Bengali consonant clusters

Bengali Consonant Clusters

Bengali consonant clusters

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Consonant clusters in Bengali are very common word-initially due to a long history of borrowing from English and Sanskrit, two languages with a large cluster inventory. A smaller number of words with word-final clusters have also been borrowed from English, Urdu, and Persian. A handful of words from non-standard dialects of Bengali include native clusters.

Syllable-initial clusters

Native Bengali (তদ্ভব tôdbhôb) words do not allow initial consonant clusters; the maximum syllabic structure is CVC (i.e. one vowel flanked by a consonant on each side). Many speakers of Bengali restrict their phonology to this pattern, even when using Sanskrit or English borrowings, such as গেরাম geram (CV.CVC) for গ্রাম gram (CCVC) "village" or ইস্কুল iskul (VC.CVC) for স্কুল skul (CCVC) "school".

Sanskrit (তৎসম tôtshôm) words borrowed into Bengali, however, possess a wide range of clusters, expanding the maximum syllable structure to CCCVC. Some of these clusters, such as the mr in মৃত্যু mrittu "death" or the sp in স্পষ্ট spôshţo "clear", have become extremely common, and can be considered legal consonant clusters in Bengali.

English and other foreign (বিদেশী bideshi) borrowings add even more cluster types into the Bengali inventory, further increasing the syllable capacity to CCCVCCCC, as commonly-used loanwords such as...
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