The Sinhala script (Sinhala: සිංහල අක්ෂර මාලාව, romanized: Siṁhala Akṣara Mālāva), also known as Sinhalese script, is a writing system used by the Sinhalese people and most Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka and elsewhere to write the Sinhala language as well as the liturgical languages Pali and Sanskrit.[3] The Sinhalese Akṣara Mālāva, one of the Brahmic scripts, is a descendant of the Ancient Indian Brahmi script. It is also related to the Grantha script.[4]

Sinhala script (Sinhalese)
සිංහල අක්ෂර මාලාව
Siṁhala Akṣara Mālāva
Script type
Time period
c. 300 – present[1]
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesSinhala, Pali, Sanskrit
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Tamil-Brahmi, Gupta, Bhattiprolu, Kadamba, Tocharian
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Sinh (348), ​Sinhala
Unicode alias
The theorised Semitic origins of the Brahmi script are not universally agreed upon.
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

The Sinhala script is an abugida written from left to right. Sinhala letters are classified in two sets. The core set of letters forms the śuddha siṃhala alphabet (Pure Sinhala, ශුද්ධ සිංහල), which is a subset of the miśra siṃhala alphabet (Mixed Sinhala, මිශ්‍ර සිංහල).

History edit

The Sinhala script is a Brahmi derivate and was thought to have been imported from Northern India around the 3rd century BCE.[5] It developed in a complex manner, partly independently but also strongly influenced by South Indian scripts at various stages,[6] manifestly influenced by the early Grantha script.[3] Pottery from the 6th century BCE has been found in Anuradhapura with lithic Brahmi inscriptions written in Prakrit or Sinhala Prakrit. It has caused debate as to whether Ceylonese Brahmi influenced Brahmi in the Indian mainland.[7]

Medieval Sinhalese, which emerged around 750 AD, is marked by very strong influence from the Grantha script.[1] Subsequently, Medieval (and modern) Sinhalese resemble the South Indian scripts.[6] By the 9th century CE, literature written in the Sinhala script had emerged and the script began to be used in other contexts. For instance, the Buddhist literature of the Theravada-Buddhists of Sri Lanka, written in Pali, used Sinhala script.

Modern Sinhalese emerged in the 13th century and is marked by the composition of the grammar book Sidat Sangara.[1] In 1736, the Dutch were the first to print with Sinhala type on the island. The resulting type followed the features of the native Sinhala script used on palm leaves. The type created by the Dutch was monolinear and geometric in fashion, with no separation between words in early documents. During the second half of the 19th century, during the colonial period, a new style of Sinhala letterforms emerged in opposition to the monolinear and geometric form that used high contrast and had varied thicknesses. This high contrast type gradually replaced the monolinear type as the preferred style and continues to be used in the present day. The high contrast style is still preferred for text typesetting in printed newspapers, books, and magazines in Sri Lanka.[8]

Today, the alphabet is used by over 16 million people to write Sinhala in very diverse contexts, such as newspapers, TV commercials, government announcements, graffiti, and schoolbooks.

Sinhala is the main language written in this script, but rare instances of its use for writing Sri Lanka Malay have been recorded.[9]

Structure edit

The basic form of the letter k is ක "ka". For "ki", a small arch called ispilla is placed over the ක: කි. This replaces the inherent /a/ by /i/. It is also possible to have no vowel following a consonant. In order to produce such a pure consonant, a special marker, the hal kirīma has to be added: ක්. This marker suppresses the inherent vowel.

