Sinhala language

Sinhala
සිංහල
Siṁhala
සිංහල in Noto Serif Sinhala Black.svg
PronunciationIPA: [ˈsiŋɦələ]
Native toSri Lanka
EthnicitySinhalese people
Native speakers
17 million (2012)[1]
3 million L2 speakers (2012)[1]
Early form
Dialects
Official status
Official language in
 Sri Lanka
Language codes
ISO 639-1si
ISO 639-2sin
ISO 639-3sin
Glottologsinh1246
Linguasphere59-ABB-a

Sinhala (/ˈsɪnhələ, ˈsɪŋələ/ SIN-hə-lə, SING-ə-lə;[2] සිංහල, siṁhala, [ˈsiŋɦələ]),[3] (/ˌsɪn(h)əˈlz, ˌsɪŋ(ɡ)ə-/) is an Indo-Aryan language primarily spoken by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka, who make up the largest ethnic group on the island, numbering about 16 million.[4][1] Sinhala is also spoken as the first language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totaling about 4 million people as of 2001.[5] It is written using the Sinhala script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts; a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.[6]

Sinhala is one of the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. Along with Pali, it played a major role in the development of Theravada Buddhist literature.[1]

The oldest Sinhala Prakrit inscriptions found are from the third to second century BCE following the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka,[7] while the oldest extant literary works date from the ninth century. The closest relatives are the Vedda language (an endangered, indigenous creole still spoken by a minority of Sri Lankans, mixing Sinhala with an isolate of unknown origin and from which Old Sinhala borrowed various aspects into its main Indo-Aryan substrate), and the Maldivian language. It has two main varieties, written and spoken, and is a conspicuous example of the linguistic phenomenon known as diglossia.[8][9]

Letters of the Sinhala script.
  1. ^ a b c d "Sinhala". Ethnologue. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook
  4. ^ "Census of Population and Housing 2011". www.statistics.gov.lk. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing 2001" (PDF). Statistics.gov.lk. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  6. ^ Jayarajan, Paul M. (1 January 1976). History of the Evolution of the Sinhala Alphabet. Colombo Apothecaries' Company, Limited.
  7. ^ Danesh Jain, George Cardona. Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. p. 847.
  8. ^ Paolillo, John C. (1997). "Sinhala Diglossia: Discrete or Continuous Variation?". Language in Society. 26 (2): 269–296. doi:10.1017/S0047404500020935. ISSN 0047-4045. JSTOR 4168764.
  9. ^ Gair, James W. (1968). "Sinhalese Diglossia". Anthropological Linguistics. 10 (8): 1–15. ISSN 0003-5483. JSTOR 30029181.

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