be consulted for examples.
A ROMANISATION SYSTEM FOR BENGALI
The Roman script is overwhelmingly the dominant script in international use, used not only for such divergent Europe
English, Italian and Polish, but for non-European languages from Azerbaijani to Zulu. It is virtually the sole script in u
addition, English is overwhelmingly the dominant language of international communication, and most keyboards are p
basic alphabetical characters (alphabetical characters without diacritical marks or special forms) used for communicati
reproduction in Roman script of words from a language not written in Roman script is therefore a constant need in r
that uses a non-Roman script, however numerous its speakers may be.
The dominant influence on Romanisation systems hitherto in use for Bengali has been the International Alphabet of S
by the International Congress of Orientalists. The IAST uses diacritical marks, which may not readily be available, but
Sanskrit, in which virtually each Devanagari letter (or, if used to write Sanskrit, equivalent Brahmi or Bengali letter)
does not work so well with Bengali.
The same Bengali letter may have more than one pronunciation. For example, e is usually pronounced as the vowe
pronounced as the vowel sound in English rat. Furthermore, the same sound may be represented in Bengali in more t
English rat may occur in Bengali as ( y +) o, as ( y +) a, as e or, treating each as a single non-traditiona
Against this background, Romanisation systems hitherto in use for Bengali tend either to reproduce the letters used in
transliteration, in which the concentration is on indicating the spelling in the original language or to reproduce the s
known as transcription, in which the concentration is on indicating the pronunciation in the original language. There a
the true pronunciation or the Bengali spelling or both, even if diacritical marks which may not readily be available -
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In the system here used, the aim is to indicate unambiguously both the pronunciation and the spelling in the original
alphabetical characters in use in English (the letters A to Z) and (sparingly) apostrophes. This allows for distinctions t
the same (homonyms) but have different spellings in Bengali, such as Ald sari ([a] row, series),
garment]) and ld shari (the female) - all pronounced as IPA / ari /. This also allows for distinctions to be made b
spelling (homographs) but different pronunciations in Bengali, such as XU mot (opinion) (IPA / m
mo /). In addition, the system distinguishes between different etymologies of some of the Bengali consonants, such
*l* kajii (worker) (from Bengali *l^ karjzo [work]) and of the same consonants transcribed respectively as
official, registrar) (from Arabic / qadi / [(a) judge]) - words that are homographs in Bengali orthography an
/.
With only 26 alphabetical characters available for the Romanisation, there will be instances when a short word in Ben
phonemes will be Romanised using many characters. E.g. the word *l hyeanw (yes) is pronounced as IPA /
phonemes, but in the Romanisation it is six characters long.
There will be exceptions to pronunciations, with which their memorising or the learning of some rules will have to dea
inevitable without the awkward-looking use of additional characters such as brackets and numbers.
ROMANISATION RULES
Before considering a detailed table of the Romanisation, for ease of exposition the reader first should look at various
orthography and with differences of pronunciation not reflected in Bengali orthography. Other exceptions can conven
table.
1/ SILENT M O, ELISION AND HYPHEN
1A/ The *Ad hosonto sign is used in Bengali orthography with a consonant as an elision sign, when a
consonant and if it is desired to eliminate the default occurrence immediately after that consonant of an inherent
immediately after that consonant, the use of a hosonto generally is avoided in Bengali orthography by joining the ea
following consonant(s). However, for ease of reading in text or in banners or in handwriting, or upon the unavailabilit
particular font that is being used for typing, or to indicate (see rule 1E) that the next consonant is fully pronounced, a
earlier consonant concerned in Bengali orthography instead of joining that consonant in a conjunct with the next cons
A hosonto is represented in the Romanisation as a hyphen ( - ) without preceding space next after the consonant co
hyphen in the Romanisation to represent a hosonto in Bengali may be dropped between consonants (i.e. where the c
immediately by another consonant), unless an ambiguity thereby would be created as to the Bengali letters represent
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1F). Consequently, it in most cases need not make a difference to the Romanisation whether within a word in Bengali
consonants or a combination takes place of the two consonants into a consonant-conjunct. E.g. a Bengali word meanin
a direction" may be written in Bengali orthography as A (d+i g+d+o r+sh+o n[+o]) (joining
(d+i g+hosonto d+o r+sh+o n[+o]) (using hosonto with A g rather than joining A g in a digraph with the followin
can apply in both cases, although Romanisation as dig-dorshon can apply only in the latter case.
When a hyphen does occur within a Romanised word, it will not represent a hosonto in the Bengali if there appears i
svor letter does not take a hosonto) or (see rule 1F) an apostrophe or (see rule 1F) another hyphen.
Within and at the end of a Romanised word the combination t- (the letter T followed by a hyphen) will represent the B
U khonhdto to ( separated T), which in turn represents U t followed by hosonto.
1B/ Where a consonant is the last letter in a word and is followed by the *Ad hosonto sign in Bengali orthography
space must always be placed after that consonant in the Romanisation. E.g. * drwik- ("vision").
1C/ Where a consonant in a Bengali word is followed first by a silent inherent o and then by another letter (wheth
apostrophe ( ) to represent the silent inherent o will be placed in the Romanisation immediately after the (earlie
E.g. A** (s+o k+o l[+o] i) sokoli ("everyone"), d*ld (d+o r[+o] k+a r+ii) dorkarii ("necessary", "useful").
1D/ Where a consonant is the last letter in a word and is deemed in Bengali orthography to be followed by a silent inh
used with it), that silent inherent o will not be marked in the Romanisation. Consequently, a silent inherent
consonant which is the last letter in a Romanised word, unless a hyphen (to represent a hosonto
Romanisation (under rule 1B).
1E/ When two consonants occur next to each other, a hosonto may be used in Bengali orthography after the earlier
earlier consonant in a conjunct with the later consonant) when it is desired to indicate that the second consonant has
circumstances in which the second consonant generally is silent next after the first consonant.
For example, d v (see rule 12 below) usually is silent next after another consonant (other than d
word 7 (d+i g+hosonto) dig- (direction) is prefixed to the word d*(v+i n+d+u) vindu (point) to form a com
Instead of having A g and d v combining in Bengali orthography to form the consonant-conjunct
9*(d+i g+v+i n+d+u), and in order to indicate that d v is fully pronounced, A g and d v in this instance may b
next to each other as 7d (g+hosonto v) with A g taking a hosonto: so that the word becomes written as
Bengali.
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Similarly, X m (see rule 10 below) usually is silent next after U t, d, sh, ^ x or A s. But X m
word meaning raisin. Instead of having sh and X m combining in Bengali orthography to form the consonant-con
*9 (k+i sh+m+i sh+hosonto) kishmish-, and in order to indicate that X m is fully pronounced,
their independent forms together as X (sh+hosonto m) with sh taking a hosonto: so that the word becomes wr
sh+hosonto m+i sh+hosonto) kish-mish-.
Again, ^ / / jz (y) usually is silent next after a consonant other than d r (see rule 11 below) or (if
pronounced when the combining word dl7 (v+a g+hosonto) vag- (speech) is prefixed to the word
meaning verbal battle. Instead of having A g and ^ jz combining in Bengali orthography to form the consonant-con
indicate that ^ jz is fully pronounced, A g and ^ jz in this instance are written in their independent forms together a
a hosonto: so that the word becomes written in Bengali as dl7^ (v+a g+hosonto jz+u d+dh
d+dh+[o]) vagyuddho.
Consequently and to avoid ambiguity, a hyphen (without preceding or following space) must always be used in the Ro
consonants, to represent a hosonto, if both of the following conditions obtain: (a) the first consonant is written in B
a hosonto; and (b) the second consonant is either a fully-pronounced X m or a fully-pronounced
Bengali words for verbal battle, cardinal point and raisin would be written in Bengali (and thence Romanised)
as dl7^ (v+a g+hosonto jz+u d+dh[+o]) vag-jzuddho, 7d*(d+i g+hosonto v+i n+d+
and *X (k+i sh+hosonto m+i sh+hosonto) kish-mish- respectively.
1F/ Occasionally a hyphen may be used in Bengali to separate the two parts (constituent words) of a compound word.
be reproduced as a hyphen in the Romanisation or be dropped in the Romanisation. But if a hyphen in Bengali is to be
the first part (the constituent word before the hyphen) in Bengali ends in a consonant followed by a silent
must be used at the end of the first part and immediately before the hyphen to represent that silent
the hyphen) in Bengali ends in a consonant followed by a hosonto then, in the Romanisation, a hyphen (without prec
of the first part to represent that hosonto and immediately before the (second) hyphen representing a hyphen in Ben
Romanisation will only represent a hyphen in the Bengali if it is preceded by a vowel, apostrophe or another hyphen.
As a result, the words dl* (v+a k+hosonto) vak- (speech) and 5 (sh+o k+t+i) shokti (power) may be comb
compound word as dl*-5 (v+a k+hosonto hyphen sh+o k+t+i) (faculty of speech) and thence Romanised eith
vak--shokti, with a hyphen in the Romanisation assumed to represent a hyphen in Bengali only if
* (j+o l[+o]) jol (water) and AAX (n+i r+g+o m[+o]) nirgom (exit) would be combined in Bengali as a hyph
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Romanised as *-AAX (j+o l[+o] hyphen n+i r+g+o m[+o]) jol-nirgom ([an] outflow): the silent
a standalone word would have to be specified in the Romanisation once it occurs before a hyphen in Bengali, whereup
would represent a hyphen in Bengali.
The hyphen in the Romanisation would disappear should the hyphen be removed in the Bengali, with the result that t
become written as dl*5 (v+a k+hosonto sh+o k+t+i) vak-shokti (optionally, vakshokti) or (in the likely case th
k+sh+o k+t+i) vakshokti instead of dl*-5 (v+a k+hosonto hyphen sh+o k+t+i) vak--shokti
instead of *-AAX (j+o l[+o] hyphen n+i r+g+o m[+o]) jol-nirgom.
1G/ There will be instances of non-subcontinental words and names being transliterated or adopted in Bengali, and oc
subcontinental) words, in which a juxtaposition of consonants will occur which is apt to be misread in the Romanisatio
special indication. E.g. d and * h will occur together in a particular Bengali word derived from Persian for indigesti
contrary indication - will be apt to be misread in the Romanisation as h dh. In each such instance, a hyphen (without
be used in the Romanisation within the word between the two consonants concerned, it being assumed that a
o following the first consonant. So the particular Bengali word for indigestion may be written in Bengali as
commonly as d **X (b+o d+hosonto h+o z+o m[+o]) and thence would be Romanised in either case as
Similarly, A s and * h will occur together in the Bengali transliteration of the Arabic name

