Lonely Planet’s Bengali phrasebook ran to just a single edition in the late 1990s, seemed a little ropey in places and hasn’t been available for years. It may have been partly replaced by their combined Bengali-Hindi-Urdu phrasebook, but it’s not the same as a dedicated resource for Bangla leaners.
Happily this situation is remedied this year with the publication of Hanne-Ruth Thompson’s Bengali (Bangla) Dictionary & Phrasebook.
Hanne-Ruth, who teaches Bengali at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), has produced a clear and easy to follow book that makes an ideal companion to Teach Yourself Bengali, the standard course book written by her colleague William Radice.
The Dictionary & Phrasebook is split into a grammar overview, topic-based phrases and an unexpectedly large dictionary for such a slimline volume.
I’ve been using both its dictionary (divided into Bangla to English and English to Bangla sections) and phrasebook sections for my 5 Bengali words posts, and found them very helpful.
A nice touch is the additional guidebook style information that enlivens some of the topic sections with advice on things like dealing with rickshaw drivers and, in a section titled ‘in no uncertain terms’, how to make your feelings absolutely clear.
So, whether planning a trip to Bangladesh or West Bengal, or just looking for a book to help with learning the language, Bengali (Bangla) Dictionary & Phrasebook would be a useful choice.