Monday, September 20, 2010
I've been paying a bit more attention to Bengali for a few weeks now and have spent the past week going through some of the lessons here, so have gone through it enough in order to be able to write my first impressions on the language. As I wrote before, one of the reasons I became interested in it in the first place is because it's Indo-European but lacks grammatical gender (like Persian and Armenian), is spoken by a large number of people, is derived from Sanskrit, and is relatively close to Korea and Japan where I've lived the longest in Asia. I also like the way it sounds compared to languages like Hindi and Punjabi.
- বেশি [beshi] is Persian بیش [bish], and means more.
- করা [karaa] is Persian کردن [kardan], and is the verb to do. More importantly than the pronunciation though is the fact that Bengali also uses the verb often in the same way, by sticking it after a noun to turn it into a verb. Japanese and Korean speakers will recognize the same thing here in the verbs する [suru] and 하다 [hada]. The big advantage to languages that do this is that you can take just about any noun and turn it into a verb, and conjugation always remains the same.
- কে [ke] is who, and you can see this everywhere: Persian ki, French qui, etc.
- গরম [garam] is warm, and that one is obvious right away to a Persian speaker.
The light brown part of the pie graph shows native vocabulary with Sanskrit cognates, the darker brown is reborrowings from Sanskrit, and the rest represents loanwords. Apparently Bengali has fewer loanwords from Arabic than even Hindi. Even I with next to no knowledge of Sanskrit have recognized a few words there like dharma (ধর্ম) for religion, and the fact that the word for language is bhaasaa (ভাষা) is a nice touch, considering that I already knew it thanks to Sambahsa.