Sylheti Language Storybook

A project by: Sylheti Project

Successful

WE RAISED £2,038

from 66 donors

This project received pledges on Sun 17 Apr 2016
Who wouldn't want a storybook in their language?

What's our project about?

It's about boys who cry tiger, bundles of sticks and contests between the wind and the sun. We're developing a high-quality Sylheti-language children's picture storybook to help promote one of London's under-resourced community languages - Sylheti, spoken in Camden and around the Brick Lane area. We have a series of recordings of traditional stories as told by the city's Sylheti speakers, and are now planning to put their spoken words on the page. These books will go to community members, to those teaching the language, and to anyone curious to learn these wonderful tales. But to make it happen, we need your help.

Listen to 'the Boy Who Cried Tiger'

Who are we?

We're a group of SOAS students committed to the promotion of minoritiy community languages in general and to the Sylheti language in particular. We take inspiration and encouragement from the Sylheti-speaking community in London and work closely with community members on a number of projects.

Our society grew out of the SOAS Endangered Languages Week in 2012, during which we were approached regarding potential collaboration by the director of the Surma Centre, which is run by and for London's Sylheti community. Since then, we have gone from strength to strength. As well as the story recordings which - with your help! - we plan to convert into storybook form, we have developed:


  • The SOAS Sylheti Language Society, which aims to promote the language through face-to-face classes with native speaker teachers and the provision of online teaching materials.
  • The Sylheti Dictionary App (with support from SOAS alumni and friends)
  • The Sylheti Language Lesson Booklet


Where will the money go? 

The minimum for our project is £1500, based on a print run of 150 copies. These books will be donated to community members and others who are working to support the Sylheti language in London.


The money raised will go towards:


  • illustrators' fees
  • printing costs
  • accompanying teaching materials development


We hope this high-quality storybook will be the springboard for further professional Sylheti language materials - there are many more stories yet to tell! Any money raised above the minimum will go towards extending the project in this direction.


Rewards!

We'd love you to get involved and support us - even as little as £1 will help to make this happen. To show our appreciation, we've got some great rewards lined up - you'll find them listed on the right of this page.

Help us to succeed!

Please share this project with anyone you think would support us - on Twitter, on Facebook, by email, by phone, on your blog, or even in a chat over the fence - in whatever languages you speak!

Find out more

Follow us on Facebook.

Read more at https://sylhetiproject.wordpress.com

1 week, 1 day ago

Hello everyone. We've had some enquiries about how the storybook project is coming along so here's an update! The stories have been more or less finalised and checked, and we now have most of the illustrations. The parts are coming together! There are still a few things we need to finalise before we can move onto publication, but we are well on the way and expect to have the presses rolling by the end of May. We´ll keep you posted. Thanks again for helping to make this happen. The Sylheti Project Team.

1 week, 1 day ago

Hello everyone. We've had some enquiries about how the storybook project is coming along so here's an update! The stories have been more or less finalised and checked, and we now have most of the illustrations. The parts are coming together! There are still a few things we need to finalise before we can move onto publication, but we are well on the way and expect to have the presses rolling by the end of May. We´ll keep you posted. Thanks again for helping to make this happen. The Sylheti Project Team.

8 months, 3 weeks ago

Hello everyone!

We're just writing to update you on how the storybook is coming along. We're very happy to announce that Bristol-based children's book illustrator Freya Hartas will be lending her fine skills to the illustration of our three Sylheti stories. We're delighted to have her onboard and look forward to working with her over the coming months. To give you a taste of what to look forward to, we're posting Freya's preliminary cover artwork below - we hope you love it as much as we do! (Please note that the title of the book itself is not yet finalised).

If you'd like to see more of Freya's work, we highly recommend exploring her website http://freyahartas.co.uk/ and her blog http://freyahartas.tumblr.com/

That's all for now, but keep an eye out in your inbox for other updates as the project progresses.

The Sylheti Project team.

1 year ago

Dear crowdfunders,


Thank you to everyone who has pledged since our last update - as always, we've been overwhelmed with everyone's generosity and support. And thank you - a very big thank you! - to all of you for helping to make this happen. Last night we reached and even surpassed our target. This is fantastic news, and we are very happy to be able to take the project fully forward.

