Bengali/Script/Consonants 2

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This page covers the rest of the Bengali alphabet not discussed in Bengali Consonants, Part One. These consonants are more complex in the sense that these consonants have other forms in addition to the usual forms as described in Part One. In addition, some of these consonant appear only in special positions in a word. Here are classes as well. The following table gives an overview of these consonants.

Consonant class Consonants
অন্তঃস্থ বর্ণ (Ôntôstho bôrno, /ɔntɔstʰo bɔrno/), Approximants য, র, ল, ব
উষ্ম বর্ণ (Ushmô bôrno, /uʃmɔ bɔrno/), Fricatives শ, ষ, স, হ
তাড়িত বর্ণ (Taṛitô bôrno, /t̪aɽitɔ bɔrno/), Flapped letters ড়, ঢ়
অন্যান্য বর্ণ (Onynanô bôrno, /one̯ane̯ɔ bɔrno/), Others য়, ৎ

অন্তঃস্থ বর্ণ (Approximants)[edit]

Consonants (j) (r) (l) (w)
Description Palatal Approximant Retroflex Approximant Dental Lateral Approximant Labial Approximant
Pronunciation /d͡ʒ/ or /z/ /r/ /l/ /w/

is the first consonant in the Approximant class. It used to be the palatal approximant /j/, but in present day Bengali it is pronounced almost /d͡ʒ/, an affricate. When it comes after a consonant in an conjunct, it is changed to the য-ফলা (jô-phôla, /d͡ʒɔ pʰɔla/), ্য, as in বাক্য (bakkô, /bakkɔ/, "sentence"). As , it is pronounced /d͡ʒ/, while as ্য, its effect is only to double the previous consonant sound.

Examples :
(A)  : যান, (zan, /d͡ʒan/, "vehicle"), যত্ন (zôt̪no, /d͡ʒɔt̪nɔ/, "care"), যজ্ঞ (zoggoñ, /d͡ʒoggõ/, "a Vedic religious ceremony") etc.
(B) য-ফলা : সত্য (sotto, /sot̪t̪o/, "truth"), মাণিক্য (manikkɔ, /manikkɔ/, "jewel") etc.
(By the way, ত্ন and জ্ঞ are examples of conjuncts. ত্ন is ত্ + ন্ + অ (/t̪nɔ/), while জ্ঞ is জ্ + ঞ্ + অ (/ggɔ̃/).)

is the second ôntôstho bôrno, i.e. approximant. It is pronounced almost like the English R, which is a alveolar trill, /r/. Like , it has other forms as well, the "রেফ" (reph, /repʰ/), an upper diagonal line running above a word, as in বর্ণ. When is the first consonant of a conjunct, it changes to reph. So বর্ণ is just ব্ + অ + র্ + ণ্ + অ, where র্ is the reph. When it is the last consonant in a conjunct, it becomes the র-ফলা (rô-phôla, /rɔ pʰɔla/), ্র, as in শত্রু (shotru, /ɕot̪ru/, "enemy").

Examples :

(A)  : রঙ, (rông, /rɔŋ/, "color"), রান্না, (ranna, /ran̪n̪a/, "cooking"), রানি, (rani, /ran̪i/, "queen"), রাজা, (raja, /raɟa/, "king") etc.

(B) রেফ : কর্তব্য, (kôrtobbo, /kɔrt̪obbo/, "duty"), শর্ত, (shôrto, /ɕɔrt̪o/, "conditions (as in terms and conditions)") etc.

(C) র-ফলা : প্রদীপ, (prodip, /prod̪ip/, "lamp"), প্রতীক, (protik, /prot̪ik/, "symbol or sign (that refers to something else)"), স্র‌োত, (shrot, /ɕrot̪/, "current (of water)") etc.

ন্ন is another conjunct. It is a conjunct of two -s, ন্+ন্+অ. Also notice স্র. It is actually with a র-ফলা, স্ + র্ + অ.

is the third Approximant, which is actually a Lateral Approximant. Like , it is pronounced the same as its English counterpart, L, an alveolar lateral approximant, /l/. It doesn't has any other forms. When it becomes a part of a conjunct, it actually retains its form other than becoming shortened, as in বল্কল, (bôlkôl. /bɔlkɔl/, "bark of tree") and কল্ল‌োল, (kôllôl, /kɔllol/, "roaring wave" or "loud and confused noise" or "great joy"). Here are two more conjuncts, ল্ক, which is ল্ + ক্ + অ, and ল্ল which is ল্+ল্+অ. These conjuncts are easier to remember because ল্ক looks just like a small sitting on top of a . Similarly ল্ল looks like a on top of another . There are many other simple conjuncts like this in Bengali which offer visual aid to the reader about their composition.