Sinhala script is an abugida written from left to right. It uses consonants as the basic unit for word construction as each consonant has an inherent vowel (/a/), which can be changed with a different vowel stroke. To represent different sounds it is necessary to add vowel strokes, or diacritics called පිලි (Pili), that can be used before, after, above, or below the base-consonant. Most of the Sinhala letters are curlicues; straight lines are almost completely absent from the alphabet, and it does not have joining characters. This is because Sinhala used to be written on dried palm leaves, which would split along the veins on writing straight lines. This was undesirable, and therefore, the round shapes were preferred. Upper and lower cases do not exist in Sinhala.[8]

Sinhala letters are ordered into two sets. The core set of letters forms the śuddha siṃhala alphabet (Pure Sinhala, ශුද්ධ සිංහල), which is a subset of the miśra siṃhala alphabet (Mixed Sinhala, මිශ්‍ර සිංහල). This "pure" alphabet contains all the graphemes necessary to write Eḷu (classical Sinhala) as described in the classical grammar Sidatsan̆garā (1300 AD).[10] This is the reason why this set is also called Eḷu hōdiya ("Eḷu alphabet" එළු හෝඩිය). The definition of the two sets is thus a historic one. Out of pure coincidence, the phoneme inventory of present-day colloquial Sinhala is such that yet again the śuddha alphabet suffices as a good representation of the sounds.[10] All native phonemes of the Sinhala spoken today can be represented in śuddha, while in order to render special Sanskrit and Pali sounds, one can fall back on miśra siṃhala. This is most notably necessary for the graphemes for the Middle Indic phonemes that the Sinhala language lost during its history, such as aspirates.[10]

Most phonemes of Sinhala can be represented by a śuddha letter or by a miśra letter, but normally only one of them is considered correct. This one-to-many mapping of phonemes onto graphemes is a frequent source of misspellings.[11]

While a phoneme can be represented by more than one grapheme, each grapheme can be pronounced in only one way, with the exceptions of the inherent vowel sound, which can be either [a] (stressed) or [ə] (unstressed), and "ව" where the consonant is either [v] or [w] depending on the word. This means that the actual pronunciation of a word is almost always clear from its orthographic form. Stress is almost always predictable; only words with [v] or [w] (which are both allophones of "ව"), and a very few other words need to be learnt individually.

Some pronunciation exceptions in Sinhala:

  • කරනවා – to do – [kərənəˈwaː] (not [ˈkarənəˈwaː])
  • හතලිහ – forty – [ˈhat̪əlihə] (not [ˈhat̪əliˈha])

Diacritics edit

The two shapes of the hal kirīma for p (left) and b (right).

In Sinhala the diacritics are called පිලි pili (vowel strokes). දිග diga means "long" because the vowel is sounded for longer and දෙක deka means "two" because the stroke is doubled when written.

Using the consonant 'k' + 'vowel' as an example:
පිල්ල pilla Name Transliteration Formation Compound form ISO 15919 IPA
◌් හල් කිරිම Hal kirīma ක් ක් k [k]
Inherent /a/ (without any pili) ක් + අ ka [kʌ]
◌ා ඇලපිල්ල Ælapilla ක් + ආ කා [kɑː]
◌ැ ඇදය Ædaya ක් + ඇ කැ [kæ]
◌ෑ දිග ඇදය Diga ædaya ක් + ඈ කෑ [kæː]
◌ි ඉස්පිල්ල Ispilla ක් + ඉ කි ki [ki]
◌ී දිග ඉස්පිල්ල Diga ispilla ක් + ඊ කී [kiː]
◌ු පාපිල්ල Pāpilla ක් + උ කු ku [ku], [kɯ]
◌ූ දිග පාපිල්ල Diga pāpilla ක් + ඌ කූ [kuː]
◌ෘ ගැටය සහිත ඇලපිල්ල Gæṭaya sahita ælapilla ක් + ර් + උ කෘ kru [kru]
◌ෲ ගැටය සහිත ඇලපිලි දෙක Gæṭaya sahita ælapili deka ක් + ර් + ඌ කෲ krū [kruː]
◌ෟ ගයනුකිත්ත Gayanukitta Used in conjunction with kombuva for consonants.
◌ෳ දිග ගයනුකිත්ත Diga gayanukitta Not in contemporary use
කොම්බුව Kombuva ක් + එ කෙ ke [ke]
කොම්බුව සහ හල්කිරීම Kombuva saha halkirīma ක් + ඒ කේ [keː]
කොම්බු දෙක Kombu deka ක් + ඓ කෛ kai [kʌj]
කොම්බුව සහ ඇලපිල්ල Kombuva saha ælapilla ක් + ඔ කො ko [ko]
කොම්බුව සහ හල්ඇලපිල්ල Kombuva saha halælapilla ක් + ඕ කෝ [koː]
කොම්බුව සහ ගයනුකිත්ත Kombuva saha gayanukitta ක් + ඖ කෞ kau [kʌʋ]

