The vast majority of London-based Bangladeshis speak Sylheti yet their language and standard Bengali are mutually unintelligible. Recently the written script, Sylheti Nagri has seen a revival in south Asia and in the UK, as a new generation question the disconnect between what they speak at home and how they communicate in public.

Sylheti Nagri began to decline around a century ago partly due to ruptures caused by colonialism, partition and the construction of Bangladesh, when a standardised form of Bengali took hold in the region.

This latest exhibition of paintings, graphics and archive traces the remnants left over from Puthi-Pora (manuscript reading). The exhibition probes into how the revival in the UK, Bengal and Bangladesh is taking shape and why language and culture falls from collective consciousness.

Saif Osmani is a visual artist and spatial designer from the Sylheti-Bengali community in London. He has exhibited across Asia and in Europe and will be showing at London’s Barbican Centre in summer 2017.

Associated events:

A special open evening will accompany the exhibition ‘Bangla is not my mother tongue’ on Thursday 23rd February 2017.

A half-day workshop that includes Sylheti writing sessions will take place on Saturday 25th February 2017, 12noon -3pm. The workshop is facilitated by Shantir Boi (

To book places for either events and for further information email:

Further information about the artist:

Saif Osmani, artists website:

Contact the artist: mobile number 07915 234404, e-mail


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