|Please add Bengali script to this article, where needed.|
|Native to||Bangladesh (Sylhet Division) and India (Barak Valley and Tripura)|
|11 million (2007)|
|Bengali alphabet (present)
Sylheti Nagari (ancient)
Sylheti or Syloti (i.e. "Silēṭī" Bengali: সিলেটী or "Silôṭī" Bengali: ছিলটী) is one of the Bengali dialects, primarily spoken in the Sylhet Division of northeast Bangladesh and the Barak Valley region of southern Assam. (Although sometimes it is considered an independent language for not sharing grammatical mutual intelligibility), it is a similar language to Standard Bengali, with which it shares a high proportion of vocabulary: Spratt and Spratt (1987) report 70% shared vocabulary, while Chalmers (1996) reports at least 80% overlap.
Name of the language
Sylheti is the common English spelling of the language name after the accepted British spelling of the Sylhet District, while the usual transliteration of the Standard Bengali spelling of the name is Sileti.
In the 19th century, the British tea-planters in the area referred to the Sylheti language as Sylhettia. In Assam, the language is still referred to as Srihattiya, the name used in ancient literature. The Sylheti language was written in the Sylheti Nagari script, which is not widely known. Sylhet has a rich heritage of literature in Sylheti Nagari, going back at least 200 years. The script includes 5 independent vowels, 5 dependent vowels attached to a consonant letter and 27 consonants. The Sylheti abugida differs from the Bengali alphabets as it is a form of Kaithi, a script that belongs to the main group of North Indian scripts of Bihar. The writing system's main use was to record religious poetry, described as a rich language and easy to learn.
In the 1860s, a Sylheti by the name of Moulvi Abdul Karim spent several years in Europe and learnt the printing trade. After returning home, he designed a woodblock type for Sylheti Nagari and founded the Islamia Press in Sylhet Town in about 1870. Other Sylheti presses were established in Sunamganj, Shillong and Kolkata. These presses fell out of use during the early 1970s. Since then the Syloti-Nagri alphabet has been used mainly by linguists and academics. During the 1971 Liberation War, when all Sylheti Nagari printing presses were destroyed, the writing system came to a halt. After Bangladesh gained independence, the government of the newly formed Bangladesh mandated Bengali language studies and the use of the Bengali alphabets as curricula to be taught at all levels of education. Efforts to establish Sylheti as a modern language were vigorously opposed by political and cultural forces allied to successive Bangladeshi governments.
Campaigns started to rise in London during the mid-1970s to mid-1980s to recognise Sylheti as a language on its own right. During the mid-1970s, when the first mother-tongue classes were established for Bangladeshis by a non-Sylheti, Nurul Islam, the classes were given in Bengali rather than the Sylheti dialect which triggered the campaign. During the 1980s, a recognition campaign for Sylheti took place in the area of Spitalfields, East End of London. One of the main organisation was the Bangladeshis' Educational Needs in Tower Hamlets (BENTH). However this organisation collapesed in 1985 and ended the pro-Sylheti campaign in the borough. Nonetheless Sylheti remained dominant and the domestic language within the hamlet. This fact is being recognised by Tower Hamlets Council in the provision of local services in the community.
Sylheti variation from Standard Bengali
A phrase in Syloti: এক দেশর গালি আরক দেশর বুলি êx deshôr gali arôx deshôr buli and in Standard Bengali: এক দেশের গালি আরেক দেশের বুলি æk desher gali arek desher buli, which means "a phrase in one language mislead a phrase to another language". For example:
মেঘ megh in Standard Bengali means cloud
- মেঘ megh in Syloti means rain
- In Pali মেঘ megh means both rain and cloud.
- In Syloti cloud is called বাদল badôl or আছমানী হাজ ashmani haz (decor of the sky).
- In Standard Bengali বাদল badôl and বৃষ্টি brishti means Rain.
নাড়া naṛa in Standard Bengali means to stir or to move
- নাড়া naṛa in Syloti means to cheer
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
- In Syloti:
সকল মানষর জন্ম হয় আজাদ আর ইজ্জত ও অধিকার লইয়া। তারার হুশ আর জ্ঞাণ-বুদ্ধি তাকার দায় যানু একজন আরকজনর লগে রুহানি ভাইট্টা ব্যবহার তাকে।
- Transliteration Xôkhôl mainshôr zônmô ħoe azad ar izzôt o ôdikhar lôia. Tarar hush ar ggan-buddhi taxar dae zanu êxzôn arôxzônôr lôge ruhani bhaitta bêbôhar taxe.
- In Standard Bengali:
সমস্ত মানুষ স্বাধীনভাবে সমান মর্যাদা এবং অধিকার নিয়ে জন্মগ্রহণ করে। তাঁদের বিবেক এবং বুদ্ধি আছে; সুতরাং সকলেরই একে অপরের প্রতি ভ্রাতৃত্বসুলভ মনোভাব নিয়ে আচরণ করা উচিত।
- Transliteration Shômôstô manush shadhinbhabe shôman môrjada æbông ôdhikar niye jônmôgrôhôn kôre. Tãder bibek æbông buddhi achhe; shutôrang shôkôleri eke ôpôrer prôti bhratritbôshulôbh mônobhab niye achôrôn kôra uchit.