The crowdfunding campaign officially reaches its deadline at midnight on Sunday. This was the deadline by which we had to meet our minimum, which - again, thanks to you - we managed to do with time to spare (and if you know of anyone else who cares as much as we all do about language, literature and creating books, please let them know that it's not too late to get involved!). Your pledges will be collected automatically after the project closes, although it may take up to a few days depending on whether you used Paypal or Stripe.

We will be sending out updates from time to time to let you all know how the storybook is coming along, so please keep an eye on your inbox for any news.

Once again, thank you from all of us. 

The Sylheti Project Team.



1 year ago

Hello again and, as always, a big thank you to everyone who has come onboard and pledged since our last update. We're reached our minimum and still working towards our upper goal. Here's another update to let you know a little more about the project itself. We hope you enjoy!

*******************************



How the stories began


In order to study a language, linguists ‘collect’ examples of the language, a little like botanists collect plant samples. Linguists use these examples to ‘dissect’ the language to see what the different parts look/sound like and how they function together. Many linguists find that stories, told more naturally in the spoken language than individual sentences translated from one language to another, are the best examples to study.


At SOAS over the years we’ve collected some nice stories that we wanted to share. Firstly, we had the idea to create short animated videos with subtitles.

(Watch the videos on our Youtube channel -  https://www.youtube.com/user/soassylhetiproject.)



















                              



How we produced subtitles for the videos









For the subtitles, there exists a tool called ELAN in which linguists can transcribe and translate audio recordings, and which also allows us to export these transcriptions and translations as subtitles.










Animated videos with subtitles is a great way for those not familiar with the Sylheti language to really see/hear what it sounds like. The difference in sounds between Sylheti and standard Bengali are demonstrated by linguists with a special writing system called the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).







The IPA is an alphabet with many more ‘letters’ than any other alphabet. It’s this abundance of letters that makes it possible to represent all the variety of sounds in a language not distinguished in normal alphabets that simply don’t have enough letters to represent all the different sounds. It may look a little funny at first but the IPA is easy to learn and quite handy to really compare the sounds of different languages.



---



Why a storybook



Because the SOAS Sylheti Project is a student-led extracurricular project, each year new students join and bring with them unique talents and interests. This year the Project is fortunate to have student participants with book-editing experience and crowdfunding experience, a necessary combination to put together a book and get the funding to actually produce make it a reality!

(There are of course some SOAS instructors involved who actively guide us and support our endeavours!)


We went through the stories we’d collected over the years and found three fables that we decided would make a nice little book. But because these stories were told to us orally, a little editing was required. Language is primarily spoken, and given the nature of spoken language, the sentences tend to be shorter with a lot more repetition that makes the stories more active and entertaining to listen to. Written language sits passively on a page so the sentences tend to be longer and more wordy and descriptive, to make up for the loss of vitality communicated through the ups and downs of spoken words. We’ve gotten back with the authors of the three fables over the past few months in order to ask them to edit their stories to make them more ‘literary’ and better for a written page.



And to increase the entertainment value of the written word, another group of the Project’s student participants set out to find an illustrator. Thanks to the SOAS Students Union participatory budgeting, we were able to apply for initial funding to secure an illustrator. (We’re still looking through applications!)


https://sylhetiproject.wordpress.com/call-for-illustrators/



With the edited stories and initial funding for an illustrator, we were set to go forward with the crowdfunding campaign. At this stage, if our crowdfunding wasn’t successful, we would have been able to produce some form of a storybook, even if it meant that each of us would photocopy it and distribute it on plain paper. But now we have at least enough pledges here to produce 150 copies of a high-quality storybook, thanks to all the wonderful support so far!







---




But it’s not over! With any additional funding, we plan on making a language-learning supplement to the storybook so that it can be used for teaching Sylheti, or simply brushing up on your Sylheti.


Parallel to the SOAS Sylheti Project is the SOAS Sylheti Language Society that holds evening language lessons at SOAS during the school year for anyone wanting to learn to speak Sylheti.


https://www.facebook.com/soassylhetilanguagesociety







The Sylheti community in London has helped us to learn about linguistics and documenting languages, and made the experience very rewarding. This storybook will be another modest contribution to say thank you and to recognize the beautiful language that is Sylheti (pronounced [silɔʈi]).


                    



                             Please join us in any way you can and let’s make this happen!

