18,320,000 (1995). Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Prajathanthrika Samajavadi Janarajaya. Formerly Ceylon. Literacy rate 86% to 87%. Information mainly from Voegelin and Voegelin 1977. Data accuracy estimate: B. Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Blind population 13,800. Deaf population 3,459; 9,341 deaf and mute (1986 Gallaudet University). Deaf institutions: 14. The number of languages listed for Sri Lanka is 8. Of those, 7 are living languages and 1 is extinct.
ENGLISH [ENG] 97,000 first language speakers in Sri Lanka (1962); 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1985. Bible portions 1530-1987.
INDO-PORTUGUESE [IDB] 2,250 in Sri Lanka (1971 Ian Smith), including 250 families in Batticaloa (1984 Ian Smith), but possibly only about 30 speakers left (1992 P. Baker); 700 monolingual speakers in Korlai near Bombay (1977 Theban), plus an active community in Daman north of Bombay, India (1982 Jackson); 30 to 3,000 in all countries. Colombo, Kandy, Trincomalee, Galle, Batticaloa. Many emigrating to Australia. Creole, Portuguese based. Everyone is fluent in Tamil. Older speakers are also bilingual in English; some younger ones in Sinhalese. The creole is used at home only. Most of the Burgher caste speak it at home. Similar to Tamil in phonology and syntax. Many in the ethnic group may not know the creole well. Virtually no contact with Goa or Portugal since 1656. Varieties of creole Portuguese were also spoken in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, China. See also Malaccan Creole Portuguese (Peninsular Malaysia), Macao Creole Portuguese (Macau, Hongkong), Ternateño (Maluku, Indonesia), Timor Pidgin (Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia). NT 1826-1852. Bible portions 1819-1851. Survey needed.
PALI [PLL] Also India and Myanmar. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Unclassified. The literary language of the Buddhist scriptures. Buddhist. NT 1835. Bible portions 1827-1911. Extinct.
SINHALA (SINHALESE, SINGHALESE, SINGHALA, CINGALESE) [SNH] 13,190,000 in Sri Lanka, 72% of the population (1993); 3,004 in Canada (1974 govt. report); 1,400 in Maldives; 25,000 in United Arab Emirates (1986); 852 in Singapore (1987); 13,218,000 or more in all countries. All parts of Sri Lanka except some districts in the north, east, and center. Also in Thailand. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Sinhalese-Maldivian. Dialect: RODIYA. Sinhalese script. There is a great difference between the literary and the colloquial language. The Rodiya dialect is spoken by low caste Rodiya people. National language. Typology: SOV. Buddhist. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1823-1982. NT 1776-1980. Bible portions 1739-1966.
SRI LANKAN CREOLE MALAY (SRI LANKAN MALAY, MELAYU BAHASA) [SCI] 50,000 speakers, .29% of the population (1986 Hussainmiya; Prentice 1994:411). Especially the cities of Colombo, Kandy, Badulla, Hambantota. Creole, Malay based. Malay vocabulary with grammatical structure based on Sri Lankan Moor Tamil. Not intelligible with standard Malay because of phonological and syntactic differences, and strong influence from Tamil. Most or all may speak Tamil, but second language proficiency needs investigation. The creole is widely used at home with all ages and among friends. Radio program. There is a literary tradition with newspapers, poetry in 19th and early 20th centuries, using Jawi (Arabic) script, later Roman script. There are current efforts to revive the literature. May be close to Malaccan Creole Malay (S. Lim 1981). Typology: SOV, postpositions, case, adjectives and genitives precede noun heads. Survey needed.
SRI LANKAN SIGN LANGUAGE [SQS] (12,800 deaf persons; 1986 Gallaudet Univ.). Deaf sign language. 14 deaf schools. Several sign languages used by different schools. British English fingerspelling also used.
TAMIL [TCV] 3,000,000 in Sri Lanka (1993); 58,596,000 in India (1994); 90,000 in Singapore; 250,000 in South Africa; 274,218 in Malaysia; 22,000 in Mauritius (1993); 62,000,000 or more in all countries. North and northeast coasts, a few pockets in the south. Also in Fiji, Thailand, Reunion. Dravidian, Southern, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Tamil. Tamil script. Hindu, Muslim. Braille Bible portions. Bible 1727-1995. NT 1715-1981. Bible portions 1714-1956.
VEDDAH (VEDDHA, VEDA, WEDA, WEDDO, BEDA, BEDDA, VAEDDA) [VED] 300 (1993 Johnstone). All may not be speakers. Eastern mountains, Badulla and Polonnaruwa districts. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Sinhalese-Maldivian. The language is being replaced by Sinhalese. Survey needed.
Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.
If you have questions, comments, or updates on the Ethnologue, go to the Feedback page.
[Asia | Areas | Ethnologue Home | SIL Home]