Sinhalese Language
Get Sinhalese Language essential facts below. View Videos or join the Sinhalese Language discussion. Add Sinhalese Language to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Sinhalese Language

Sinhala
Sinhalese

Si?hala
 in Noto Serif Sinhala Black.svg
PronunciationIPA: ['sil?]
Native toSri Lanka
EthnicitySinhalese people
Native speakers
17.00 million (2012)[1]
3 million L2 speakers (2012)[1]
Early form
Dialects
Official status
Official language in
 Sri Lanka
Language codes
si
sin
sin
Glottologsinh1246[2]
Linguasphere59-ABB-a

Sinhala ( SIN-h?-l?, SING-?-l?;[3] si?hala ['sil?]),[4] also known as Sinhalese, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million.[5][1] Sinhala is also spoken as the first language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million.[6] It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhala is written using Sinhala script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.[7]

Sinhala is one of the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhala, along with Pali, played a major role in the development of Theravada Buddhist literature.[1]

The oldest Sinhalese Prakrit inscriptions found are from the third to second century BCE following the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka,[8][9] the oldest extant literary works date from the ninth century. The closest relative of Sinhala is the Maldivian language.[9] Sinhala has two main varieties - written and spoken. It is a good example of the linguistic phenomenon known as diglossia.[10][11]

Etymology

Sinhala (Si?h?la) is a Sanskrit term; the corresponding Middle Indo-Aryan (E?u) word is S?hala. The name is a derivation from si?ha, the Sanskrit word for "lion"[12]Si?h?la is attested as a Sanskrit name of the island in the Bhagavata Purana. The name is sometimes glossed as "abode of lions", and attributed to a supposed former abundance of lions on the island.[13]

History

According to the chronicle Mahavamsa, written in Pali, Prince Vijaya and his entourage merged with two exotic tribes of ancient India present in Lanka, the Yakkha and Naga peoples. In the following centuries, there was substantial immigration from Eastern India (Kalinga, Magadha)[14] which led to an admixture of features of Eastern Prakrits.[]

Stages of historical development

The development of Sinhala is divided into four periods:

  • Sinhalese Prakrit (until 3rd century CE)
  • Proto-Sinhala (3rd-7th century CE)
  • Medieval Sinhala (7th-12th century CE)
  • Modern Sinhala (12th century - present)

Phonetic development

The most important phonetic developments of Sinhala include

  • the loss of the aspiration distinction (e.g. kanav? "to eat" corresponds to Sanskrit kh?dati, Hindi kh?n?)
  • the loss of a vowel length distinction; long vowels in the modern language are due to loanwords (e.g. vib?gaya "exam" < Sanskrit vibh?ga) and sandhi, either after elision of Intervocalic consonants (e.g. d?nav? "to put" < damanav?) or in originally compound words.
  • the simplification of consonant clusters and geminate consonants into geminates and single consonants respectively (e.g. Sanskrit vi "time" > Sinhalese Prakrit via > Modern Sinhala vi?a)
  • development of /j/ to /d/ (e.g. däla "web" corresponds to Sanskrit j?la)

Western vs. Eastern Prakrit features

An example for a Western feature in Sinhala is the retention of initial /v/ which developed into /b/ in the Eastern languages (e.g. Sanskrit viati "twenty", Sinhala visi-, Hindi b?s). An example of an Eastern feature is the ending -e for masculine nominative singular (instead of Western -o) in Sinhalese Prakrit. There are several cases of vocabulary doublets, e.g. the words mäss? ("fly") and mäkk? ("flea"), which both correspond to Sanskrit mak?ik? but stem from two regionally different Prakrit words macchi? and makkhik? (as in Pali).

