Brief Political History / Development of Sinhala Characters / Evolution of Sinhala Characters / Three Sinhala (Hodiyas) without the Vowel Expansion / Development of Tamil Characters / Tamil Alphabet with the Vowel Expansion / Position of Sri Lanka Standard Institute / Difficulties Relating to the Current Software / Advantages of having a Sinhala and Tamil Character Matrix / Why we need complete Sinhala and Tamil Characters / News Paper Articles / References / Solution / Cartoons / Comments / Save our Language Sinhala/Computer literacy low / Sinhala Grammer & Reading / Some E mail from Linux Group / Catalogue of Palmleaves

Development of Sinhala Characters

Sinhalese written from left to right has no capital letters. The writing system is called syllabic, where the vowels and consonants are not represented as separate units such as in the Roman script, but as syllabic units in which the vowel is inherent in the consonant (Paranavithana,1972). Historical sources suggests there were written communications in Sinhala amongst the royalty as far back as 4 BC (Former Director General of the Department of Archeology Dr. Shiran Deraniyagala, excavations in Anuradhapura) The first Sinhala characters found in Sri Lanka were inscribed on the top of caves of which Buddhist monks used for meditation during 3 BC. These consisted of only a few very simple characters that were later modernised and diversified. The oldest script available, Siyabaslakara, is the work of the latter part of the Anuradhapura era (8 to 9 AD) (Indrasena, 2001).

     The development of the language was interrupted by the Chola invasion in 1017, which ended the Anuradhapura era. Developments resumed in the Polonnaruwa era, 1070. Examples of some of the publications produced during this period include Butsarana, Amawathura, Kausilumina and Dhahamsarana. The development of the language was further interrupted by the Kalinga Marga invasion in 1215. Books published during the Dhambadeni era which commenced in 1236, include Pujawaliya, Sadharmaratnawaliya, and Kuveni Asna. The Dhambadeni era introduced a set of characters void of Sanskrit influences. The first such publication was Sidath Sagarawa. There after several Sanskrit characters were introduced under the influence of a Sanskrit scholar, Pananee. During the Kotte period [2] a subsequent collection of characters were introduced which was known as the Sodiya or alphabet.(Indrasena, 2001).

The invasion of the Portuguese in 1505 once again hampered the development of the language. However, the Dutch (1656-1796) who succeeded the Portuguese wished to propagate Protestant Christianity and therefore translated the Protestant Bible into Sinhala. The Dutch priest Jacome Gonsalves who conducted the translation added several new characters into the then existing alphabet. It was also the Dutch who first introduced the printing press to Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, semantics of the Sinhala language was impeded for almost one and a half centuries until it was resurrected by the high priest, Venerable Walivita Saranankara in the Kandyan era. It was during the Kandyan era the template of the current Sinhala alphabet was established.(Indrasena, 2001)

A Sinhala - English Dictionery was written by Rev B Clough and was first published in 1830. Second revised edition was published in 1936.(reprints are available at Asian Educational Services NewDelhi) The second Sinhala - English Dictionery was by published by Rev Charles Carter of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1924.(reprints are available at Asian Educational Services NewDelhi) I found that there was a very old Sinhala - English Dictionery by Mudliyer A Mendis Gunersekera.(unable to find a copy) The other Sinhala - English Dictionery published in 1948 (Dharma Samaya Printers) is by A P de Zoysa a Lawyer by profession with a Ph D.

[1] The exact date for the begining of Kotte kingdom is not clear. Bhuvaneakabahu V  1371-1408 first ruled  from Gampola but later shifted to Kotte and the last king of Kotte was Don Jun Dharmapala (1551-1597) who became a Catholic and became a vassal of Portuguese.

[2] As mentioned in Kavyasekara  by Venerable Totagamuwe Siri Rahula Thero.

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