Some conscious alterations were also made in the 19th century.
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In 1952, the Bengali Language Movement successfully pushed for the language's official status in the Dominion of Pakistan.
In 1999, UNESCO recognized 21 February as International Mother Language Day in recognition of the language movement in East Pakistan.
Language is an important element of Bengali identity and binds together a culturally diverse region. The local Apabhraṃśa of the eastern subcontinent, Purbi Apabhraṃśa or Abahatta ("Meaningless Sounds"), eventually evolved into regional dialects, which in turn formed three groups of the Bengali–Assamese languages, the Bihari languages, and the Odia language.
It is the national and official language of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, and official language of several northeastern states of the Republic of India, including West Bengal, Tripura, Assam (Barak Valley) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Although Bengali is an Indo-European language, it has been influenced by other language families prevalent in South Asia, notably the Dravidian, the Austroasiatic, and the Tibeto-Burman families, all of which contributed to Bengali vocabulary and provided the language with some structural forms.
Dictionaries from the early 20th century attributed slightly more than half of the Bengali vocabulary to native words (i.e., naturally modified Sanskrit words, corrupted forms of Sanskrit words, and loanwords from non-Indo-European languages), about 45 percent to unmodified Sanskrit words, and the remainder to foreign words.
Dominant in the last group was Persian, which was also the source of some grammatical forms.
More recent studies suggest that the use of native and foreign words has been increasing, mainly because of the preference of Bengali speakers for the colloquial style.
The Bengali script is derived from Brahmi, one of the two ancient Indian scripts, and particularly from the eastern variety of Brahmi.
Bengali script followed a different line of development from that of Devanagari and Oriyan scripts, but the characters of Bengali and Assamese scripts generally coincided.
By the 12th century CE the Bengali alphabet was nearly complete, although natural changes continued to take place until the 16th century.