Native toBangladesh & India
RegionGreater Noakhali, southern Tripura
Native speakers
roughly 7 million (as of 2011)
Bengali alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Noakhailla (নোয়াখাইল্লা), also known by the exonym Noakhalian,[3] is a dialect of Bengali, spoken by an estimated 7 million people, primarily in the Greater Noakhali region of Bangladesh as well as southern parts of Tripura in India. Outside of these regions, there are substantial numbers of Noakhailla speakers in other parts of Bangladesh; as well as diaspora communities in the Middle East, Italy, Europe and the United States.

Though it is considered a Bengali dialect, some have labelled it as undecipherable to speakers of Standard Bengali and that it has a "vague" relationship with it.[4][5][6] Noakhailla dialect has no presence in formal settings, neither in Bangladesh nor India, though its standardisation has been prospected.[7] There is a post-modernist demand of the Noakhali Division due to the old history, tradition and culture of Noakhali (currently a district of Chittagong Division) Bangladesh by Noakhailla activists.[8][9] The movement has gained disrepute and commonly been the subject of meme culture and trolling in Bangladesh.[10][11]


Noakhailla is eponymously named after Noakhali, referring to the dialect or language spoken of that area. It is in the transformed Vangiya form of the archaic Noakhaliya (নোয়াখালীয়া), where "-iya" is a suffix, commonly used in Bengali as a demonym, having gone through a linguistic process called Apinihiti (অপিনিহিতি), a form of epithesis, to become Noakhailla (নোয়াখাইল্লা). It may also be known in English as Noakhalian, a relatively recent term which has gained prominence as a locative demonym since at the least the Pakistan period.[3] "-an" is a suffix, commonly used in English to denote an action or an adjective that suggests pertaining to, thereby forming an agent noun.[12]


Main article: History of Noakhali

Noakhailla dialect belongs to the Bengali language that evolved from Magadhi Prakrit. Noakhali, the area which it is named after, emerged in the 13th century as a center of regional territorialism by the name of Bhulua. The kings of Bhulua patronised the Sanskrit language. The arrival of Muslims in Bhulua affected the local language to such a level that several Hindu rulers of Bhulua even took the Turkic title of Khan.[13] Muslim migration was extended following the Mughal conquest of Bhulua in which the local language became influenced by languages such as Arabic and Persian. The great lexical influence of Arabic can still be found in Noakhailla today.[14]

Its strong folk tradition dates back several centuries. During colonial rule, Irish linguist George Abraham Grierson collected two Noakhailla folk poems; one from the island of Hatia, which is off the coast of the Noakhali mainland, and another from Ramganj, presently in Lakshmipur District.[15] The pure Portuguese merchants and Roman Catholic missionaries which settled in Noakhali also adopted the local language as late as the 1920s.[16]

In December 2019, a mass demonstration was organised by Noakhailla activists of all strata in Maijdee in response to a private television channel airing the Noakhali Bibhag Chai (We Want Noakhali Division) comical drama. They considered the drama to be an insult to the Noakhailla language, history and culture.[17]

Status and usage

Noakhailla has no formal recognition or use of the Noakhailla dialect in public, in courts, or in the legislature like the existent standard Bangla. The educated, elite, political and influential groups of Bangladesh bearing Noakhali homogeneity, or being intrinsically exposed to the socio-cultural phenomenon of Noakhali, usually prefer the standard form of Bangla for their wider communication. They keep this language as their private means of communication only with members of the homogenous community of Greater Noakhali.[7]

There are many Noakhaillas who boldly express their roots.[18] However, its usage is now in decline as more and more Noakhailla families are opting to raise their children to speak in Standard Bengali due to it being the official medium in the country and the negative stereotypes relating to Noakhali held by other parts of Bengal.[6] It is often becoming the case that Generation Z urban Noakhaillas cannot speak in Noakhailla though it is commonly spoken by their grandparents in their homes.[19] In contrast to speakers of Chittagonian and Sylheti, it is reported that some speakers of Noakhailla sometimes feel a linguistic inferiority complex.[5] Sultana, Dovchin and Pennycook have also highlighted the stigmatisation of Noakhailla within Bangladeshi society.[20]