Non-vocalic diacritics edit

The anusvara (often called binduva 'zero' ) is represented by one small circle ◌ං (Unicode 0D82),[12] and the visarga (technically part of the miśra alphabet) by two ◌ඃ (Unicode 0D83). The inherent vowel can be removed by a special virama diacritic, the hal kirīma (◌්), which has two shapes depending on which consonant it attaches to. Both are represented in the image on the right side. The first one is the most common one, while the second one is used for letters ending at the top left corner.

Letters edit

Śuddha set edit

The śuddha graphemes are the mainstay of Sinhala script and are used on an everyday basis. Every sequence of sounds of Sinhala of today can be represented by these graphemes. Additionally, the śuddha set comprises graphemes for retroflex ⟨ḷ⟩ and ⟨ṇ⟩, which are no longer phonemic in modern Sinhala. These two letters were needed for the representation of Eḷu, but are now obsolete from a purely phonemic view. However, words which historically contain these two phonemes are still often written with the graphemes representing the retroflex sounds.

Transliteration a ā æ ǣ i ī u ū e ē o ō
IPA [a,ə] [aː,a] [æ] [æː] [i] [iː] [u] [uː] [e] [eː] [o] [oː]
Transliteration k g n̆g c j n̆ḍ t d n n̆d p b m m̆b y r l v s h
IPA [k] [g] [ᵑɡ] [t͡ʃ~t͡ɕ] [d͡ʒ~d͡ʑ] [ʈ] [ɖ] [ɳ] [ᶯɖ] [t] [d] [n] [ⁿd] [p] [b] [m] [ᵐb] [j] [r] [l] [ɭ] [ʋ] [s] [ɦ]

Vowels edit

short long
independent diacritic independent diacritic
0D85 a [a] inherent a [a, ə] 0D86 ā [aː] 0DCF ā [aː]
0D87 æ/ä [æ] 0DD0 æ [æ] 0D88 ǣ [æː] 0DD1 ǣ [æː]
0D89 i [i] 0DD2 i [i] 0D8A ī [iː] 0DD3 ī [iː]
0D8B u [u] 0DD4 u [u] 0D8C ū [uː] 0DD6 ū [uː]
0D91 e [e] 0DD9 e [e] 0D92 ē [eː] 0DDA ē [eː]
0D94 o [o] 0DDC o [o] 0D95 ō [oː] 0DDD ō [oː]
Display this table as an image

Vowels come in two shapes: independent and diacritic. The independent shape is used when a vowel does not follow a consonant, e.g. at the beginning of a word. The diacritic shape is used when a vowel follows a consonant. Depending on the vowel, the diacritic can attach at several places (see diacritics section above)

While most diacritics are regular, the diacritic for ⟨u⟩ takes a different shape according to the consonant it attaches to. The most common one is the one used for the consonant ප (p): පු (pu) and පූ (pū). Some consonants ending at the lower right corner (ක (k),ග (g), ත(t), but not න(n) or හ(h)) use this diacritic: කු (ku) and කූ (kuu). Combinations of ර(r) or ළ(ḷ) with ⟨u⟩ have idiosyncratic shapes, viz රු (ru) රූ (rū) ළු (ḷu) ළූ (ḷū).[13]

The diacritic used for රු (ru) and රූ (rū) is what is normally used for the ⟨æ⟩, and therefore there are idiosyncratic forms for ræ and rǣ, viz රැ and රෑ.

