Bangladesh, as the name suggests, speaks Bengali or Bangla. It is the de facto national language of the country. Bengali is also the official language of Bangladesh and serves as the nation’s lingua franca. The country also has several indigenous languages that are spoken by the different indigenous groups living in the country. English is often regarded as the de facto co-official language of the country.
The Official Language Of Bangladesh
Bengali is both the official and the national language of Bangladesh. Bengali is the world’s seventh most spoken native language. The language belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family but its vocabulary is also influenced by languages of the Austroasiatic, the Dravidian, and the Tibeto-Burman language families. Bengali acts as a binding force between the two separated Bengali communities living in Bangladesh and India. The national anthems of both Bangladesh and India were composed in Bengali. Bengali literature and folk heritage are well known across the world for their rich quality. In Bangladesh, 98% of Bangladeshis speak Standard Bengali or one of the many Bengali dialects fluently as their first language.
The Aryan Languages Spoken In Bangladesh
The Aryan languages are spoken mainly in the lowlands of Bangladesh. The Bengali language is also an Aryan language and the most widely spoken language of this class in the country. There are several other Eastern Indic languages spoken here which might be treated as dialects of Bengali or as separate languages themselves. These are:
The Aryan language is spoken in some parts of northeastern India, Burma, and Bangladesh. It is spoken in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. Bishnupriya is written with the Bengali alphabet.
The Chakma language is spoken by Chakma and the Daingnet people. About 310,000 Bangladeshis living near Chittagong City of southeastern Bangladesh and 300,000 people living in northeastern India speak this language. The languages use the Chakma script for writing.
The Chittagonian language is spoken widely in the southeast of Bangladesh, especially in Chittagong. Although the Bengali and
Chittagonian are not mutually intelligible, the latter is often treated as a nonstandard dialect of the former. Chittagonian is spoken by about 13 million people in Bangladesh.
The Hajong language is spoken in parts of northeastern India and in the Mymensingh District of Bangladesh. The language is written in the Latin and the Assamese script.
Rohingya is the dominant language spoken in the Arakan State of Burma but is also spoken by refugees from Burma in Bangladesh. It is regarded as one of the main immigrant languages of Bangladesh.
Sylheti is spoken by the Sylheti people inhabiting Bangladesh’s Sylhet Division. This language is also spoken in parts of northeastern India. Some consider the language to be a dialect of Bengali while others treat it as a distinct language since they lack mutual intelligibility. However, the languages share about 80% vocabulary. Most Sylhetis can also speak Bengali.
Closely related to Bengali, this language is spoken by the country’s Tanchangya people.
The Rangpuri language is spoken by about 10 million Rajbongshi people in Bangladesh. Many of these people are bilingual and also speak either Bengali or Assamese.
Assamese, Oraon Sadri, and Bihari are some other Aryan languages spoken in Bangladesh. Bihari is spoken in Bangladesh mainly by the Muslim refugees from India’s Bihar state.
The Non-Aryan Languages Spoken In Bangladesh
Austroasiatic Languages Of Bangladesh
Smaller languages of the Austroasiatic family of languages are spoken in Bangladesh and some parts of India. Here is a list of these languages:
Khasi is the major language of India’s Meghalaya state and is spoken by the Khasi people living here. It is also spoken by a significant number of people in Assam and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, it is spoken near the border areas of the country with India.
Koda is an endangered language spoken in some parts of Bangladesh and India. As of 2005, there were 1,300 speakers of the Koda language in Bangladesh’s Rajshahi Division.
A Munda language, Mundari is spoken by people in parts of eastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, it is spoken by the Munda tribal people.
Pnar is another language of the Austroasiatic family that is spoken in parts of India and Bangladesh.
The language is spoken by about 6.2 million people in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
This language is spoken by about 26,000 Indians and 16,000 people living in Bangladesh.
Dravidian Languages Spoken In Bangladesh
Indigenous communities living in the western parts of Bangladesh speak two Dravidian languages, Kurukh and Sauria Paharia.
Nearly 50,000 people in northern Bangladesh speak the Kurukh language. The language is also spoken in parts of India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The UNESCO's list of endangered languages classifies the language as “endangered.”
Malto, a Northern Dravidian language that is spoken in East India is also spoken by small pockets of population in Bangladesh.
Tibeto-Burman Languages Spoken In Bangladesh
The communities speaking the Tibeto-Burman Languages live in the eastern, northern, and southeastern parts of the country. Some of these languages include the Chak, A'Tong, Koch, Garo, Megam, Pangkhua, Tripuri languages, Chin languages, Rakhine/Marma, Mru, etc.
Immigrant Languages Spoken In Bangladesh
Bihari, Burmese, and Rohingya are treated as the main immigrant languages spoken in Bangladesh. Bihari is spoken mostly by the Muslim refugee community from India’s Bihar state. Burmese and Rohingya are spoken by the refugees from neighboring Burma.
Foreign Languages Spoken In Bangladesh
Even though English has no official status in Bangladesh, the language is frequently used in government administration, educational institutions, courts, business, and media of the country. There is high demand for English education in the country as knowledge in the language is considered to broaden the scope of employment opportunities available to the youth of the nation.