SOME OBSERVATIONS ON “SINHALA ONLY” Part 3
Posted on March 16th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

It is nonsense to say that Sinhala has not been able to fashion a language in which new knowledge could be written,  said K.N.O. Dharmadasa . Sinhala has modernized very successfully. There is a word for everything. Sinhala today has a vast vocabulary catering to all subjects and a sentence structure that can communicate it effectively.

Today in any forum in which economics, political science, medicine or a technological subject is discussed in Sinhala, including television and radio; the speakers use the Sinhala medium with great facility and style. Sinhala technical terms come to them with great ease and one feels proud that our language has been able to modernize, to develop a corpus of words for dealing with areas of modern knowledge, a facility which was not there 50 years ago, said Dharmadasa.

The intelligentsia has responded positively to the emphasis on Sinhala. At the Royal Asiatic Society annual conference, 2008   the respected archaeologists, Siran Deraniyagala and Roland Silva who chaired the sessions spoke fluent Sinhala. At the other end of the spectrum, Otara Gunawardene appeared on TV advising on dress style in fluent Sinhala.

There is an unexpected loyalty to Sinhala among the westernized group. Manique Gunasekera, Professor of English, University of Kelaniya ‘took pride in signing her name in Sinhala.’ (Daily News 14.12.15 p 12)  .My cousin’s daughter insisted in the 1990s on doing one subject in Sinhala for her “A” level and her mother had to find a school that would accommodate this.

There has been a determination to see that Sinhala is properly recognized at the UN. Dallas Alahapperuma, MP addressed a UN Forum on Youth in New York, in May 2014 in English,  but when he met with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon he had insisted on speaking in Sinhala with Sri Lanka Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona as interpreter.

The emphasis on standards for Sinhala continues. In 2015, the advertisement for Chief Editor, Sinhala Encyclopedia and Sinhala Dictionary specified that the applicant should have a PhD, have served as a professor or assistant professor in a University and should have proficiency in English, Pali and Sanskrit.

Special skill in usage of Sinhala is recognized. A grade 7 student of Yasodara Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo, 12 year old Hasini Weerasinghe has written a meaningful single sentence using all 56 letters of the Sinhala alphabet, said a news report.  She is an English medium student.  She said that of all subjects she likes Sinhala language and literature the most. (Sunday Observer 21.10.12. p 45)

‘We must start from kindergarten and inculcate a love for the language and its proper usage’, said Dharmadasa. ‘Clarity and elegance of expression have to be upheld and rewarded at every stage of education, which means that bad language has to be punished.  Instead of the attitude ‘we are teaching economics in Sinhala’ it should be ‘good economics can be expressed only in good Sinhala’.

Advertisements in the English newspapers use Sinhala phrases. “Thakadon” said Barefoot in its advertisement in Daily News in 2003. ‘Thakata thaka’ said Merchant Credit in 2006.  Chuttak ahanna said Hutch in 2007. Me para miss nokara, said Nokia in 2007. Lipa gini molavana pani kadju said Elephant House in 2006. Meke maru vasiyak said a car advertisement in 2006. Anthima bus eka giyada asked Dinamina advertising its express service late night bus from Colombo to Matale in 2010.  Choco davatana lada biscut’ said Kandos in Sinhala script   in 2018. ‘Diyatha station’ said another advertisement.  ‘Kirikatiyata singithi baby saban’ said Upali Products, both in Sinhala script in 2018.

 

Sinhala has been recognized   for labour relations. In 2013, Korean government added an online petition and discussion portal in Sinhala language to the government communication channel. This is to help Sri Lankans working in South Korea to submit their complaints and suggestion to the Korean authorities in their own language.

ILO announced in 2016 the addition of full Sinhala translations of Sri Lanka labor laws to the Salary.lk website.  It was estimated that approximately 76% of the population spoke only Sinhala while 17.9% spoke only Tamil and just 0.2% spoke only English.

Sinhala was recogised commercially too. Canon camera manuals were to be printed in Sinhala in 2015. Commercial Bank mobile banking service provided menus in Sinhala in 2016.