/
indication - will be apt to be misread in the Romanisation as sh. Again, a hyphen (without preceding or following sp
within the word between the two consonants concerned, it being assumed that a hosonto follows or that there is no i
consonant. So the Arabic name for Isaac may be written in Bengali as *"*l* (i s+h+a q[+o]) or more commonly as
thence would be Romanised in either case as Is-haq.
Similarly again, d r is immediately followed by another d r in a particular Bengali word for (the) sound of loud laugh
contrary indication - will be apt to be misread in the Romanisation as rr. A hyphen (without preceding or following
Romanisation within the word between the two consonants concerned, it being assumed that a hosonto
inherent o following) the first d r. The particular Bengali word is written in Bengali as Adl (g+
always be Romanised as gor-ra. This word in the Romanisation therefore becomes distinguished from the word
cattle-barrier), which is Romanised as gorra.
In practice, in the case of such unusual juxtapositions, the two unusually juxtaposed consonants in Bengali could be w
attached to the first consonant) rather than in a consonant-conjunct: so that, in practice in such a case (and in the th
the Romanisation could occur where there was a hosonto in the Bengali.
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2/ READING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT
Because of the relatively small number of Roman letters, many Bengali letters are represented in the Romanisation b
letters. In reading from left to right the Romanised form of any word, and in the absence of any special indication, on
Romanised word towards the right for such a combination to appear of two or more consecutive Roman letters that co
letter. At the point that the first of the letters being subject to the search can no longer be read with further letters to
particular combination process stops and the Bengali letter represented is conclusively identified. With any Roman let
combination, a fresh search then starts.
Let us look at the word 5 Romanised as drwirrho (firm, strict, taut).

The first Roman letter is d. That could represent the Bengali letter d. The second Roman letter is r. The combination
letter(s), does not represent a single Bengali letter. So we have established that the first Roman letter represents

Given that the first Roman letter represents the Bengali letter d, the second Roman letter could represent the Beng
Roman letter is w. The combination r+w does not represent a single Bengali letter. But then we see that the fourth Ro
represents the Bengali letter 1 rwi. The fifth Roman letter is r. The combination r+w+i+r does not represent (or form
Bengali letter. So we have established that the second, third and fourth Roman letters together represent the Bengali
As mentioned, the fifth Roman letter is r. That could represent the Bengali letter d r. Then we see that the sixth Rom
could represent the Bengali letter rr. But then we see that the seventh Roman letter is h. The combination r+r+h r
conclusion would not be altered by the subsequent presence of any other Roman letters. So we have established that
letters together represent the Bengali letter 5 rrh.

The eighth Roman letter is o. This could represent the Bengali inherent o. There are no subsequent Roman letters.
eighth and last Roman letter represents the Bengali inherent o.

