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The phonological, morphological and syntactical patterns of standard colloquial Bengali and the Noakhali dialect Morshed, Abul Kalam Manzur

Abstract

Standard Colloquial Bengali (SCB) is the language used by the majority of educated speakers at the present time in Bangladesh and West Bengal. In contrast with this standard language there are dialects of Bengali sufficiently different to be unintelligible to SCB speakers. One of these is the Noakhali Dialect, spoken in the southern part of the country on the border of the Bay of Bengal. It is a somewhat isolated region, which explains at least in part the development of this divergent form of the language. The Noakhali Dialect (ND) differs from SCB at all linguistic levels; phonological, morphological and syntactical, as well as in lexicon. The aim of this thesis is to make a comparative and contrastive study of the standard language and the dialect at all these levels in order to establish the degree of their divergence. It is essentially a synchronic study, so that, in general, no attempt is made to link the present-day forms with possible ancestral sources in Sanscrit. For the phonological and morphological analyses, the generative approach of Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle has been used, which involves a study of distinctive features. Special emphasis is given to the phenomenon of gemination, and vocalic and consonantal alternation. The phonological structure of the morphemes of each language has been reduced to rules, and the sets of inflectional and derivational morphemes are described in some detail. As an approach to syntax, noun-phrase rules and verb-phrase rules have been elaborated for both languages. On the whole, however, SCB and ND differ little in their broader syntactical patterning so that a detailed study of their syntax would contribute little to a contrastive analysis. Thus the main emphasis of the present study is at the level of phonology and morphology, where significant contrasts can be brought out, once the generative theories have been adapted to suit a language like Bengali which is more highly inflected than English.

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