Sylheti language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
ꠍꠤꠟꠐꠤ, Silôṭi
Native to Bangladesh (Sylhet Division) and India (Barak Valley,Hojai in Assam and North Tripura, Unakoti and some parts of Dhalai district in Tripura)
Native speakers
11 million (2007)[1]
Sylheti Nagari, Eastern Nagari and Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 syl
Glottolog sylh1242[2]
Linguasphere 59-AAF-ui
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Sylheti or Syloti (ꠍꠤꠟꠐꠤ or ছিলটী Silôṭi) is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language, primarily spoken in the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh, Northern part of Tripura, India and Barak Valley region of southern Assam, India. This language is considered a dialect of the Bengali language by the government of Bangladesh.[citation needed] Though there is an incomplete mutual intelligibility, it shares a high proportion of vocabulary with Standard Bengali: Chalmers (1996) reports at least 80% overlap.

Name of the language[edit]

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 Silheti.


Front page of a Nagari book titled "Halat-un-Nabi", written in the mid-19th century by Sadeq Ali of Sylhet

In ancient literature, Sylhet was referred as Shilahat and Shilahatta.[3] In the 19th century, the British tea-planters in the area referred to the vernacular spoken in Surma and Barak Valleys as Sylheti language.[4] In Assam, the language is still referred to as Sylheti.

During the British colonial period, a Sylheti student by the name of Munshi Abdul Karim studying in London, United Kingdom, after completing his education, spent several years in London and learnt the printing trade. After returning home, he designed a woodblock type for Sylhetinagari 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.[5][6] Since then the Sylotinagri alphabet has been used mainly by linguists and academics.[7] It gradually became very unpopular.[8][9]

The script includes 5 independent vowels, 5 dependent vowels attached to a consonant letter and 27 consonants. The Sylheti abugida differs from the Bengali alphabet as it is a form of Kaithi, a script that belongs to the main group of North Indian scripts of Bihar.[10] The writing system's main use was to record religious poetry, described as a rich language and easy to learn.[11]

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 community activists, the classes were given in standard 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 organisations was the Bangladeshis' Educational Needs in Tower Hamlets (usually known by its acronym as BENTH). However this organisation collapsed in 1985 and with its demise the pro-Sylheti campaign in the borough lost impetus. Nonetheless, Sylheti remains very widespread as a domestic language in working class Sylheti households in the United Kingdom.[12]

Sylheti variation from Standard Bengali[edit]

Vocabulary look[edit]

A phrase in:

  • Sylheti: এক দেশর গালি আরক দেশর বুলি ex deshôr gali arôk deshôr buli
  • Standard Bengali: এক দেশের গালি আরেক দেশের বুলি ek desher gali arek desher buli

which means "a phrase in one language is misled to a phrase in 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 Sylheti cloud is called বাদল badol, সাজ haz or আসমানী সাজ ashmani haz (decor of the sky).
  • In Standard Bengali বৃষ্টি brishti means Rain.

নাড়া naṛa in Standard Bengali means to stir or to move

In Sylheti, *নাড়া naṛa is pronounced as lara'

কম্বল kombol in Standard Bengali means blanket

In Sylheti, blanket is called রাজাই razai.
In Sylheti, *কম্বল khombol means buttocks.

