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Shahjalali languageEdit

Shahjalali (old Sylheti) (Sylheti: ছিলটী/छीलहटी Sīlôṭī; Bengali: সিলেটী Sileṭī) is the language of Sylhet (the Surma Valley) and is located in the north-eastern region of Bangladesh, and also spoken in parts of the Northeast Indian states of Assam (the Barak Valley) and Tripura (the North Tripura district). It is also spoken by a significant population in the other north-eastern states of India and amongst the large expatriate communities in the United Kingdom, United States, and countries of the Gulf States.

Sylheti or modern shahjalali is sometimes considered a dialect of Bengali but also a separate language due to significant differences between them all and lack of mutual intelligibility. On its own right, it is accepted as a separate language, however it has not been given an official status by the Government of Bangladesh. There is much debate to whether it should be recognized, for example there is greater differences of shahjalalo (old Sylheti) to Bengali, than Assamese to Bengali, which is recognised as separate.[2] Most Sylheti/shahjalalo people are at least bilingual to some degree, as they are taught Dhaka Bengali at all levels of education in Bangladesh. Sylhet was part of the ancient kingdom of Kamarupa,[3] and has many common features with Assamese, including the existence of a larger set of fricatives than other East Indo-Aryan languages. According to George Abraham Grierson,[4] "The inflections also differ from those of regular Bengali, and in one or two instances assimilate to those of Assamese". Indeed it was formerly written in its own script, Sylheti Nagari, similar in style to Kaithi but with differences, though nowadays it is almost invariably written in Bengali and arabo-persian scripts.

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