Sinhala has successfully penetrated the marketing sector. Association of International standards (AIS) affiliated to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce   conducted a seminar introducing the principles of 5S, a Japanese management technique in Sinhala in 2005.

SLIM was conducting its   marketing courses in Sinhala in 2012 using a manual titled ‘Marketing in Sinhala’. SLIM and FCCISL were   promoting a marketing programme in Sinhala across the country in the same year.  Global Academy of Marketing was conducting its programs in Sinhala in 2013.

The first ever Sinhala language workshop for advertising industry was organized by Adskool, under the auspices of the Accredited Advertising agencies Association of Sri Lanka in 2006. This was followed by a Sinhala creative workshop in 2008.

Sinhala has adapted well to the contemporary scene. There is blogging in Sinhala and a Sinhala bloggers union which has organised several Sinhala blog marathons. The Sinhala blogger is a new entrant certainly but has already outstripped his Sri Lanka English counterpart in terms of volume and quality, said Malinda Seneviratne.

Sinhala words are used as website titles. There is ‘ikman.lk’  ‘elakiri.lk’, ‘kiyavamu.lk’(National Library ) and‘Ethalaya.com’ (MTV) . The  shopping guide,’Yamu’  has sections titled  balamu (sights), kamu (food),gamu,  (shops), bomu, (bars) imu,( hotels)  ahamu, ( questions) and  uyamu( cooking).

Nokia launched the first Sinhala mobile phone, with Sinhala key pad and Sinhala software. Microsoft Windows Vista came with inbuilt Sinhala. The web browser Mozilla Firefox has installed a Sinhala browser, siyabas.lk. Google can translate from Sinhala to English and has voice recognition for Sinhala, The first Sinhala mobile game, launched by GTS, appeared in 2008. Wikipedia has a Sinhala section.

There are Sinhala language software packages. Helawadana nawayugaya’ allows Sinhala language computer users to do almost everything with Windows based applications that English language users can do. Including working on Ms word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.

It has been possible to develop a computation model of grammar for the Sinhala language by considering the morphology and the syntax of Sinhala. The Sinhala language is a morphologically rich language when compared to the English language. We have used 85 rules for Sinhala nouns, and 18 to implement kriya gana. Bu using these computational grammars the Sinhala morphological generator has been developed. This can generate all the word forms for the given Sinhala base word, said Hettige and Karunananda.

Sinhala is now appearing in various fonts on computer. Sinhala fonts have been added to the Unicode data base. ICTA created a Unicode for Sinhala. Sri Lanka Sinhala Character Code for Information Interchange, SLS 1134 : 2004 and SLS 1134 : 2011. ICTA    thereafter issued the third revision of the Sinhala language character code, now approved as a SLS standard. This version includes encoding for Sinhala numerals. Also six new stylised fonts, in addition to the ‘serious’ one is now available.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and local experts have joined hands to come up with Sinhala language domain names. . This will lead to the Internationalised Domain Name (IDN) program and the Sinhala Generation Panel (GP)  and that will lay the groundwork for allowing complete domain names in the Sinhalese language.  (Continued)

 

One Response to “SOME OBSERVATIONS ON “SINHALA ONLY” Part 3”

  1. Christie Says:

    වහර නු සරෙන් සපයා” මට තුවක්කුවක් (ගිනි අවියක් `ගිනි පෙල්ලක් වෙන්න ඇති”) තිබුනනම් ඔය සින්හල අපිට සින්හල කවපු උන් පරලොව යවනව.
    අද රට විරු විරුවියන් පිටරට ගෙදර දොරේ වැඩකරල පනමක් එවනව. ඉන්ග්‍රිසි ඉගෙනගෙන තිබුනනම් පවුමක්නෙ කක්කුස්සි බලාගන්නෙ නැතුව.

    ඔන්න ඕකයි කෙරුවාව. බන්ඩගෙ උන්ට ඉන්ග්‍රිසි පොඩි එකී එන්ගලන්තෙ.

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