Examples :

 : লবণ, (lôbôn, /lɔbɔn̪/, "salt"), জল, (jôl, /ɟɔl/, "water"), ফল, (phôl, /pʰɔl/, "fruit"), তরল, (tôrôl, /t̪ɔrɔl/, "liquid"), প্রবাল, (prôbal, /prɔbal/, "coral"), প্রবল, (prôbôl, /prɔbal/, "foreceful, intense") etc.

is the fourth and final ôntôstho bôrno and the second in the Bengali alphabet. While the two -s have the same graphical representation, this occurs only in the positions where earlier Bengali and its predecessors had a /w/ sound, i.e., in some conjuncts involving . The first is the of প, ফ, , ভ, ম, and is called the বর্গীয়-ব (borgio-bô, /borgio bɔ/), while this occurs after and is called the অন্তঃস্থ-ব (ôntôstho-bô, /ɔn̪t̪ɔst̪ʰo bɔ/). It has a separate letter for itself in Assamese alphabet : (bô with a diagonal bar underneath), but it is not used in the Bengali alphabet. Its effect is just like that of the য-ফলা in pronunciation, it merely doubles the preceding consonant, while sometimes it remains silent.

Examples : শ্বাপদ (shapôd, /ɕapɔd̪/, "a dangerous animal which is carnivorous"), কাণ্বকুব্জ (Kannokubjo, /kan̪n̪okubɟo/, "name of an ancient Indian city"). In the first example, the ôntôstho-bô is absent, while in the second, it causes doubling of /n̪/. Note that কাণ্বকুব্জ contains two conjuncts, ণ্ব (ণ্ + ব্ + অ) and ব্জ (ব্ + জ্ + অ). The former contains the ôntôstho-bô while the second conjunct contains the borgio-bô.

উষ্ম বর্ণ (Fricatives)[edit]

Consonants (sh) (ṣ) (s) (h)
Description Palatal Sibilant Fricative Retroflex Sibilant Fricative Dental Sibilant Fricative Glottal Non-Sibilant Fricative
Pronunciation /ɕ/ to /ʃ/ like or , depending on context. /s/ /h/ (unvoiced) at the beginning or end of a word.

/ɦ/ (voiced) at the middle of a word.

Bengali has four উষ্ম বর্ণ-s, i.e., Fricative consonants. These are summarized in the table above. When a fricative consonant is pronounced, the airflow from the lungs is impeded by the tongue to produce the sound, but only partially, so that a somewhat 'hissing' sound is formed. Now, some of these fricatives are Sibilants, which mean they have an intense, high-frequency sound (like whistling), (e.g. English sip, zip, ship etc), while the non-Sibilants lack this characteristic. In Bengali, , and are Sibilants, while is not. Also, the sound of , and varies more than other consonants. Although is usually pronounced as /ɕ/ or /ʃ/, in some contexts it can be pronounced as /s/. Similarly for , which used to represent the sound /s/, but in present day Bengali it can represent /ɕ/ or /ʃ/ in some contexts as well. In case of , the original Retroflex sound of /ʂ/ is lost. It now usually mimics the sound of শ or স, except some rare cases, where it is near a retroflex consonant.

Examples[edit]

শ :

শহর (shôhor, /ɕɔɦor/, "city"), শক্ত (shôkto, /ɕɔkt̪o/, "hard"), শতাব্দী (shôtabdi, /ɕɔt̪abdi/, "century"), শোয়া (showa, /ɕowa/, "to lie down"), শব্দ (shôbdo, /ɕɔbdo/, "sound"), শব (shôb, /ɕɔb/, "dead body"), শান্তি (shanti, /ɕant̪i/, "calm, tranquility")

(Conjuncts : ক্ত = ক্ + ত, ব্দ = ব্ + দ, ন্ত = ন্ + ত, (ktô = k + tô, bdô = b + dô, ntô = n + tô) )

স :

সত্য (sotto, /sot̪t̪o/, "truth"), সাত (sat, /sat̪/, "seven"), সোনা (sona, /son̪a/, "gold"), সুখ (sukh, /sukʰ/, "happiness"), সাদা (/sada, sad̪a/, "white"), সহজ (sahoj, /saɦoɟ/, "easy"), সূর্য (surjo, /surɟo/, "the sun"), স্বপ্ন (sôpno, /sapn̪o/, "dream"), সাহায্য (sahajjo, /saɦaɟɟo/, "help")

(Conjuncts : স্ব = স্ + ব, প্ন = প্ + ন, (swô = s + wô, pnô = p + nô))

ষ :

কষ্ট (kôsṭo, /kɔsʈo/, "sorrow, trouble, pain"), ষষ্ঠ (shôsṭo, usually /ɕɔsʈʰo/, sometimes /ɕɔʂʈʰo/, "sixth")

হ :

হাসি (hãsi, /hãsi/, "smile; laugh"), হাঁস (hãs, /hãs/, "duck"), হাসপাতাল (hãspatal, /hãspat̪al/, "hospital"), হাত (hat, /hat̪/, "hand")

(Take care of the nasal vowel ã! In হাঁস, it is explicitly marked with a chôndrôbindu above the a-kar া. But in হাসি and হাসপাতাল, there are no chôndrôbindu-s, still they are nasalized. This is one of the peculiarities of the language itself. In হাসি and হাসপাতাল, the first a-kar is nasalized by analogy with হাঁস. There are some other words with this peculiarity as well.)

Bibliography[edit]

Bengali Alphabet - The Bengali Alphabet article in Wikipedia.