Bengalee uses an alphabetic script in which each Consonant(s)-Vowel syllable is often treated as an indivisible unit. Trailing consonants and leading vowels are written separately. The alphabet used is based on the Sanskrt alphabet: though the present sound values are very different.
The alphabet will be transcribed here as follows:
a aa i ee u oo r e ai o ou am ah ~ ~É q D ´ î AÌ ~s Ù R Í ~T ~ö
Sanskrt had additional vowels rr, l and ll conventionally placed after r. The vowels i,u,e, and o have roughly the values in the English words hit, put, let and cold. The doubled vowels (except aa) are the same as the preceding single vowels in modern Bengalee, they were longer in Sanskrt. The vowel e is sometimes pronounced as the a in English cat, but this is rare in names. The vowel a has suffered a lot of change: in modern Bengalee. In the initial syllable, it is usually pronounced as the English vowel in cot, in final positions it is often omitted unless in a syllable with multiple consonants. In other positions, it often becomes indistinguishable with o. aa is pronounced roughly like the vowel in English car. In Bengalee, the vowel r is pronounced like the consonant r followed by the vowel i, often with an extra puff of breath: somewhat like rhi.
The consonants are:
k kh g gh n(g) @Ø Z w W ^w ch chh j jh n(j) O a B I ^B t_ th_ d_ dh_ n_ v i ¦ b H t th d dh n © Ë ° o S p ph b bh m Þ ¬Ø c g T y r l v s Ì U ì s_ s sh h S ® r ö
The first five rows are ‘guttural’, ‘palatal’, ‘alveolar’, ‘dental’ and ‘labial’. The columns in these rows are ‘unvoiced unaspirated’, ‘unvoiced aspirated’, ‘voiced unaspirated’, ‘voiced aspirated’ and ‘voiced nasal unaspirated’. y in Bengalee is pronounced as j if not combined with another consonant: in combination, it often serves to double the previous consonant, unless that is an r. The combination yaa when combined with a preceding consonant group is pronounced as the vowel a in English cat. v is pronounced indistinguishably from b in Bengalee: except in combination with preceding consonant, it often doubles that. The consonant r is either preceded by a vowel, or followed by one: neither of these occurs for the vowel r. In Bengalee, s_, s, and sh are often pronounced indistingushably, as are n and n_. The combination, jn is pronounced the same way as gy would have been in the same position. The combination ks_ is pronounced as kkh. The consonant following consonant r is often written doubled, it is pronounced the same way whether doubled or not. hm often becomes mh in rapid speech. Otherwise, m following a group of consonants serves to double the value of those consonants, sometimes with a tinge of nasalization of the following vowel.
In addition, there are rolled versions of d_ and dh_ which I write as d__ and dh__. There is also a nasalization possible for vowels: written here as a ~ following the vowels.
I use a . to separate units that behave as separate words for pronounciation purposes when they are not written separately. Words often run into one another without separation in the manuscript: I do not indicate such mergers.