A Comparison between the Regional Dialect of Sherpur and the Standard Form of Bangla Language

Sherpur is a district of Bangladesh, and it is a part of the Mymensingh Division. It is said that the present area of the district was under the jurisdiction of a Zamindar named Sher Ali Gazi. It is believed that the name of the district might have been derived from this name.  Sherpur district was formerly a sub-division of Jamalpur district. But later it was upgraded to a district on 22 February 1984. The area of this district is 1359.87 sq km and it is located between 24°18' and 25°18' north latitudes and in between 89°53' and 90°91' east longitudes. It is bounded by the Meghalaya state of India on the north, Mymensingh and Jamalpur districts on the south, Mymensingh district on the east, Jamalpur district on the west. Sherpur city is located about 198 km (123.03 mi) north of Dhaka

Map of Sherpur District
Map of Sherpur District 

Sherpur consists of five Upazilas (Jhenaigati, Sreebardi, Nalitabari, Nakla, and Sherpur Sadar), 52 unions, 458 mauzas, 695 villages, 4 paurashavas, 36 wards and 99 mahallas. The total population of this district is 1358325 where the majority is Muslim and the rest of the portion is Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and others. Ethnic people live in this district and they have their languages. Garo, Koch, Hajong, Banai and Rajbanshi are the ethnic nationals of this district. 

The average literacy rate of this district is 31.98%. The numbers of educational institutions in this district are three Government colleges, 16 non-government colleges, three government high schools, 146 non-government high schools, 27 junior high schools, 358 government primary schools, 146 non-government primary schools, 292 madrasahs, one agricultural training institute, one nursing training institute, and one vocational training institute.

The economy of Sherpur is mainly agro-based, although non-farm economic activities perform a substantial share in the development-oriented program of the district. Out of the total of 335,460 holdings of the district, 60.12% holdings are farms that produce varieties of crops namely local and HYV rice, wheat, jute, mustard, potato, pulses, different kinds of vegetables, tobacco and others. Various fruits like banana, mango, blackberry, coconut, betel nut, date, jackfruit, palm, jambura, bel, papaya, boroi, kamranga, ataphal etc. are grown. Fish of different varieties are abounded in this district like in the other parts of the country. Varieties of fish are caught from rivers, tributary channels and creeks. The popular freshwater fishes comprise ruhi, catla, mrigel, kalbaus, chital, boal, airh, pangas, gazar, shoul, pabda, koi, shing, phali, bele, tengra etc. Besides, newly introduced exotic varieties of fishers are tilapia, nilotica, silver carp, grass carp etc. Besides crops, livestock and fishery are the main sources of household income. Non-agricultural activities also play an important role in the economy of the district. 

Sherpur is also a district of culture. Here, different cultural programs are also observed and some ethnical societies’ programs are also found along with Bengali culture. Folk songs of this district include Bhatiyali, Jarigan, Sarigan, Bhawaya, Murshidi, Marfati, Kirtan, Kabigan, Bristirgan (song inviting rain), Maganer Gan, Maij Bhandari song, Dehatatva, Malshi song, Udasani or Baramashi song, Rakhali song, Palagan, and Meyeli Gan. 

Bangla is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language that belongs to the Indo-European Language family. Bangla has several sister languages. Sherpur dialect is a sister language of Bangla. The native speakers of Sherpur use Bangla in their everyday communication. The phonological, morphological, and syntactical features of Sherpur dialect have a clear discrepancy from Standard Bangla. 

A variety of languages that are spoken in one part of a country, or by people belonging to a particular social class, which is different in some words, grammar, and pronunciation from other forms of the same language. The standard variety of a language of a country is also a dialect. The standard dialect is the dialect used for literary and official purposes. On the other hand, a regional dialect is a distinct form of a language spoken in a particular geographical area. Regional variation is a variation in speech according to the particular area where a speaker comes from. Variation may occur concerning pronunciation, vocabulary or syntax. 

For example, in the south area of Bangladesh, many speakers use the /h/ sound instead of the /p/ sound in words such as ‘pani’ (water), paper, ‘pach’ (five), whereas speakers from other places such as Dhaka, Mymensingh, Rangpur do not. On the other hand, in the standard Bangla language, we say, ‘ek joner dui chhele chilo’ but people in the Mymensingh region say, ‘ek joner dui put asil’. 

So, people who speak in a dialect form may not use the same phoneme of a particular morpheme that the people of standard language use that morpheme. For example, ‘chhele’= /ʈʃhele/=son is the standard morpheme for the Bangla language but for the Mymensingh region, the dialect form of that morpheme is ‘put’=/pu:t/, and for Sherpur district, it is ‘genda’=/gendə/. 

So, we can describe these examples by phonology and morphology. Phonology is the study or descriptions of the distinctive sound units of a language and their relationship to one another. Similarly, morphology is the study of the smallest meaningful units in a language and their different forms, and the way they combine in word-formation. 

If we justify some words of the Sherpur district, we can see that [h] is used in the place of [kh]. For instance, ‘ehon’=/ehɒn/ is used instead of the standard word ‘ekhon’=/ekhɒn/=now. The following examples are also followed the same rule that is used in this region. 

Dialect Form


Standard Form


English Form


























Table 1: [h] is used in the place of [kh]

Similarly, [h] is also used in the place of [s], such as asi=/ɑ:ʃɪ/=come and shuna=/ʃu:nʌ/=hear are the standard form but for the Sherpur region the dialect form of these morphemes are ahi=/ɑ:hɪ/ and huna=/hu:nə/. 

