The Languages of Sri Lanka

By Stacey
Dec 14, 2015 · 2 min

The Sinhala and Tamil languages are the officially recognised languages of Sri Lanka.

The Languages of Sri Lanka | One Hour Translation

The Sinhala and Tamil languages are the officially recognised languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhala, which was previously known as Singhalese, is the language of the largest ethnic group of people in Sri Lanka – the Sinhalese people.

Sinhala belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, which also includes most languages of South Asia and Europe. Sinhala is spoken in many areas outside Sri Lanka, in fact it’s spoken throughout the world where we’ve seen a migration of the Sinhalese people; places like Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada.

Characteristics of the Sinhalese Language

  • A Southern adaption of the Brahmi script, the Sinhalese language is a writing system with a syllabary of 56 letters. The word syllabary implies that consonants carry an inherent vowel. Japanese is another example of a syllabary writing system.
  • Even though it’s a syllabary, if a vowel appears at the beginning of a syllable it’s written as an independent letter: a diacritic marks the intentional absence of a vowel.
  • If a vowel accompanies a consonant, it’s indicated by changes above, next to, or below the corresponding consonant.
  • The direction of writing is horizontal, from left to right.
  • There are two major divisions with gender issues: animate, and the inanimate. The animate is divided into both male and female, while the inanimate belong to the neutral group, as far as gender is concerned.
  • The syntax order is subject, object, and verb.

Similar to all languages, Sinhala is not an island and has been subjected to the influences of other languages. It’s certainly been enriched by the Portuguese, Dutch, and English languages.

What is Dhivehi?

Dhivehi is a derivative of the Sinhala language. It’s the official language of the Republic of Maldives, and this language has also been influenced by Tamil, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, English, and Portuguese.

It’s clear to see that there are many languages very similar to each other, both culturally and linguistically speaking. It is true that, for someone who is not very familiar with them, they’re so similar that it would be quite easy to confuse one with another.

And that’s just another reason why it’s always preferable to choose a highly qualified, experienced Tamil translator for each language.

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