Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Meaning of টা and গু In Bengali


This is a discussion which I started on the site italki.com about the Bengali language:

In English, for the singular form, we say, "The house is ours" whereas in Bengali it sounds as "বাড়িটা আমাদের". The letter টা should be put in the last part of the noun.

For plural, the sentence in English is, "The bananas are ripe” whereas in Bengali the sentence translates to "কলাগুলি পাকা". The letter গু should be put in the last part of the noun.

Perhaps, the letters টা and গু indicate the difference between singular and plural forms in a sentence because in Bengali we don’t have words for auxiliary verbs ‘is’ and “are”. Are there other reasons for using these letters?

Answer 1:

The -টা suffix in Bengali plays two roles... one is that of a numeral classifier. Many languages such as Chinese and Indonesian have an extensive set of numeral classifiers (measure words), whereas other languages such as English (and perhaps Russian) do not have this concept. In Bengali, measure words are quite simple... it's sufficient to learn only two. -জন is used for people (e.g. একজন শিক্ষক a teacher, পাঁচজন মানুষ five people), while -টা is used for everything else (একটা চিন্তা a thought, পাঁচটা বই five books).

The other use for -টা is to refer to something specific... বাড়ীটা indicates that you are referring to a specific বাড়ী, not just any বাড়ী. E.g.

এই বাড়ীটা দামী - This house is expensive.

বাড়ী কিনতে চাইলে অনেক দাম দিতে প্রস্তুত থাক - Be prepared to spend a lot if you want to buy a house. (Not speaking of a particular house, hence no -টা).

In this context, replacing -টা with -গুলো/-গুলি transforms it from singular to plural.

এই এলাকার বাড়ীগুলো অনেক দামী - Houses in this area are very expensive.

To say -টা etc. are used to make up for the absence of auxiliary verbs is a bit far-fetched. As you can see from the following examples, you can very well have instances where there's no -টা/গুলো but the English translation requires use of an auxiliary verb.

মানুষ মরনশীল - Man is mortal.

সময় চলে যাচ্ছে - Time is passing.


Answer 2:

Good answer. The second use of ta is a bit similar to the article in English. Not exactly same though.
A/an (noun) = ek-ta (noun)
Two (noun)s = du-ta (noun)
...
The (noun) = (noun)ta
The (noun)s = (noun)gulo