1 year ago

Thank you everyone! Thanks to your generosity and support, we've hit the minimum, which means that the Sylheti Project will receive the pledges made so far (on or after April 18th, the day after the campaign finishes), and this means that we can go ahead and make the storybook! Plus, it means we still have a couple of weeks to go to see if we can reach our final target, which will allow us to develop the project even further. Thank you all - We really appreciate it!



1 year ago

Hello again and, as always, a big thank you to everyone who has come onboard and pledged since our last update. We're not far off our minimum now, so fingers crossed we make it and can work towards our upper goal. Today we're bringing you the first of several updates to let you know a little more about the project itself. We hope you enjoy them!

*******************************

What goes into putting a storybook together?



I originally got involved in the SOAS Sylheti Project when one of our veteran members, Rebecca, found out that I used to work in publishing. Over pints (because England) after a seminar, she asked if I'd be willing to lend my expertise to a project that they were starting: compiling the stories they'd collected from our Sylheti language consultants into a high-quality picture book. Although I didn't know much about Sylheti, I was happy to get involved, especially because I'm extremely interested in the development of literature for minoritized languages like Sylheti.


Although I worked in various bookstores, publishing houses, and literary agencies before coming to SOAS, my experience with picture book publishing was pretty limited. I did know that picture books are printed in bundles of 16 pages called "signatures" -- this is why your standard picture book is 32 pages long. With that in mind, we began our research and the process of turning the oral stories into printed stories.

So, what goes into making a storybook in a minority language? A lot! Here are just a few of the things we've done so far -- it's still very much a work in progress.

1. Research into printers


Before we could really commit to the project, we had to figure out what the costs were going to be. This meant lots of emailing, calling around, and even taking the DLR out to the very end of the line and visiting a printer in-person to get an idea of what kinds of options and prices were available. There are lots of different choices to be made -- what kind of color printing, what paper weight, what paper coating (silk, matte, gloss), covers, binding, etc. I got to see one of these crazy machines in action, which was super cool:




Once we had a ballpark estimate, we were able to start envisioning a budget -- which is reflected in our Hubbub goal. (HUGE thank you to everyone that's contributed so far, by the way!)

2. Storyboarding


While we were researching, we were also taking transcripts of the stories and dividing them up into scenes. Marie was responsible for transcribing the stories -- you can see some of her excellent work in the subtitles on the YouTube videos. Waran was a huge help in setting out the transcriptions in a Word document, which Martha and I then used to plan out the stories.





Even though the transcriptions varied in length, the progression of the stories, scene-by-scene, meant that we ended up with roughly 7-8 pages for each story. That was great news, since it left us with room for title pages, a copyright page, an acknowledgements page (so we can thank all you wonderful supporters in print!), and a page for an English translation.

3. Dummy


Once we had an idea of how the pages would be laid out, we could create a "dummy" of the storybook to have a more concrete idea of what the final product would look like.




This we could show off to our consultants, and get their opinions on wording. Editing is an important part of the process, as we tell stories differently in writing than we do when speaking aloud. Our Sylheti language consultants are a crucial part of the process in putting together the book. Without them, we wouldn't have the stories, or the language data that many SOAS Linguistics students use in their work. We are super excited to be able to give back to our consultants and their community by putting together this book.

Of course, the process is far from over, and you'll be getting plenty of updates from us as we progress! Stay tuned as we:

4. Hire an illustrator!
5. Decide on final text and orthography!
6. Learn how to work in InDesign!
7. Start putting text and pictures together!
8. ...and send it off to the printers!

Thanks so much for being a part of the project, everyone! We all appreciate it so much.

Emily, and the rest of the SOAS Sylheti Project Team

1 year ago

Hello everyone and, as always, a big thank you to all the new people who have come onboard and kindly pledged since we last updated you. We're not far off the minimum we need to reach, so fingers crossed we get there and then can work towards our upper goal. Today's update is the first of several we're planning to get out to you about the project itself. We hope you enjoy it!

*******************************************

What goes into putting a storybook together?


I originally got involved in the SOAS Sylheti Project when one of our veteran members, Rebecca, found out that I used to work in publishing. Over pints (because England) after a seminar, she asked if I'd be willing to lend my expertise to a project that they were starting: compiling the stories they'd collected from our Sylheti language consultants into a high-quality picture book. Although I didn't know much about Sylheti, I was happy to get involved, especially because I'm extremely interested in the development of literature for minoritized languages like Sylheti.


