The Politics of Language Online

The latest Global Digital Futures podcast:
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Chipo Mapondera from the SOAS Coding Club’s Global Digital Futures podcast talked with Marie Thaut, Researcher and Project Manager of the Sylheti Project at SOAS. They discussed The Politics of Language Online and considered the issues with language diversity on the internet and in technology. They also get into why it is vital to protect endangered languages, and language documentation and revitalisation in the digital age. 
@SOASCodingClub #GlobalDigitalFutures

Looking for something to read in Sylheti?

Sylheti has a tradition of literature, although mostly forgotten today, but the revitalization of the Siloti Nagri script means that people are looking for something to practice reading!

Are you a Sylheti speaker? How are you at translation? Would you like to contribute, not only stories, but also data to put the Sylheti language on the digital/machine-translation menus? Would you like to learn to write in the Siloti Nagri script?

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There’s a site for that!
Storyweaver is collecting stories/translations in as many languages as possible, so that not only the few major languages around the world can have a recognized (digital) presence.




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And if you do translate a story into Sylheti, in any script – Roman (English), Purbi Nagri (Bengali-Assamese), etc. we can help you put it in the Siloti Nagri script. Contact with your story translation!



There are stories in many languages to translate. It’d be a great activity to do with grandparents!

InCommon collaboration

In November 2019, InCommon, an organisation that ‘bring[s] people together, young and old, to find out what they have in common’ invited us to assist with their sessions held at Mosque Tower retirement housing, the home of elderly Bangladeshi women, during the visits from pupils from the local Kobi Nazrul primary school. The Bangladeshi elders were Sylheti speakers, some with very little English, while the school children spoke English as their dominant language, despite most being of Bangladeshi heritage, plus a few children from other backgrounds.


We helped to adapt InCommon’s intergenerational programmes material by making a Sylheti translation (written in Roman script with some Eastern Nagri script (but unfortunately there were technical problems with the Siloti/Syloti Nagri script and it couldn’t be rendered)) to help communication during the session between this group of elders and pupils.


Thank you InCommon for the opportunity to collaborate with you and build awareness of the Sylheti language!



Sylheti language in music

With its lexical tone, and absence of historical aspiration, Sylheti has a distinct sound, unlike Bangla, that lends Sylheti music a unique rhythmicality (stress, intonation, and rhythm). Check it out!
Do you have any favorites?


🎼  Redz and AshBoii seem to be pretty popular at the moment

Sylheti Fua – by Redz, featuring AshBoii (<– This video with lyrics!)

Shundori Furi Goh – by Redz, featuring AshBoii (<– This video with lyrics!)
— and such a banger that it’s already inspired a parody:
Londoni Furi Goh – by Kabul, featuring Im’dad

Roshoraj – by Redz, featuring Ashboii

Ekbar Daraw Bondhu – by Redz, featuring AshBoii & Sony Achiba

Ami Bangali / আমি বাঙালী – by Redz, featuring AUS


🎼  Sylheti rap

Amra Hokkol Sylheti – by Fokir Lal Miah (with many different videos)
— based on the more traditional Amra hokkol Syloti – by …
— and many regional spin-offs, like
Amra hokkol londoni (we are all londoni’s) – by …
আমরা হক্কল বিশ্বনাথি / Amra Hokkol Bishwanathi – by …
Aamra Hokkol Balaganji – by B-Boys
Amra Hokkol Beanibazari – by Prithom Chowdhury Anik
Amra Hokkol Goalabazari / আমরা হক্কল গোয়ালাবাজারি – by Arex Vai

Sylhety Thaba – by C-Let Sr101

Sylhety Beyain – by RA Mamun, featuring Rani Ali

Sylhety Explosion – by Pollob Bai

Proud Sylhety – by Pollob Vai, featuring Md Juwels & Sacz Shorif

আমরা সিলেটি / Amra Sylheti – by Rebel Delwar

দ্বিতীয় অধ্যায় (Ditiyo Oddhay) – by Faheem, B Monk & C-let

(old-school) Buccho ni Ba Baai – by Lal Miah


🎼  Sylheti rap from Assam

Natok – by Arin Dez

Koshto – by Arin Dez

Taratari – by Arin Dez


🎼  international Sylheti rap collaboration

Worldwide Sylheti Cypher 2k17 – by Partho Bhai, Arin Dez, Fahim Chowdhury, Ovi, C-Let


🎼  Sylheti hip-hop

Gari – by Iksy (A folk song with a modern New York twist)

Injoy – by Iksy (with a remix)

Bangla Medley – by Nish (on the London scene)

Mon Juraiya – by Bilal Shahid

Burkhawali Meye – by Kayo BT

Mon Churi (মন চুরি) – by Shabz

Tumar Nesha – by Arin Dez, featuring Fleep (from Assam!)

Tumi Korso Fagol – by Arin Dez

Fori / ফরী – by S N D S U H E L

Shundori Go – by Sacz Shorif, featuring Hasib Shah


🎼  traditional melody mixed with metal rock sound

Amra Sylheti Fua – by Afjol Hossen


🎼  with a more traditional style

মুই ভালা নায় [mui bala nae] – by Dr. Zahir Ochinpuri

ধুন্দুর মুন্দুর সিলটী গান [dundur mundur silhoTi gan] – by Dr. Zahir Ochinpuri

Shundori Foori – by Fuad Almuqtadir

Sylheti Bhaisab – by M. K. Anam & Abdus Salique (<– This video with translated lyrics!)


