BENGALI — ONLINE SOUNDS

 

Teaching Truth in Bengali
through English

Teaching Truth in Bengali

The purpose of this file is for you to learn the principles of the Bengali alphabet and its pronunciation. Instead of you learning the Bengali script, the Bengali letters are replaced with Roman characters.  This allows you to speak clearly from the very beginning.  (1 Corinthians 14:8).

LIST OF CONTENTS

Click on the links:

Audio Files

General Notes

Pronunciation of Roman Characters

Romanized Script System

Phonetic Representation

Author’s Letter


GENERAL NOTES

1.     Bengali letters underlined distinguish the ‘cerebral’ sound from the ‘dental’ family.

2.     The shape of Bengali characters may change according to context: independent, initial, medial, or final.  In contrast, the Roman characters do not change at all.

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AUDIO FILES TO GUIDE PRONUNCIATION

1.   Sounds can be played by clicking on the hyperlinks in the table.  These call audio files on the website.

2.   The sounds can be all be downloaded.  If necessary, follow the instructions given at this link, downloadsounds.htm.

3.   When you want to learn the Bengali script, other helps are provided using audio files, such as the sound charts and other pronunciation routines.

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PRONUNCIATION OF ROMAN CHARACTERS

Vowels

PRONUNCIATION OF VOWELS

ROMAN
CHARACTERS

ENGLISH
SOUND

AS IN THE ENGLISH WORD

AFTER A CONSONANT (e.g. after “k ”)

“ ` ”
(no vowel)

(no vowel)

(no sound after ‘k’ in “black_”)

k`

a

(inherent “a”)
short “a”

( / very short “o”)

(hints: ~“å”)

(inherent “a”)
“wander”

 

( / “off”)

ka
(~“”)

aa

long “a”

Aardvaak”, “far”

kaa

a , a, yaa

flat “a

apple”

ka
(~“kyaa”)

 i

short “i”

“pill”

ki

ii

long “i”,
( / long “ee”)

“pizza”
( / “peel”)

kii

u

short “u”

“pull”

ku

uu

long “u”
( / long “oo”)

“pollution”
( / “pool”)

kuu

rri

short “ri”

“dribble”

krri

e

short “e”

“pegging”

ke

ee

long “oi”
(diphthong for long “ee”)

“point”

kee
(~“koi”)

o

medium “o”

“pond”

ko

oo

long “ou”, “ow”
or “oa”,

“pound”, “power”
oroak”, “poke”

koo
(~“kau/kow”)
or (~“kou”)

nasal “ng”,
but no “g”

“singer”

kan°
(“kang”)

hha

abrupt “h”

“Judah had”

kahh
(~“kåhh”)

^

faint nasal “n”
( / as in French)

sing-along
( / “Non, ton son est bon”)

ka^
(~“kan”)

Consonants

Note that the sounds whose Romanization contains “-h” must be breathed.  So, “kh” is like “ka” but breathed.  (There is nothing similar in English.)

PRONUNCIATION OF CONSONANTS

PHYSICAL CLASS

ROMAN
CHARACTERS

ENGLISH
SOUND

AS IN THE ENGLISH WORD

Guttural
-in the throat

k

k

keen

kh

kh

rockhead

g

g

got

gh

gh

slagheap

n

donkey

Palatal
- on the palate

c
(hints: “tch”)

c, tch

cello, match

ch
(hints: ~“tchh”)

tchh

matchhead

j

j

Jehovah, joy

jh

dgeh

hedgehog

n

enjoy, pinch

Cerebral
or Retroflexive
- with the tongue bent back on the roof of the mouth

t

t

alter

th

th

malthouse

d

d

holder

r

r , rr

millrun, barrel

dh

dh

goldhammer

rh

rrh

myrrh lump

n or

n

filename

Dental
- on the teeth

t

t

panting

th

th

anthill

d

d

beds

dh

dh

bedheads

n

n

bending

Labial
- on the lips

p

p

peace

ph

ph

uphold

b
(or v)

b
(or  v )

bob
(or advise)

