Essential Bangla — Bengali Language

Mum is the brand here.
Mum is the major brand of water here.

While a smile will get you far, as a foreigner in Bangladesh, learning a few phrases of Bangla is a good idea. I am not a linguist so I’ve made up my own system of phonetics. These are some of the phrases I have learned:

PAH-nee — water — This is the Bangla word I used most in this hot, hot, hot land.

DON-ah-bawd — thank you (foreigners like to use this but I’m told it’s not really part of the culture. I’ve seen nods of the head or a closed fist to the chest used as “thank you” and that works too).

Sah-ley-al-eh-kyum — greetings (it’s from Arabic and is how you greet people or announce your presence) — I often just say “good evening/good day/hello” and that seems to work.

DECK-A-hawb-aa — see you later.

AH-che — gotcha or yes, I’m listening to you and I understand that you are speaking. I like “gotcha” because it rhymes with the Bangla word.

EK-tah — one of (EK is one).

SHESH — done as in “enough” and “it’s over.”

LAWG-bey-nah — No need or I do not need it (useful when rickshaws try to run you over in their eagerness for your custom). This is the phrase I have found most useful.

Half a million rickshaws, all trying to give you a ride.
Half a million rickshaws, all trying to give you a ride.

6 thoughts on “Essential Bangla — Bengali Language

  • I’ll be arriving in Dhaka in the Spring and am so grateful to you for all your incredibly helpful information. DON-ah-bawd!!

    • I am glad to hear that you find my blog useful. I hope you will have a fantastic time here!

  • Interesting post …i.e. intriguing to see our culture through an ‘foreigner’s eyes. Oh! And just noticed that in the back of the rickshaw (pictured), it says Ma-er dowa (‘mother’s blessings’). That has got to be the most common rickshaw/tempo/truck scribbling and/or suburban shop name in Bangladesh. Great blog – bon voyage.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Adnan, and for letting me know about the “mother’s blessings”. It makes it worth blogging when readers like you comment. Thanks again.

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