|Languages||Sylheti, Bengali-Assamese languages|
Sylheti Nagri, recognised by Unicode as Syloti Nagri (ꠍꠤꠟꠐꠤ ꠘꠣꠉꠞꠤ Silôṭi Nagri),, referred to in classical manuscripts as Sylhet Nagri, and also known as Sylheti Nagari, is an endangered script used to write the Sylheti language. The script was also used in Kishoreganj, Mymensingh and Netrakona in Bangladesh; and Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam in India. It is closely related to Kaithi, and has some Eastern Nagari, Arabic and Devanagari influences. Although it has in recent times lost much ground to the Bengali script, the script is beginning to be reintroduced.
The script has been known by many names such as Jalalabadi Nagri (ꠎꠣꠟꠣꠟꠣꠛꠣꠖꠤ ꠘꠣꠉꠞꠤ) after the name of Jalalabad (Greater Sylhet). Phul Nagri (ꠚꠥꠟ ꠘꠣꠉꠞꠤ) amongst others. Another popular but somewhat misleading term is Musalmani Nagri (ꠝꠥꠍꠟ꠆ꠝꠣꠘꠤ ꠘꠣꠉꠞꠤ) which can be found in Achyut Charan Choudhury's Srihatter Itibritta book. In the time when Sylhet was known as "Srihatta" different indigenous scripts were used in Sylhet, some of them archived in Sylhet Muslim Shahitto from 600 BC.
The specific origin of Sylheti Nagri is debated. The general hypothesis is the Muslims of Sylhet were the ones to invent it. Suniti Kumar Chatterji, however, is of the opinion that Shah Jalal brought the script with him when he arrived in the area in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. The bulk of text written in Sylheti Nagri being influenced by Sufism seems to support this hypothesis. On the other hand, according to Ahmad Hasan Dani it was the Afghans living in Sylhet during the Afghan rule who invented the script, since some of Sylheti Nagri's letters resemble the symbols on Afghan coins, and there were a large number of Afghans living in Sylhet at that time. Other less-supported hypotheses are:
But scholars now validate the three hypotheses: By the followers of Shah Jalal, by Afghans or that the script is indigenous to Sylhet.
The simplistic nature of the script inspired a lot of poets, and the bulk of Nagri literature was born. During the British colonial period, a Sylheti student by the name of Moulvi Abdul Karim studying in London, England, after completing his education, spent several years in London and learned the printing trade. After returning home in the 1870s, he designed a woodblock type for Sylheti Nagri and founded the Islamia Press in Sylhet town. Other Sylheti presses were established in Sunamganj, Shillong and Kolkata such as the Sarada Press and Calcutta's General Printing Press. The manuscripts were of prosaic quality, but poetry was also abundant.
The script in prior times was used in Srihatta. With the advent of printing the script now has spread to all of the Srihatta district, Kachar, Tripura, Noakhali, Chittagong, Mymensingh and to Dhaka, that is, to the Muslims of the entire region of Bengal east of Padma.
The script is thought to have spread to Chittagong and Barisal via river.
The Sylheti Nagri script was written in the Dobhashi dialect of the Bengali language. Like the rest of Muslim Bengal, Bengali Muslim poetry was written in a colloquial dialect of Bengali which came to be known as Dobhashi, and has had a major influence on the current Sylheti dialect. Manuscripts have been found of works such as Rag Namah by Fazil Nasim Muhammad, Shonabhaner Puthi by Abdul Karim and the earliest known work Talib Husan (1549) by Ghulam Husan.
The Munshi Sadeq Ali is considered to have been the greatest and most popular writer of the script. The script has also been used in the daily lives of the inhabitants of Sylhet apart from using in religious literature. Letters, receipts, and even official records has been written using this script. Apart from renowned literary works such as Halat-un-Nabi, Jongonama, Mahabbatnama or Noor Noshihot, it has been used to write medicine and magical manuscripts, as well as Poems of the Second World War. The script, never having been a part of any formal education, reached the common people with seeming ease.
Many Sylheti Nagri presses fell out of use during the Bangladeshi Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, including Islamia Press in Sylhet town which was destroyed by a fire. Since then, the script has been used mainly by linguists and academics. It gradually became very unpopular. In the 18th century, Munshi Ashraf Hussain, a researcher of Bengali folk literature, contributed immensely to Sylheti Nagari research. Fakharuddin Chowdhury of the Assam-based Vision Prototype launched a tutorial app to learn the script titled Sylheti Nagri. In the 2010s, Md. Salik Ahmed, Md. Nizam Uddin and Md. Mamunur Rasid translated the last juz' of the Qur'an into the Sylheti language for the first time using both the Eastern Nagari and Sylheti Nagri scripts.
