This is the first ethnographic survey of language behaviour, attitudes and
perceptions of different generations of Sylheti migrants of rural origin.
For Sylheti Bangladeshi migrants the use of the maatri bhaasha ('mother
language') - whether this is the regional variety (Sylheti) or the standard
variety (Bengali/Bangla) - is highly significant. The analysis indicates
unequivocally that Sylheti is dominant among immediate and extended family
and friends. It is the lingua franca of the majority in that no other
language is necessary for this encapsulated community.
This book provides detailed analysis of the relationship between Sylheti
Bangladeshi migrants' language use and their understanding of the concept
of 'mother language'. It examines the socio-historic and socio-political
background of the Bangla language and Bangla nationalism, the role of the
mother tongue for speakers of regional language varieties, the typology of
diglossia in Bangla, and linguistic differences between Sylheti and Bangla.
The enduring popularity of Sylheti and evidence of Sylheti-English
bilingualism serve to substantiate the concept of the additive role of
minority languages in a bilingual context.
Contents: Language maintenance and shift - Sylheti community in diaspora -
Sylhet, area of origin of the migrants - Migration, chain migration and
cultural continuity of migrants - Socio-historic and socio-political
background of Bangla/Bengali - Linguistic description of Bangla -
Linguistic description of Sylheti.
Shahela Hamid was awarded her PhD by the University of York and currently
works as a Forensic Linguist at J.P. French Associates, York. She has
extensive fieldwork experience in ethnographic survey procedures among the
Sylheti community in the UK. Her research includes functional analysis of
code-switching behaviour among primary-school children of Sylheti origin in
Tower Hamlets and investigation of linguistic practices and negotiation of
multilingual and multicultural identities of Sylheti children attending
complementary schools in the UK.