The end result is that the Romanised word drwirrho represents in sequence Bengali d, 1 rwi, 5
rrh+o.
Once in the absence of special indication it is concluded that a particular sequence of Roman letters represents a part
conclusion is not altered if the final Roman letter or letters of that sequence could be used in the representation of an
leaving the earlier Roman letter or letters of that sequence to represent some other (third) Bengali letter.
Let us look at the word ^} dA Romanised as xorrros (the six tastes [sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitt
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The first Roman letter is x and the second Roman letter is o, and these respectively stand for Bengali
Roman letters each are r. By itself, any one of these three could represent Bengali d r. By themselves, any consecuti
the Bengali letter rr. But, reading from left to right, we establish that the third, fourth and fifth Roma
letter, and that the third and fourth Roman letters together represent Bengali rr: meaning that the fifth Roman let
conclusion is not altered by the proposition that the third letter could represent d r and the fourth and fifth Roman le

The sixth Roman letter is o and the seventh Roman letter is s, and these respectively stand for Bengali (inherent)
apostrophe indicating a hosonto (vowel elision) after A s, a silent (inherent) o is assumed after the final
xorrros represents in sequence Bengali ^ x, (an inherent) o, rr, d r, (an inherent) o, A s
^} dA x+o rr+hosonto r+o s[+o] (or, in the theoretical possibility that rr is written in Bengali as a conjunct wit
s[+o]).
If, however, it is desired to prevent two or more Roman letters from being read together so as to represent a particula
in the Romanisation to separate the Roman letters concerned: see rule 1G.
3/ PRONUNCIATION OF M O AS / / OR AS / O /
The pronunciation of o as o in British English hOt (IPA / /) or as o in English Obey (IPA / o /) in any particular wo
emphasis, the addition or subtraction of prefixes and suffixes, and the presence or absence of compounding with othe
pronunciations is being used, moreover, is often not readily distinguishable. Therefore no distinction is made in the Ro
pronunciations.
4/ VOWELS OCCURRING TOGETHER
4A/ Where two pronounced vowels occur next to each other in Bengali, a reverse apostrophe ( ) will be placed betw
e.g. d*A beaini (unlawful, illegal), Ud otoev (therefore"), A(*llA nooujouwan
(you propel [a boat]). This will allow for distinctions to be made between e.g. XT mourr (diadem, tiara) and
intersection [of roads]). The use of the reverse apostrophe does not apply next to a vowel that is silent an
in dll vawa (to propel [a boat]), in which ou is silent between a and w and is represented by an apostr
("everyone"), in which an inherent o is silent between l and * i and is represented by an apostrophe.
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4B/ Where a vowel nasalised by

nw is followed immediately by a second pronounced vowel, a reverse apostrophe


second pronounced vowel in the Romanisation: e.g. in dl vanwou ([a] fathom). The use of the reverse apostroph
is silent and represented by an apostrophe: e.g in dll vanwwa (left-handed, drum beaten by the left hand), in
by an apostrophe (with the result in the Romanisation that no vowel letter appears immediately after
5/ WHICH APOSTROPHE?
It will often be impossible to distinguish between an apostrophe and a reverse apostrophe in the Romanisation, and th
discern from the Romanisation what is intended to be conveyed.
Between vowel letters (see rule 4A), or between the syllabic modifier

nw and a following vowel letter (see rule 4B


reverse and intended as a separator. Before the consonant w in the Romanisation, an apostrophe is not reverse and i
vowel ou in Bengali orthography (see the entry for ou in the table below). Otherwise: between two consonant le
consonant letter and a vowel letter (see rule 1D) or between a consonant letter and a hyphen (see
reverse and is intended to represent a silent inherent o in Bengali orthography.
Consequently, in dll vanwwa (left-handed, drum beaten by the left hand) and in dll va
Romanisation immediately before w, and so represents a silent ou and is not a reverse apostrophe. By contrast, in
in dl vaou (you propel [a boat]) the apostrophe occurs in the Romanisation respectively between
and so represents a separator and is a reverse apostrophe.
6/ M@:* ONTOHWSTHO VO (V) OR @ VORGIIYO BO (B)?
6A/ In Sanskrit, the letter v (IPA / /) in the Devanagari script, a letter known in Bengali as
letter b (IPA / b /) in the Devanagari script, a letter known in Bengali as dA d vorgiiyo bo (generic B). In Ben
of vorgiiyo bo and no real distinction is made in their pronunciation. However, a distinction betwe
bo (b) is important for the purposes of word formation, and a distinction is made in the Romanisation of the Bengali.
As a general rule in the Romanisation of the Bengali for any word derived from Sanskrit, a d b/v in Bengali correspon
vo (v) in the original Sanskrit will be regarded as d:7 d ontohwstho vo (v), a d b/v in Bengali corresponding to
original Sanskrit will be regarded as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b), and a d b/v in Bengali not corresponding to
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vorgiiyo bo (b) in the original Sanskrit will be regarded as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b).
Example: dhA vordhon (growth) dld varrbo ((I) will grow)
6B/ Similarly as a general rule in the Romanisation of the Bengali for any word not derived from Sanskrit, a
w in the original (parent) word concerned will be regarded as d:7 d ontohwstho vo (v), a b/v
word concerned will be regarded as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b), and a b/v in Bengali not corresponding to a consonant
will be regarded as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b).
Examples: Portuguese sabo (soap) AldlA saban (soap), Portuguese verga (lintel) ddAl
(answer) *dld jovab (answer).
6C/ By way of exceptions, a d b/v will be treated as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b) in the following instances.
An original d:7 d ontohwstho vo (v) will be treated as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b) in the various Bengali words for
original Sanskrit words for them. Hence d7 Vonggo (Bengal) and d7 Vonggiiyo (the adjective Bengali for some
noun Bengali for any Bengali person/s), but dl!l / dl:l Bangla/ Bangwla (Bengal or the Bengali language),
person/s), dl!ll Bangala (Bengal), dl!l Bangalii (the adjective Bengali for something Bengali besides the la
Bengali person(s)), and dl:l( Bangwladesh ([the independent republic of] Bangladesh, Bengal).

