Nagri – The original Sylheti language. Sylheti is actually not a dialect but a language!
One special aspect of Sylhet is it’s own language. Which is almost disappearing because of less attention. ‘Nagri’ is the language of our own. We confess that, not many Sylhetis know how to read it but we make them not to forget it, by bringing the alphabet lists on the world wide web!
The Syloti Nagri alphabet is related to the Kaithi alphabet of Bihar. The exact origins of the alphabet are unknown and the earliest surviving manuscripts dates from either 1549 or 1774 (the date is given within the manuscript though the text is not clear at that point).
The traditionally story of the origin of the Syloti Nagri alphabet is that it was developed around the beginning of the 14th century by Saint Shahjalal and his 360 saintly companions, most of whom were Arabic speakers. Other scripts used at the time were deemed unsuitable for the Sylheti language.
In the late 17th century, Persian became the official language of the Delhi Sultanate and the Perso-Arabic script was used in all official documents. The Sylheti language and alphabet continued to be used by the ordinary people for everyday matters.
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 the Syloti Nagri alphabet and founded the Islamia Press in Sylhet Town in about 1870. Other Sylheti presses were established in Sunamgonj, Shillong and Calcutta. These presses fell out of use during the early 1970s. Since then the Syloti Nagri alphabet has been used mainly by linguists and academics.
The alphabet is written in horizontal lines from left to right, but Sylheti books are paginated from right to left. This means that the front cover of a Sylhettan book is where the back cover of an English book would be.
This is a syllabic alphabet in which consonants all have an inherent vowel. Other vowels are indicated with diacritics or separate letters. The inherent vowel can be muted with a special diacritic called a hasanta.
Vowels can be written as independent letters, or by using a variety of diacritical marks which are written above, below, before or after the consonant they belong to.
When consonants occur together in clusters, special conjunct letters are used. The letters for the consonants other than the final one in the group are reduced. The inherent vowel only applies to the final consonant.
Used to write:
Sylheti, an eastern Indo-Aryan language spoken by around 10 million in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh and in parts of India. Sylheti is closely related to Bengali (Bangla) and most speakers are bilingual in Sylheti and Bengali.
Vowels and vowel diacritics
The complete Nagri Alphabet list with Bengali letters
Not many people know about the Nagri, language. There are also controversy about Sylheti being a language or not…But here we try to show and make everyone understand that, Sylheti is not a dialect but it’s A Language!
It’s a comprehensive research on Sylheti language put together. Our team has gone through extensive hard work to create this most useful information. Unauthorised distribution or copying is strictly prohibited by law. Websylhet keeps the copyright.