Grammar comparisons[edit]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

  • In Sylheti:
    Eastern Nagari: সব মানুষ স্বাধীনভাবে জন্ম হয় ইজ্জত আর অধিকার লইয়া। তারার হুশ আর আকল বুদ্ধি আছে আর তারা একজন আরকজনর লগে রুহানি ভাইট্টা ব্যবহার তাকত।
    Sylheti Nagari: ꠡꠛ ꠝꠣꠁꠘꠡꠞ ꠀꠎꠣꠖꠤ ꠎꠘꠝ ꠅꠄ ꠁꠎꠎꠔ ꠀꠞ ꠢꠇ ꠟꠂꠀ। ꠔꠣꠞꠣꠞ ꠢꠥꠡ ꠀꠞ ꠀꠇꠟ-ꠛꠥꠖꠗꠤ ꠀꠍꠦ ꠀꠞ ꠔꠣꠞꠣ ꠄꠇꠎꠘ ꠀꠞꠇꠎꠘꠞ ꠟꠉꠦ ꠞꠥꠢꠣꠘꠤ ꠜꠣꠁꠐ꠆ꠐꠣ ꠛꠦꠛꠢꠣꠞ ꠕꠣꠇꠔ।
    • Transliteration Shob mainshor azadi zonmo (h)oi izzot ar hok loiya. Tarar hush ar akhol-buddhi aase ar tara ekhzon arokhzonor loge ruhani bhaitta bebohar takhto.
  • 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 Shab manush sbadhinbhabe sôman môrzada ebông ôdhikar niye jônmôgrôhôn kôre. Tãder bibek ebông buddhi achhe; sutôrang sôkôleri êke ôpôrer prôti bhratritbôsulôbh mônobhab niye achôrôn kôra uchit.

Below are the grammar similarities and differences appearing in a word to word comparison:

  • Sylheti word-to-word gloss:
    All people freely born is dignity and rights with. Their conscious and intelligence have and they someone another one with spirit brotherhood demeanor must have.
  • 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.

English: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Sylheti 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 and Assamese. Sylheti has affected the course of Standard Bengali in the rest of the state.

A notable characteristic of spoken Sylheti is the correspondence of the /ʜ/ (from hereby transliterated as x), pronounced as an Voiceless epiglottal fricative to the [ʃ], or "sh", of Bengali, e.g.

Standard Bengali Assamese Sylheti Transliteration Meaning in English
চরণ স্পর্শ
Côrôṇ spôrshô
চৰণ স্পৰ্শ
Sôrôn spôrxô
কদম বুচি, ꠇꠖꠝ ꠛꠥꠌꠤ
Kôdôm buci
Kodom busi Touch the feet (A welcome/farewell ritual)
ঢাকা, ꠓꠣꠇꠣ
ḌDhakha Dhaka
এক লোক

