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. 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 …
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
Yes – Ovu (agreement) / Hā (acceptance)
No – Na (Denial) / Ba (refusal) / Epa (refusal to accept that which is offered)
Maybe – Samahara 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