Consonants edit

voiceless voiced
Unicode translit. IPA Unicode translit. IPA
velar 0D9A ka [ka] 0D9C ga [ɡa]
retroflex 0DA7 ṭa [ʈa] 0DA9 ḍa [ɖa]
dental 0DAD ta [t̪a] 0DAF da [d̪a]
labial 0DB4 pa [pa] 0DB6 ba [ba]
Other letters
Unicode translit. IPA Unicode translit. IPA
fricatives 0DC3 sa [sa] 0DC4 ha [ha]
affricates (ච) (0DA0) (ca) ([t͡ʃa]) 0DA2 ja [d͡ʒa]
nasals 0DB8 ma [ma] 0DB1 na [na]
liquid 0DBD la [la] 0DBB ra [ra]
glide 0DC0 va [ʋa] 0DBA ya [ja]
retroflex 0DAB ṇa [ɳa] 0DC5 ḷa [ɭa]
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The śuddha alphabet comprises 8 plosives, 2 fricatives, 2 affricates, 2 nasals, 2 liquids and 2 glides. Additionally, there are the two graphemes for the retroflex sounds /ɭ/ and /ɳ/, which are not phonemic in modern Sinhala, but which still form part of the set. These are shaded in the table.

The voiceless affricate (ච [t͡ʃa]) is not included in the śuddha set by purists since it does not occur in the main text of the Sidatsan̆garā. The Sidatsan̆garā does use it in examples though, so this sound did exist in Eḷu. In any case, it is needed for the representation of modern Sinhala.[10]

The basic shapes of these consonants carry an inherent /a/ unless this is replaced by another vowel or removed by the hal kirīma.

Prenasalized consonants edit

Prenasalized consonants
nasal obstruent prenasalized
Unicode translit. IPA
velar 0D9F n̆ga [ᵑɡa]
retroflex 0DAC n̆ḍa [ᶯɖa]
dental 0DB3 n̆da [ⁿd̪a]
labial 0DB9 m̆ba [ᵐba]
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The prenasalized consonants resemble their plain counterparts. ⟨m̆b⟩ is made up by the left half of ⟨m⟩ and the right half of ⟨b⟩, while the other three are just like the grapheme for the plosive with a little stroke attached to their left.[14] Vowel diacritics attach in the same way as they would to the corresponding plain plosive.

Miśra set edit

The miśra alphabet is a superset of śuddha. It adds letters for aspirates, retroflexes and sibilants, which are not phonemic in today's Sinhala, but which are necessary to represent non-native words, like loanwords from Sanskrit, Pali or English. The use of the extra letters is mainly a question of prestige. From a purely phonemic point of view, there is no benefit in using them, and they can be replaced by a (sequence of) śuddha letters as follows: For the miśra aspirates, the replacement is the plain śuddha counterpart, for the miśra retroflex liquids the corresponding śuddha coronal liquid,[15] for the sibilants, ⟨s⟩.[16] ඤ (ñ) and ඥ (gn) cannot be represented by śuddha graphemes but are found only in fewer than 10 words each. ෆ fa can be represented by ප pa with a Latin ⟨f⟩ inscribed in the cup.

Transliteration r̥̄ ai au l̥̄
IPA [ri,ru] [riː,ruː] [ɑj] [ɑw] [li] [liː]
Transliteration kh gh ch jh ñ jña ṭh ḍh th dh n ph bh ś f
IPA [k] [g] [ŋ] [t͡ʃ~t͡ɕ] [d͡ʒ~d͡ʑ] [ɲ] [d͡ʒɲa] [ʈ] [ɖ] [t] [d] [n] [p] [b] [ʃ] [ʃ] [f]

Vowels edit

(Click on [show] on the right if you see only boxes below)


