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Chittagonian language

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Chittagonian language

Chittagonian: চাঁটগাঁইয়া বুলি Caṭgãia Buli
Native to Bangladesh, India, Burma
Native speakers
16 million  (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ctg
Glottolog chit1275[2]

Chittagonian (Chittagonian: টগাঁইয়া বুলি Caṭgãia Buli), also "Chatgaya", is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the people of Chittagong in Bangladesh and in much of the southeast of the country. It is closely related to Bengali–Assamese and is often considered to be a non-standard dialect of Bengali, although it is not mutually intelligible with it.[3] It is estimated (2009) that Chittagonian has 13 million speakers, principally in Bangladesh[4] and the United States.


Chittagonian is a member of the Bengali-Assamese sub-branch of the Eastern group of Indo-Aryan languages, a branch of the wider and more vast Indo-European language family. Its sister languages include Sylheti, Rohingya (spoken in the original inhabitants of the Arakan state of Burma), Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, the Bihari languages, and also less directly all other Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi. Like other Bengali-Assamese languages, it is derived from Pali, and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European.[5]

Geographical distribution

Chittagonian is spoken in southeastern Bangladesh throughout Chittagong Division but mainly in Chittagong District and Cox's Bazar District. It has (2009) an estimated 13 million speakers in Bangladesh and also in countries where many Chittagonians have migrated. It has no official status and is not taught at any level in schools. It is mistakenly regarded by many Bangladeshis, including most Chittagonians, to be a crude form of Bengali as all educated Chittagonians are schooled in Bengali.

Essentially, Chittagonian has no standard form and is rather a continuum of different dialects, varying with location from north to south and also by religion between Muslims (professed by most Chittagonians) and Hindus. Variation in use between Muslims and Hindus is strictly in terms of vocabulary, whereas by location, grammar is slightly varied as well as vocabulary.

Sounds (phonology)


Chittagonian is distinguished from Bengali by its large inventory of fricatives, which often correspond to plosives in Bengali. For example, the Chittagonian voiceless velar fricative [x] (like the Arabic "kh" or German "ch") in [xabar] corresponds to the Bengali voiceless aspirated velar plosive [kʰ], and the Chittagonian voiceless labiodental fricative [f] corresponds to the Bengali voiceless aspirated bilabial plosive [pʰ]. Some of these pronunciations are used in eastern dialects of Bengali as well.


Chittagonian grammar is similar to that of Bengali, with significant variations in inflectional morphology (prefixes, suffixes, particles, etc.), and some variation in word order.

Like related languages of the eastern subcontinent, Chittagonian is a head-final language, with a subject–object–verb basic word order. Like Assamese (Ôxômiya) but unlike Bengali, Chittagonian has preverbal negation. This means that the negative particle will precede the verb in Chittagonian, where the corresponding Bengali version would have a negative particle following the verb. Thank You = Tuarey Doinnobaad.(তুঁয়ারে ডঁইণ্ণোবাদ্ )/Onorey Doinnobaad (অনরে ডঁইণ্ণোবাদ্ ) I like you very much=Ai tuarey kub poccondha gori.

Word order

Chittagonian word order is subject–object–verb.

( ইঁতারা হাঁমত যার গুঁই।)

Ítara(They) hamót(to work) źar ģui(go).
Subject Object Verb
Aááí (I) bát (rice) haí (eat).
Ití (She) TV (TV) saí (watches).
Ité (He) sairkélot (bicycle) sorér (is riding).

Vocabulary (lexis)

Like Bengali, most of the vocabulary of Chittagonian is derived from Pali. It also, like Bengali, includes a significant number of imported words from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, as well as, to a lesser extent, Portuguese. In addition, English words are widely used in spoken Chittagonian, just as it is in almost all other neighbouring languages, as a result of the legacy of the British Empire. Although much of the vocabulary of Chittagonian Bengali is the same as standard Bengali, there are several distinguishing features. The contribution of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish words to Chittagonian Bengali is far greater than that to standard. This is due to Chittagong's history as a port city that was open to traders from Arabia, Persia and Turkey since ancient times, bringing with them vocabulary that was integrated into Chittagonian. This is also meant that Chittagonians were amongst the first to convert to Islam and consequently, as Muslims, they were further influenced by Arabic, Persian, and Turkish vocabulary, as these were the languages spoken by the Muslims of the time, especially the traders. Among Europeans, the Portuguese colonists were amongst the first to reach Bengal, and Chittagong as a port city, was for a time under the administration of the Portuguese. This has meant that there is a larger proportion of Portuguese loanwords in the usage of Chittagonian speakers than that of standard Bengali speakers.

A few Chittagonian words and meanings

          ( singular )                        ( plural )
Kéti  án     (the farm)          Kéti  Ğín     (the farms)
Fothú án     (the picture)       Fothú Ğín     (the pictures)
Fata  wá     (the leaf)         Fata  Ğín     (the leaves)
Tar   gán    (the wire)          Tar   Ğin   (the wires)
Duar  gán    (the door)          Duar  gin   (the doors)
Faár  gwá    (the mountain)      Faár  gún   (the mountains)
Debal  lán   (the wall)          Debal  lún   (the walls)
Kitap  pwá   (the book)          Kitap  pún   (the books)
Manúish cwá   (the man)          Manúish shún   (the men)
Uggwá fata    (a leaf)           Hodún fata    (some leaves)
Ekkán fothú   (a picture)        Hodigin Fothú   (some pictures)
    -or-                               -or-
Fata  uggwá   (a leaf)           Fata  hodún   (some leaves)
Fothú ekkán   (a picture)        Fothú hodien   (some pictures)
Tar   gán    (the wire)          Tar   Ğin   (the wires)
Duar  gán    (the door)          Duar  gin   (the doors)
Faár  gwá    (the mountain)      Faár  gún   (the mountains)

See also


  1. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Chittagonian". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Chittagonian A language of Bangladesh". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Summary by language size". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Ethnologue (2005). "Chittagonian, a language of Bangladesh". 
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