bofora. It has had some excellent writers, notably the late Bankim-ohandra, whoso
admirable novels have received ihc honour of being translated into several lan-
guages, including English. Even he, however, sometimes laboured under the fetters
imposed upon him by a strange vocabulary, and all competent European scholars are
agreed that no work of first class originality has much chance of arising in Bengal, till
some great genius arms himself for the work and purges the language of its pseudo-
classical element. For further information regarding Bengali literature, the reader is
referred to the list of authorities given below.
The subject of the dialects of Bengali has never been sufficiently studied. In fact,
.. _., Bengalis themselves, as a rule, know little about any dialect
tsengah Dialects, *
except that of their own home, and thaj of Calcutta. We
sometimes hear people talk of the Bengali of a certain locality, such as that of Burdwan
or Eangpur or Chittagong, but few attempts have been made to systematically examine
the main peculiarities of more than one or two of these dialects, and what little has been
accomplished has been the work of Englishmen, whose foreign status naturally debars
them from doing the work as thoroughly as it would be done by a native of the country,
born with ears ready attuned to detect the slightest differences of pronunciation.
In dividing the language into dialects, the lines of cleavage may be either horizontal
or perpendicular. Adopting the former method, we find two clearly marked varieties,
that of the educated, and that of the uneducated. The former is practically the same
over the whole of Bengal, but it is only used by its speakers for literary purposes, or
when speaking formally. On other occasions they sink back into a more or less refined
version of the second dialect. Between these two, there is not merely the same difference
that exists between the language of the educated and uneducated in, say, England* Tbe
dissimilarity is much greater. The dialect of the educated is that known as Standard
Bengali. It may be called the literary, as opposed to the colloquial dialect. It departs
from the latter not only in its vocabulary, bxit also in its grammatical forms. Its voca-
bulary is highly sanskritisod, abounding both in Sanskrit words, and in Sanskrit phrases.
Its grammar is the full-formed dialect displayed in the standard grammars of the lan-
guage, which is nowhere used in conversation. The dialect of the uneducated, or, to call
it by another name, the colloquial dialect, on the contrary, is much more free from sans-
kritisms, while its grammar differs widely from that of the language which we meet
in the books. It is much contracted, words which, in the literary language, pronounced.
ore rotnndo, have four syllables, are in this reduced to two, so that a mere knowledge of
the former is of little assistance towards understanding or speaking the latter. This
dialect is not explained in the usual grammars,1 and, at present, can only be learned by
actual contact with the speakers.
The lines of perpendicular cleavage affect only the colloquial form of Bengali. As
already stated, the literary language is much the same all over the country, but the
colloquial dialect varies from place to place. Its change is gradual. Every few miles
some new word for a common implement, or some new form of grammatical expression
may be detected by an acute ear. As the natives say, the language changes every ten kos*
It is only- when we compare the forms of speech current at places some considerable
distance apart that we can perceive sufficient variation to say 'this is a different lan-
guage,' or a * different dialect from that/ Our sole opportunity for discovering any
1 An exception mast be made -with regard to Mr. Beamos9 Bengali Grammar, wbioh, written by a true scholar, does n»t
disdain the so-called 'impolite* forms of the language.
1 A speaker of * pure * Bengali would say