An original d:7 d ontohwstho vo (v) will be treated as dA d vorgiiyo bo (b) in the Bengali name for the Indi
north-west of Bengal, and in words derived by reference to this land. The word d*ld vihar (monastery) was applied
by Muslim incomers, who pronounced the word as IPA / bir /. With reference to this land it is Romanised as
Romanisation refers to the West Bengali district of Cooch Behar (so called because it was a realm of the Koch clan tha
extended into, Bihar).
7/ EFFECT OF SILENT CONSONANTS AND SILENT HW
Certain consonant letters - nj, d b (in one instance), X m, y, d v, and * h - may be, and the syllabic modifier
before or after (other) consonant letters. (The letters 1 rwi and : hw are not considered consonant letters.) In such
hw will double the pronunciation of the consonant letter adjacent to it - a process known as gemination - unless that
start of a word. (It alternatively could be said that one consonant letter assimilates to the pronunciation of the other c
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pronunciation of the other consonant letter.) However, the aspirated consonant letters kh, d gh
bh are doubled in pronunciation by sounding their un-aspirated equivalents immediately before them: so as respectiv
written) as * kkh, d ggh, ' cch, * jjh, "3 tdtdh, b dtdth, ^ pph and U bbh.
Exceptionally, the letter d v is doubled in pronunciation to Td uv (or IPA / ub /) and not to = vv
before d v) in those few words - see rule 12 - which derive from the archaic verbal stem 7 hve (to summon).
8/ WHEN IS NJ SILENT?
In the Romanisation, nj is silent immediately after and (other than at the start of a word) doubles the pron
occurs (only) in the numerous words derived from the archaic verbal stem 3l gjnjea (to know, to be aware of) (re
/ gn / to know).
Examples: d3Ul vigjnjota (expertise), 3lA gjnjeanii (experienced, knowledgeable).
9/ WHEN IS B SILENT?
In the Romanisation, d b is silent and doubles the pronunciation of the preceding X m in the word
proposal) and in those few words made by the addition to A*7 sombondho of suffixes.
10/ HOW IS M PRONOUNCED?
In the Romanisation, X m is silent immediately after and (other than at the start of a word) doubles the pron
Otherwise, m should be pronounced as IPA / m / or as m in English Market.
11/ WHAT DOES JZ/Y/W REPRESENT?
The Bengali graphemes ^ ontohwstho jzo (marginal JZ), ontohwstho o (marginal Y) and
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three forms of the one letter ^ jz/y/w, with ontohwstho o grammatically representing a variant of
jzo-phola grammatically representing a conjunct form of either of ^ ontohwstho jzo and ontohwstho o
(approximately as j in English maJor), the letter is Romanised as jz. When pronounced as y in English ma
y. When silent, the letter again is Romanised as y. When pronounced as w in English tWig or in English a
Here are the rules for going from the Bengali to the Romanisation.
An ^ ontohwstho jzo will be Romanised as jz (and pronounced approximately as j in English ma
An ontohwstho o will be Romanised as y (and pronounced as y in English maYor or e in English n
(the ou may be silent): in which case ontohwstho o will be Romanised as w (and pronounced as w in English t
A jzo-phola will be Romanised as y (whether or not it is silent), unless it occurs next after * h
jzo-phola will be Romanised as jz (and pronounced approximately as j in English maJor).
Here are the rules for going from the Romanisation to the Bengali.
W invariably represents an ontohwstho o (although ontohwstho o will usually be Romanised as
Jz will represent a jzo-phola when jz occurs next after h (the h will be preceded by a vowel) or next after anothe
represent an ^ ontohwstho jzo.
Y will represent a jzo-phola when y occurs next after a consonant. In every other instance, y will represent an
Here are the rules for pronouncing the Romanisation.
Jz invariably is pronounced approximately as j in English maJor.
When y occurs next after a consonant, y will be silent and will double in pronunciation the preceding consonant: exce
case in which y occurs next after r (the r will occur next after another consonant): in which case y
When y does not occur next after a consonant, y will be pronounced as y in English maYor.
W invariably is pronounced as w in English tWig or in English aWay.
12/ HOW IS V PRONOUNCED?
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In the Romanisation, v should be pronounced as IPA / b / or as b in English Bit: (i) if v commences a word; and (ii) im
modifier, a prefix or prefixed word (on the principle that the addition or subtraction of a prefix or prefixed word should
hyphen, rr, (in theory) rrh, or another d:7 ontohwstho consonant (r, l, v or h).
Note that in Sanskrit-derived words d v is grammatically the semi-vowel form of the vowel T u. In a possible echo of
exceptionally is doubled in pronunciation after * h (which will be silent) to uv (IPA / ub /) and not to vv (IPA / bb /) in
archaic verbal stem 7 hve (to summon). Hence, 7lA ahvan (summons, invitation) is pronounced as IPA / aub
such words are 7l* ahvayok (convener) and 7l*l ahvayika (female convener). There is however a trend
between * h and d v: so turning these words respectively into *dlA ahovan, *dl* ahovayok
(other than at the start of a word) doubles the pronunciation of the consonant letter immediately preceding it.
13/ PRONUNCIATION OF SIBILANTS SH, X and S
13A/ Each of the sibilants sh, ^ x and A s should have the pronunciation / s / (of s in English S
next before X mrwi (in which X m is silent, under rule 10). However, combinations involving ^ x
only A s.
13B/ Each of the sibilants should have its original pronunciation next before a consonant that usually retains the sa
original pronunciation of the preceding sibilant. sh has the palatal pronunciation / / (as sh in English lea
consonants L c, ch, * j, 4 jh, and nj. ^ x has the retroflex pronunciation / / (as sh in English har
consonants b td, 3 tdh, T dt, and b dth (but not next before + nh, which usually has the alveolar pronunciation / n
dental pronunciation / s / (as s in English Saw) next before U t, A th, d, h dh, and (since there is little to different
pronunciations) A n.
13C/ ^ x has the pronunciation / k / (approximately of kh in English sinKHole), only and invariably next after
13D/ A s at the start of a word has the dental pronunciation / s / (of s in English Saw) next before
13E/ A s has the dental pronunciation / s / (of s in English Saw) when it represents an original / s / in a word taken f
originating from outside the South Asian subcontinent.
13F/ Except in the preceding instances, each of the sibilants should have the alveolar pronunciation /
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14/ HOW IS H PRONOUNCED?
In the Romanisation, h should be pronounced as IPA / / or as h in English Hotel: (i) if h commences a word, before
not a true vowel or diphthong) or before y; or (ii) if h does not commence a word, before a (true) vowel or a diphthon
and (other than at the start of a word) doubles the pronunciation of any following Bengali consonant letter or of the /
Exceptionally, v is doubled in pronunciation after h to uv (IPA / ub /) and not to vv (IPA / bb /): see
AN EXAMPLE
A reader can go to examples of the works of Tagore in the Romanisation and see at some length how the Romanisatio
random vocabulary using the Romanisation. Here, however, is a short example with a non-official transl
Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948.
XlAdlh*l(dd Ald*AA
dl^Al^
MANOVADHIKARER SARVOJONIIN GHOUXONHAPOTRO
hldl ': AX7 XlA^ lhAUl(d, d: AXlA X^ll d: h*ld A(, *^3*+ *(d Ul(d
(, d: A*(d* (* ^(dd 3U SlU 7AU X(AlUld A( Ld+ *dl TL
Dhara 1: Somosto manux svadhiinbhave, eevongw soman morjzada eevongw odhikar niye, jonmogrohonh kore
vivek eevongw buddhi ache, eevongw sokoleri eeke oporer proti bhratrwitvosulobh monoubhav niye acoronh kora u
Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscien
and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
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SYSTEM TABLE
There now follows a detailed table containing an exposition of the Romanisation system.
SVOR (SONORANT) LETTERS
SYLLABIC MODIFIERS
CONSONANT LETTERS: VELAR
CONSONANT LETTERS: PALATAL
CONSONANT LETTERS: RETROFLEX
CONSONANT LETTERS: DENTAL
CONSONANT LETTERS: LABIAL
CONSONANT LETTERS: FORMER AND ACTUAL SEMI-VOWELS
CONSONANT LETTERS: FRICATIVE
SVOR
(SONORANT)
LETTERS
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments

o
IPA / /. As o in British English hOt. The letter is called
d- svoro-o in Bengali.
In Bengali orthography, in the absence of
contra-indication and whether or not svoro-o is
actually pronounced, every consonant sign by default
comprises a consonant sound followed by an inherent
svoro-o. Consequently, in Bengali
orthography svoro-o is never actually written
immediately after a consonant.
Where the difference in pronunciation between o in
British English hOt and (see the next item) o in English
Obey is to be shown, svoro-o with the pronunciation
of IPA / / can be written as .
In Portuguese, the letter is pronounced as o in British
English hOt - e.g. av / av / (grandmother), prximo
/ primu / (next, close by, neighbour).
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o IPA / o /. As o in English Obey.
Where the difference in pronunciation between o in
British English hOt and (see the preceding item) o in
English Obey is significant, svoro-o with the
pronunciation of IPA / o / can be written as .
In Portuguese, the letter is pronounced as o in
English Obey - e.g. av / avo / (grandfather), metr
/ mero / (urban underground railway).

