Language Primer: Sinhala

Sri Lanka’s prime tongue, as shared against a backdrop of Buddhist teleportation.

Sinhala enjoys its status as Sri Lanka’s principal language. Three-quarters of the country’s population employ it as their mother tongue, and many others use it as a second language; those Sri Lankans who don’t use Sinhala will most likely use Tamil. EITM has no experience of Tamil, so don’t expect a guide for it anytime soon.

A medium amount of time ago, our correspondent travelled from Negombo to Sigiriya. Their destination: the fortress of Lion Rock. On this occasion, the driver was a former Buddhist novice who happily shared tales of his upbringing in a temple somewhere else on the island. Amongst the man’s duties was taking food to the monks meditating in seclusion atop a tower in the compound.

Read more: A trip to Timor-Leste will go smoother with a touch of Tetun.

A single stairway, culminating in a wooden door, represented the sole means of access, and every day the man would climb to the top where he would give food to the same monk, who would voice his thanks and impart a snippet of knowledge to the novice. And thus would the pattern continue until one day; having given the same monk his food in the usual way, he was surprised to find the same man awaiting him at the foot of the stairwell.

Their subsequent interaction remains unshared but suffice it to say, the novice had never before seen this monk away from the tower, and he had no explanation for how the man had reached the ground before he did. The rest of the journey to Sigiriya took place in silence, and our correspondent never did divine whether the driver, the former novice, also acquired the power of teleportation.

Let us begin …

Sinhala Language Primer

Excuse me (begging pardon) – Samawenna

Excuse me (getting attention) – Nōna (getting attention from lady / Mahaththaya (getting attention from man) / Hāmudhuruvəhanē (getting attention from monk)

Hello – Ayubōvan (formal) / Halō (Informal)

How are you? – Kohomhadha

I’m fine – Hondhin innhava

Thank you – Sthūthiyi

Please – Kalunākharhala

YesOvu (agreement) /  Hā (acceptance)

NoNa (Denial) / Ba (refusal) / Epa (refusal to accept that which is offered)

MaybeSamahara viṭa

You’re welcome – Sulu deyak

I’m sorry – Kanhagātuyi

Goodbye – Ayubōvan (formal) / Gihin ennam (informal)

Good morning – Subha udhasənak / Ayubōvan

Good afternoon – Subha sandhyāvak

Good evening – Subha sandhavak / Ayubōvan

Good night – Subha rāthriyak (bidding farewell) / Subha nindhak (sleep well)

What’s your name? – Oyāge namha mokakdha?

My name is (Thomm) – Mage namha (Thomm)

I’m from (Dili) – Mama ennē (Dili)

Where are you going? – Kohedhha yanne?

I don’t know – Mama dannē næ

I am going to (the temple) – Mama (pansal) yanavā

Where is (the temple)? – (Pansal) kohedhha?

Over there – Ehē

How far? – Kopamana durada?

How long? – Kopamana kalayak da?

Airport – Guvan

Hotel – Hōṭal

Restaurant – Avanhala

Bar – Bar

Temple – Pansal

This is … – Meya …

Cheap – Lābha

Expensive – Mila adhika

Too – Ita

Do you have (cigarettes)? – Oyāṭa (sigaraṭ) tiyenavada

I would like (a beer) – Mama (biyar valaṭa) kæmatiyi

Beer – Biyar

Water – Jalaya

Cigarettes – Sigaraṭ

Lighter – Sæhællu

Room – Kāmarayak

Ticket – Tikaṭ ekak

Food – Ahāra

Drink – Bonna

Chicken – Kukul mas

Fish – Māḷu

Rice – Sahal

Noodles – Nūḍls

What’s the score? –  Wakuṇu gaṇana kumak da?

I like your nose – Mama obē nāsayaṭa kæmatiyi


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