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Languages of Bangladesh

Indo-Aryan languagesEdit

The lowlands of Bangladesh form the eastern half of the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal and the Bengali language is spoken by the majority of the country's inhabitants. There are also some Eastern Indic language varieties, which are variously classified either as dialects of Bengali or separate but closely related languages. They can be thought of forming a dialect continuum.

Non-Indo-Aryan languagesEdit

The indigenous languages of the region are members of the Austroasiatic, Dravidian and Tibeto-Burman families. Most of these languages are spoken in mountainous areas.

Austroasiatic languagesEdit

While the more widely spoken and better-known Austroasiatic languages are spoken in Southeast Asia (e.g. Khmer and Vietnamese), smaller languages of that family are spoken by indigenous communities of northern and eastern Bangladesh.

Dravidian languagesEdit

Two Dravidian languages are spoken by indigenous communities of western Bangladesh.

Tibeto-Burman languagesEdit

The mountainous areas along the northern and eastern edges of the Indian Subcontinent are inhabited primarily by speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages. Indigenous Tibeto-Burman-speaking communities are found through the northern, eastern, and especially the southeastern parts of Bangladesh.

Other languagesEdit

English (previous colonial)Edit

English is used marginally in the Judiciary.[4] Before the commencement of Bengali Language Implementation Act, 1987, English had a considerable presence in the official affairs, but since 1987, the usage of English waned significantly in the government affairs to the exclusion of a marginal presence in the higher tier of the Judiciary. However, English is taught as a compulsory subject in all schools, colleges and universities.

Arabic (previous ceremonial language, religious and minor literary language)Edit

Arabic (عربي) was an official language ever since the territory of the modern state People's Republic of Bangladesh became a part of the Bengal Sultanate. However some disagree and believe the presence of Arabic came before during the Delhi Sultanate. Arabic is used in many Muslim congregations such as the weekly Jumu'ah Salah in which a sermon (khutbah) is given in Arabic in addition to Bengali. In the Constitution of Bangladesh, there are two references to Arabic to in the introduction and Part I of the constitution. The document begins with the Arabic phrase بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ which is translated as “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful”. Article 2A declares that Islam is the state religion of the republic.

Arabic is the religious language of Muslims. The Quran, Sunnah, Hadith and Muslim theology is taught in Arabic with Bengali translation. The Bangladeshi diaspora living in the Middle East has further increased the number of people who can speak Arabic in Bangladesh. Arabic is taught as a religious language in mosques, schools, colleges, universities and madrassahs as well as in tradition Bengali Muslim households. A majority of Bangladesh's Muslim population has had some form of formal or informal education in the reading, writing and pronunciation of the Arabic language as part of their religious education.

Persian (previous literary and court language)Edit

From ancient times Bengal and Persia had been in contact with each other. There were many trading posts around coastal Bengal.[5] As people converted to Islam, they became acquainted with Arabic scriptures, as well as with Persian, the language of the Sufi preachers. The influence of the language spread rapidly after it gained the status of court language and it was the official for over 600 years (1203-1837 AD).

Urdu (previous language)Edit

Urdu (اردو‬) was an official language in post-partition 1947 to 1971. It is still spoken by some refugees from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (most are now Bangla speakers), and in Old Dhaka.


  1. ^ "Article 3. The state language". The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Ministry of Law, The People's Republic of Bangladesh. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. ^ Faquire, A.B.M. Razaul Karim (December 2010). "Language Situation in Bangladesh". The Dhaka University Studies. 67: 63–77.
  3. ^ "Bangla Bhasha Procholon Ain, 1987" বাংলা ভাষা প্রচলন আইন, ১৯৮৭ [Bengali Language Implementation Act, 1987]. Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Government of Bangladesh. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Bangla Rules in All Domains of National Life". Daily Sun. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Persian - Banglapedia". Retrieved 2 January 2018.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit