Romanisation of Bengali is the representation of written Bengali language in the Latin script. Various romanisation systems for Bengali are used, most of which do not perfectly represent Bengali pronunciation. While different standards for romanisation have been proposed for Bengali, none has been adopted with the same degree of uniformity as Japanese or Sanskrit.[note 1]

The Bengali script has been included with the group of Indic scripts whose romanisation does not represent the phonetic value of Bengali. Some of them are the "International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration" or IAST system (based on diacritics),[1] "Indian languages Transliteration" or ITRANS (uses upper case alphabets suited for ASCII keyboards),[2] and the National Library at Calcutta romanisation.[3]

In the context of Bengali romanisation, it is important to distinguish transliteration from transcription. Transliteration is orthographically accurate (the original spelling can be recovered), but transcription is phonetically accurate (the pronunciation can be reproduced). English does not have all sounds of Bengali, and pronunciation does not completely reflect orthography. The aim of romanisation is not the same as phonetic transcription. Rather, romanisation is a representation of one writing system in Roman (Latin) script. If Bengali script has "ত" and Bengalis pronounce it /to/ there is nevertheless an argument based on writing-system consistency for transliterating it as "त" or "ta." The writing systems of most languages do not faithfully represent the spoken sound of the language, as famously with English words like "enough," "women," or "nation" (see "ghoti").


Portuguese missionaries stationed in Bengal in the 16th century were the first people to employ the Latin alphabet in writing Bengali books. The most famous are the Crepar Xaxtrer Orth, Bhed and the Vocabolario em idioma Bengalla, e Portuguez dividido em duas partes, both written by Manuel da Assumpção. However, the Portuguese-based romanisation did not take root. In the late 18th century, Augustin Aussant used a romanisation scheme based on the French alphabet. At the same time, Nathaniel Brassey Halhed used a romanisation scheme based on English for his Bengali grammar book. After Halhed, the renowned English philologist and oriental scholar Sir William Jones devised a romanisation scheme for Bengali and other Indian languages in general; he published it in the Asiatick Researches journal in 1801.[4] His scheme came to be known as the "Jonesian system" of romanisation and served as a model for the next century and a half. Professor Lightner of Lahore Government College opposed it.[5]

100 years after that i.e. at the beginning of the 20th century, Drew, an assistant professor at Eton College recommended that Indian languages be written in Roman script and for this purpose the magazine called Roman Urdu was launched.[5]

Abul Fazal Muhammad Akhtaru-d-Din, in an article titled "Bangla Bornomalar Poribortton" (বাংলা বর্ণমালার পরিবর্ত্তন, Changes in the Bengali Alphabet) published in Daily Azad on April 18, 1949, said, Rabindranath Tagore once advocated the Roman alphabet for Bengali, but later he changed his opinion.[5]

Bengali language movement

During the Bengali Language Movement of the 1940s–50s, Romanization of Bengali was proposed along with other proposals regarding the determination of the state language of the then Pakistan, but like other proposals it also failed, by establishing Bengali as one of the state languages ​​of Pakistan at that time, with its traditional letters.[6][5] After 1947, many other East Pakistani academics, including Muhammad Qudrat-i-Khuda and Nazirul Islam Mohammad Sufian, supported the idea of writing Bengali in Roman script.[5] In 1948, Mohammad Ferdous Khan opposed it in his pamphlet "The language problem of today".[5]

Abul Fazl Muhammad Akhtar-ud-Din supported the Roman alphabet in his article entitled "Bangla Bornomalar Poribortton" (বাংলা বর্ণমালার পরিবর্ত্তন, Changes in the Bengali Alphabet) published in Daily Azad on 18 April 1949.[5]

At 1949, Language Committee of the East-Bengal Government conducted a survey among teachers, intellectuals, high civil servants, members of the Legislative Council, according to which, out of 301 respondents, 96 favored the introduction of the Arabic script, 18 the Roman script and 187 the retention of the Bengali script. Give opinion in favor. Besides, many people did not give any answer.[5]

After language movement

In 1957, the East Pakistan Education Commission recommended the use of the revised Roman script in adult education.[5]

Around 1957-58, there was a significant demand for the use of Roman letters again. At that time Muhammad Abdul Hai and Muhammad Enamul Haque opposed it.[5]

Transliteration and transcription

Romanisation of a language written in a non-Roman script can be based on either transliteration (orthographically accurate and the original spelling can be recovered) or transcription (phonetically accurate, and the pronunciation can be reproduced). The distinction is important in Bengali, as its orthography was adopted from Sanskrit and ignores several millennia of sound change. All writing systems differ at least slightly from the way the language is pronounced, but this is more extreme for languages like Bengali. For example, the three letters শ, ষ, and স had distinct pronunciations in Sanskrit, but over several centuries, the standard pronunciation of Bengali (usually modelled on the Nadia dialect) has lost the phonetic distinctions, and all three are usually pronounced as IPA [ʃɔ]. The spelling distinction persists in orthography.

In written texts, distinguishing between homophones, such as শাপ shap "curse" and সাপ shap "snake", is easy. Such a distinction could be particularly relevant in searching for the term in an encyclopaedia, for example. However, the fact that the words sound identical means that they would be transcribed identically, so some important distinctions of meaning cannot be rendered by transcription. Another issue with transcription systems is that cross-dialectal and cross-register differences are widespread, so the same word or lexeme may have many different transcriptions. Even simple words like মন "mind" may be pronounced "mon", "môn", or (in poetry) "mônô" (as in the Indian national anthem, "Jana Gana Mana").

Often, different phonemes are represented by the same symbol or grapheme. Thus, the vowel এ can represent either [e] (এল elo [elɔ] "came") or [ɛ] (এক êk [ɛk] "one"). Occasionally, words written in the same way (homographs) may have different pronunciations for differing meanings: মত can mean "opinion" (pronounced môt), or "similar to" (môtô). Therefore, some important phonemic distinctions cannot be rendered in a transliteration model. In addition, to represent a Bengali word to allow speakers of other languages to pronounce it easily, it may be better to use a transcription, which does not include the silent letters and other idiosyncrasies (স্বাস্থ্য sbasthyô, spelled <swāsthya>, or অজ্ঞান ôggên, spelled <ajñāna>) that make Bengali romanisation so complicated. Such letters are misleading in a phonetic romanisation of Bengali and are a result of often inclusion of the Bengali script with other Indic scripts for romanisation, but the other Indic scripts lack the inherent vowel ô, which causes chaos for Bengali romanisation.

A phenomenon in which romanisation of Bengali unintentionally leads to humorous results when translated is known as Murad Takla.

Comparison of romanisations

Comparisons of the standard romanisation schemes for Bengali are given in the table below. Two standards are commonly used for transliteration of Indic languages, including Bengali. Many standards (like NLK/ISO), use diacritic marks and permit case markings for proper nouns. Schemes such as the Harvard-Kyoto one are more suited for ASCII-derivative keyboards and use upper- and lower-case letters contrastively, so forgo normal standards for English capitalisation.


Bengali IABT ISO 15919 Avro ITRANS Devanagari WX B.C
a a o a a a a
aa ā a A/aa A A aa
i i i i i i i
ee ī I I/ii I I undefined
u u u u u u u
oo ū U U/uu U U undefined
RI rri RRi/R^i R q undefined
RI r̥̄ - r̥̄ - - undefined
LI - - - undefined
LI l̥̄ - l̥̄ - undefined
e ē e e e e e
oi ai OI ai ai E oi
o ō O o o o o
ou au OU au au O ou
অ্যা ae æ oZa - OU - ae


Bengali IABT ISO 15919 Avro ITRANS B.C
ka ka k ka ka
kha kha kh kha kha
ga ga g ga ga
gha gha gh gha gha
ng ṅa Ng ~Na undefined
ca ca c ca cca
cha cha ch Cha cha
ja ja j ja undefined
jha jha jh jha jha
ya ña NG ~na undefined
ta ṭa T Ta ta
tha ṭha Th Tha tha
da ḍa D Da da
dha ḍha Dh Dha dha
na ṇa N Na undefined
'ta ta t ta 'ta
'tha tha th tha 'tha
'd da d da 'da
'dha dha dh dha 'dha
na ṅa n na na
pa pa p pa pa
pha pha ph/f pha pha
ba ba b ba ba
bha bha bh/v bha bha
ma ma m ma ma
ja y z ya ja
ra ra r ra ra
la la l la la
sha sha sh/S sha sha
sha Sha Sh Sha undefined
sa sa s sa sa
tha ha h ha ha
ড় rha R - rra
ঢ় rha ṛh Rh - undefined
য় y y/Y - y

Additional Consonants

বাংলা ISO 15919 ITRANS WX
ক় qa qa kZa
ফ় fa fa fZa
ভ় va va vZa
জ় za za zZa


The following table includes examples of Bengali words romanised by using the various systems mentioned above.

Example words
In orthography Meaning NLK ITRANS HK Wiki[original research?] IPA
মন mind mana mana mana mon [mon]
সাপ snake sāpa saapa sApa shap [ʃap]
শাপ curse śāpa shaapa zApa shap [ʃap]
মত opinion mata mata mata môt [mɔt]
মতো like mato mato mato moto [mɔto]
তেল oil tēla tela tela tel [tel]
গেল went gēla gela gela gêlô [ɡɛlɔ]
জ্বর fever jvara jvara jvara jôr [dʒɔr]
স্বাস্থ্য health svāsthya svaasthya svAsthya shastho [ʃastʰːo]
বাংলাদেশ Bangladesh bāṃlādēśa baa.mlaadesha bAMlAdeza Bangladesh [baŋladeʃ]
ব্যঞ্জনধ্বনি consonant byañjanadhvani bya~njanadhvani byaJjanadhvani bênjondhoni [bɛndʒɔndʱoni]
আত্মহত্যা suicide ātmahatyā aatmahatyaa AtmahatyA attohotta [atːohɔtːa]

A detailed example is given below by the lyrics of the "Amar Sonar Bangla" as written by Rabindranath Tagore, the first ten lines of this song currently constitute Bangladesh's national anthem.

Bengali original[7][8][9] Romanisation of Bengali IPA transcription[note 2]

আমার সোনার বাংলা, আমি তোমায় ভালোবাসি।
চিরদিন তোমার আকাশ, তোমার বাতাস, আমার প্রাণে বাজায় বাঁশি॥
ও মা, ফাগুনে তোর আমের বনে ঘ্রাণে পাগল করে,
মরি হায়, হায় রে—
ও মা, অঘ্রাণে তোর ভরা ক্ষেতে আমি কী দেখেছি মধুর হাসি॥

কী শোভা, কী ছায়া গো, কী স্নেহ, কী মায়া গো—
কী আঁচল বিছায়েছ বটের মূলে, নদীর কূলে কূলে।
মা, তোর মুখের বাণী আমার কানে লাগে সুধার মতো,
মরি হায়, হায় রে—
মা, তোর বদনখানি মলিন হলে, ও মা, আমি নয়নজলে ভাসি॥

তোমার এই খেলাঘরে শিশুকাল কাটিলে রে,
তোমারি ধুলামাটি অঙ্গে মাখি ধন্য জীবন মানি।
তুই দিন ফুরালে সন্ধ্যাকালে কী দীপ জ্বালিস ঘরে,
মরি হায়, হায় রে—
তখন খেলাধুলা সকল ফেলে, ও মা, তোমার কোলে ছুটে আসি॥

ধেনু-চরা তোমার মাঠে, পারে যাবার খেয়াঘাটে আমার সোনার বাংলা ,
সারা দিন পাখি-ডাকা ছায়ায়-ঢাকা তোমার পল্লীবাটে,
তোমার ধানে-ভরা আঙিনাতে জীবনের দিন কাটে,
মরি হায়, হায় রে—
ও মা, আমার যে ভাই তারা সবাই, ও মা, তোমার রাখাল তোমার চাষি॥

ও মা, তোর চরণেতে দিলেম এই মাথা পেতে—
দে গো তোর পায়ের ধুলা, সে যে আমার মাথার মানিক হবে।
ও মা, গরিবের ধন যা আছে তাই দিব চরণতলে,
মরি হায়, হায় রে—
আমি পরের ঘরে কিনব না আর, মা, তোর ভূষণ ব'লে গলার ফাঁসি

Amar shonar Bangla, ami tomay bhalobashi.
Cirodin tomar akash, tomar batash, amar prane bajay bãshi.
O ma, phagune tor amer bone ghrane pagol kôre,
Mori hay, hay re:
O ma, Ôghrane tor bhôra khete ami ki dekhechi modhur hashi.

Ki shobha, ki chaya go, ki sneho, ki maya go,
Ki ãcol bichayecho bôṭer mule, nodir kule kule.
Ma, tor mukher bani amar kane lage shudhar môto,
Mori hay, hay re:
Ma, tor bôdonkhani molin hole, o ma, ami nôyonjôle bhashi.

Tomar ei khêlaghôre shishukal kaṭile re,
Tomari dhulamaṭi ôngge makhi dhonno jibôn mani.
Tui din phurale shondhakale ki dip jalish ghôre,
Mori hay, hay re:
Tôkhon khêladhula shôkol phele, o ma, tomar kole chuṭe ashi.

Dhenu-côra tomar maṭhe, pare jabar kheyaghaṭe,
Shara din pakhi-ḍaka chayay-ḍhaka tomar pollibaṭe,
Tomar dhane-bhôra anginate jibôner din kaṭe
Mori hay, hay re:
O ma, amar je bhai tara shôbai, o ma, tomar rakhal tomar cashi.

O ma, tor côronete dilem ei matha pete:
De go tor payer dhula, she je amar mathar manik hôbe.
O ma, goriber dhôn ja ache tai dibo côrontôle,
Mori hay, hay re:
Ami pôrer ghôre kinbo na ar, ma, tor bhushon bole gôlar phãshi.

[a.mar ʃo.nar baŋ.la ǀ a.mi to.maj bʱʃi]
[t͡ʃ to.mar a.kaʃ ǀ to.mar ba.taʃ ǀ a.mar ba.d͡ʒaj bã.ʃi ‖]
[o ma ǀ pʰ tor a.mer gʱ pa.gol kɔ.re ǀ]
[mo.ri haj ǀ haj re ǀ]
[o ma ǀ ɔ.gʱ tor bʱɔ.ra kʰe.te a.mi ki de.kʰe.t͡ʃʰi mo.dʱur ha.ʃi ‖]

[ki ʃo.bʱa ǀ ki t͡ʃʰa.ja go ǀ ki sne.ho ǀ ki ma.ja go ǀ]
[ki ã.t͡ʃol bi.t͡ʃʰ͡ʃʰo bɔ.ʈer mu.le ǀ no.dir ku.le ku.le]
[ma ǀ tor mu.kʰer a.mar ʃu.dʱar mɔ.to ǀ]
[mo.ri haj ǀ haj re ǀ]
[ma ǀ tor bɔ.don.kʰ mo.lin ho.le ǀ o ma ǀ a.mi nɔ.jon.d͡ʒɔ.le bʱa.ʃi ‖]

[to.mar ei kʰɛ.la.gʱɔ.re ʃi.ʃu.kal ka.ʈi.le re ǀ]
[ dʱʈi ɔŋ.ge ma.kʰi dʱ d͡ʒi.bɔn]
[tu.i din pʰu.ra.le ʃon.dʱa.ka.le ki dip d͡ʒa.liʃ gʱɔ.re ǀ]
[mo.ri haj ǀ haj re ǀ]
[tɔ.kʰon kʰɛ.la.dʱ ʃɔ.kol pʰe.le ǀ o ma ǀ to.mar ko.le t͡ʃʰu.ʈe a.ʃi ‖]

[dʱ͡ʃɔ.ra to.mar ma.ʈʰe ǀ d͡ʒ kʰe.ja.gʱa.ʈe ǀ]
[ʃa.ra din pa.kʰi.ɖa.ka t͡ʃʰa.jaj.ɖʱa.ka to.marʱa.ʈe ǀ]
[to.mar dʱʱɔ.ra aŋ d͡ʒi.bɔ.ner din ka.ʈe]
[mo.ri haj ǀ haj re ǀ]
[o ma ǀ a.mar d͡ʒe bʱa.i ta.ra ʃɔ.bai̯ ǀ o ma ǀ to.mar ra.kʰal to.mar t͡ʃa.ʃi ‖]

[o ma ǀ tor t͡ʃɔ di.lem ei̯ ma.tʰa pe.te ǀ]
[de go tor pa.jer dʱ ǀ ʃe d͡ʒe a.mar ma.tʰar ma.nik hɔ.be]
[o ma ǀ go.ri.ber dʱɔn d͡ʒa a.t͡ʃʰe tai̯ t͡ʃɔ.ron.tɔ.le ǀ]
[mo.ri haj ǀ haj re ǀ]
[a.mi pɔ.rer gʱɔ.re na ar ǀ ma ǀ tor bʱu.ʃon bo.le gɔ.lar pʰã.ʃi ‖]

See also


  1. ^ In Japanese, some debate exists as to whether to accent certain distinctions, such as Tōhoku vs Tohoku. Sanskrit is well standardized, as it has few speakers, and sound change is not a large concern.
  2. ^ See Help:IPA/Bengali and Bengali phonology.


  1. ^ "Learning International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration". Sanskrit 3 – Learning transliteration. Gabriel Pradiipaka & Andrés Muni. Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  2. ^ "ITRANS – Indian Language Transliteration Package". Avinash Chopde. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  3. ^ "Annex-F: Roman Script Transliteration" (PDF). Indian Standard: Indian Script Code for Information Interchange — ISCII. Bureau of Indian Standards. 1 April 1999. p. 32. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  4. ^ Jones 1801
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bashir Al Helal, History of the Language Movement, forthcoming publication, February 1995, pp. 685-692
  6. ^ হোসেন, সেলিনা; বিশ্বাস, সুকুমার; চৌধুরী, শফিকুর রহমান, eds. (21 February 1986). 1513. একুশের স্মারকগ্রন্থ' ৮৬ - সম্পাদনায় (in Bengali). Bangladesh: Bangla Academy. pp. 52–73. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Rabindranath Tagore - Songs - স্বদেশ - আমার সোনার বাংলা". Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  8. ^ "জাতীয় সংগীত (পাঠ) - নেত্রকোণা জেলা". Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  9. ^ "About Bangladesh-2". Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2021.