Ēk lōk

এক লোক

Êk lûk

এক আদম, ꠄꠇ ꠀꠖꠝ Ēx adom Ēkh adom A person
এক জন

Ek jon



ꠄꠇ ꠎꠘ

Ex zon

Ekh zon Someone
এক পুরুষ

Ek Purush

এক পুৰুষ

Êk purux

‌ꠄꠇ ꠛꠦꠐꠣ

Ex beta

Ekh beta A man
Kiser: kīser কিহৰ


ꠇꠤꠢꠞ, ꠇꠤꠅꠞ


Kior Informal of Whereof
Konya; meye Kônya (kôinna); zi ꠇꠂꠘꠣ ꠎꠤ

Xonia; Zi

Khonia; Zi Daughter

Manob Jati

মানৱ জাতি; মানুহৰ জাতি

Manôw zati; Manuhôr zati

ꠝꠣꠘꠡꠞ ꠎꠣꠔ

Manshor zat

Manshor zat Mankind
Oshomīya Ôxômiya ꠅꠢꠝꠤꠀ, ꠀꠡꠣꠝꠤ

Ôxômia; Ashami

Ohomia, Ashami People of Assam (Assamese)
Onguli; ongul Anguli ꠀꠋꠉꠥꠁꠟ


Anguil Finger; toe
Onguri Anguthi ꠀꠋꠉꠥꠑꠤ, ꠀꠋꠑꠤ

Anguti; angti

Angti Finger-ring
Ognipokko Zui pura, Ogni pura ꠀꠉꠥꠁꠘꠙꠥꠞꠣ


Aguinfura Baked; grilled
Oshidharī Oxidhari ꠀꠢꠣꠁꠗꠞꠤ


Ahaidri Swordsman
Pakira Sôrai bilak; Pôkkhi bilak ꠙꠣꠁꠇꠤꠀ


Faikia Plural of bird; All kinds of Bird species
Paki Sôrai; pôkkhi ꠙꠣꠇꠤ


Faki A (singular) bird
Prīti Piriti ꠙꠤꠞꠤꠔꠤ


Firiti Love
Por Pôr; pisot ꠙꠞꠦ; ꠛꠣꠖꠦ

Phore; bade

Fore; bade Later
Sokol; somosto Xôkôl, Xôkôlû; xômôstô ꠢꠇꠟ

Xokhol; Xokkol

Hokhol; Hokkol All
Sara (kon) Gutêi ꠢꠣꠀꠣ

Xara (buil)

Hara (buil) Every (time)
Shāto Beel Xat bil ꠢꠣꠔ ꠛꠤꠟꠣ

Xat Bila

Hat Bila Seven wetlands
Shāt Kora Xat Kôra ꠢꠣꠔ ꠇꠞꠣ

Xat Khora

Hat Khora Citrus macroptera fruit
Shāt bar Xat bar ꠢꠣꠔ-ꠛꠣꠞ


Hat-bar Seven-times (Sylheti term for lots of time)
Sileṭī () Silôthiya () ꠍꠤꠟꠑꠤꠀ

Ciloṭia ()

Silotia People of Sylhet
Su bhagyo Xu bhagyô (bhaiggô) ꠀꠟꠟꠣꠞ ꠢꠣꠅꠟꠣ

Allahr Hāola

Allaar Aaola Good luck (Sylheti: God's Authority)
Shu tripti; bhalo ruchi Xu tripti; bhal khuwa ꠔꠣꠎꠣ ꠜꠥꠇ; ꠜꠣꠟꠣꠐꠑꠤꠇꠦ ꠈꠣꠅꠇꠣ

Taza bhux; Bhalaṭtike xawka

Taza bhukh; Bhalaṭtike khawka Bon appétit
Strī Ghôini; stri ꠛꠃ


Bow Wife
Shamī Giri; Sami ꠎꠣꠝꠣꠁ, ꠛꠦꠐꠣ

Zamai; beṭa

Zamai; beṭa Husband
Shoshur Xôhur ꠢꠢꠥꠞ, ꠢꠃꠞ


Hôūr Father-in-law
Shashuṛī Xahu, xahuri ꠢꠞꠤ, ꠢꠢꠥꠞꠤ


Hoṛi Mother-in-law
Shala Xala ꠢꠣꠟꠣ


Hala Brother-in-law
Shalī Xali ꠢꠣꠟꠤ


Hali Sister-in-law
Shikśa kora Xika ꠢꠤꠇꠤꠀ ꠘꠦꠅꠣ

Xixia newa

Hikia newa Learn
Shorisha Xôriyôh ꠢꠂꠞꠢ


Hoiroh Mustard
Shīẏal Xiyal ꠢꠤꠀꠟ


Hial Jackal
Biral Mêkuri ꠝꠦꠇꠥꠞ


Mekur Cat
Shuṭki Xukan mas ꠢꠥꠐꠇꠤ; ꠢꠥꠇꠐꠤ, ꠢꠥꠇꠂꠘ

Xuṭki; xukṭi; xukoin

Huṭki: hukṭi; hukoin Sundried Fish
আপনার নাম কি?

Apnar nam ki?

আপোনাৰ নাম কি?

Apûnar nam ki?

ꠀꠙꠘꠣꠞ ꠘꠣꠝ ꠇꠤꠔꠣ?

Afnar nam kita?