-oyaa (or -waa)
(special syllable)

oua
(wa)

qualms
(How are you?)

bh

bh

nibholder

m

m

mop

Forward
- Semi-Vowels

y
(hints: ~“j”)

j

Jehovah
joy

y

y

yes

r

r

red

l

l

led

Sibilants

sh

sh

dishes

s
(hints: ~“sh”)

sh

rashly

s
(hints: ~“sh”)

sh
s

washroom
ensure

s before t, th, p, ph

s

stop

Semi-guttural
- Semi-Vowel

h

h

happy

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ROMANIZED SCRIPT SYSTEM

The Romanized form is a script system in which each Bengali letter is matched accurately and uniquely by a character (or a group) taken from the Roman alphabet.  Many of these sound nearly the same as the normal sound of the Bengali character.  However, some Bengali characters are sometimes pronounced differently from normal.  In these cases we provide phonetic hints like “(~shaak’kå)”.

A further great benefit of this Romanization method is its conformity of use in all the aids that we provide for other Sanskrit-based languages.  So you can easily adapt to these scripts and languages.  Some students have learned the Bengali script with the help of the Romanized script in less than two days. 

It also conforms with the  Romanized typing method available with Jaspell's free Jaldi Multilingual  Word Processor Software Package.

[Go to Audio Files]  [Go to Pronunciation]
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PHONETIC REPRESENTATION

To begin with you may feel that you would prefer to read the simplest representation of the approximate sound of the Bengali.  That is fine, if we are only learning some set phrases off by heart.  However, a language like Bengali is more complicated because of its numerous, variable sounds and letters.

If you want to spell correctly so as to write Bengali, you will need a more accurate system of writing.  It is necessary in order to progress and to recognize or construct other sentences in different, unexpected circumstances.

In essence, the Bengali alphabet has far more sounds than the number of characters in the Roman alphabet.  The language cannot be written sufficiently accurately purely in a phonetic form, because more than one Bengali letter can have the same sound.  You cannot tell consistently what letters are being represented.  Some students might write the example of “witness” approximately as “shako”.  However, there are three different letters that can be pronounced like (~“sha”), and several letters or groups of letters can be pronounced like (~“ka” or ~“kka”).  If the pronounciation differs greatly from the normal way, we show more exact phonetic suggestions, such as (~“shaak’kå”).

Instead of attempting to replace the Bengali script merely with an approximate phonetic representation, we use a well-established alternative Romanized Script accompanied by audio files.  These will help you learn the relationship between the sounds, the Bengali characters, and their equivalent Romanized characters.

If you wish, you can adapt better to the Romanization of the Bengali sounds by reading the letter below from the author.  Also, you can click on Contact Us! at www.jaspell.co.uk.

[Go to Author’s letter]  [Go to Pronunciation]  [Go to Contents]


LETTER FROM THE AUTHOR

Dear Student of Bengali,

You may be puzzled about how we have used Roman characters to represent Bengali sounds.

The number of Roman characters is far less than the number of characters in the Bengali alphabet.  Therefore, some of these are represented by a combination of Roman characters.

European languages pronounce some of the Roman characters in several different ways.  Our Romanized Bengali may use them in yet another way.

Note that in French you may write the sound of “verre” also as “ver”, “vers”, “vert”, “verts”, or “vair”.  Moreover, “v” is pronounced differently in German than these other languages.  In English, a letter may be pronounced in numerous ways.

In Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish “c” is pronounced differently in “ca” than in “ce”.  When we learn Mandarin Chinese using its Romanized form, Pinyin, we find that “c” sounds like “ts”.  Enjoy reading Zulu, in which “c” is clicked on the palate!  So, we just try to adapt to any new ways of pronouncing these Roman characters.

Anyhow, any mysteries here should not inhibit you for very long, if you use the sound files and other pronunciation aids we have provided you.  Some have used this method and learned to read Bengali within two days.  The same representation of the Classification of Sounds can be applied equally to many related languages from North India and Nepal.

With best wishes,

The Author

 

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© 2015-2017 Jaspell (Jasper Burford and Ellen Burford)    Date of last edit: 1 April 2017