THE TAMIL LANGUAGE IN SRI LANKA Part 5B
Posted on February 14th, 2019

KAMALIKA PIERIS

HERE ARE THE CLAUSES IN THE 1978 CONSTITUTION  AFTER THE 13TH AND 16 amendments.

18/1  The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala. (1988)

18/2 Tamil shall also be an official language. (1988)

18/3 English shall be the link language. (1988)

  1. The National Languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala and Tamil. (1988)

21/1  A person shall be entitled to be educated through the medium of either of the National Languages: (1988)

22/1 Sinhala and Tamil shall be the languages of administration through out Sri Lanka and Sinhala shall be the language of administration and be used for the maintenance of public records and the transaction of all business by public institutions of all the provinces of Sri Lanka other than the Northern and Eastern Provinces where Tamil shall be so used. (1988)

22/2 In any area where Sinhala is used as the language of administration a person other than an official acting in his official capacity, shall be entitled: (a) to receive communications from, and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity, in either Tamil or English

(a) to receive communications from and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity, in either Tamil or English;

(b) if the law recognizes his right to inspector to obtain copies of or extracts from any official register, record, publication or other document, to obtain a copy of, or an extract from such register, record, publication) or other document, or a translation thereof, as the case may be, in either Tamil or English ;

(c) where a document is executed by any official for the purpose of being issued to him, to obtain such document or a translation thereof, in either Tamil or English. (1988)

22/(3) In any area where Tamil is used as the language of administration, a person other than an official acting in his official capacity, shall be entitled to exercise the rights and to obtain the services, referred to in sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of paragraph (2) of this Article, in Sinhala or English. (1988)

22/4) A Provincial Council or a local authority which conducts its business in Sinhala shall be entitled to receive communications from and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity, in Sinhala, and a Provincial Council or a local authority which conducts its business in Tamil shall be entitled to receive communications from and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity, in Tamil : (1988)

22/5) A person shall be entitled to be examined through the medium of either Sinhala or Tamil or a language of his choice at any examination for the admission of persons to the Public Service, Judicial Service, Provincial Public Service, Local Government Service or any public institution, subject to the condition that he may be required to acquire a sufficient knowledge of Tamil or Sinhala, as the case may be, within a reasonable time after admission to such service or public institution where such knowledge is reasonably necessary for the discharge of his duties: (1988)

  1. (1) All laws and subordinate legislation shall be enacted or made and published in Sinhala and Tamil, together with a translation thereof in English:

23/(2) All Orders, Proclamations, rules, by-laws, regulations and notifications made or issued under any written law other than by a Provincial Council or a local authority, and the Gazette shall be published in Sinhala and Tamil together with a translation thereof in English.

23/(3) All Orders, Proclamations, rules, by-laws, regulations and notifications made or issued under any written law by any Provincial Council or local authority, and all documents, including circulars and forms issued by such body or any public institution shall be published in the Language used in the administration in the respective areas in which they function, together with a translation thereof in English. (1988)

  1. (1) Sinhala and Tamil shall be the languages of the Courts throughout Sri Lanka and Sinhala shall be used as the language of the courts situated in all the areas of Sri Lanka except those in any area where Tamil is the language of administration. The record and proceedings shall be in the language of the Court. (1988)
  2. PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM OF 1997

The story of the Tamil language in Sri Lanka  is not, apparently,  going to end with the 16th Amendment. More changes are desired by the Tamil lobby. These were incorporated into the proposed Constitutional Reform of 1997. The text was given in Sunday Observer of 2.11.97.

In CHAPTER 4:  LANGUAGE” Sinhala disappears and Tamil is entrenched throughout the country at regional and central level. Two mutually exclusive linguistic states are established, with the merged North and East forming a Tamil state, where public records are exclusively kept in Tamil. Communications, between the regions is to be in       English which is not an official language at all. Communications with the centre is not discussed because in this new constitution, the centre is expected to self-destruct.

The section relating to language use in law has detailed provision such as interpreters and translators. It is not usual to include such matters in a   country’s Constitution.  It will be necessary to juggle three languages therefore the draft carries detailed provisions for the use of each of the three languages. These provisions are so detailed that they could be classed as the lunatic fringe of constitutional reform.

It is advisable for the Sinhala speaking public, before whom these extreme and inacceptable language provisions have now been placed, to insist that all public records all over the island be maintained in Sinhala with additional provision for Tamil records in the North alone, and to insist that all communications between ‘regions’ and also between ‘region’ and ‘centre’ be only in Sinhala. If not Sinhala disappears and Tamil rules, said critics in 1997. (Continued)

One Response to “THE TAMIL LANGUAGE IN SRI LANKA Part 5B”

  1. Christie Says:

    Tamil is the same where ever the Tamils are. There are no different Tamil Languages.

    All Tamils speak the same Tamil whether they are in India or outside India.

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