Sylheti Nagri Literature
Sylheti Nagari or Syloti Nagri (Silôṭi Nagôri) is the original script used for writing the Sylheti language.It is an almost extinct script, this is because the Sylheti Language itself was reduced to only dialect status after Bangladesh gained independence and because it did not make sense for a dialect to have its own script,its use was heavily discouraged. The government of the newly formed Bangladesh did so to promote a greater "Bengali" identity. This led to the informal adoption of the Eastern Nagari script also used for Bengali and Assamese. The Sylheti-Nagari Script is more older than The Bengali Language ,which history is just 1000-1200 years old.
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.
During the Hindu reawakening at the time of Sri chaitanya (1486-1533), when sanskrit in Devanagari script was being widely used, Muslims started writing books in their newly devised Sylheti Nagri. A printing press with Sylheti Nagri typefaces was established in Sylhet sometime between 1860-1870 which helped spread the use of the script. Moulvi abdul karim designed the typeface and founded the Sylhet Islamia Printing Press, which was the first to print Sylheti Nagri. Later, other presses such as Sylhet Sharada Printing Press, Sialdah Hamidi Press in Kolkata, and General Printing Works on Gardiner Lane also printed books in Sylheti Nagri. Two primers, Sylheti Nagrir Pahela Ketab (The First Book of Sylheti Nagri) and Sylheti Nagri Likha (Writing in Sylheti Nagri), helped the script gain a footing.
The language of the puthis written in Sylheti Nagri and in dobhasi is identical, lacking the use of tatsama (Sanskrit) words. Many Persian and Arabic words are used in puthis written in Sylheti Nagri. In the fashion of dobhasi puthis, those written in Sylheti Nagri were paginated from right to left.
The earliest extant manuscript written in Sylhet Nagri is Talib Huson by Gholam Huson (1549). Other manuscripts include Ragnama (1727) by Fazil Nasim Mohammad, Noor Nosihat (Enlightened Teachings, 1819), Ragnoor and Sat-kanyar Bakhan by Syed Shah Noor (1730-1854), Bhedsar by Shah Huson Alam (1750-1850), Mushkil Taran, Hasar Taran, Ragbaul, Keyamatnama, Shitalangi Rag by Shitalang Shah (1800), Haruful Khaslat (1875) by Nasim Ali (1813-1920), Halot-un-Nobi (Account of the Prophet, 1855), Mahobbat Nama, Hasor Michil, Raddequfur by Munshi Mohammad Sadeq Ali etc. Puthis such as Kadinama, Chhadchhi Machhla and Sonabhaner Punthi by Abdul Karim were extremely popular. According to an estimate there are about 150 extant Sylheti Nagri texts, in print or manuscript, by about 60 people. Anonymous puthis include popular texts such as Harinnama, Hushiyarnama, Safatunnabi, Abu Sama, Nur Najat, and Penchar Galpa.
Sylheti Nagri is found inscribed on Afghan coins that were minted towards the close of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth. Some deeds written in Sylheti Nagri are preserved in the Sylhet District Archives and Sub-Registry Office in maulvi bazar. [Muhammad Ashraful Islam]
- 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.
- The dvisvara sign can attach to consonants to form the diphthong /oi/ with the inherent vowel, or it can also combine with dependent or independent vowels to form other diphthongs. Those diphthongs can also be written with the independent vowel i.
Bengali alphabet for Sylheti
Latin alphabet for Sylheti
Information about the Sylheti scripts and pronunciation compiled or corrected by Wolfram Siegel
LinksInformation about Syloti-Nagri alphabet
Sylheti Translation and Research - a London-based research organisation dedicated to studying the folk literature of the Sylhet region of Bangladesh: http://www.sylheti.org.uk
Sylhet Nagri Texts Documentation Archive
Bengali and Sylheti Language Services
Indo-Aryan languagesAwadhi, Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Chakma, Dhivehi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Kotia, Kutchi, Maithili, Marathi, Marwari, Modi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Romany, Saraiki, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sourashtra, Sugali, Sylheti, Urdu
Languages written with the Bengali alphabetBengali, Garo, Manipuri, Mundari, Sylheti
Also used to write: Bishnupriya, Bodo, Chakma, Chiru, Koda, Nisi, Deori, Dimasa, Hajong, Koch, Khasi, Kudmali, Tiwa, Sauria Paharia, Miri, Chothe Naga, Thangal Naga, Moyon Naga, Maring Naga, Rabha, Rangpuri, Santali, Sadri, Oraon Sadri, Sulung, Panchpargania, Tippera, Kok Borok, Toto and Usui.
Ahom, Badaga, Balinese, Batak, Baybayin (Tagalog), Bengali, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Chakma, Cham, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dhives Akuru, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fraser, Gondi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanuno'o, Javanese, Jenticha, Kaithi, Kannada, Kharosthi, Khmer, Khojki, Kulitan, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Malayalam, Manpuri, Modi, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, New Tai Lue, Oriya, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Ranjana, Redjang, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Tulu, Varang Kshiti.
Bibliography Shivprasanna Lahiri, Sylheti Bhasatattver Bhumika (Introduction to Sylheti Dialect), Dhaka, 1961; Syed Murtaza Ali, 'Sylheter Nagrilipi O Bangla Sahitya' (Sylheti Nagri and Bangla literature), Sahitya Patrika, Dhaka, 1961; GA Chowdhury, Sylheti Nagri Parikrama (Introduction to Sylheti Nagri), 1978; Golam Kadir, 'Sylheti Nagri: Pathan-Pathan' (Readings in Sylheti Nagri), Dhaka Visvavidyalaya Patrika, June 1982; Dewan Nurul Anwar Hussain Choudhury, Amader Sangskrtik Svadhinata : Uttaradhikar O Musalmani Nagri (Our Cultural Independence: Heritage and Muslim Script), Dhaka, 2001.