Silent: svoro-o when it is silent after a consonant that


is not the last letter in a word.
(not written) Silent: svoro-o when it is silent after a consonant that
is the last letter in a word.
A silent o is by default to be implied in the
Romanisation after a consonant that is the final letter
in a word. Consequently, a silent o is not
represented in the Romanisation after a word-final
consonant.
eo IPA / /. As a in English rAt, occurring with this
pronunciation only after a silent y in the first syllable in
a word: but, for the purposes of pronouncing svoro-o
as occurring after a silent y in the first syllable of a
word, prefixes and compounding are ignored.

IPA / / or IPA / /. Respectively as either the vowel


in French dEUx / / (two) or the vowel in French
OEUvre / v / (work) - approximately as u in
English hUrt. When treated as a non-traditional single
grapheme, it is used in transliterating
non-subcontinental words into Bengali orthography.
Strictly speaking this is not an independent letter, but
the combination of jzo-phola used as a mere
diacritical mark with o, in order to represent the
sound at the beginning of a non-subcontinental word of
IPA / / or IPA / /. No non-subcontinental words
have been adopted into Bengali in which IPA / / or
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IPA / / occurs.

a
IPA / /. As a in English fAther. The letter is
called d- svoro-a in Bengali.
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
written as a conjunct immediately after that consonant
(or any consonant-conjunct ending with that
consonant), and is known as -*ld a-kar
(A-maker). There is only one form l of a-kar.
ea
IPA / /. This is d- svoro-a pronounced as a in
English rAt. This pronunciation of d- svoro-a
occurs only and invariably:
(i) after a silent y in the first syllable of a word. For
the purposes of pronouncing svoro-o as occurring
after a silent y in the first syllable of a word, prefixes
and compounding are ignored.
(ii) (in any syllable) after gjnj.
l
IPA / /. As a in English rAt. When treated as a
non-traditional single grapheme, it is used in
transliterating non-subcontinental words into Bengali
orthography. Strictly speaking this is not an
independent letter, but the combination of
jzo-phola and l a-kar (conjunct a) to form a mere
diacritical mark used with o, in order to represent
the sound at the beginning of a non-subcontinental
word of IPA / /.
*
i
IPA / i /. As i in English bIt. The letter is called 3-*
hrosvo-i (short I) in Bengali.
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
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written as a conjunct immediately before that
consonant (or any consonant-conjunct ending with
that consonant), and is known as 3-*-*ld
hrosvo-i-kar (short-I-maker) There is only one form
of hrosvo-i-kar.
7
ii IPA / i / in careful pronunciation: as i in English
machIne. Colloquially the letter is pronounced as i in
English bIt (IPA / i /). The letter is called d -7
diirgho-ii (long II) in Bengali.
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
written as a conjunct immediately after that consonant
(or any consonant-conjunct ending with that
consonant), and is known as d -7-*ld
diirgho-ii-kar (long-II-maker). There is only one
form of diirgho-ii-kar.
In Finnish, ii is pronounced as i in English machIne: e.g.
in the word viisi / isi / (five). In the related
language Estonian, ii also is pronounced as i in English
machIne: e.g. in the word viis / vis / (five).
T
u
IPA / u /. As u in English fUll. The letter is called 3
hrosvo-u (short U) in Bengali.
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
known as 3-T-*ld hrosvo-u-kar
(short-U-maker) and is fused to that consonant (or
any consonant-conjunct ending with that consonant),
below which the usual form of hrosvo-u-kar is
written. There are several variant forms of
hrosvo-u-kar.
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T

IPA / y /. As the vowel in French rUE / y / (street).


When treated as a non-traditional single character, it is
used in transliterating non-subcontinental words into
Bengali orthography. Strictly speaking this is not an
independent letter but the combination of jzo-phola
used as a mere diacritical mark with 3-T hrosvo-u
in order to represent the sound at the beginning of a
non-subcontinental word of IPA / y /. No
non-subcontinental words have been adopted into
Bengali in which IPA / y / occurs.

uu IPA / u /. In careful pronunciation, as u in English


rUde. Colloquially the letter is pronounced as u in
English fUll (IPA / u /). The letter is called d -
diirgho-uu (long UU) in Bengali.
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
known as d --*ld diirgho-uu-kar
(long-UU-maker) and is fused to that consonant (or
any consonant-conjunct ending with that consonant),
below which the usual form of diirgho-uu-kar is
written. There are some variant forms of
diirgho-uu-kar.
In Finnish, uu is pronounced as u in English rUde: e.g.
in the word kuuma / kum / (hot). In the related
language Estonian, uu also is pronounced as u in
English rUde: e.g. in the word kuum / kum / (hot).
1
rwi IPA / ri /. As ri in English gRIn. The letter is simply
called 1 rwi in Bengali.
Grammatically this is treated as a semi-vowel, and
never occurs before a vowel. For the purposes of
implying an inherent o in the Romanisation, this is
not a consonant (no inherent o is implied after a
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final 1 rwi).
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
known as 1-*ld rwi-kar (RWI-maker) and is fused
to that consonant (or any consonant-conjunct ending
with that consonant), below which the usual form of
rwi-kar is written. There is one variant form of
rwi-kar.
rwi Exceptionally, rwi is pronounced as IPA / rri / (as re-ri
in English caRE-RIdden) immediately after * h when
h occurs immediately after a vowel (the * h will be
silent).

rwii IPA / ri /. As ri in English marINe and ree in English


gREEn - but the letter is non-existent in modern
Bengali. The letter is simply called rwii in Bengali.
Grammatically this was treated as a semi-vowel, and
never occurred before a vowel. For the purposes of
implying an inherent o in the Romanisation, this
would not be a consonant (no inherent o would be
implied after a final rwii).
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography was
known as -*ld rwii-kar (RWII-maker) and was
fused to that consonant (or any consonant-conjunct
ending with that consonant), below which the sole
form of rwii-kar was written.
o
lwi IPA / li /. As li in English gLIb - but the letter is
non-existent in modern Bengali. The letter is simply
called o lwi in Bengali.
Grammatically this was treated as a semi-vowel, and
never occurred before a vowel. For the purposes of
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implying an inherent o in the Romanisation, this
would not be a consonant (no inherent o would be
implied after a final o lwi).
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography was
known as o-*ld lwi-kar (LWI-maker) and was
fused to that consonant (or any consonant-conjunct
ending with that consonant), below which the sole
form of lwi-kar was written.
_
lwii IPA / li /. As lee in English gLEE - but the letter is
non-existent in modern Bengali, and was absent even
from any Sanskrit word. The letter is simply called _
lwii in Bengali.
Grammatically this was treated as a semi-vowel, and
would never have occurred before a vowel. For the
purposes of implying an inherent o in the
Romanisation, this would not have been a consonant
(no inherent o would have been implied after a final
_ lwii).
When in theory it was to be sounded immediately after
a consonant in the same syllable, the letter in Bengali
orthography was known as _-*ld lwii-kar
(LWII-maker) and was to be fused to that consonant
(or any consonant-conjunct ending with that
consonant), below which the sole form
,
of lwii-kar
was to be written.

e IPA / e /. As e in English rEd. The letter is simply


called e in Bengali.
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
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same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
written as a conjunct immediately before that
consonant (or any consonant-conjunct ending with
that consonant), and is known as -*ld e-kar
(E-maker). There is only one form of e-kar.
ee IPA / /. As a in English rAt.

