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Spoken Sinhalese-1 by W D Pinto-Jayawardena

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This article appeared in the Term 2 1949 college magazine.


There is a widespread belief among the "English-educated" Sinhalese that the gulf between spoken and written Sinhalese is so great that they practically form two dialects-spoken Sinhalese being a jargon of English, Portuguese, Dutch, Tamil and Sinhalese words, without any regard for the rules of grammar! The facts are otherwise. Except in the bigger towns like Colombo and Kandy, a study of the speech forms of the villager will reveal a surprising difference between his language and the colloquival Sinhalese of the towns. This difference will be all the more startling if one studies the language used by the villages in the remoter areas-the outskirts of Bintenne, Laggala, Aluvihare, the Vanni, etc. He talks grammatical Sinhalese! Yet it has not the stilted unnatural style, some believe, good grammatical Sinhalese should have! There was no more difference between spoken and written Sinhalese in the past, than there is between spoken and written English among those who have had a good English education. Just as great care is taken in observing the rules of grammar and choice of words in English, respect and love for our language should demand the same attention from us in our spoken Sinhalese. That is very easy to achive.