🎼  younger singers

Amra Hokkol Sylheti / আমরা হক্কল ছিলটি – sung by Anamika Anu / অনামিকা অনু

ও ফুড়ি কউ আমারে ভালা ফাউনি [o fuRi xo amare bala fao ni] – by Ghuri / ঘুড়ি


🎼  nicely articulated Eid song

Sylheti Eid Song / মজার সুরে আঞ্চলিক গান – sung by Junaid Azhari


and so many Hason Raza ‘covers’ …

and of course all the damail (1) (2) songs, sung and danced in circles mainly by women at weddings!



Sylheti language session at SOAS’ Languages Outreach 2019

At the end of the academic year 2019, a group of pupils from two GCSE classes studying Bengali came to SOAS, and we were invited to present about the language plurality in ‘Bengal’, a region that has seen many diverse historical kingdoms and nations with various names, along with an overview on Sylheti language.

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In addition to a Bengali/Bangla language session presented to the pupils by a SOAS Bengali teacher, we presented the pupils and their teachers with an original poem ‘Jujube Thief’ [boroi sur] composed by Hasnat Anwar. We presented the poem in transcription, using Roman script and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), as well as in the Siloti/Syloti Nagri script and the Purbi (Bengali-Assamese) script.



Hasnat Anwar’s poem is performed in a Youtube video!


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soas-logo-treeWe thank SOAS’ Languages OutreachWidening Participation and Routes into Languages, for this opportunity to build awareness of the Sylheti language.

They have recognized our efforts before, promoting one of our first animated videos.

An up-to-date update

As a new year of study and research begins, we’ve taken account of accomplishments to date: animated and subtitled videos of Sylheti stories, Sylheti dictionary app, Sylheti lessons booklet, hosting an academic conference that was a culmination of students’ work on Sylheti, crowdfunding and an illustrated storybook in multiple scripts, etc. See slides below.

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In the near future, look for the forthcoming publication of the academic conference proceedings.

Future plans include expanding the dictionary app with more words, sound, and images, as well as editing and publishing the expanded Sylheti lessons book, time and funding permitting…

A ‘field’ trip


Last week Dr. Sheena Shah and the SOAS students in her Language support and revitalisation class visited the Surma Community Centre and talked to Sylheti language consultants Faruk, Farhana, and Nadia (along with Nadia’s six-month-old).

From a very informative Q&A session we gained insight on the intergenerational dynamics in the Sylheti community in the UK, and what it has meant for our consultants to work on the Sylheti language with us. We also got some feedback on the storybook – how it is seen as a future heirloom when in 200-300 years Sylheti will have ‘disappeared because of development’, and how it has inspired conversations about life back in Sylhet, like how the farmer in the story ‘Bundle of sticks [singlar aTa]’ should have ’12 sons and 13 grandsons in order to grow sugarcane’, back when farmers were self-sufficient and only had to purchase kerosene and cooking oil, and often not even cooking oil if they also grew mustard seed to make mustard seed oil. Sounds like an updated/expanded storybook may be in the future…

After the talk, we all stayed at the Surma Centre and had a delicious curry lunch.
Thank you Faruk, Farhana, and Nadia!

SOAS Sylheti Language Society – lessons on again!

sls_logo05Join us at:
SOAS University of London –
Russell Square (tube station) –
London WC1H 0XG

Register at

Facebook page
SOAS Sylheti Language Society

SOAS Sylheti Project:
Facebook group &
YouTube channel

For more information, contact:

For lesson dates, times and locations, check out our Facebook page.

Download our 2015 lessons booklet:
(Booklet under Creative Commons – free and open access, not to be sold.)

GOALS: To discuss the grammar of the *Sylheti language, developing lessons and teaching materials by pratice teaching to other members of the society. Members are encouraged to each eventually teach (or co-teach) at least one lesson (but attendance to just learn and experience the Sylheti language is fine). This provides the opportunity to learn the Sylheti language and gain language teaching skills.

HISTORY: After an invitation from the director of the Surma Centre, Camden, during Endangered Languages Week presentations at SOAS in 2012, the SOAS Sylheti Project was founded by Dr Candide Simard. Since 2012, SOAS linguistics students have participated in this extracurricular project to document Sylheti spoken by users of the Surma Centre. The SOAS Fieldmethods course has also worked with a Sylheti speaker to document Sylheti grammar. Besides other sub-projects, the SOAS Sylheti Project has compiled a dictionary for an app, published a storybook in Sylheti, and held an academic conference, proceedings to be published shortly.

In order to involve Sylheti-speaking SOAS students (and Sylheti-speaking Londoners), the Sylheti Language Society was created. This Language Society hopes to be a collaborative teaching and learning experience to give a different analytic forum to Sylheti to be discussed as a language, not ‘improper Bengali’ (as it’s called in most Bengali language courses where in London 6-8 out of 10 students are Sylheti origin). Teaching Sylheti is also an experience to put on a C.V. which may lead to translation/interpretation work here in the U.K.

*Sylheti is an Indo-Aryan language with Tibeto-Burman influences, spoken by a minority in north-east Bangladesh and south Assam, where it is often considered to be a mere ‘dialect’ of Bengali, or ‘slang’. However, it is a language, with 200,000-400,000 speakers in the UK, who, for lack of documentation and teaching materials among other reasons, simply call it ‘Bengali’.