Pre-1815 Sinhalese literature

In 1815 the island of Ceylon came under British rule. During the career of Christopher Reynolds (1922-2015) as a Sinhalese lecturer at the SOAS, University of London, he extensively researched the Sinhalese language and its pre-1815 literature: the Sri Lankan government awarded him the Sri Lanka Ranjana medal for this. He wrote the 377-page An anthology of Sinhalese literature up to 1815, selected by the UNESCO National Commission of Ceylon[15]

Substratum influence in Sinhala

According to Wilhelm Geiger, Sinhala has features that set it apart from other Indo-Aryan languages. Some of the differences can be explained by the substrate influence of the parent stock of the Vedda language.[16] Sinhala has many words that are only found in Sinhala, or shared between Sinhala and Vedda and not etymologically derivable from Middle or Old Indo-Aryan. Common examples are kola for leaf in Sinhala and Vedda, dola for pig in Vedda and offering in Sinhala. Other common words are rera for wild duck, and gala for stones (in toponyms used throughout the island).[17] There are also high frequency words denoting body parts in Sinhala, such as olluva for head, kakula for leg, bella for neck and kalava for thighs, that are derived from pre-Sinhalese languages of Sri Lanka.[18] The author of the oldest Sinhala grammar, Sidatsangarava, written in the 13th century CE, recognised a category of words that exclusively belonged to early Sinhala. The grammar lists naramba (to see) and kolamba (fort or harbour) as belonging to an indigenous source. Kolamba is the source of the name of the commercial capital Colombo.[19][20]

Influences from neighbouring languages

In addition to many Tamil loanwords, several phonetic and grammatical features present in neighbouring Dravidian languages, setting today's spoken Sinhala apart from its Northern Indo-Aryan siblings, bear witness to the close interactions with Dravidian speakers. However, formal Sinhala is more similar to Pali and medieval Sinhala. Some of the features that may be traced to Dravidian influence are -

?ka a?ut kiyal? mama dannav?
it new having-said I know

"I know that it is new."

? ?
?ka a?ut-da kiyal? mama dann? nähä
it new-? having-said I know-EMP not

"I do not know whether it is new."

European influence

As a result of centuries of colonial rule, modern Sinhala contains some Portuguese, Dutch and English loanwords.

Influences on other languages

Macanese Patois or Macau Creole (known as Patuá to its speakers) is a creole language derived mainly from Malay, Sinhala, Cantonese, and Portuguese, which was originally spoken by the Macanese people of the Portuguese colony of Macau. It is now spoken by a few families in Macau and in the Macanese diaspora.

The language developed first mainly among the descendants of Portuguese settlers who often married women from Malacca and Sri Lanka rather than from neighbouring China, so the language had strong Malay and Sinhala influence from the beginning.

Accents and dialects

The Sinhala language has different types of variations which are commonly identified as 'dialects and accents'. Among those variations, 'regional variations' are prominent. Some of the well-known regional variations of Sinhala language are:[21]

1. The Uva variation (Monaragala,Badulla).

2. The southern variation (Galle).

3. The up-country variation (Kandy).

4. The Sabaragamu variation (Kegalle).


1. Uva regional variation in relation to grammar

People from Uva province also have a very unique linguistic variation in relation to the pronunciation of words. In general, Sinhala singular words are pluralized by adding suffixes like O, hu, wal or waru. But when it comes to Monaragala, the situation is somewhat different as when nouns are pluralized a nasal sound is added.[21]

General way of pluralizing Sinhala words. The way Uva people pluralize words.
1.Kàntaw?                 Kantàwò

(woman)                    (women)

   ?                               Ò

.Lindha                           Lindha+n

  (well)                          =Lindhan(wells)                                                 

2.Pot?                              Pot

(books)                          (book)

  Ø                                     ?

