Judging from the number of people who speak it, this is the most important of the
Bengali dialects. It extends from the Districts of Jessore and ELhulna, near Calcutta
across Eastern Bengal, and, up the Surma Valley, into the Assam Districts of Sylhe t
and Cachar. It exhibits well-marked peculiarities of pronunciation,—a Cocknev-lik e
hatred of pre-existing aspirates, and, in addition, the regular substitution of an aspirate for
a sibilant. "While Standard Bengali is unable to pronounce sibboleth, except as shibboleth.
Eastern Bengali avoids the sound of sh, and has e hibboleth/ On the other hand the
Eastern Dialect cannot pronounce the letters ch, chh9 and j; but substitutes ts for the first >
s for the second, and 2 for the third. These peculiarities of pronunciation become more
marked as we go eastward. They are only partially observed in the Districts nearest
Calcutta, are in full possession of the dialect in the Central District of Dacca3 and are
carried to their extremest lengths in Sylhet and Cachar.
A detailed account of the various forms of the dialect will be given later on, and
the above general account must suffice here.
Eastern Bengali is the dialect of the following Districts,—Dacca, Mymensingh,
Tippera, and Backergunge in Bengal, and Sylhet and Cachar in Assam. An isolated
colony of the dialect also appears in the island of Sandip at the mouth of the Megna,
where it is surrounded on three sijies by the altogether distinct South-Eastern Bengali,
and is bounded on the fourth by the Bay of Bengal. Sandip belongs politically to the
District of Noakhali, and the existence of Eastern Bengali in this area is explained
by a reference to history. The island was formerly a kind of Alsatia colonised by
pirates who came originally from the upper reaches of the Megna, near Dacca.
Eastern Bengali is also spoken in the Bengal Districts of Faridpur, Jessore, and
Khulna. Here, however, we see it merging into the Standard dialect of Central Bengal,
and we are authorized to call the form of speech spoken in these Districts an East-
Central sub-dialect. In the extreme south of JParidpur, true Eastern Bengali is spoken.
In the north-east of the District of Mymensingh and in the Surma Valley, a mongrel
form of Eastern Bengali is spoken by the debased tribes at the foot of the Garo Hills.
It is principally spoken by the Haijongs, who are said to have originally immigrated
from the neighbouring hill country, and it is hence called the Haijong sub-dialect.
We thus find that Eastern Bengali is spoken by the following number of people :—
Name of District. of
Mymensingli ......*••* 3,398,121
Fwridpur (South).....,. . . . 20,000
Carried over « $,689,S99