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Language Resource Center

Language Contact and Email Address:

Dwijen Bhattacharjya


Bengali or Bangla, the 7th largest language in the world, is spoken by over 265 million speakers in the South East Asian nation of Bangladesh,  its neighboring Eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, parts of Assam, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and the highly vibrant diasporas in New Delhi, London, Michigan, and New York City.

Bengali belongs to the Indo-Aryan sub-group of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family of languages.  It is an SVO (Subject x Verb x Object ‘I you love.’) language, which is written from left to right, like English.

Bengali developed as a distinct language around the 10th century from the Middle Indo-Aryan dialect of Magadhi Prakrit, which had developed from a dialect or a group of dialects that were close, but not identical, to Vedic and Classical Sanskrit. The Bengali alphabet is derived from the ancient Indian Brahmi script, which was once closely related to the Devnanagari script.

In English, the term Bengali refers to both the language and its native speakers; but, the native speakers of Bengali call the language Bangla and themselves Bangalii.

You can take Bengali at Columbia:

  • to fulfill your language requirement
  • to conduct academic research
  • to connect with your heritage culture

To read more about the Bengali language, please click on the “Download Flyer” button on this page.

Please check the Columbia Directory of Classes for the latest information on Bengali language classes.