Vocalic diacritics
independent diacritic independent diacritic
diphthongs 0D93 ai [ai] 0DDB ai [ai] 0D96 au [au] 0DDE au [au] diphthongs
syllabic r 0D8D [ur] 0DD8 [ru, ur] 0D8E [ruː] 0DF2 [ruː, uːr] syllabic r
syllabic l 0D8F [li] 0DDF [li] 0D90 [liː] 0DF3 [liː] syllabic l
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There are six additional vocalic diacritics in the miśra alphabet. The two diphthongs are quite common, while the "syllabic" ṛ is much rarer, and the "syllabic" ḷ is all but obsolete. The latter are almost exclusively found in loanwords from Sanskrit.[17]

The miśra ⟨ṛ⟩ can also be written with śuddha ⟨r⟩+⟨u⟩ or ⟨u⟩+⟨r⟩, which corresponds to the actual pronunciation. The miśra syllabic ⟨ḷ⟩ is obsolete, but can be rendered by śuddha ⟨l⟩+⟨i⟩.[18] Miśra ⟨au⟩ is rendered as śuddha ⟨awu⟩, miśra ⟨ai⟩ as śuddha ⟨ayi⟩.

The transliteration of both ළ් and ෟ is ⟨ḷ⟩. This is not very problematic as the second one is extremely scarce.

Consonants edit

(Click on [show] on the right if you see only boxes below)


Extra miśra plosives
voiceless voiced
Unicode translit. IPA Unicode translit. IPA
velar 0D9B kha [ka] 0D9D gha [ɡa] velar
retroflex 0DA8 ṭha [ʈa] 0DAA ḍha [ɖa] retroflex
dental 0DAE tha [t̪a] 0DB0 dha [d̪a] dental
labial 0DB5 pha [pa] 0DB7 bha [ba] labial
Other additional miśra graphemes
Unicode translit. IPA Unicode translit. IPA
sibilants 0DC1 śa [sa] 0DC2 ṣa [sa] sibilants
aspirate affricates 0DA1 cha [t͡ʃa] 0DA3 jha [d͡ʒa] aspirate affricates
nasals 0DA4 ña [ɲa] 0DA5 jña [d͡ʒɲa] nasals
other 0D9E ṅa [ŋa] 0DC6 fa [fa, ɸa, pa] other
other 0DA6 n̆ja[19] [nd͡ʒa] fප n/a fa [fa, ɸa, pa] other
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Consonant conjuncts edit


Certain combinations of graphemes trigger special ligatures. Special signs exist for an ර (r) following a consonant (inverted arch underneath), a ර (r) preceding a consonant (loop above) and a ය (y) following a consonant (half a ය on the right). [15][20][21] Furthermore, very frequent combinations are often written in one stroke, like ddh, kv or . If this is the case, the first consonant is not marked with a hal kirīma. [15][17][21] The image on the right shows the glyph for śrī, which is composed of the letter ś with a ligature indicating the r below and the vowel ī marked above. Most other conjunct consonants are made with an explicit virama, called al-lakuna or hal kirīma, and the zero-width joiner as shown in the following table, some of which may not display correctly due to limitations of your system. Some of the more common are displayed in the following table. Note that although modern Sinhala sounds are not aspirated, aspiration is marked in the sound where it was historically present to highlight the differences in modern spelling. Also note that all of the combinations are encoded with the al-lakuna (Unicode U+0DCA) first, followed by the zero-width joiner (Unicode U+200D) except for touching letters which have the zero-width joiner (Unicode U+200D) first followed by the al-lakuna (Unicode U+0DCA). Touching letters were used in ancient scriptures but are not used in modern Sinhala. Vowels may be attached to any of the ligatures formed, attaching to the rightmost part of the glyph except for vowels that use the kombuva, where the kombuva is written before the ligature or cluster and the remainder of the vowel, if any, is attached to the rightmost part. In the table below, appending "o" (kombuva saha ælepillakombuva with ælepilla) to the cluster "ky" /kja/ only adds a single code point, but adds two vowel strokes, one each to the left and right of the consonant cluster.