Grierson (1903) grouped the dialects of Noakhali under Southeastern Bengali, alongside the dialects of Chittagong and Akyab. Chatterji (1926) places Noakhailla in the eastern Vangiya group of Magadhi Prakrit and notes that all Bengali dialects were independent of each other and did not emanate from the literary Bengali called "sadhu bhasha".[21] Among the different dialect groups of these eastern dialects, Noakhailla has phonetic and morphological properties that are alien to standard Bengali and other western dialects of Bengali.[22] Analyst Fakhruddin Ahmed, a native of Feni, claims that Noakhailla has a "vague" resemblance with Standard Bengali.[5] Others have also stated that Noakhailla is "mutually unintelligible" with Standard Bengali.[4]

Geographical distribution

Noakhailla is the primary language of Greater Noakhali which today comprises the Bangladeshi districts of Noakhali, Feni and Lakshmipur, and the sub-districts of Hajiganj in Chandpur and Mirsarai in Chittagong. It is also spoken in the southern part of India's Tripura state, specifically in the districts of Sipahijala, South Tripura and Gomati. In these three districts, it serves as a lingua franca among the multiethnic communities of inhabitants residing there such as the Tripuri/Reang, the Chakma, the Mog/Marma in addition to the Noakhailla-Bengalis. Noakhailla is very much mutually intelligible with Sandwipi, which is spoken in Sandwip, an island in the Bay of Bengal.[7]

Before and after the Partition of India, Noakhailla speakers had also migrated to West Bengal and Assam.[23][24] Outside of the subcontinent, the largest Noakhailla diaspora communities reside in Europe (most notably Italy) and North America. Significant Noakhailla-speaking communities reside in the Middle East of which most are migrant workers, and in many other countries throughout the world.[25][26]

Writing system

Noakhailla currently does not have a standardised writing system. With Standard Bengali written in the Bengali script as the medium of instruction in Bangladesh,[27] some may therefore write in Noakhailla using the Bengali script, however it is viewed as more formal to write in standard Bengali. The Musalmani Nagri script was historically used in Noakhali up until the latter part of the 20th century, only used in puthis written in the sadhu register of Standard Bengali.[28][29]

Features and lexical comparison

Noakhailla is an Eastern Bengali language with a large amount of Persian and Hindustani vocabulary. The most notable feature differentiating it from Bengali, Urdu and other Indo-Aryan languages is that words using the p sound in the latter languages are pronounced as h in Noakhailla. An example is the Bengali and Urdu word for water (pani) which is hãni in Noakhailla. Another notable characteristic is the presence of the /x/ sound (akin to خ in Arabic), which is not found in Standard Bengali.[22]

English Standard Bengali Noakhailla Notes
Boy Chhele (ছেলে) hola/hut (হোলা/হুত)
Water Panī (পানি) hãni (হাঁনি)
Listen Shon (শোন)~Shun (শুন) hon (হোন)
What Ki (কী) ki (কী) Similar to Standard Bangla
Yawn Hai (হাই) Ami (আই)
All Shôkôl (সকল), Bebak (বেবাক) beggun (বেগগুন) From bebak-gulin (বেবাক-গুলিন)
Papaya Pepe (পেঁপে) hãbia (হাঁবিয়া)
Calcutta Kolkata (কলকাতা) koilkatta (কইলকাত্তা)[30]
Big Bôṛo (বড়), Bôḍḍo (বড্ড) bôḍḍa (বড্ডা)[30]
Egg Ḍim (ডিম), bôyda (বয়দা) Bôyza (বয়জা) From Arabic: بيضة, romanizedbayḍah
Mischief shôytani (শয়তানী) Khônnashi (খন্নাশি)[31] From Arabic: خناس, romanizedkhannās
to Lie down Shuye poṛa (শুয়ে পড়া) hota (হোতা)
Friend Bôndhu (বন্ধু), dost(o) (দোস্ত), iyar (ইয়ার) bondu (বন্ধু), dost(o) (দোস্ত), eyar (এয়ার)
He phoned me She amake phon kôrechilô (সে আমাকে ফোন করেছিল) hẽte ãre hon kôirchilô (হেতে আঁরে হোন কইর্ছিলো)
Shall not allow to do Kôrte debô na (করতে দেব না) Kôirtam ditam nô (কইর্তাম দিতাম ন)[22]
I think it is 5 o'clock Amar mône hôy pãchṭa baje (আমার মনে হয় পাঁচটা বাজে) ãtlai hãsṭaijjai (আঁতলাই হাঁচটাইজ্জাই)[5]