Oya                                  Oya+n

                                       =oyan

(stream)                          (streams)

3.Lindh?                  Lindh?+wal  (Well)                              

  ?                                   +  wal      

          

2. Southern variation with regard to the vocabulary used in 'Kamath language'

The Kamath language (an indigenous language of paddy culture) used by the Southerners is somewhat different to the 'Kamath language' used in other parts (Uva, Kandy) of Sri Lanka as it is marked with a systematic variation; 'boya' at the end of the majority of nouns as the examples below show.[21]

Crops: 'Kurakkan boya' (bran)

           'Rambakan boya' (banana)

Tools: 'Thattu boya' (bucket)

Other words: 'Nivahan boya' (home)

Here the particular word 'boya' means 'a little' in the Southern region and at the end of most of nouns, 'boya' is added regularly. This particular word 'boya' is added to most words by the Southern villages as a token of respect towards the things (those things can be crops, tools etc.) they are referring to.

3. The contrast among the regional variations used by Kandy, Kegalle and Galle people in relation to pronunciation[21]

The common Sinhala variation           Different regional                   variations of Sinhala language Notes
Ayye heta wapuranna enwada?

(Brother, Are you coming to sow tomorrow?)

Ayya heta wapuranta enawada? (Kandy)

Ayye heta wapuranda enawada? (Kegalle)        

Ayye heta wapuranna enawai? (Galle)

Here the Kandy people say 'Ayya' while the Kegalle and Galle people say 'Ayye'.

Also, Kandy people add a 'ta' sound at the end of verbs while the Kegalle people add a 'da' sound. But Galle people's regional variation is not visible in relation to this particular verb; 'wapuranawa' (to sow). Yet their unique regional variation is visible in relation to the second verb which is 'enawai' (coming) as they add 'ai' at the end of most verbs.

Even though the Kandy, Kegalle and Galle people pronounce words with slight differences, the Sinhalese can understand the majority of the sentences.


Diglossia

In Sinhala there is distinctive diglossia, as in many languages of South Asia. The literary language and the spoken language differ from each other in many aspects. The written language is used for all forms of literary texts but also orally at formal occasions (public speeches, TV and radio news broadcasts, etc.), whereas the spoken language is used as the language of communication in everyday life (see also Sinhala slang and colloquialism). As a rule the literary language uses more Sanskrit-based words.

Sinhala diglossia can also be described in terms of informal and formal varieties. The variety used for formal purposes is closer to the written/literary variety, whereas the variety used for informal purposes is closer to the spoken variety. It is also used in some modern literature (e.g. Liyanage Amarakeerthi's Kurulu Hadawatha).

The most important difference between the two varieties is the lack of inflected verb forms in the spoken language.

The situation is analogous to one where Middle or even Old English would be the written language in Great Britain. The children are taught the written language at school almost like a foreign language.

Sinhala also has diverse slang. Most slang words and terms were regarded as taboo and most were frowned upon as non-scholarly. However, nowadays Sinhala slang words and terms, even the ones with sexual references, are commonly used among younger Sri Lankans.

Writing system

(?yub?van) means "welcome", literally wishing one a long life

Sinhala script, Sinhala hodiya, is based on the ancient Brahmi script, as are most Indian scripts. Sinhala script is closely related to South Indian Grantha script and Khmer script taken the elements from the related Kadamba script.[22][7]

The writing system for Sinhala is an abugida, where the consonants are written with letters while the vowels are indicated with diacritics (pilla) on those consonants, unlike English where both consonants and vowels are full letters, or Urdu where vowels need not be written at all. Also, when a diacritic is not used, an "inherent vowel", either /a/ or /?/, is understood, depending on the position of the consonant within the word. For example, the letter ? k on its own indicates ka, either /ka/ or /k?/. The various vowels are written /ka:/, /kæ/, /kæ:/ (after the consonant), /ki/, /ki:/ (above the consonant), /ku/, /ku:/ (below the consonant), /ke/, /ke:/ (before the consonant), /ko:/, /ko:/ (surrounding the consonant). There are also a few diacritics for consonants, such as /r/ in special circumstances, although the tendency nowadays is to spell words with the full letter ? /r/, plus either a preceding or following hal kirima. One word that is still spelt with an "r" diacritic is , as in (Sri Lank?wa). The "r" diacritic is the curved line under the first letter ("?": "?"). A second diacritic, this time for the vowel sound /i:/ completes the word ("?": ""). For simple /k/ without a vowel, a vowel-cancelling diacritic (virama) called /hal kiri:m?/ is used? /k/. Several of these diacritics occur in two forms, which depend on the shape of the consonant letter. Vowels also have independent letters but these are only used at the beginning of words where there is no preceding consonant to add a diacritic to.