Below are the grammar similarities and differences look in a word to word comparison:
- Syloti word-to-word gloss:
All humans' born are free and dignity plus rights with. Their conscious and judgement-intelligence have obligation ensure one another's with spiritual brotherhood conduct stay.
- Bengali word-to-word gloss:
All human free-manner-in equal dignity and right taken birth-take do. Their reason and intelligence exist; therefore everyone-indeed one another's towards brotherhood-ly attitude taken conduct do should.
Syloti is distinguished by a wide range of fricative consonants corresponding to aspirated consonants in closely related languages and dialects such as Bengali; a lack of the breathy voiced stops; word-final stress; and a relatively large set of loanwords from Arabic, Persian, Bengali and Assamese. Syloti has affected the course of Standard Bengali in the rest of the state.
A notable characteristic of spoken Sylheti is the correspondence of the /x/, pronounced between [k] and [h] from [x] like the "ch" in Scottish "Loch" or the "j" in Latin American Spanish "Jalapeño", to the [ʃ], or "sh", of Bengali, e.g.
|Standard Bengali||Syloti||Transliteration||Meaning in English|
|Khodom bosi||Touch the feet (A welcome/farewell ritual)|
|এক লোক Ēk lōk||এক মানুষ Ēx mānūsh||Ēkh manoosh||A person|
|Ek jon||Ex zon||Ekh zon||Someone|
|Ek Puruṣh||Ex Beṭa||Ekh Beṭa||A man|
|Kiser: kīser||Xixor||Kior||Informal of Whereof|
|Konya; meye||Xonia; Zi||Khonia; Zi||Daughter|
|Manob Jatiyo||Manshor zat||Manshor zat||Human-kind|
|Oshomīya||Axomia||Ahomia||People of Assam (Assamese)|
|Onguli; ongul||Anguil||Anguil||Finger; toe|
|Osur; Osuro||Axura; Axura||Ahura; Hurain||People of Assyria (Assyrian)|
|Pakira||Phaikia||Faikia||Plural of bird; All kinds of Bird species|
|Paki||Phaxi||Faki||A (singular) bird|
|Por||Phore; bade||Fore; bade||Later|
|Sara (kon)||Xara (buil)||Hara (buil)||Every (time)|
|Shāto Beel||Xat Bila||Hat Bila||Seven wetlands|
|Shāt Kora||Xat Khora||Hat Khora||Citrus macroptera fruit|
|Shāt bar||Xat-bar||Hat-bar||Seven-times (Sylheti term for lots of time)|
|Sileṭī (স)||Ciloṭia (ছ)||Siloṭia||People of Sylhet|
|Su bhagyo||Allahr Hāola||Allaar Aaola||Good luck (Sylheti: God's Authority)|
|Shu tripti; bhalo ruchi||Taza bhux; Bhalaṭike xawka||Taza bhukh; Bhalaṭike khawka||Bon appétit|
|Shamī||Zamai; beṭa||Zamai; beṭa||Husband|
|Shikśa kora||Xixia newa||Hikia newa||Learn|
|Shuṭki||Xuṭki; xukṭi||Huṭki: hukṭi||Sundried Fish|
|Apnar nam ki?||Afnar nam kita?||Afnar nam Kita?||What's your name?|
|Daktar asar purbe rugi mara gelo||Daxtor awar ageu bemari mara zain||Dakhtor awar ageu bemari mara zain||Before the doctor came, the patient had died|
|Bohu din dekhi ni||Oto buile na dexlam||Oto buile na dekhlam||Long time no see|
|Bhalo Achhen?||Bala acoen ni?||Bala asoin ni?||How are you?|
|Mangsher torokariṭa ami onek bhalopeyechi||Ami ghustor salon bhalafaici||Ami gustor salon balafaisi||I loved the meat curry|
|Mangsher torokariṭa amar bhalō legeche||Ghustor salonṭa amar bhala lagce||Gustor salonṭa amar bala lagse||I liked the meat curry|
|Shilchor kon dike pore?||Xilcor xun baidi phorce?||Hilsor khun baidi forse?||Which way to Silchar?|
|Shōwchagar kōthay?||Xocailoe ba leftin xun xano?||Hosailoe ba liftin khun khano?||Where is the toilet?|
|Eiṭa ki?||Oxṭa xita?||Okhṭa kita?||What is this?|
|Oṭa ki?||Outa xita?||Outa kita?||What are they?|
- Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Sylheti". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Grierson, G.A. 1903. Linguistic Survey of India, Vol. 5, Part I. Calcutta.
- James Lloyd-Williams & Sue Lloyd-Williams (Sylheti Translation and Research/STAR); Peter Constable (SIL International) Date: 2002-11-01
- Syloti Nagri alphabet
- Sylheti unicode chart
- Sylheti Literature
- Sylheti Literature
- Sylheti Alphabets
- Anne J. Kershen (2005). Strangers, Aliens and Asians: Huguenots, Jews and Bangladeshis in Spitalfields, 1660–2000. Routledge. page. 147
- Anne J. Kershen (2005). Strangers, Aliens and Asians: Huguenots, Jews and Bangladeshis in Spitalfields, 1660–2000. Routledge. pages. 148–150
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Sylheti phrasebook.|
Sylheti phrasebook travel guide from Wikivoyage