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What Language Do They Speak in Bangladesh?

What Language Do They Speak in Bangladesh

Key Takeaways:

Official LanguageBengali (Bangla)
Percentage of Bengali SpeakersOver 98% of the population
Minority LanguagesChakma, Marma, Tripuri, and more.
Second Most Spoken LanguageChittagonian
Language of Education and MediaPrimarily Bengali with some English content


Bangladesh, a country of rich culture and history, has a unique linguistic identity. Language has played a pivotal role in the nation’s history, shaping its identity and pride. Dive deep with us into the linguistic tapestry of Bangladesh.

The Primacy of Bengali (Bangla)

Bengali, locally known as Bangla, stands out as the predominant language in Bangladesh. Here are some key points about Bengali:

  • Widely Spoken: Over 98% of the population of Bangladesh communicates in Bengali, making it one of the most spoken languages in the world.
  • Rich Literary Tradition: Bengali boasts a rich literary history with luminaries like Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his Bengali writings.
  • Bengali Script: Bengali is written in its indigenous script which has evolved over millennia and has its roots in the ancient Brahmi script.

Table 1: Notable Bengali Literary Figures

Rabindranath TagoreAuthored the national anthems of both Bangladesh and India, and won a Nobel Prize for “Gitanjali”
Kazi Nazrul IslamKnown as the ‘rebel poet’ for his activism and poetry
Begum RokeyaPioneering feminist writer and activist

Minority Languages and Dialects

Beyond Bengali, Bangladesh is home to several minority languages and dialects:

  1. Chittagonian: Spoken primarily in the Chittagong Division, it is distinct enough from Bengali to be considered a separate language.
  2. Sylheti: Predominant in the Sylhet Division, Sylheti has a rich oral tradition and has gained recognition in other countries due to diaspora.
  3. Chakma: Spoken by the Chakma people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  4. Marma: Another language from the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  5. Tripuri: Spoken by the Tripuri people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

These languages contribute to the rich linguistic tapestry of the nation.

The Role of English

English holds a significant place in Bangladeshi society:

  • Colonial Legacy: Due to British colonial rule, English has left an indelible mark on the Bangladeshi education system, governance, and more.
  • Education: While Bengali is the medium of instruction in most schools, many institutions, especially in urban areas, offer English-medium education.
  • Business & Diplomacy: English is widely used in international business, diplomacy, and by the urban elite.

Table 2: English Usage in Different Domains

DomainUsage of English
EducationEnglish medium schools, university courses, and research.
MediaEnglish newspapers, TV channels, and radio stations.
GovernanceUsed in official documentation and international diplomacy.

The Linguistic Heritage and Culture

Language in Bangladesh is not just a medium of communication; it is a symbol of identity, pride, and resistance:

  • International Mother Language Day: Originated in Bangladesh, this day commemorates the sacrifices of those who fought for the right to speak in Bengali during the Language Movement in 1952.
  • Cultural Events: Many events, like the Dhaka Literature Festival, celebrate the Bengali language, its literature, and its global impact.


Bangladesh, while predominantly Bengali-speaking, offers a linguistic diversity that is a testament to its rich history and cultural mosaic. From the global influence of Bengali literature to the preservation of minority languages and dialects, the country stands as a beacon of linguistic pride and heritage.