The complete script consists of about 60 letters, 18 for vowels and 42 for consonants. However, only 57 (16 vowels and 41 consonants) are required for writing colloquial spoken Sinhala (suddha Sinhala). The rest indicate sounds that have been merged in the course of linguistic change, such as the aspirates, and are restricted to Sanskrit and Pali loan words. One letter (?), representing the sound /?da/, is attested although no words using this letter are attested.

Sinhala is written from left to right and Sinhala script is mainly used for Sinhala, as well as the liturgical languages Pali and Sanskrit. The alphabetic sequence is similar to those of other Brahmic scripts:

a/? æ/? i/? u/? [?] e/? [ai] o/? [au] k [kh] g [gh] ? c [ch] j [jh] [ñ] ? [?h] ? [?h] [?] t [th] d [dh] n p [ph] b [bh] m y r l v [? ?] s h [?] f

Phonology

Sinhala vowel chart, from Perera & Jones (1919:5)

Sinhala has so-called prenasalized consonants, or 'half nasal' consonants. A short homorganic nasal occurs before a voiced stop, it is shorter than a sequence of nasal plus stop. The nasal is syllabified with the onset of the following syllable, which means that the moraic weight of the preceding syllable is left unchanged. For example, tam?ba 'copper' contrasts with tamba 'boil'.

Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ?
Stop voiceless p t ? t?~t? k
voiced b d ? d?~d? ?
prenasalised ?b ?d
Fricative (f, ?) s (?~?) h
Trill r
Approximant ? l j

/f~?/ and /?/ are restricted to loans, typically English or Sanskrit. They are commonly replaced by /p/ and /s/ respectively in colloquial speech. Some speakers use the voiceless labiodental fricative [f], as in English, and some use the voiceless bilabial fricative [?] due to its similarity to the native voiceless bilabial stop /p/.

Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i i: u u:
Mid e e: ? (?:) o o:
Open æ æ: a a:

Long /?:/ is restricted to English loans. /a/ and /?/ are allophones in Sinhala and contrast with each other in stressed and unstressed syllables respectively. In writing, /a/ and /?/ are both spelt without a vowel sign attached to the consonant letter, so the patterns of stress in the language must be used to determine the correct pronunciation. Most Sinhala syllables are of the form CV. The first syllable of each word is stressed, with the exception of the verb /k?r?n?'wa:/ ("to do") and all of its infected forms where the first syllable is unstressed. Syllables using long vowels are always stressed. The remainder of the syllables are unstressed if they use a short vowel, unless they are immediately followed by one of: a CCV syllable, final /j(i)/ (-), final /wu/ (-), or a final consonant without a following vowel. The sound /ha/ is always stressed in nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, and so is not pronounced /h?/ except in the word /'hatlih?/ ("forty"), where the initial /ha/ is stressed and the final /h?/ is unstressed.[23]

Morphology

Nominal morphology

The main features marked on Sinhala nouns are case, number, definiteness and animacy.

Cases

Sinhala distinguishes several cases. Next to the cross-linguistically rather common nominative, accusative, genitive, dative and ablative, there are also less common cases like the instrumental. The exact number of these cases depends on the exact definition of cases one wishes to employ. For instance, the endings for the animate instrumental and locative cases, ati? and la?g?, are also independent words meaning "with the hand" and "near" respectively, which is why they are not regarded to be actual case endings by some scholars. Depending on how far an independent word has progressed on a grammaticalisation path, scholars will see it as a case marker or not.