(Most commonly as) IPA / /. As (most commonly) the


vowel in French trEIze / z / (thirteen) -
approximately as ea in English bEAr. When treated as a
non-traditional single grapheme, it is used in
transliterating non-subcontinental words into Bengali
orthography. Strictly speaking this is not an
independent letter, but the combination of
jzo-phola used as a mere diacritical mark with e, in
order (most commonly) to represent the sound at the
beginning of a non-subcontinental word of IPA / /. No
non-subcontinental words have been adopted into
Bengali in which IPA / / occurs.
l
IPA / /. As a in English rAt. When treated as a
non-traditional single grapheme, it is used in
transliterating non-subcontinental words into Bengali
orthography. Strictly speaking this is not an
independent letter, but the combination of
jzo-phola and l a-kar (conjunct a) to form a mere
diacritical mark used with e, in order to represent
the sound at the beginning of a non-subcontinental
word of IPA / /.

aoi IPA / oj /. Approximately as oi in English cOIn. The


letter is simply called aoi in Bengali.
Note that a + o + * i = aoi under the
grammatical rules concerning A7 sondhi (joining of
sounds).
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When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
written as a conjunct immediately before that
consonant (or any consonant-conjunct ending with
that consonant), and is known as -*ld aoi-kar
(AOI-maker), There is only one form ( of aoi-kar.

ou IPA / o /. As o in Italian cellO, approximately as ou in


English fOUr. The letter is simply called ou in
Bengali.
Note that o + T u = ou under the grammatical
rules concerning A7 sondhi (joining of sounds).
When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
written as a conjunct in two parts so as to enclose
that consonant (or any consonant-conjunct ending
with that consonant), and is known as -*ld ou-kar
(OU-maker). There is only one form l of ou-kar

Silent ou: occurring only (but not necessarily)


immediately before w.

aou IPA / ow /. As ow in English bOWler or ou in English


sOUl or oa in English rOAd. The letter is simply
called aou in Bengali.
Note that a + o + T u = aou under the
grammatical rules concerning A7 sondhi (joining of
sounds).
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When sounded immediately after a consonant in the
same syllable, the letter in Bengali orthography is
written as a conjunct in two parts so as to enclose
that consonant (or any consonant-conjunct ending
with that consonant), and is known as -*ld
aou-kar (AOU-maker). There is only one form l
aou-kar.
Return to System Table
SYLLABIC
MODIFIERS
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
:
ngw IPA / /. As ng in English siNG, but never occurring
before a vowel or diphthong. The letter is called
Ad onusvor or Ald onusvar (after-sound or
post-sonorant) in Bengali.
For the purposes of implying an inherent o in the
Romanisation, this is not a consonant (no
inherent o would be implied after a final
Ad onusvor). The letter invariably is sounded
immediately after a vowel or diphthong in the same
syllable, to which onusvor in Bengali orthography is
treated as a conjunct.
:
hw IPA / h /. As (when sounded) h in English aHoy. The
letter is sounded only at the end of a word. The letter
never occurs before, and invariably occurs after, a
vowel or diphthong. The letter is called dAA
visorgo (aspirant: literally out-producing) in
Bengali.
For the purposes of implying an inherent o in the
Romanisation, this is not a consonant (no
inherent o would be implied after a
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final dAA visorgo).
hw Silent, immediately before and doubling the
pronunciation of a consonant letter.

nw IPA /
~
/. Nasalisation of vowel or diphthong, as n in
French viN / v / (wine). The letter is called L*d
condrovindu (moon [and] dot) in Bengali.
(Condrovindu did not exist in classical Sanskrit, in
which the Devanagari onusvar (which has the
shape of Bengali condrovindu) would stand for both
Bengali onusvor / onusvar : and
Bengali condrovindu

).
For the purposes of implying an inherent o in the
Romanisation, condrovindu is not a consonant (no
inherent o would be implied after a
final condrovindu).
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS: VELAR
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
*
k IPA / k /. As k in English Kid. The letter is simply
called * ko in Bengali.
q IPA / k /. As k in English Kid but representing an original
sound of uvular / q / in Arabic word / Qadi /
(a judge).

kh
IPA / k /. Approximately as kh in English sinKHole and
ckh in English duCKHouse. The letter is simply called
kho in Bengali.
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A
g IPA / g /. As g in English Gas. The letter is simply
called A go in Bengali.
d
gh
IPA / /. Approximately as gh in English doGHouse.
The letter is simply called d gho in Bengali.
!
ng IPA / /. As ng in English fiNGer. The letter is
called T! ungo or TX umo in Bengali.
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS: PALATAL
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
L
c
IPA / t /. Approximately as c in Italian Cello or ch in
English beaCH. The letter is simply called L co in
Bengali.

ch
IPA / t /. Approximately as "tch h" in English "maTCH
Head" or "chh" in English beaCHHead. The letter is
simply called cho in Bengali.
*
j
IPA / /. Approximately as gi in Italian adaGIo (at
ease) or j in English aJar. The letter is called dA
vorgiiyo jo (generic J) in Bengali.
z
IPA / z / (as z in English Zebra) or IPA / /
(approximately as gi in Italian adaGIo or j in English
aJar), but representing an original sound of, or close
to, z in English Zebra or th in English THe.
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gj IPA / g /. As g in English Gap, occurring only and
invariably before nj: a juxtaposition which occurs
only in the numerous words derived from the archaic
verbal stem 3l gjnjea (to know, to be aware of).
In standard and Tosk dialects of Albanian the
compound letter gj is pronounced as IPA / / (a
palatalised g), not far from the sound of IPA / gj /
given to g in English leGume (IPA / ljum /): e.g.
gjuh / uh / (language, [anatomical] tongue). In
Gheg dialects of Albanian, gj may be pronounced as gi
in Italian adaGIo - e.g. gjndje / dndje / (situation,
condition).
4
jh
IPA / /. Approximately as dgeh in English
briDGEHead. The letter is simply called 4 jho in
Bengali.

