Chittagonian language

Chittagong Bangla


Native to Bangladesh, Burma
Native speakers
13 million (2006)[1]
to 16 million (2007)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ctg
Glottolog chit1275[3]

Chittagonian or Chittagong Bangla (চাঁটগাঁইয়া Chatgaiya), 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 and is often considered to be a non-standard dialect of Bengali, although it is not mutually intelligible with it.[4] It is estimated (2009) that Chittagonian has 13 million speakers, principally in Bangladesh.[5]


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 and Bengali. Like other Bengali-Assamese languages, it is derived from Pali, and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European.[6]

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 like Burma, where they call themselves Rohingya. 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 has lost all the voiced aspirates ("breathy-voice consonants") found in Bengali and most modern Indo-Aryan languages.


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.

Word order

Chittagonian word order is subject–object–verb.

( ইঁতারা হাঁমত যার গুঁই।)

Ítara (They) hamót (to work) źar ģui (go).

Subject Object Verb
আঁই Aááí (I) বাঁত bát (rice) হাইঁ haí (eat).
ইতিঁ Ití (She) টিভি TV (TV) চাইঁ saí (watches).
ইতেঁ Ité (He) সাইকেঁল saikél (bicycle) চলার solar (is riding).

Vocabulary (lexis)

As in the case of 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 they are 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 that of 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, who brought with them vocabulary that was integrated into Chittagonian. This has 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 in 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. Chittagonian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Chittagonian". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. "Chittagonian A language of Bangladesh". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  5. "Summary by language size". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  6. Ethnologue (2005). "Chittagonian, a language of Bangladesh".
Chittagonian language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
Wikivoyage has an entry for Chittagonian phrasebook.

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