IPA Letters Unicode Combined Unicode Type
/kja/ ක්ය U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DBA ක්‍ය U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA yansaya
/kjo/ ක්යො U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DBA U+0DCC ක‍්‍යො U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA U+0DCC yansaya
/ɡja/ ග්ය U+0D9C U+0DCA U+0DBA ග්‍ය U+0D9C U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA yansaya
/kra/ ක්ර U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DBB ක්‍ර U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBB rakāransaya
/ɡra/ ග්ර U+0D9C U+0DCA U+0DBB ග්‍ර U+0D9C U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBB rakāransaya
/rka/ ර්ක U+0DBB U+0DCA U+0D9A ර්‍ක U+0DBB U+0DCA U+200D U+0D9A rēpaya
/rɡa/ ර්ග U+0DBB U+0DCA U+0D9C ර්‍ග U+0DBB U+0DCA U+200D U+0D9C rēpaya
/kjra/ ක්ය්ර U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DBA U+0DCA U+0DBB ක්‍ය්‍ර U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBB yansaya + rakāransaya
/ɡjra/ ග්ය්ර U+0D9C U+0DCA U+0DBA U+0DCA U+0DBB ග්‍ය්‍ර U+0D9C U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBB yansaya + rakāransaya
/rkja/ ර්ක්ය U+0DBB U+0DCA U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DBA ර්‍ක්‍ය U+0DBB U+0DCA U+200D U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA rēpaya + yansaya
/rɡja/ ර්ග්ය U+0DBB U+0DCA U+0D9C U+0DCA U+0DBA ර්‍ග්‍ය U+0DBB U+0DCA U+200D U+0D9C U+0DCA U+200D U+0DBA rēpaya + yansaya
/kva/ ක්ව U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DC0 ක්‍ව U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DC0 conjunct
/kʃa/ ක්ෂ U+0D9A U+0DCA U+0DC2 ක්‍ෂ U+0D9A U+0DCA U+200D U+0DC2 conjunct
/ɡdʰa/ ග්ධ U+0D9C U+0DCA U+0DB0 ග්‍ධ U+0D9C U+0DCA U+200D U+0DB0 conjunct
/ʈʈʰa/ ට්ඨ U+0DA7 U+0DCA U+0DA8 ට්‍ඨ U+0DA7 U+0DCA U+200D U+0DA8 conjunct
/t̪t̪ʰa/ ත්ථ U+0DAD U+0DCA U+0DAE ත්‍ථ U+0DAD U+0DCA U+200D U+0DAE conjunct
/t̪va/ ත්ව U+0DAD U+0DCA U+0DC0 ත්‍ව U+0DAD U+0DCA U+200D U+0DC0 conjunct
/d̪d̪ʰa/ ද්ධ U+0DAF U+0DCA U+0DB0 ද්‍ධ U+0DAF U+0DCA U+200D U+0DB0 conjunct
/d̪va/ ද්ව U+0DAF U+0DCA U+0DC0 ද්‍ව U+0DAF U+0DCA U+200D U+0DC0 conjunct
/nd̪a/ න්ද U+0DB1 U+0DCA U+0DAF න්‍ද U+0DB1 U+0DCA U+200D U+0DAF conjunct
/nd̪ʰa/ න්ධ U+0DB1 U+0DCA U+0DB0 න්‍ධ U+0DB1 U+0DCA U+200D U+0DB0 conjunct
/mma/ ම්ම U+0DB8 U+0DCA U+0DB8 ම‍්ම U+0DB8 U+200D U+0DCA U+0DB8 touching

Letter names edit

The Sinhala śuddha graphemes are named in a uniform way adding -yanna to the sound produced by the letter, including vocalic diacritics.[12][22] The name for the letter අ is thus ayanna, for the letter ආ āyanna, for the letter ක kayanna, for the letter කා kāyanna, for the letter කෙ keyanna and so forth. For letters with hal kirīma, an epenthetic a is added for easier pronunciation: the name for the letter ක් is akyanna. Another naming convention is to use al- before a letter with suppressed vowel, thus alkayanna.

