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You are here: Index > History of Bangla Language


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      Bengali, a member of the Indic group of Indo Iranian or Aryan branch of the Indo–European family of languages, originated from the eastern variety of the Magadhi Apabhramsa/Avahatta.The language has passed through two succsssive stages of development, namely the (1) Formative or old Bengali period, (b) Middle Bengali period. Presently Bangla is passing through its third stage of development, which is generally known as New or Modern Bengali period.

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      The period between 10th century A.D. and 12th century A.D. is known as the formative or Old Bangla period. The mystic songs of the Caryagiti is the representative of the old variety of Bangla language.

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      Medieval Bangla Period, which spans over 1250 A.D. to 1800 A.D. can be divided into Transitional, Early Middle Bangla and Late Middle Bangla period. During the transitional period the characteristic features of the language became identifiable. Srikrishnakirtan and the Vaishnava literature are the representatives of the early and Late Middle Bangla language respectively.

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      Pre Modern Bangla period is marked by the absence of prose, as the literary activity used to be carried out in poems only. Eastablishment of the British rule in India or for that matter the eastablishment of the Fort William College in Calctta in 1800A.D. was instrumental for the great change which marks the advent of Modern Age in Bangla language and literature.William Carey and others started writing text books in Bangla prose. Raja Rammohan Roy started translating Vedanta from Sanskrit into Bengali (1815 A.D.) and gradually Bangla literary prose style was eastablished which is considered to be a leap forward towards modernity.

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      Hutom PeMcar Naksa,(1862) by Kali Prasanna Singha , written in a free and racy style , was the first attempt to write a sketch of contmporary Calcutta in colloquial Bengali. Journey of Bangla prose towards homogeneity, that is, towards a free literary sadhu style (‘saadhu’ itself means ‘elite’) , from the earlier archaic Sanskritised sadhu form, took place during this period . Through his novels and essays, Bankimchandra gave Bangla literary prose the required strength and stability which was finally shaped by Rabindranath during this period. Bengali language got its new flavour in Tagore’s poems, plays and short stories. Plays of Girish Chandra Ghosh and Ramakrishna Kathamrita by Mahendranath Gupta (under the pseudonym “M”) also cotributed much, during the first decade of twentieth century, in shaping Bangla prose in its journey towards its destined goal.

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      Emancipation of Bangla from the Chaste or Sadhu literary style to Colloquial Standard style was made possible by the effort of Pramatha Chowdhury (Birbal) . Sabuj Patra (1914), the literary magazine established by him, played an important role in this direction.Besides this,the two other literary magazines viz.Gokul Nag’s Kallol (1923) and Sudhindranath Dutta’s Paricay (1931) have their due share in shaping Bangla language as many of the great writers of the first half of the Twentieth Century wrote in these magazines. During this period readers of Bengal got a new flavour of Bangla in the writings of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay who dominated the literary scene of Bengal simultaneously with Tagore. During this period Bangla language was further enriched by the writings of the three great Bandopadhyays of Bangla literature viz. Tarashankar, Bibhutibhushan and Manik besides other poets, novelist and story writers of this era.

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