nj IPA / /. As the first consonant element in nh in


Portuguese seNHor / snyr / (Mr, sir, lord) or in
in Castilian Spanish seor / snyr /
(Mr, sir, lord): approximately as n in English
seNiority or in English steNch. The letter is called
njiiyo or *! ingo in Bengali.
In the versions of Serbo-Croat written in the Roman
script (Bosnian, Croatian and Montenegrin), the
compound letter nj is pronounced as IPA / / - e.g.
konj / k / (horse). Likewise in Albanian - e.g. nj /
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/ (one, a, an).
nj Silent, immediately after and (other than at the start
of a word) doubling the pronunciation of * gj.
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS:
RETROFLEX
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
b
td IPA / /. As t in English Trick but retroflexed. The letter
is called XhA b muurdhonyo tdo (coronal TD) in
Bengali.
The Romanisation of this letter follows that for the
letter T dt.
In Basque, a distinction is made between dental t,
written as t, and palatal t, written as tt: e.g between t
in the word tanta / tanta / (drop), for which the
Bengali transliteration would be Uldl tanta, and tt in
the word ttantta / canca / (droplet), for which an
approximate Bengali transliteration would be bl+l
tdanhtda.
3
tdh
IPA / /. Approximately as th in English hoTHead but
retroflexed. The letter is called XhA 3 muurdhonyo
tdho (coronal TDH) in Bengali.
The Romanisation of this letter follows that for the
letter T dt.
T
dt IPA / /. As d in English carDinal but retroflexed. The
letter is called XhA T muurdhonyo dto (coronal
DT) in Bengali.
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In Irish Gaelic, dt is pronounced as a post-alveolar d:
e.g. in the word dtr / di / (country), for which the
closest Bengali transliteration would be Td dtir.
In Basque, a distinction is made between dental d,
written as d, and palatal d, written as dd: e.g between
d in the word idi / idi / (ox), for which the Bengali
transliteration would be * idi, and dd in the word
onddo / ono / (mushroom), for which an approximate
Bengali transliteration would be ? onhdto.

rr
The grapheme is called T A d dto shuunyo ro
Bengali, and is grammatically a variant of the letter
muurdhonyo dto and not a separate letter: the
combination of muurdhonyo dto with a dot used as
a mere diacritical mark.
Here: IPA / r / (as r in English aRid or rr in English
huRRy). In earlier (and still in careful) pronunciation,
retroflexed as IPA / /.
b
dth
IPA / /. Approximately as dh in English maDHouse
but retroflexed. The letter is called XhA b
muurdhonyo dtho (coronal DTH) in Bengali.
The Romanisation of this letter follows that for the
letter T dt.
5
rrh
The grapheme 5 is called b A d dtho shuunyo ro
in Bengali, and is grammatically a variant of the letter
muurdhonyo dtho and not a separate letter: the
combination of muurdhonyo dtho with a dot used
as a mere diacritical mark.
Here: IPA / r / (as r in English aRid or rrh in English
cataRRH). In earlier (and still in careful) pronunciation,
retroflexed as IPA / /. Originally both retroflexed and
aspirated as IPA / / (approximately as rh in English
brotheRHood or rrh in English buRRHead).
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+
nh
IPA / /. As a retroflexed version of n in English bar
when next to the retroflex consonants b td, 3 tdh, T
dt, and (in theory) b dth. This is the original
pronunciation. The letter is called XhA +
muurdhonyo nho (coronal NH) in Bengali.
In careful pronunciation, the letter is always sounded
as retroflexed / /.
In central Welsh, nh at the start of a word is
pronounced as an aspirated alveolar voiceless nasal
(approximately like nh in English iNHerit): e.g. in the
word nhad / nhd / ([my] father), for which the
nearest Bengali transliteration would be +lT nhadt.
nh IPA / n /. As alveolar n in English Net - the usual
pronunciation in modern Bengali.
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS: DENTAL
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
U
t
IPA / /. As the dentalised t in French mTier / meje /
(profession) or Italian andanTe (ambling). The letter
is called d U dontyo to (dental T) in Bengali.

t-
IPA / /. As the dentalised t in French fte / f /
(festival). The character is called ?
U khonhdto to (separated T) in Bengali, but is not
an independent letter. It represents (and at the end of
a word sometimes is written as) U t followed by
hosonto - U - that is, U t without the inherent
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subsequent o.
Khonhdto to does not in Bengali orthography follow a
consonant or precede a vowel, and it exists either at
the end of a word or before a consonant or
consonant-conjunct with which U t does not have a
combining form.
A
th
IPA / /. Approximately as th in English hoTHead but
dentalised, and similar to th in English THin. The letter
is called d A dontyo tho (dental TH) in Bengali.
In ancient Greek, the letter Romanised as th
originally had the pronunciation / /.

d
IPA / /. As the dentalised d in French maDame /
mm / (Mrs, Ms, my Lady) or Italian Dolce
(sweet). The letter is called d dontyo
do (dental D) in Bengali.
h
dh
IPA / /. Approximately as dh in English maDHouse
but dentalised, and similar to th in English THen. The
letter is called d h dontyo dho (dental DH) in
Bengali.
A
n
IPA / /. As the dentalised n in Italian andaNte
(ambling), when next to the dental consonants U t,
A th, d, and h dh. This is the original pronunciation.
The letter is called d A dontyo no (dental N) in
Bengali.
In careful pronunciation, the letter is always sounded
as dentalised / /.
n IPA / n /. As the alveolar n in English Net - the usual
pronunciation in modern Bengali.
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In practice, the difference between dentalised / /
and alveolar / n / is so small that it may be ignored.
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS: LABIAL
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
^
p IPA / p /. As p in English raP. The letter is simply
called ^ po in Bengali.

ph
IPA / p /. Approximately as ph in English uPHold. The
letter is simply called pho in Bengali.
In ancient Greek, the letter Romanised as ph
originally had the pronunciation / p /. The letter
pho in Bengali words derived from Greek or
Greek-based words consequently will be Romanised as
ph and not (see next) as f.
f
IPA / f / (as f in English Fat) or IPA / p /
(approximately as ph in English uPHold), but
representing an original sound in a word of
non-subcontinental origin of f in English Fat.
In personal names of non-subcontinental origin, the
pronunciation of f as f in English Fat is the preferred
pronunciation. Otherwise, pronunciation as IPA / p / is
usual.
d
b
IPA / b /. As b in English Bid. The letter is called d bo
or, sometimes, dA d (dA d) vorgiiyo bo (vorgyo
bo) (generic B) in Bengali.
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b
Silent. Exceptionally, d b is silent (and doubles the
pronunciation of the preceding m) in the word A*7
sombondho (relationship, connection; marriage
proposal) and in words made by the addition to A*7
sombondho of suffixes.
U
bh
IPA / b /. Approximately as bh in English aBHor. The
letter is simply called U bho in Bengali.
X
m IPA / m /. As m in English Market. The letter is simply
called X mo in Bengali.
m Silent, immediately after and (other than at the start
of a word) doubling the pronunciation of U t, d,
l, sh, ^ x or A s.
At the start of the suffix XlA / XU man- / motii
(possessing), X m is not silent even when the suffix
is added to a word ending in
U t, d, sh, ^ x or A s. For example, X m is fully
pronounced in the word HlA ayuxman- /
ayux-man- (long-living) formed by adding
XlA man- (possessing) to ^ ayux- (lifetime).
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS: FORMER
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AND ACTUAL
SEMI-VOWELS
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments
^
jz
IPA / /. As gi in Italian adaGIo (at ease) or j in
English aJar, but more palatalised. The letter in this
form ^ is called d:7 ^ ontohwstho jzo in Bengali.

