Written in 1778 by Nathaniel Brassey Halhead and printed in Hoogly, A Grammar of the Bengal Language constitutes the first grammar book of the Bengali language. The book was written at the request of Governor Warren Hastings by Nathaniel Halhed (25 May 1751 – 18 February 1830), a philologist and Orientalist. The book marked the beginning of the standardisation of Indian languages. Halhed recommended in the book that foreign accretions be removed from Bengali and ‘Sanskrit be made the fountainhead for any needed innovations.’ One of the primary aims in producing this work was to promote familiarity with the Bengali language among the European settlers in Bengal, to assist in their subjugation over the native population. Furthermore, the publication represents the first successful reproduction of the Bengali language in metal type. In the work, Halhead discusses the challenges of reproducing the Bengali type in metal fount for printing, and particularly the work of Charles Wilkins, whose endeavours produced the first Bengali typeface that was used for Halhead’s Grammar.
- Article by:
- Fiona Ross
Fiona Ross discusses the development of Bengali typography and its significance in understanding the history of Bengali printed works.