Hi everyone! This is the first in a series of lessons about the Bengali writing system. Bengali uses the Bengali script. In this first lesson, I’m going to go over the 11 Bengali vowel letters, called স্বরবর্ণ Shôrobôrno. Let’s get started!
অ: The first vowel is অ, and its name is স্বরে অ shôre ô. This letter can make two sounds: ô [ɔ], like the o in lot, or o [o], like the o in no (except without the off-glide at the end). The sound you use is governed by vowel harmony, which I’ll leave for a future lesson. Don’t worry about it too much; for now, just know that when in doubt, you use ô.
আ: This vowel is called স্বরে আ shôre a. It makes the sound a [a] like in father.
ই ঈ: These two letters are হ্রস্ব ই hrôssho i and দীর্ঘ ঈ dirgho i, and both make the sound i [i], like ee in meet. These two letters represented different vowels in Sanskrit, but are now pronounced the same, so you just have to memorize which one to use.
উ ঊ: These two letters are হ্রস্ব উ hrôssho u and দীর্ঘ ঊ dirgho u, and both make the sound u [u], like oo in food. Like ই and ঈ, you have to memorize which one to use.
ঋ: This vowel is called ri (yes, ri is a vowel). It’s like ree in reed, and its use is quite rare.
এ: The name of this vowel is e. It can make two sounds. The first and more common is e [e], like ay in day except without the off-glide at the end. The second pronunciation is ê [æ], like a in cat. The pronunciation of this letter, like with অ, is governed by vowel harmony rules, which I’ll cover later.
ঐ: This vowel is called oi and represents the diphthong oi [oi], which is like oy in boy.
ও: This vowel is called o and represents the sound o [o], like the vowel in no (except without the off-glide at the end).
ঔ: This vowel is called ou and represents the sound ou [ou], like the ow in bow.
অ: ô [ɔ] (o in lot); o [o] (o in no)
আ: a [a] (a in father)
ই: i [i] (ee in meet)
ঈ: i [i] (ee in meet)
উ: u [u] (oo in food)
ঊ: u [u] (oo in food)
ঋ: ri [ri] (ree in reed)
এ: e [e] (ay in day); ê [æ] (a in cat)
ঐ: oi [oi] (oy in boy)
ও: o [o] (o in no)
ঔ: ou [ou] (ow in bow)
There you have it! These basic vowel letters can only be used at the beginning of words and after other vowels. In the next lesson, we’ll discuss the first five consonants and how to use vowel with consonants. In the meantime, your homework is to transliterate the following nonsense words:
এই, ওই, আই, এও, ঋও, এউ, অও, আও
We hope you enjoyed the lesson! If you have any questions, feel free to send us an ask!
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I bonghi, la tipa in Birkenstock che balla la Taranta, il punkabbestia col topo sulla spalla, il tipo che fa schioccare la frusta in aria, la tipa scalza che cammina tra i cocci di bottiglia come solo il migliore fachiro di Varanasi, il paki che ti chiede: “Bira? Bira?”, le Ichnusa vuote accasciate a terra…
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