y
The grapheme is called d:7 ontohwstho o in
Bengali, and is grammatically a variant of the letter
ontohwstho jzo and not a separate letter: the
combination of ^ ontohwstho jzo with a dot used
as a mere diacritical mark.
Here: IPA / j / (as y in English maYor) between vowels,
or IPA / / (as y in English awaY) otherwise. These are
the original pronunciations of ontowstho jzo, and they
apply to d:7 ontohwstho o except in the case
of w (see the next item).
w Here: IPA / w /. As w in English aWake.
This pronunciation of d:7 ontohwstho o occurs
whenever the letter in Bengali is preceded by (i) T u
or (ii) uu, or (iii) ou (ou may or may not be
silent).
With this pronunciation, the letter is written
as d wo in Assamese.
y
The grapheme is called ^-l jzo-phola
(JZ-producer) in Bengali, and is grammatically a
form of the letter ^ ontohwstho jzo (or its
variant ontohwstho o) and not a separate letter.
Here: silent and doubling the pronunciation of an
immediately preceding consonant. Ontohwstho
jzo (or ontohwstho o) takes the form jzo-phola next
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after a consonant, other than r when r occurs next
after a vowel. Jzo-phola is silent except next after:
(i) h when h occurs next after a vowel and
(ii) r when r occurs next after a consonant.
After some consonants in some fonts, jzo-phola is
fused to the preceding consonant.
y
Here: IPA / / (as e in English nEar). Jzo-phola is only
so pronounced next after r when r occurs next after a
consonant.
jz
Here: IPA / /. As gi in Italian adaGIo (at ease) or j
in English aJar, but more palatalised. Jzo-phola is only
so pronounced next after h when h occurs next after a
vowel.
d
r IPA / r /. As r in English aRid. The letter is called
d:7 d ontohwstho ro (marginal R) in Bengali. It
is written as d in Assamese.
When it is at the same time preceded by a vowel and
followed by another consonant, the letter in Bengali
orthography is written in a form

known as d reph
immediately above that following consonant.
When it is at the same time preceded by a different
consonant (not r) and followed by a vowel or (in an
infrequent case) by y (which will be in the form . ^
jzo-phola), the letter in Bengali orthography is written
as a conjunct r or d-l ro-phola (R-producer),
usually in a form

immediately below the preceding


consonant (but there are several variant forms).
In every other instance, the letter in Bengali
orthography is written in the form d it takes when
standing alone.

l IPA / l /. As l in English aLarm. The letter is


called d:7 ontohwstho lo (marginal L) in
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Bengali.
When occurring immediately after another consonant,
the letter in Bengali orthography can be written as a
conjunct l or -l lo-phola (L-producer),
immediately below that other consonant.
d
v
IPA / b /. As b in English Bit. The letter is called d
d ontohwstho vo in Bengali. Representing an original
letter v in Sanskrit (IPA / /, pronounced midway
between v in English aVoid and w in English aWake), or
an original sound in other languages of v in English
Victory or w in English Win. In modern Bengali, d
d ontohwstho vo has disappeared into dA d
vorgiiyo bo (b).
When occurring immediately after
d:7 ontohwstho lo (l) or another d:7
d ontohwstho vo or d:7 * ontohwstho ho (h), or
after rr or (in theory) 5 rrh, or after a prefix such
as T ud- (out, up, high) or prefixed word such
as ^b xotd- / ^} xorr- (six) ending in a consonant
(without an inherent subsequent o), the letter in
Bengali orthography is written as a
conjunct ontohwstho vo or
[d:7] d-l [ontohwstho] vo-phola
(V-producer) and fused to the preceding consonant
(without altering the pronunciation as IPA / b /).
In Castilian Spanish generally and in Galician (Gallego),
the letter v is pronounced as IPA / b /.
v
Exceptionally, the letter d v immediately after d:7
* ontohwstho ho (which will be silent) is pronounced
as if it were Td ub: something - see rule 12 - that
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occurs only in those few words that derive from the
archaic verbal stem 7 hve (to summon).
v Silent. The letter in Bengali orthography is not silent
when it occurs immediately after a prefix or prefixed
word ending in a consonant (without an inherent
subsequent o), after any d:7 ontohwstho
consonant (d:7 d ontohwstho ro [r], d:7
ontohwstho lo [l], d:7 d ontohwstho vo [v]
or d:7 * ontohwstho ho [h]: it cannot exist after
d:7 ^ ontohwstho jzo [jz/y/w]), after rr, or (in
theory) after 5 rrh, after which prefix or consonant
the letter is not silent. The letter in Bengali
orthography is silent when it occurs immediately after
any other consonant, of which other consonant (other
than at the start of a word) it doubles the
pronunciation.
When silent, the letter in Bengali orthography is written
as a conjunct ontohwstho vo or [d:7] d-l
[ontohwstho] vo-phola (V-producer) and fused to
the preceding consonant.
Return to System Table
CONSONANT
LETTERS:
FRICATIVE
Bengali letter Transliteration Pronunciation/ Comments

sh
IPA / /. As sh in English wiSH but palatalised, when
next to the palatal consonants L c, ch, * j, 4 jh,
and nj. This is the original pronunciation, invariably
palatalised. The letter is called Uld talovyo sho
(palatal SH) in Bengali.
sh
IPA / s /. As s in English Slow, when next before 1 rwi
or d r or l.
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sh IPA / /. As sh in English waSH - the usual
pronunciation in modern Bengali.
^ x IPA / /. As sh in English harSHer but retroflexed, when
next to the retroflex consonants b td, 3 tdh, T dt, and
b dth. This is the original pronunciation. The letter is
called XhA ^ muurdhonyo xo (coronal X) in Bengali.
x IPA / k /. Approximately as kh in English sinKHole.
Occurring only and invariably immediately after * k in
the conjunct V kx.
In ancient Greek, the letter Romanised as kh
originally had the pronunciation / k /.
x IPA / /. As sh in English caSH - the usual
pronunciation in modern Bengali.
In medieval precursors to Iberian Romance languages,
the letter x generally had the pronunciation / /. The
letter in Portuguese most commonly still has the
pronunciation / / - e.g. in caixa / kj / (box,
cashier). Likewise in Catalan - e.g. in xarop / rop /
(syrup) - and in Galician (Gallego) - e.g. in viaxe /
bje / (journey).
The non-Indo-European Basque language employs the
pronunciation / / for the letter x - e.g. in xuri / uri /
(white). The Semitic Maltese language also assigns
the pronunciation / / to the letter x - e.g. in xemxata
/ mt / (sunstroke).
A s IPA / s /. As s in English Star: (i) when next before any
of the dental consonants U t, A th, d, h dh, and A n;
(ii) when next before 1 rwi or X mrwi [X m is silent
immediately after A s] or d r or l; (iii) when
representing an original / s / in a word taken from
English; or (iv) when occurring at the start of a word
Romanisation System for Bengali - Google Documents https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WsK3j0u-OioxKo-ube0ZRRPiEa...
45 of 47 03/05/2012 23:29
Romanisation System for Bengali - Google Documents https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WsK3j0u-OioxKo-ube0ZRRPiEa...
46 of 47 03/05/2012 23:29
Romanisation System for Bengali - Google Documents https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WsK3j0u-OioxKo-ube0ZRRPiEa...
47 of 47 03/05/2012 23:29