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

Evolution of Sinhala Characters.


The Nature of the Sinhala and Tamil Alphabets

     There are no publications or even a simple chart giving the complete Sinhala alphabet in Sri Lanka. In Sinhala, there are three versions of the alphabet. The basic pure Sinhala (Elu hodiya) consist of 12 vowels and 25 consonants.  A mixed Sinhala alphabet (mishra sinhala akshara malawa) consists of 18 vowels and 41 consonants. However, the accepted Sinhala alphabet (sammatha sinhala akshara malawa) consists of 20 vowels and 41 consonants. In Sinhala, all consonants are expanded for each vowel combination. The present day Sinhala alphabet contains a total of 1660 individual characters[1].

            Unlike other South Asian scripts, Tamil does not have signs for voiceless aspirated (such as /kh/), voiced (/g/), and voiced aspirated stops (/gh/), which explains the relatively small number of signs in the Tamil script compared to other South Asian scripts. To write some of these sounds, some signs have multiple sound values: Tamil letter ka stands for both /ka/ and /ga. Sometimes these phonetic alterations are conditioned by the sound's position in the word. Borrowings from Sanskrit also added some special letters to Tamil. There are six characters borrowed from Grantha and have been used to write Sanskrit loanwords. Nowadays they are used to write words with English origin as well. Similar to Sinhala scripts, a Tamil letter carries the inherent vowel of /a/. To change this vowel to another, extra strokes or signs are placed around the letter. Even the absence of the vowel is indicated by a dot written, called virama, above the letter. At present, the Tamil alphabet contains a total of 247 characters.

[1] There are 20 vowels and another 21 phonetic vowels, which add up to 41. For each vowel there are 40 consonants, which multiplied together result in 1640 characters. To this figure it is necessary to add the original 20 vowels to complete the Sinhala syntax structure, which totals 1660 characters.

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