A child sees a wall painting at the wall of Sonargaon Folk Art Institute, at Sonargaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. March 23, 2007.

Surnames in the Indian subcontinent are always intriguing, because not only they point towards the complex social stratification of the south Asian society but also towards the shared cultural history of the region. History of surnames (last names) used by people from different communities in West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh, is likewise replete with  stories of people interacting in a rich multilingual environment. Bangla / Bengali, a modern Indo-Aryan language is one of the primary language of the entire area, and its interaction with Persian & Arabic languages from the times of Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526), gave rise to various lexical borrowings.

Some Bengali Surnames of Arabic and Persian languages origin are as follows:

Sikdar শিকদার = an officer appointed to collect the revenue from a “shiq” (a large collectorate / revenue division)

Majumdar মজুমদার = record keeper {Arabic ‘maẓmūn’ written record + Persian ‘-dār’}

Poddar পোদ্দার = a treasurer {from Persian ‘pot’ = collected revenue}

Talukdar তালুকদার = owner of an estate {Arabic ‘taʿalluqa’ estate + Persian ‘-dār’}

Tarafdar তরফদার = supporter , assistant {Arabic ‘taraf’ side / direction + Persian ‘-dār’}

Bagchi বাগচী  = Paymaster; an officer who kept an account of all disbursements connected with military tenures {from Persian baḵẖshī}

References :

Platts, John T. (John Thompson). A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1884.

Yule, Henry, Sir. Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903.

Biswas, Sailendra. Samsada Bangala abhidhana. 7th ed. Calcutta, Sahitya Samsad, 2004.