Revisiting the History of the Creation of Bangla in the Framework of Language Contact

Authors: Razaul Karim Faquire (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Speakers: Razaul Karim Faquire
Strand: Language, Contact and Change
Session Type: General Session


This study aims at revisiting the prevalent history of the creation and development of Bangla (Bengali) due to the contact between non-Aryan (including Austric, Dravidian, and Tibeto-Burman people) and Aryan speech communities facilitated by the social processes of immigration of Aryan and Neo-Muslims in phases from the North-West of South Asia.

The prevalent history posits that Bangla, an Indic language, has evolved from a common ancestral language, i.e., Old Indo-Aryan (I-A) language, following a development route as shown below.

Old Indo-Aryan>prakrit>apabhramsha>Modern Indic languages

Hence, Bangla is considered a decreolized variety developed from the Apabhramshaes, which shows affiliation to the post-creole continuum which exists in South Asia.

Against the backdrop mentioned above on the development of Indic languages, this study sheds light on the creation and development of Bangla in the framework of contact linguistics. According to this framework, the immigration of different Aryan and Neo-Muslim speech communities created conditions, supplemented with the social processes of migration, Aryanization, colonization, and religious conversion, for the language contact between the indigenous speech varieties and Indo-Aryan (I-A) varieties, to occur socio-linguistic processes like pidginization and creolization started to be given birth to contact language (I-A pidgin and creole) sporadically in different places of Banglabarta (comprising the political regions of Bangladesh and Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, and Jharkhand). This I-A Contact Language continued to be used as lingua franca (L.F.) in the region of Banglabarta. At the rise of the Bengal Sultanate (1352 A.D.), this L.F. began to be revitalized and named Bangla, which was further standardized in the city of Calcutta, the political center of British colonial power (1757-1947).

Thus the prevalent history of Bangla receives a review and revisit that Bangla has evolved following the above-said route of development in the framework of contact linguistics. Hence of history of the creation and development of the Bangla language can be shown by the following sequence.

Pidginization of I-A variety>Creolization of I-A variety>Decreolization and Revitalization of I-A variety>Attribution of I-A variety to Bangla>Standardization of Bangla.

Keywords: Revisiting, Indo-Aryan variety, Indigenous variety, Language contact, Bangla