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Languages of Sri Lanka

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Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Prajathanthrika Samajavadi Janarajaya. Formerly Ceylon. 19,905,165. National or official languages: Sinhala, Tamil. Literacy rate: 86% to 87%. Information mainly from J. Gair 1990; J. Holm 1989. Blind population: 13,800. Deaf population: 3,459 to 1,093,340 (1998). Deaf institutions: 14. The number of languages listed for Sri Lanka is 8. Of those, 7 are living languages and 1 is extinct.

Living languages


[eng] 74,170 in Sri Lanka (2000 WCD).  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English 
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[idb] 3,406 in Sri Lanka (2000 WCD). Population includes 250 families in Batticaloa (1984 Ian Smith), but possibly only about 30 speakers left (1992 P. Baker). Colombo, Kandy, Trincomalee, Galle, Batticaloa. Also spoken in Australia, India. Dialects: Similar to Tamil in phonology and syntax. Varieties of creole Portuguese were also spoken in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, China. See also Malaccan Creole Portuguese (Peninsular Malaysia), Macao Creole Portuguese (Hongkong), TernateƱo (Maluku, Indonesia), Timor Pidgin (East Timor).  Classification: Creole, Portuguese based 
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[sin] 13,190,000 in Sri Lanka (1993). Population total all countries: 13,220,256. All parts of Sri Lanka except some districts in the north, east, and center. Also spoken in Canada, Maldives, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates. Alternate names: Sinhalese, Singhalese, Singhala, Cingalese.  Dialects: Rodiya. There is a great difference between the literary and the colloquial language. The Rodiya dialect is spoken by low caste Rodiya people.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Sinhalese-Maldivian 
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Sri Lankan Creole Malay

[sci] 50,000 (1986 Hussainmiya, Prentice 1994:411). Especially the cities of Colombo, Kandy, Badulla, Hambantota. Alternate names: Sri Lankan Malay, Melayu Bahasa, Java Jati.  Dialects: Not intelligible with standard Malay because of phonological and syntactic differences, and strong influence from Tamil. May be close to Malaccan Creole Malay (S. Lim 1981).  Classification: Creole, Malay based 
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Sri Lankan Sign Language

[sqs] 12,800 deaf persons (1986 Gallaudet Univ).  Classification: Deaf sign language 
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[tam] 3,000,000 in Sri Lanka (1993). North and northeast coasts, a few pockets in the south. Classification: Dravidian, Southern, Tamil-Kannada, Tamil-Kodagu, Tamil-Malayalam, Tamil 
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[ved] 300 (1993 Johnstone). Ethnic population: 2,500 (2002). Eastern mountains, Badulla and Polonnaruwa districts. Alternate names: Veddha, Veda, Weda, Weddo, Beda, Bedda, Vaedda.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Sinhalese-Maldivian 
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Extinct languages


[pli] Extinct.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Unclassified 
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