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Why many inhabitants of the Valley find it inelegant to utter their own Mother tongue?

What is it about Sylheti dialect that a few people of Barak valley are ashamed to speak it as if they don’t belong here? Why is it used colloquially and not formally? What is a dialect? How come some dialects and accents are demeaned and considered inelegant while others are considered classy even though all of these have a common origin? Isn’t it a disdainful attitude? I mean no disrespect and also do not intend on charging anyone personally. But how come Sylheti is not a conversational etiquette amongst people living in urban areas of Barak valley? Isn’t it strange that a mere dialect can become the measuring unit of a well-established and ill-established family?

Here in this article, I would like to take the opportunity to write about a subject that I could not help but notice. It will mainly include the things that I have observed, a few facts (based on the published papers which  I have found on the internet) and a poll that hopefully most of you will respond. As we know that Sylheti is spoken by most Bengalis of  Barak valley (Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi) Assam, India and many other communities such as Manipuris, Dimasa, Koch Rajbongshi, Bishnupriya, tea tribes, Khasi, Gorkha and among others indigenous communities of Barak Valley who have also accustomed themselves to Sylheti.

ALSO READ The History of Barak Valley

In Tripura, Sylheti is spoken by the Bengalis of the northern districts such as Dharmanagar, Kailasahar and Kumarghat but the Bengalis of the southern districts of Tripura speak Noakhali. It is also spoken in the Kushiara and Surma valleys of Sylhet Division in Bangladesh. Talking about Bangladesh a 2007 article by Zia Haider Rehman of The Guardian stated that “Sylhetis aren’t even ethnically Bengali and are not regarded as culturally of a piece with the rest of Bangladesh in the imagination of some Bangladeshis, who appear to regard Sylhetis as material for crass jokes. Young British Sylhetis themselves do not appear to have very much of a nuanced take on their own history: it comes as something of a surprise to many young Sylhetis to learn that the Sylheti language has its own script, though little is written in this language today.”


People now aspire to be multilingual and want, mostly, to be fluent in foreign languages which are wonderful, although there are 22 official languages in India. Being multilingual is genius and learning as many of it is no joke but externalizing someone based on accent and dialect is? I don’t know what you say. What do you call it?

Some of us may have watched the movie ‘Hindi Medium’. It is a movie with a great message and mainly panders stereotypes. Of course, an amazing performance by our beloved Late Irrfan Khan sir was expected but when Meeta(Sama Qamar) says “Is desh mein angrezi zaban nhi…class hein” , I swear to God it felt like a tight slap on my millennial cheeks. Although this is not the subject of this article but hopefully you understand my point.

A still from the movie Hindi Medium featuring Late Irfan Khan and Sama Qamar.
Source- Live Mint.

My 4-year-old cousin has already been a victim of shame for speaking Sylheti with his supercilious classmate. He was being melancholic for 2 days straight and I repeat he is just 4 years old. I feared next day he might get labelled as Bangladeshi so I already taught him that no human being has grown from the soil through the germination of seed. If you study Botany well enough then you will know that even plants through evolution had found a way to disperse its seeds.

Through research, I have found that Sylheti also had its distinct grammar and script known as Sylheti Nagari interrelated with Kaithi alphabet but with the passage of time it gradually progressed towards Bengali and thus shared its vocabulary with Bengali.

The word Siloti (Sylheti) in Sylethi Nagri language.


The difference between Bengali and Sylheti lies mainly in the way the words are pronounced. Some words are totally different with meaning but mostly it is the same. Bengali is used formally while Sylheti is used colloquially. At present Sylheti exhibits two divisions; mostly due to the speakers’ religious affinity. The Islamic followers (especially those from Bangladesh and Karimganj and Hailakandi districts of Assam in India) use a lot of borrowed words and phrases from Persian and Arabic (including many of the kinship terms). Sylheti used by the Hindu community of Cachar district of Assam and North Tripura has somehow kept their original form intact.

Now people mix up many languages to mean something. No one ever speaks purely its respective language. The French word ‘cliché’ is so overused that I forgot that its French. Who knows? Perhaps it makes one charismatic or theatrical. It is not a bad thing as change is the rule of nature but its okay to have an accent, it is okay to speak your language, it is okay to learn a variety of languages. But it’s not okay to learn and talk in thousands of languages but dislike talking your own Mother tongue.

Don’t let Sylheti set down permanently but rather be like the Sun that sets but rise up every day”.
Image Source- Rajdeep Roy.

QUESTION- Do you think speaking in Sylheti is disgusting? Comment down your thoughts below.






  1. I totally believe the point that people are being discriminated on the basis of their ability to speak “Shuddho bangla or kelu” and “sylheti”. Even as a child, I was made fun of as I wasn’t aware of the actual Bengali language and talked in sylheti. It is your personal opinion whether you want to be a multilingual or a fluent speaker of your own language only. And, to be truthful, tagging someone as “Bangladeshi” or “villager” just because they speak their own language is no less than a crime.

  2. Bouth din takiya vhabte aslam kau e bepar a article akta lekhtoh. Ami khub vhala lekhte pari na toh kunu din chesta korsi na. This article beholds the roots of our language and I can’t more proud of being born and brought up here in Silchar. Being multilingual is amazing but we should emphasize on sylethi as well like all other respective subjects. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Nicely written.Let’s respect each and every language . Languages are also a part of diversity and need to be protected from extinction by promoting it through various ways rather than discriminating one.

  4. Absolutely True.. And the so-called “SUDDHO BANGLA” speaking people of Barak Valley .. When I hear their “KELU” or “SUDDHO BANGLA” it seems simply disgusting.
    Like the dialect Sylheti and the Bengali spoken in Kolkata—both have their own flavour..
    U cannot make a cocktail out of it.
    And the people associating Class with the sylheti speakers— they are simply morons.

  5. Very nicely written.People of our generation feels themselves uncomfortable and hesitate to have conversation in our own dialect *Sylhet*. Rather hesitating to speak our own dialect,we should motivate ourselves to speak our dialect Sylhet.Any mother tongue is a gift of God’s grace and the beauty of phonology of nature.

  6. A much needed topic to be discussed out loud. I hope more and more people read this and before changing others’ perspective, we must respect and feel confident on our own mother tongue irrespective of what anybody thinks or says..

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