The SOAS Sylheti Project started as a group of students interested in documenting the Sylheti language as spoken by the various generations of members of a local community in London. We have been working together with the Surma Community Centre in Camden (www.bwa-surma.org) for several years now, with the ultimate goals of documenting the Sylheti language and raising awareness about its status within the local community in London, and in the world, as well as in academia.
The SOAS Sylheti Project was created by Dr Candide Simard (Linguistics department) after an invitation from the director of the Surma Community Centre, Camden, during Endangered Languages Week in 2012. Since then, SOAS students have participated in this extracurricular project to document Sylheti as it is spoken in London and elsewhere. Most of the members of the SOAS Sylheti Project are Linguistics and Language Documentation and Description students at SOAS, Univeristy of London. Students in the Fieldmethods course have worked with Sylheti speakers to document and describe Sylheti grammar.
The SOAS Sylheti Project also has several dedicated community members, in London and online, who have had an active role in dictionary compilation and language lesson activities. If you’d like to get involved, contact us – firstname.lastname@example.org
The SOAS Sylheti Project’s ongoing community dictionary development has been a significant sub-project because it provides invaluable fieldwork and community-involvement experience to SOAS students. We learn how to produce archival-quality recordings and experience learning a new language by interacting with native speakers rather than in an academic setting. It makes the presence of SOAS in its local community and the teaching we receive immediately relevant to that community in which we evolve. We gain invaluable practical experience in our efforts to increase positive attitudes towards minority and minoritized languages, bilingualism, and multiculturalism in the Sylheti diaspora community in London.
For our various sub-project endeavors, we have been periodically supported by the Linguistics Department at SOAS (and have received extensive guidance and support from Dr Candide Simard throughout the years), the SOAS Alumni and Friends Fund, the SOAS Students Union, and the wider community through our Hubbub crowdfunding campaign.
The SOAS Sylheti Project produced and distributed in 2014-2015 the first edition of a dictionary of the Sylheti language. In 2015-2016 the SOAS Sylheti Project organized an academic conference, the proceedings from which will be published by EL Publishing in early 2019. We released the storybook in fall 2017. We continue conducting Sylheti language lessons as the SOAS Sylheti Language Society.
*This page began from edited content from an interview that can be found in the full original here. It has subsequently been updated and expanded as well.