The Bengali alphabet (Bengali: বাংলা হরফ bangla horof or Bengali: বাংলা লিপি bangla lipi) is the writing system for the Bengali language. The script with variations is shared by Assamese and is basis for Meitei, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Kokborok, Garo and Mundari alphabets. All these languages are spoken in the eastern region of South Asia. Historically, the script has also been used to write the Sanskrit language in the same region. From a classificatory point of view, the Bengali script is an abugida, i.e. its vowel graphemes are mainly realized not as independent letters, but as diacritics attached to its consonant letters. It is written from left to right and lacks distinct letter cases. It is recognizable by a distinctive horizontal line running along the tops of the letters that links them together, a property it shares with two other popular Indian scripts: Devanagari (used for Hindi, Marathi and Nepali) and Gurumukhi (used for Punjabi). The Bengali script is, however, less blocky and presents a more sinuous shape.
Because of the large population of literate Bengali speakers, Bengali script is one of the more widely used writing systems in the world.
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“I believe the alphabet is no longer considered an essential piece of equipment for traveling through life. In my day it was the keystone to knowledge. You learned the alphabet as you learned to count to ten, as you learned Now I lay me and the Lords Prayer and your fathers and mothers name and address and telephone number, all in case you were lost.”
—Eudora Welty (b. 1909)