Although I worked in various bookstores, publishing houses, and literary agencies before coming to SOAS, my experience with picture book publishing was pretty limited. I did know that picture books are printed in bundles of 16 pages called "signatures" -- this is why your standard picture book is 32 pages long. With that in mind, we began our research and the process of turning the oral stories into printed stories.


So, what goes into making a storybook in a minority language? A lot! Here are just a few of the things we've done so far -- it's still very much a work in progress.


1. Research into printers


Before we could really commit to the project, we had to figure out what the costs were going to be. This meant lots of emailing, calling around, and even taking the DLR out to the very end of the line and visiting a printer in-person to get an idea of what kinds of options and prices were available. There are lots of different choices to be made -- what kind of color printing, what paper weight, what paper coating (silk, matte, gloss), covers, binding, etc. I got to see one of these crazy machines in action, which was super cool:




Once we had a ballpark estimate, we were able to start envisioning a budget -- which is reflected in our Hubbub goal. (HUGE thank you to everyone that's contributed so far, by the way!)


2. Storyboarding


While we were researching, we were also taking transcripts of the stories and dividing them up into scenes. Marie was responsible for transcribing the stories -- you can see some of her excellent work in the subtitles on the YouTube videos. Waran was a huge help in setting out the transcriptions in a Word document, which Martha and I then used to plan out the stories.






Even though the transcriptions varied in length, the progression of the stories, scene-by-scene, meant that we ended up with roughly 7-8 pages for each story. That was great news, since it left us with room for title pages, a copyright page, an acknowledgements page (so we can thank all you wonderful supporters in print!), and a page for an English translation.


3. Dummy


Once we had an idea of how the pages would be laid out, we could create a "dummy" of the storybook to have a more concrete idea of what the final product would look like.




This we could show off to our consultants, and get their opinions on wording. Editing is an important part of the process, as we tell stories differently in writing than we do when speaking aloud. Our Sylheti language consultants are a crucial part of the process in putting together the book. Without them, we wouldn't have the stories, or the language data that many SOAS Linguistics students use in their work. We are super excited to be able to give back to our consultants and their community by putting together this book.


Of course, the process is far from over, and you'll be getting plenty of updates from us as we progress! Stay tuned as we:


4. Hire an illustrator!
5. Decide on final text and orthography!
6. Learn how to work in InDesign!
7. Start putting text and pictures together!
8. ...and send it off to the printers!


Thanks so much for being a part of the project, everyone! We all appreciate it so much.


Emily, and the rest of the SOAS Sylheti Project Team

1 year, 1 month ago

Dear crowdfunders,

Hello and a big thank you to everyone who has pledged since our last update. Bala aso ni? (That’s Sylheti for ‘how are you?’) As you can see, we’re nearly halfway there. We hope to get more people onboard and keep up the momentum until April 17th. Don’t forget that no money changes hands unless we hit our target (it’s all-or-nothing funding) so do keep checking in to see how things are going.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll also be posting a number of updates telling you a little bit more about the project itself and the kinds of activities we're involved in. These will include:

  • Sylheti language classes at SOAS
  • The Sylheti community in London and the SOAS endangered languages field methods course
  • The Sylheti dictionary app
  • Transcribing Sylheti
  • Some more about the Sylheti language itself

Until then, bye for now!

The SOAS Sylheti Project team


1 year, 1 month ago

Hi everyone,

Thank all of you who have pledged so far for your generosity and support. It's been great to see such a fantastic response and to see the crowdfunding campaign get off to such a good start. Everyone in the Sylheti Project is very excited and really looking forward to bringing the storybook project to fruition. 

We'll be posting further updates about the project here so do check in from time to time to see how the campaign is doing and to find out more about our activities.

Thanks again!


The Sylheti Project team





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Only project creators and their sponsors can post comments.

Well done everyone! So proud of you and rooting for you!! I really want this project to be a success. :-) Emma

Good luck!

Keep up the good work!

Thank you for doing this valuable work! Kudos to all and especially to that canny New Yorker, Emily Gref for telling me about your efforts. My best regards and wishes from the other side of the pond. ~Anne Larsen

A great project! The very best of luck with it! Sandra

All the best!

This will be a wonderful stepping stone in such a great endeavor!

Hi Julia - they're moral fables for children from our language consultants

What kinds of stories?

Excellent project - can't wait to see the finished storybook. Fingers crossed for success!!