Hey all, I thought that since today is Hortal, sorry I have been mis-spelling hartal until this week when I found out the Bangla can’t pronounce some letters and its pronounced Har-tal. SMH (that’s for you Alex and Rochelle). As I promised here is a list of some common words we have been getting to know while we are here. Some basic rules on pronunciation, every time you see a letter S you pronounce it sh. There are four different ways to pronounce the letter D and T, and there are a total of 49 letters, we think, its hard to draw a line. The script looks like Arabic and Mandarin mixed together, it’s quite beautiful.
This is an example of a good portion of the letters and conjuncts in the Bangali language. There are many more characters, well over 100 that combine multiple letters into one. Its daunting enough to learn the pronunciations let alone ways to pronounce the letter "D" four different ways by altering your tongue position slightly.
Colors aren’t too bad, they use the color green and red a lot to describe different foods like lal shak is red spinach (even though it isn’t spinach at all its amaranth, same family but still) and shobuj kola for green banana.
The days of the week are a little off especially Thursday. The work week here is six days Saturday-Thursday as Friday is the Muslim holy day. Some people in really good jobs get Saturday off too but it’s kind of rare. Every Friday we get our housekeeper flowers as she is Muslim and has to work, we call them flower Fridays or Fol (pronounced fool) Shokrobar in Bangla; she gets the biggest smile.
Food is interesting, they eat very few raw fruits and veggies as you can get really sick if you don’t sanitize them properly, refer to the poo post a few weeks back. Here is a list of common fruits and veggies. Something we have been becoming aware of is the use of Formalin in fruits to preserve them. Formalin is a derivative of formaldehyde. It’s a common practice in Asia to use small amounts to help the fruits stay fresh on their way to market as refrigeration is a rare and unreliable thing here. When used in larger quantities (there is not FDA to regulate food safety here) it can cause extreme sickness, liver failure, and death. There was a big problem a few years ago and a few people were tried and put to death actually to make an example. It wasn’t an issue any more until this year when in Dhaka there was a terrible formalin poisoning event where a bunch of people became violently ill from eating lychees and other fruits loaded with the stuff. Anyway be glad you are in the states and don’t have to think twice about how your food is preserved, I’ll take food grade wax any day. BTW the veggie above is called cicinga or snake gourd in English, its awesome.
Some helpful phrases we have come to know and love. The bangle have no use for pleasantries, so you don’t say, “May I please have a cup of coffee,” you say, “I require coffee.” It’s really odd and I find myself saying thank you whenever we leave a store only to have the shop keeper look at me like I’m even more of a bedeshi (not from this country, or as I like to think of it, outlander).
I require coffee/tea
What is your name
My name is ____
Very hot water
I don’t understand
I don’t need
Apnar nam ki
Apni nam ____
Beshi gorum pani
Com gorum pani
The numbers for some reason are proving to be quite a challenge for some reason. The most interesting thing is that there is some odd pattern to number names. In English it’s just the 10’s place + the one’s place. Here the numbers follow a rough pattern, for example, 29, 39, 49, 59 are unotrish, unochollish, unoponchash, unoshayt; however, 99 isn’t part of that pattern it’s not unoeksho like the rest of the _9’s but rather its niranobboi. Go figure.