In some verbs where the last phone is [b0] in standard form changed into [mu] which refers to future tense and the dialect form. The following words are examples of such types. 

Dialect Form


Standard Form


English Form





Will eat





Will go





Will take





Will get

Table 2: [b0] in standard form changed into [mu]

Most of the time, no aspiration occurs in the Sherpur region where aspirated features are changed into non-aspirated features. Some examples of this type are given below. 

Aspiration to Non-aspiration

Standard Form


Dialect Form


English Form































Table 3: Aspiration to Non-aspiration

Aspiration is a common feature both in standard Bangla and English languages. But, here, we can see that no aspiration happens in this dialect. Table-1 is also an example of non-aspiration where [kh] is changed into [h]. 

On the other hand, assimilation is found in this dialect. For instance, /r/ sound is changed into /t/, /n/, and /b/ sounds. Table-4 is an example of assimilation. 


Standard Form


English Form

Dialect Form




















Table 4: Assimilation of Sherpur Dialect

Moreover, some words in this region are different from other dialects and the standard Bangla language but the meanings of the words are the same. The following table (Table 5) is an example of these types of words. 

Dialect Form


Standard Form


English Meaning (Glosses)




/tʃhele /












Table 5: Some different words of Sherpur Dialect

Besides these dialect forms, there are a lot of words that are easily distinguished from other dialects and the standard Bangla language. People of this region communicate with each other using this dialect in their everyday life, and the dialect has been created naturally.

On the other hand, one approach is often taken to define a speech community in that the speakers of a community share some kind of common feeling about linguistic behaviour in that community. William Labov (1972) also argues the same thing to define speech community, “The speech community is not defined by any marked agreement in the use of language elements, so much as by participation in a set of shared norms”. Though sometimes these norms are often at odds with prestige standards, it does not mean that speakers do not use them within and outside of the speech communities. But Labov’s definition is the opposite of Hymes’ view. For Hymes (2004), the concept of ‘speech community’ is a difficult one to grasp in its identity. So, he defines the speech community: ‘a local unit, characterized for its members by common locality and primary interaction’. The speakers of such communities use a language in different ways to maintain their separate identities within the dominant community (Hymes, 2004). For example, we can see that the people of ‘Old Dhaka’ speak in a different way which separates their identity from the people of Dhaka city. People of Sherpur also speak in a different way that is easily differentiable from the standard Bangla language. Standard Bangla and Sherpur dialect differ greatly in the phonetic characteristics of their vowels. It is notable that in the Sherpur dialect, a vowel that occurs in a word is replaced by another vowel in the same word. The people of this region generally omit nasalized sounds. For example, ‘Nirash’ (/niraʃ/) is pronounced ‘narash’ (/næræʃ/) in Sherpur dialect. ‘Bikel’ (/bikel/) is also pronounced ‘bikal’ (/bikæl/) in this dialect. 

The concept of a social network is also interrelated to the speech community. Milroy and Gordon (2008) also proclaim that the ‘concepts of network and community of practice are … closely related’. It is noticeable that a group of people within a larger community has a comparatively fixed relationship with one another, and they communicate among themselves in more or less expected ways. For instance, a group of students in a class at a university, a family, the working-class people in a company etc. At the same time, the concept of social identities is also involved in the study of a speech community. It means that identity is not something the speakers have, but it is something they do. For example, the use of particular language varieties may contribute to a speaker’s identification such as the use of greeting formulas, gaze, or silence.

However, when people use languages, they say the same thing in various ways. Most of the variations are unplanned and may not occur under the speakers’ control, but some systematic variations give the option to the speakers to choose consciously or subconsciously (Coulmas, 2005). For instance, speakers of Sherpur district, a division of Bangladesh, have the choice among the words ‘chele’, ‘pula’, ‘put’, ‘genda’ when mentioning a boy, and ‘meye’, ‘maiya’, ‘gendi’ for referring to a girl. It is seen that language variation happens at all levels of language, and we can understand it from sociolinguistics which represents the relationship between social factors and linguistic variation. While sociolinguists have analyzed the social factors, they have also tried to represent different types of linguistic variations such as phonetic, phonological, morphological, lexical and syntactic. We can see these types of linguistic variations in our society, and the variation is more noticeable in those speech communities which are defined based on regional boundaries or geographic areas. For example, /h/ sound is used in the place of /kh/ sound in Sherpur district, such as ‘ehon’= /ehɔn/ is used instead of the standard word ‘ekhon’= /ekhɔn/= now. So, we can see such a type of linguistic variation in every speech community. 

In conclusion, it can be said that every dialect represents the speakers’ identity, culture and social status etc. Sherpur dialect is also like that which has made its speakers different from the speakers of other regions; and from the above discussion, it is said that anyone can easily identify this dialect from other dialects of our country. However, dialect is nothing but the variety of the standard language, and the dialect of the Sherpur district contains its culture, heritage and regional identity. 



Ahmed, I. (2016). Phonological Analysis of Mymensingh Dialect, Bangladesh. Language in India (Vol. 16:3)

BBS (2013). Bangladesh Population Census 2011. Dhaka: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Coulmas, F. (2005). Changing Language Regimes in Globalizing Environments. International Journal of the Sociology of Language2005(175-176), 3-15.

Hymes, D. (2004). ‘In vain I tried to tell you’: Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns (No. 4). University of Pennsylvania Press.

Milroy, L., & Gordon, M. (2008). Sociolinguistics: Method and interpretation (Vol. 13). John Wiley & Sons. 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post