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Bengali Language or Bangla is an Indo-Aryan language spoken mostly in the East Indian subcontinent. It has evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages and is the second most spoken language in India. Currently, the language belt of Bengali ranges from Bangladesh to the Indian state of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura. With about 230 million speakers spread all over the world, the Bangla Language is also one of the most spoken languages in the world.
Regional variation in spoken Bengali constitutes a dialect continuum. Linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterjee grouped these dialects into four large clusters—Rarh, Banga, Kamarupa and Varendra; but many alternative grouping schemes have also been proposed. The south-western dialects (Rarh) form the basis of standard colloquial Bengali, while Bangal is the dominant dialect group in Bangladesh. In the dialects prevalent in much of eastern and south-eastern Bangladesh (Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka and Sylhet divisions of Bangladesh), many of the stops and affricates heard in West Bengal are pronounced as fricatives. Some variants of Bengali, particularly Chittagonian and Chakma Bangla, have contrastive tone; differences in the pitch of the speaker’s voice can distinguish words. Rajbangsi, Kharia Thar and Mal Paharia are closely related to Western Bengali dialects, but are typically classified as separate languages. Similarly, Hajong is considered a separate language, although it shares similarities to Northern Bengali dialects.
During the standardization of Bengali in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the cultural center of Bengal was in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata), founded by the British. What is accepted as the standard form today in both West Bengal and Bangladesh is based on the West-Central dialect of Nadia, an Indian district located on the border of Bangladesh. There are cases where speakers of Standard Bengali in West Bengal will use a different word than a speaker of Standard Bengali in Bangladesh, even though both words are of native Bengali descent. For example, nun (salt) in the west corresponds to lôbon in the east.
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