In 1997, Sue Lloyd-Williams of STAR produced the first computer font for script. The New Surma is a proprietary font. Noto fonts provides an open source font for the script. Syloti Nagri was added to the Unicode Standard in March 2005 with the release of version 4.1, and is available on Apple devices. Other fonts include Mukter Ahmed's Fonty 18.ttf, developed from manuscripts to include traditional Sylheti numbers. As a routine project of the Metropolitan University, Sylhet, Sabbir Ahmed Shawon and Muhammad Nurul Islam (under the name CapsuleStudio) developed and launched the Syloti Nagri Keyboard, also for Google Play, on 9 December 2017. Different keyboards and fonts are available now:
The Sylheti Nagri script can be divided into vowels and vowel diacritics/marks, consonants and consonant conjuncts, diacritical and punctuation marks. Vowels & consonants are used as alphabet and also as diacritical marks. The script is characterised by its simplistic glyph, with fewer letters than Bengali. The total number of letters is 32; there are 5 vowels and 28 consonants.
The widely accepted number of vowels is 5, although some texts show additional vowels. For example, the diphthong ôi has sometimes been regarded as an additional vowel. The vowels don't follow the sequence of Bengali alphabet. The vowels also have their own respective diacritics known as "horkot".
|Letter||Diacritic||Transliteration 1||Transliteration 2||IPA|
There are 27 consonants. The names of the letters are typically just the consonant sound plus the inherent vowel "ꠅ" /ɔ/. Since the inherent vowel is assumed and not written, most letters' names look identical to the letter itself (the name of the letter ꠊ is itself ghô, not gh).
There is a difference in the pronunciation of ꠠ ṛo with that of ꠞ. Yet in ordinary speech these letters are pronounced the same as ꠞ in modern Sylheti.
|Letter||Transliteration 1||Transliteration 2||IPA||Note|
|ꠇ||xo||kô||/xɔ/||Like the k in "kite". Pronounced and transliterated respectively as /k/ and k before and after /i/, /u/ and /k/.|
|ꠈ||xó||khô||/xɔ́/||Like the ch in Scottish "loch". Pronounced and transliterated respectively as /kh/ and kh before and after /i/, /u/ and /k/.|
|ꠉ||go||gô||/gɔ/||Like the g in "garage".|
|ꠊ||gó||ghô||/gɔ́/||Like the ghayn in the Arabic language.|
|ꠌ||cho||cô||/sɔ/||Like the ch in "chat".|
|ꠍ||só||sô||/sɔ́/||Like the s in "super".|
|ꠎ||jo||jô||/zɔ~jɔ/||Like the j in "jump".|
|ꠏ||zó||zhô||/jɔ́~zɔ́/||Like the z in "zoo".|
|ꠐ||ṭo||ṭô||/ʈɔ/||Like the t in "taxi".|
|ꠑ||ṭó||ṭhô||/ʈɔ́/||Like the t in "tower".|
|ꠒ||ḍo||ḍô||/ɖɔ/||Like the d in "doll".|
|ꠓ||ḍó||ḍhô||/ɖɔ́/||Like the d in "adhere".|
|ꠔ||to||tô||/t̪ɔ/||Like the t in "soviet'".|
|ꠕ||tó||thô||/t̪ɔ́/||Like the th in "theatre".|
|ꠖ||do||dô||/d̪ɔ/||Like the th in "the".|
|ꠗ||dó||dhô||/d̪ɔ́/||Like the th in "within"|
|ꠘ||no||nô||/nɔ/||Like the n in "net".|
|ꠙ||po||pô||/ɸɔ/||Like the p in "professor".|
|ꠚ||fó||phô||/fɔ́/||Like the f in "food".|
|ꠛ||bo||bô||/bɔ/||Like the b in "big".|
|ꠜ||vó||bhô||/bɔ́/||Like the b in "abhor".|
|ꠝ||mo||mô||/mɔ/||Like the m in "moon".|
|ꠞ||ro||rô||/ɾɔ/||Like the r in "rose".|
|ꠟ||lo||lô||/lɔ/||Like the l in "luck".|
|ꠡ||sho||shô||/ʃɔ/||Like the sh in "shoe".|
|ꠢ||ho||hô||/ɦɔ/||Like the h in "head".|
|ꠠ||ṛo||ṛô||/ɽɔ/||Like the r sound in "hurry".|
|꠆||–||–||This is called an "oshonto" and used to cancel the inherent vowel of a consonant letter.|
|ꠋ||ngô||/ŋɔ/||This is sometimes called "umo" and pronounced as "ng".|
|꠨||–||–||Poetry mark 1|
|꠩||–||–||Poetry mark 2|
|꠪||–||–||Poetry mark 3|
|꠫||–||–||Poetry mark 4|
Sylheti in Sylheti Nagari script
Sylheti in phonetic Romanization
Sylheti in IPA
Syloti Nagri was added to the Unicode Standard in March 2005 with the release of version 4.1.
The Unicode block for Syloti Nagri, is U+A800–U+A82F:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)