Dialect (উপভাষা) edit

A dialect (উপভাষা upobhaṣa; IPA: /upobʱaʃa/) is one of the different spoken forms of a language used by a specific group of peoples speaking the language. A dialect originates from different reasons, including :

  • The geographical relief :

Physical barriers like mountains or rivers that seclude a specific group of speakers of the language give rise to phonetic and grammatical differences among the group and the majority of speakers in that language, which in turn becomes a dialect. This happens because the separating barriers divide the specific language group into minor groups of speakers, which helps in the genesis of the dialect.

  • Population :

Population of the language group is another deciding factor. If the population is minor, the emergence of a dialect is less likely, because it will be more hard for the speech defects to reside long enough. The reason behind this is that the phonetic and morphological defects of the language will get corrected automatically when the speakers will come into contact with people who speak the language grammatically.

These are the most prominent reasons behind the origin of a new dialect.

Dialects of Bengali edit

Bengali linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterji grouped Bengali into four principal dialects: Rarhi, Bangali, Kamrupi and Varendri (রাঢ়ী, বঙ্গালী, কামরূপী ও বরেন্দ্রী; IPA : /raɽi/, /bɔnɡali/, /kamrupi/, /bɔrend̪ri/). Modern linguists consider Manbhumi (মানভূমী IPA : /manbʱumi/) a dialect in addition to the dialects mentioned above. Presently, there are numerous other dialects as well, which constitute a dialect continuum.

A dialect continuum is a collection of dialects where a speaker of a dialect of one extreme boundary is unable or scarcely able to understand a dialect of another boundary. E.g., a speaker of the Manbhumi dialect will not be able to understand the dialect spoken at the extreme east boundary of Bangladesh completely. But the speakers of both dialects will understand the standard dialect of Bengali, which is the dialect spoken in and around the Bhagirathi-Hooghly River Basin (ভাগীরথী-হুগলি /bʱagirot̪ʰi ɦuɡli/) in West Bengal, India. The standard dialect is the dialect used for literary and official purposes.

Basically, languages and dialects have little difference. A dialect with a large amount of difference with the others dialects can become a separate language in the future. For example, Bengali and Assamese were once dialects of a common language, Magadhi Prakrit. However, the differences between them became so much prominent that they became separate languages. We will first study here the five dialects mentioned above, then move to other important dialects.

Rarhi (রাঢ়ী) edit

Rarhi is the dialect spoken by Bengali speaking people of South-Western and Central part of the state of West Bengal, India. The standard colloquial dialect of Bengali also belongs to this dialect. This dialect is characterized by :

  • Extensive use of abhishruti (অভিশ্রুতি, /obʱisrut̪i/). For example, করিয়া (koriẏa /koɹi̯a/, meaning - having done) > কইরা (koira /koi̯ɹa/) > করে (kore /koɹe/).
  • The change of অ to ও, when অ is the first sound of a word where the অ is followed by ই(ি), ও(ো), ক্ষ or য. For example, অতি (means 'excess') is pronounced /ot̪i/.
  • Use of vowel harmony. For example, বিলাতি (/bilat̪i/, meaning - foreign) > বিলিতি (/bilit̪i/).

Abhishruti and apinihiti edit

Abhishruti and apinihiti (অপিনিহিতি, /opiniɦit̪i/) are two phonological phenomena that occur in spoken Bengali. Apinihiti (metathesis) refers to the phonological process in which a ই or উ is pronounced before it occurs in the word. Abhishruti (umlaut) is the sound change in which this shifted ই or উ becomes removed and changes the preceding vowel. Observe the example above : করিয়া (koriẏa) > কইরা (koira) > করে (kore). At first, apinihiti changes koriẏa to koira (notice how the i changes the position), then abhishruti changes koira to kore.

Bangla edit

Bangla is the primary language of Bangladesh. There are many dialects (and local languages) exist within Bangla language.

Although each of these dialects has their own peculiarities, all of these numerous dialects share some common characteristics that we will study here.

Firstly, Bangla's most prominent phonological trait is the extensive use of apinihiti, just like Rarhi uses abhishruti. Bangla itself has numerous sub-dialects. Some of them are at such a far end of the dialect continuum that they are almost not understandable by speakers of Bangla at the other end. Some related language such as Sylheti are somewhat intelligible to Bangla speakers.

Beyond the dialects edit

Dialects are not the only subgroups that a language can have. There are others, like sociolects which are the differences in the spoken language due to factors such as profession, richness and poverty, castism and many other differences in social status. Usually each profession has its own special vocabulary. So there is a difference in language as well. In Tamil, the difference of speech between a Brahmin (Iyengar) and a non-Brahmin (Mudaliyar) is huge. An ethnolect is spoken by a specific ethnic group and a Regional dialect is spoken in a specific region. Finally, an idiolect is an individual's distinct use of a language. All these lects are linguistically called varieties.