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Top 10 Facts About the Sinhala Language

Top 10 Facts About the Sinhala Language
Sinhala translation

Sinhala Language

There is something about the culture of the South Asian countries that make them stand out in our world. Their cultures are very vibrant, highly memorable to the point that anyone who has ever attended a festival in South Asia will never forget it. There are a lot of similarities between the cultures of these countries but at the same time they are distinctive enough to have their own identities. From the songs to folklores and festivals to traditions, there is no dull part of the cultures of India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. These countries also have some great tourist locations and that’s an added bonus for everyone who want to go there to witness the culture first hand.

Sri Lanka maybe the smallest of the South Asian countries but its thousands of years old history and connection to Buddhism means it is no less important than the other states. It is rated high on Human Development Index and has the highest per capita income in South Asia. Considering the financial condition of South Asian countries, that is a remarkable feat the country has achieved. The culture of the country is pretty diverse thanks to the different ethnic groups living there. The world’s fourth largest religion of Buddhism is given the foremost place in Sri Lankan constitution.

When it comes to the vernaculars, the country has plenty of them with different ethnic groups residing in there. But the majority group Sinhalese’s language Sinhala is most spoken tongue in the country. When the cricket world cup was held in Sri Lanka, many of us noticed different things about the country but nobody could ignore the national anthem of the national team that the whole stadium sang before each match. The words may have been foreign to people, nobody could deny feeling impressed by how melodic the anthem was. Such is the power of the language of the Sinhalese people.

Sinhala translation

Top 10 Facts About the Sinhala Language:

Sinhala translation

The ethnic group of Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka a long time ago, in 250 BC according to one estimate. Since then, language has been around. But overtime it was influenced by other vernaculars and picked on some new words and phrases. However, it didn’t lose its essence or faded into non-existence even after all this time. The strong hold of the tongue in the Sinhalese culture and its link with Buddhism are the things that have kept it alive centuries later too.

In order to get a better understanding of Sinhala and what makes it so special, here are ten facts about it:

  1. Diglossia:

It is a linguistic phenomenon that is not seen often in vernaculars. When a language has two different versions, one for everyday use and the other for more formal occasions, that is termed as diglossia. A lot of vernaculars don’t have two versions but Sinhala does. The native speakers can understand both versions easily but it is the everyday version that is used by the majority.

  1. Connected to Buddhism:

One of the oldest inscriptions of Sinhalese are related to Buddhism. The old texts of Buddhism were written in Sinhalese and they helped promote the religion in the region. That aspect added to the value of the vernacular.

  1. Influences:

Sinhala has a lot of features of Dravidian vernaculars. It has also adopted various words from Tamil. But the influences didn’t stop there. Due to colonization of the land, the vernacular also picked up words from Dutch, English, and Portuguese.

  1. Unique Script:

The Sinhala script is a descendant of the Brahmi script. It is very unique looking and is closely related to the Kadamba script. The Sinhala script is also used to write Pali and Sanskrit.

  1. All Types of Speakers:

Sinhala is not spoken by the Sinhalese only. Plenty of other ethnic groups in the country also speak it as their first language making the total number of native speakers seventeen million. Three million people speak it as their second language too.

  1. Subject-Object-Verb Order:

The sentence structure in Sinhala follow the subject-object-verb order like other Asian languages in comparison with English where the order is subject-verb-object.

  1. The Sinhalese of 1250:

The oldest discovered writings of Sinhala may date back to 200 BC, it went a lot of changes overtime. However, since 1250, the vernacular has stayed intact for the most part and the speakers of today can read old texts easily.

  1. Recognized in the Constitution:

Due to being the tongue of the majority, Sinhala is one of the two official languages in Sri Lanka. The other vernacular recognized in the constitution of the country is Tamil which has over five million speakers.

  1. Number of Letters:

Sinhala has fifty-eight letters, but on a daily basis, only thirty-eight of those are used. The rest are used occasionally but not on a regular basis and that’s another unique thing about this vernacular.

  1. Reading Order:

Like a lot of languages in the world, Sinhala is read from left to write. However, here it differs from other South Asian tongues.

This official language of Sri Lanka with its unique script and old history is not an easy one to master. It takes students of Sinhalese a long time to become fluent in it. Especially if they are learning to write it, students will find it very difficult to learn Sinhalese. However, its spoken form is a bit easier to learn and become good at.

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