There are differences in the Noakhailla spoken in different parts of the Greater Noakhali region. In the Linguistic Survey of India, conducted in the early 20th century, the Irish linguist George Abraham Grierson used the phrase a man had two sons to show dialectic diversity.[4]


Noakhailla grammar is the study of the morphology and syntax of Noakhailla.[30]


Personal pronouns

Noakhailla personal pronouns are somewhat similar to English pronouns, having different words for first, second, and third person, and also for singular and plural (unlike for verbs, below). Noakhailla pronouns, like their English counterparts, do differentiate for gender. In addition, each of the second- and third-person pronouns have different forms for the familiar and polite forms; the second person also has a "very familiar" form (sometimes called "despective"). It may be noted that the "very familiar" form is used when addressing particularly close friends or family as well as for addressing subordinates, or in abusive language. In the following tables, the abbreviations used are as follows: VF=very familiar, F=familiar, and P=polite (honor); H=here, T=there, E=elsewhere (proximity), and I=inanimate.

The nominative case is used for pronouns that are the subject of the sentence, such as "I already did that" or "Will you please stop making that noise?"

Personal pronouns (nominative case)
Subject Honor Singular Plural
1 আঁই (Ãi, I) আমরা (amra, we)
2 VF তুই (tui, you) তোরা (tura, you)
F তুঁই (tũi, you) তোমরা (tumra, you)
P আম্নে/আন্নে (amne/anne, you) আম্নেরা/আন্নেরা (amnera/annera, you)
3 F হেতে (hete, he), হেতি (heti, she) হেতেরা (hetera, they m.), হেতিরা (hetira, they f.)
P হেতেন (heten, he), হেতিন (hetin, she) হেতেনরা (hetenra, they m.), হেতিনরা (hetinra, they f.)
I হেই/হিয়েন (hei/hiyen, it) হিগুন/হিগিন/হিগুলি/হিগাইন (higun/higin/higuli/higain, these)

The possessive case is used to show possession, such as "Where is your coat?" or "Let's go to our house". In addition, sentences such as "I have a book" (আঁর কিতাব আছে) or "I need money" (আঁর টিয়া দরকার) also use the possessive (the literal translation of the Standard Bengali versions of these sentences would be "There is my book" and "There is my need for money" respectively).

Personal pronouns (possessive case)
Subject Honor Singular Plural
1 আঁর (Ãr, my) আঙ্গো (ango, our)
2 VF তোর (tor, your) তোগো (togo, your)
F তোঁয়ার (tõar, your) তোঁগো (tõgo, your)
P আম্নের/আন্নের (amner/anner, your) আম্নেগো/আন্নেগো (amnego/annego, your)
3 F হেতের (heter, his), হেতির (hetir, her) হেতেগো (hetego, their m.), হেতিগো (hetigo, their f.)
P হেতেনের (hetener, his), হেতিনের (hetiner, her) হেতেনগো (hetengo, their m.), হেতিনগো (hetingo, their f.)
I হিয়ার/হিয়েনের (hiyar/hiyener, its) হিগুনের (higuner, of those)