The brackets with most of the vowel length symbols indicate the optional shortening of long vowels in certain unstressed syllables.

animate sg inanimate sg animate pl inanimate pl
NOM miniha(:) pot? minissu pot
ACC miniha(:)v? pot? minissu(nv?) pot
INSTR miniha(:) ati? pote? minissu(n) ati? potv?li?
DAT miniha(:) pot minissu(?) potv?l
ABL miniha(:)ge? pote? minissu(n)ge? potvali?
GEN miniha(:)ge(:) pote(:) minissu(?)ge(:) potv?l?
LOC miniha(:) la?g? pote(:) minissu(n) la?g? potv?l?
VOC miniho(:) - minissune: -
Gloss man book men books

Number marking

In Sinhala animate nouns, the plural is marked with -o(:), a long consonant plus -u, or with -la(:). Most inanimates mark the plural through disfixation. Loanwords from English mark the singular with ek?, and do not mark the plural. This can be interpreted as a singulative number.

SG amma: deviya: hora: poth? redd? kantho:ruv? sathiy? bus ek? pa:r?
PL amm?la(:) deviyo(:) horu poth redi kantho:ru sathi bus pa:r?val
Gloss mother(s) god(s) thie(f/ves) book(s) cloth(es) office(s) week(s) bu(s/ses) street(s)

On the left hand side of the table, plurals are longer than singulars. On the right hand side, it is the other way round, with the exception of pa:r? "street". Note that [+animate] lexemes are mostly in the classes on the left-hand side, while [-animate] lexemes are most often in the classes on the right hand.

Indefinite article

The indefinite article is -ek for animates and -ak for inanimates. The indefinite article exists only in the singular, where its absence marks definiteness. In the plural, (in)definiteness does not receive special marking.

Verbal morphology

Sinhala distinguishes three conjugation classes. Spoken Sinhala does not mark person, number or gender on the verb (literary Sinhala does). In other words, there is no subject-verb agreement.

1st class 2nd class 3rd class
verb verbal adjective verb verbal adjective verb verbal adjective
present (future) kan?va: kan? arin?va: arin? pipen?va: pipen?
past kæ:va: kæ:v? æriya: æriy? pipuna: pipun?
anterior ka:la: ka:pu ær?la: ær?pu pipila: pipicca
simultaneous kan? kan? / ka kaa(spoken) / arin? arin? / æra æra(spoken) / pipen? pipen?/ pipi pipi(spoken) /
infinitive kann?/kan / arinn?/arin / pipenn?/pipen /
emphatic form kanne: / arinne: / pipenne: /
gloss eat / open / blossom /

Syntax

  • Left-branching language (see branching), which means that determining elements are usually put in front of what they determine (see example below).
  • An exception to this is formed by statements of quantity which usually stand behind what they define. Example: "the four flowers" translates to /mal hat?r?/, literally "flowers four". On the other hand, it can be argued that the numeral is the head in this construction, and the flowers the modifier, so that a better English rendering would be "a floral foursome"
  • SOV (subject-object-verb) word order, common to most left-branching languages.
  • As is common in left-branching languages, it has no prepositions, only postpositions (see Adposition). Example: "under the book" translates to /pot? ja/, literally "book under".
  • Sinhala has no copula: "I am rich" translates to ? /mam? po:sat/, literally "I rich". There are two existential verbs, which are used for locative predications, but these verbs are not used for predications of class-membership or property-assignment, unlike English is.
  • There are almost no conjunctions as English that or whether, but only non-finite clauses that are formed by the means of participles and verbal adjectives. Example: "The man who writes books" translates to ? ? /pot li?n? miniha/, literally "books writing man".

