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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sinhala Language Pointers–Useful for those who are Sri Lanka bound!

Sinhala is the language of the Sinhalese people, who constitute most of Sri Lanka. During my recent trip, I found out that I had to learn Sinhala as the locals in the interior parts of Sri Lanka do not speak or understand English or Tamil. Even worse, my van driver knew only a couple of words in English and absolutely zilch Tamil. It was during this state of adversity that I learnt some Sinhala words that are basic words in the travel dictionary.

The special thing about these words in Sinhala is their phonetics. In this short learning exercise, I found out that there were a lot of stresses on the last syllables of the words. I also found out that Sinhala borrows a lot of words from Tamil and Sanskrit. In fact, most of our Dravidian languages. It is also very similar to the language of Minicoy in Lakshadweep Islands, India, which is similar to the one in Maldives.

Here’s the list that I remember clearly:

Kohomaday – How are you?
Kohomaday Machaan – How are you, my friend?
Oyagey Namma Mokakthe – What is your name?
Kayammm – Food
Udaya Kayammm – Breakfast
Dhavala Kayammm – Lunch
Ratri Kayammm – Dinner
Kotiya – Tiger/Leopard (basically the large cats)
Aliya – Elephant
Stuthi – Thank You! (This word is derived from Sanskrit)
Wathura – Water
Kakkusee – Toilet (very similar to the one in Tamil)
Tabili – Coconut
Baath – Rice
Bitharay – Egg
Rashni – Heat/Hot
Sheetallay – Cold/Chill
Budhi – Sleep
Nanay – Bath
Veyassau – Rain
Appiyanava – I am going
Yummmu – Let’s go
Eka – One
Deka – Two
Thuna – Three
Hathara – Four
Paha – Five
Haya – Six
Hatha – Seven
Ata – Eight
Navaya – Nine
Dahaya - Ten 

Let’s just hope that I remember these words till my next Sri Lankan trip. Sinhala is a very nice language. I hope to learn it some day in the near future.



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