Further reading



  1. ^ Rashel, Md. Mostafa (October 2010). Analysis of the Chatkhil Dialect in Noakhali District, Bangladesh. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller. ISBN 978-3639301625.
  2. ^ Rashel, Md. Mostafa (September 2011). "Phonological Analysis of Chatkhil Dialect in Noakhali District, Bangladesh". [Finland]: [ACADEMY PUBLISHER].
  3. ^ a b Jilani, Shahzada Ghulam (1979). Fifteen Governors I Served with: Untold Story of East Pakistan. Bookmark. p. 31.
  4. ^ a b c Khan, Sameer ud Dowla (21 February 2018). "Amago Bhasha". The Daily Star.
  5. ^ a b c d Ahmed, Fakhruddin (21 March 2014). "Who is a Bangladeshi?". The Daily Star.
  6. ^ a b Rezwana, Zarin (28 September 2017). "The truth about Noakhaillas". The Daily Star.
  7. ^ a b c Sarwar, Fatina, Noakhali Dialect: Its Prospect of Standardization
  8. ^ "কুমিল্লা নয়, নোয়াখালী বিভাগ চাই" [Not Comilla, we want Noakhali Division]. (in Bengali). 1 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Noakhali Bibhag Bastobaon Committee on Monday holds a rally". Daily Sun. 10 November 2015.
  10. ^ "'নোয়াখালী বিভাগ চাই' নাটকের পরিচালকের বিরুদ্ধে ডিজিটাল আইনে মামলা" [Case under cyber-law against the director of the Noakhali Bibhag Chai drama]. Kaler Kantho (in Bengali). 31 December 2019.
  11. ^ "নোংরামিতে ভরা বইমেলার হে স্বাধীনতা বোর্ড" [Book fair's Oh Independence board vandalised with profanities]. Sarabangla (in Bengali). 30 March 2021.
  12. ^ Connors, Kathleen. "Studies in feminine agentives in selected European languages." Romance Philology 24.4 (1971): 573-598.
  13. ^ Webster, John Edward (1911). Eastern Bengal and Assam District Gazetteers: Noakhali. Allahabad: The Pioneer Press.
  14. ^ Muslehuddin, ATM (2012). "Arabic". In Islam, Sirajul; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  15. ^ Grierson (1903)
  16. ^ Bose, Buddhadeva. আমার ছেলেবেলা [My childhood] (in Bengali).
  17. ^ "'নোয়াখালী বিভাগ চাই' নাটকের পরিচালকের বিরুদ্ধে মামলা, বিক্ষোভ প্রদর্শন" [Lawsuits and demonstration against the film director of "Noakhali Division Chai" drama]. Jugantor (in Bengali). 1 January 2020.
  18. ^ Rahman, Jahed (February 2014). Bends and Shades. p. 381.
  19. ^ Khan, Sameer ud Dowla (21 February 2021). "The diverse and continuing evolution of Bangla: Bangla's future". The Daily Star.
  20. ^ Sultana, Shaila; Pennycook, Alastair; Dovchin, Sender (25 October 2017). Popular Culture, Voice and Linguistic Diversity: Young Adults On- and Offline. Springer Publishing. p. 182.
  21. ^ "Dialects are independent of literary speech: as such East Bengali dialects, North Bengali dialects (with which Assamese is to be associated) and West Bengali dialects are not only independent of one another, but also they are not, as it is popularly believed in Bengal, derived from literary Bengali, the "sadhu-bhasha", which is a composite speech on an early West Bengali basis."(Chatterji 1926:108)
  22. ^ a b c Chatterji, Suniti Kumar. The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language (Part I).
  23. ^ "In search of a new 'home'". The Daily Star. 27 May 2019.
  24. ^ Roy, Raikamal; Korwar, Sucheta (6 December 2014), Oral history with Anshu Sur
  25. ^ Knights, Melanie (1996). "Bangladeshi Immigrants in Italy: From Geopolitics to Micropolitics". Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 21 (1): 105–123. doi:10.2307/622928. JSTOR 622928. PMID 12157827.
  26. ^ Kuri, Ranajit (2 December 2020). "3 Bangladeshis electrocuted in Oman". Dhaka Tribune. Noakhali.
  27. ^ Robert Kirkpatrick (2015). English Language Education Policy in Asia. Springer. pp.30. Retrieved on 23 September 2020.
  28. ^ Sadiq, Mohammad (2008). Sileṭi nāgarī : phakiri dhārāra phasala সিলেটি নাগরী:ফকিরি ধারার ফসল (in Bengali). Asiatic Society of Bengal. OCLC 495614347.
  29. ^ Debsharma, Shree Padmanath (c. 1908) [original date 1315 B.S.]. সিলেট নাগরী [Sylhet Nagri]. Sahitya-Parishad-Patrika (4): 236.
  30. ^ a b c Haldar, Gopal (1929), A Brief Phonetic Sketch of the Noakhali Dialect of South Eastern Bengali, Kolkata: Calcutta University Press
  31. ^ Russel, Muhammad H (7 April 2014), আমরা যারা নোয়াখাইল্লা [We who are Noakhailla] (in Bengali)