Modern Standard Bengali (Literary Bangla) is the official language of the Republic of Bangladesh. This language is an Indo-Aryan language that is widespread in the Indian Subcontinent. Modern Standard Bengali is a lingua franca in Bangladesh. The letters represent consonants while vowels are diactrics. The script is cursive and has eleven special signs (graphemes) representing nine vowels and two diphthongs (a vowel with two sounds), 39 consonants, and there are no upper or lower-case letter forms. Written Bengali script has a distinct horizontal line (matra) on top of all the orthographic words that link them together.

98% of Bangladeshis fluently speak Modern Standard Bengali as a first language. An additional 16% of the population are fluent in other dialects of Bengali like Sylheti and Chittagonian. Only 82% of the people have some knowledge of the true standard Bengali. Though English does not have an official status, it is dominant in government institutions, judiciary, education, media, and business.

There are several Aryan languages spoken in most lowland areas of Bangladesh. These languages include Bishnupriya, Chakma, Chittagonian, Hajong, Rohingya, Sylheti, Tangchangya, Rangpuri, Assamese, Oraon Sadri, and Bihari.

Non-Aryan languages in the country are the Austroasiatic Languages (Khasi, Koda, Mundari, Pnar, Santali, and War-Jaintia), the Dravidian Languages (Kurukh and Paharia/Malto), and Tibeto-Burman Languages (A'Tong, Chak, Chin, Koch, Garo, Megam, Pangkhua, Tripuri, Rakhine/Marma, and Mru). In addition, there are pockets of immigrant languages like Bihari, Burmese, and Rohingya. According to the Bangladesh government, most of these minority languages are either endangered or vulnerable.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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