Semantics

There is a four-way deictic system (which is rare): There are four demonstrative stems (see demonstrative pronouns) /me:/ "here, close to the speaker", ? /o:/ "there, close to the person addressed", /ar?/ "there, close to a third person, visible" and ? /e:/ "there, close to a third person, not visible".

Discourse

Sinhala is a pro-drop language: Arguments of a sentence can be omitted when they can be inferred from context. This is true for subject--as in Italian, for instance--but also objects and other parts of the sentence can be "dropped" in Sinhala if they can be inferred. In that sense, Sinhala can be called a "super pro-drop language", like Japanese.

Example: The sentence ? [ko?ed? ?ie], literally "where went", can mean "where did I/you/he/she/we... go".

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Sinhala". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sinhala". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  4. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing 2011". www.statistics.gov.lk. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing 2001" (PDF). Statistics.gov.lk. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ a b Jayarajan, Paul M. (1 January 1976). History of the Evolution of the Sinhala Alphabet. Colombo Apothecaries' Company, Limited.
  8. ^ Danesh Jain, George Cardona. Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. p. 847.
  9. ^ a b "Introduction ~ - Study Guides, open books for an open world". en.Study Guides.org. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ Paolillo, John C. (1997). "Sinhala Diglossia: Discrete or Continuous Variation?". Language in Society. 26 (2): 269-296. doi:10.1017/S0047404500020935. ISSN 0047-4045. JSTOR 4168764.
  11. ^ Gair, James W. (1968). "Sinhalese Diglossia". Anthropological Linguistics. 10 (8): 1-15. ISSN 0003-5483. JSTOR 30029181.
  12. ^ Caldwell, Robert (1875). "A comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages". London: Trübner & Co.: 86. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "Chinese Account of Ceylon". The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia. 20: 30. 1836.
  14. ^ "WWW Virtual Library Sri Lanka : Sri Lanka: A Short History of Sinhala Language". Lankalibrary.com. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ "UNESCO Collection of Representative Works, Sinhalese Series". London: George Allen and Unwin Limited. 1970.
  16. ^ Gair 1998, p. 4
  17. ^ Van Driem 2002, p. 230
  18. ^ Indrapala 2007, p. 45
  19. ^ Indrapala 2007, p. 70
  20. ^ Gair 1998, p. 5
  21. ^ a b c d Kahandgamage, Sandya (2011). Gove basa. Nugegoda: Sarasavi.
  22. ^ "Ancient Scripts: Sinhala". www.ancientscripts.com. Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ Silva, A.W.L. (2008). Teach Yourself Sinhalese. ISBN 978-955-96926-0-7.

Bibliography

  • Gair, James: Sinhala and Other South Asian Languages, New York 1998.
  • Indrapala, Karthigesu (2007). The evolution of an ethnic identity: The Tamils in Sri Lanka C. 300 BCE to C. 1200 CE. Colombo: Vijitha Yapa. ISBN 978-955-1266-72-1.
  • Perera, H.S.; Jones, D. (1919). A colloquial Sinhalese reader in phonetic transcription. Manchester: Longmans, Green & Co.
  • Van Driem, George (15 January 2002). Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-10390-0.

Further reading

  • Clough, B. (1997). Sinhala English Dictionary (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.
  • Gair, James; Paolillo, John C. (1997). Sinhala. Newcastle: München.
  • Gair, James (1998). Studies in South Asian Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509521-0.
  • Geiger, Wilhelm (1938). A Grammar of the Sinhalese Language. Colombo.
  • Karunatillake, W.S. (1992). An Introduction to Spoken Sinhala. Colombo. [several new editions].
  • Zubair, Cala Ann (2015). "Sexual violence and the creation of an empowered female voice". Gender and Language. 9 (2): 279-317. doi:10.1558/genl.v9i2.17909. (Article on the use of slang amongst Sinhalese Raggers.)

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Sinhalese_language
 



 



 
Music Scenes