Afnar nam Kita? What's your name?
ডাক্তার আসার পূর্বে রুগী মারা গেলো

Daktar asar purbe rugi mara gelo

ডাক্তৰ অহাৰ আগেই ৰোগী/বেমাৰী মৰি গ'ল

Daktôr ôhar agei rûgi/bêmari môri gol

ꠒꠣꠇ꠆ꠐꠞ ꠀꠅꠣꠞ ꠀꠉꠦꠃ ꠛꠦꠝꠣꠞꠤ ꠝꠣꠞꠣ ꠎꠣꠁꠘ

Daxtor awar ageu bemari mara zain

Dakhtor awar ageu bemari mara zain Before the doctor came, the patient had died
বহু দিন দেখি নি

Bohu din dekhi ni

বহুদিন নেদেখিলোঁ/দেখা নাই

Bôhudin nêdêkhilû/dêkha nai

ꠅꠔ ꠛꠥꠁꠟꠦ ꠘꠣꠖꠦꠈꠟꠣꠝ

Oto buile na dexlam

Oto buile na dekhlam Long time no see
ভালো আছেন?

Bhalo Achhen?

ভালে আছে নে?

Bhalê asê nê?

ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠀꠍꠂꠘ ꠘꠤ?

Bala acoen ni?

Bala asoin ni? How are you?
Mangsher torokariṭa ami onek bhalopeyechi Môi mangxôr tôrkarikhini bôhut bhal paisû ꠀꠝꠤ ꠉꠥꠡꠔꠞ ꠍꠣꠟꠘ ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠙꠣꠁꠍꠤ

Ami ghustor salon bhalafaici

Ami gustor salon balafaisi I loved the meat curry
Mangsher torokariṭa amar bhalō legeche Mangxôr tôrkarikhini mûr bhal lagisê ꠉꠥꠡꠔꠞ ꠍꠣꠟꠘꠐꠣ ꠀꠝꠣꠞ ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠟꠣꠉꠍꠦ

Ghustor salonṭa amar bhala lagce

Gustor salonṭa amar bala lagse I liked the meat curry
Shilchor kon dike pore? Xilsôr kûn falê/dixôt pôrê? ꠢꠤꠟꠌꠞ ꠇꠥꠘ ꠛꠣꠁꠖꠤ ꠙꠞꠍꠦ?

Xilcor xun baidi phorce?

Hilsor khun baidi forse? Which way to Silchar?
শৌচাগার কোথায়?

Shōwchagar kōthay?

শৌচালয় কোন খিনিত?; লেট্টিন কোন খিনিত?

Xôusalôy kûn khinit?; lêttin kûn khinit?

ꠢꠃꠌꠣꠟꠄ ꠛꠣ ꠟꠦꠚꠐꠤꠘ ꠇꠥꠘ ꠈꠣꠘ?

Xocailoe ba leftin xun xano?

Hosailoe ba liftin khun khano? Where is the toilet?
এইটা কি?

Eiṭa ki?

এইটো কি?

Êitû ki?

ꠅꠈꠐꠣ ꠇꠤꠔꠣ?

Oxṭa xita?

Okhṭa kita? What is this?
ওটা কি?

Oṭa ki?

সেইটো কি?

Xêitû ki?

ꠅꠃꠐꠣ/ꠢꠃꠐꠣ ꠇꠤꠔꠣ?

Outa xita?

Outa kita? What is that?
Shēshē Xêx ꠢꠦꠡꠦ, ꠡꠦꠡ

Xēshē, shesh

Hēshē End


  1. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Sylheti". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ James Lloyd-Williams & Sue Lloyd-Williams (Sylheti Translation and Research/STAR); Peter Constable (SIL International) Date: 2002-11-01
  4. ^ Grierson, George A. (1903). Linguistic Survey of India. Volume V, Part 1, Indo-Aryan family. Eastern group. Specimens of the Bengali and Assamese languages. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India. 
  5. ^ Banglapedia
  6. ^ Archive
  7. ^ Sylheti Alphabets
  8. ^ Syloti Nagri alphabet
  9. ^ Sylheti unicode chart
  10. ^ Sylheti Literature
  11. ^ Sylheti Literature
  12. ^ Anne J. Kershen (2005). Strangers, Aliens and Asians: Huguenots, Jews and Bangladeshis in Spitalfields, 1660–2000. Routledge. pages. 148–150

External links[edit]

Sylheti phrasebook travel guide from Wikivoyage