Since the extra miśra letters are phonetically not distinguishable from the śuddha letters, proceeding in the same way would lead to confusion. Names of miśra letters are normally made up of the names of two śuddha letters pronounced as one word. The first one indicates the sound, the second one the shape. For example, the aspirated ඛ (kh) is called bayanu kayanna. kayanna indicates the sound, while bayanu indicates the shape: ඛ (kh) is similar in shape to බ (b) (bayunu = like bayanna). Another method is to qualify the miśra aspirates by mahāprāna (ඛ: mahāprāna kayanna) and the miśra retroflexes by mūrdhaja (ළ: mūrdhaja layanna).

Numerals edit

Sinhala had special symbols to represent numerals, which were in use until the beginning of the 19th century. This system is now superseded by Hindu–Arabic numeral system.[23][24]

Sinhala Illakkam (Sinhala Archaic Numbers)

Sinhala Illakkam were used for writing numbers prior to the fall of Kandyan Kingdom in 1815. These digits did not have a zero instead the numbers had signs for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 1000. These digits and numbers can be seen primarily in Royal documents and artefacts.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 1000
𑇡 𑇢 𑇣 𑇤 𑇥 𑇦 𑇧 𑇨 𑇩 𑇪 𑇫 𑇬 𑇭 𑇮 𑇯 𑇰 𑇱 𑇲 𑇳 𑇴
Sinhala Lith Illakkam (Sinhala Astrological Numbers)

Prior to the fall of Kandyan Kingdom all calculations were carried out using Lith digits. After the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom, Sinhala Lith Illakkam were primarily used for writing horoscopes. However, there is evidence that they were used for other purposes such as writing page numbers, etc. The tradition of writing degrees and minutes of zodiac signs in horoscopes continued into the 20th century using different versions of Lith Digits. Unlike the Sinhala Illakkam, Sinhala Lith Illakkam included a 0.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Neither the Sinhala numerals nor U+0DF4 ෴ Sinhala punctuation kunddaliya is in general use today, but some use it in social media, Internet messaging and blogs. The kunddaliya was formerly used as a full stop.[25]

Transliteration edit

Sinhala transliteration (Sinhala: රෝම අකුරින් ලිවීම rōma akurin livīma, literally "Roman letter writing") can be done in analogy to Devanāgarī transliteration.

Layman's transliterations in Sri Lanka normally follow neither of these. Vowels are transliterated according to English spelling equivalences, which can yield a variety of spellings for a number of phonemes. /iː/ for instance can be ⟨ee⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨ea⟩, ⟨i⟩, etc. A transliteration pattern peculiar to Sinhala, and facilitated by the absence of phonemic aspirates, is the use of ⟨th⟩ for the voiceless dental plosive, and the use of ⟨t⟩ for the voiceless retroflex plosive. This is presumably because the retroflex plosive /ʈ/ is perceived the same as the English alveolar plosive /t/, and the Sinhala dental plosive /t̪/ is equated with the English voiceless dental fricative /θ/.[26] Dental and retroflex voiced plosives are always rendered as ⟨d⟩, though, presumably because ⟨dh⟩ is not found as a representation of /ð/ in English orthography.

Use for the Pali language edit

Many of the oldest Pali manuscripts are written in the Sinhala script. Miśra consonants are used to represent Pali phonemes that have no Sinhala counterpart. The following table lays out the Sinhala representations of Pali consonants with their standard academic Romanizations:

class unaspirated
aspirated voiced aspirated
velar (ka) (kha) (ga) (gha) (ṅa)
palatal (ca) (cha) (ja) (jha) (ña)
retroflex (ṭa) (ṭha) (ḍa) (ḍha) (ṇa)
dental (ta) (tha) (da) (dha) (na)
labial (pa) (pha) (ba) (bha) (ma)
unordered (ya) (ra) (la) (va) (sa) (ha) (ḷa)

The vowels are a subset of those for writing Sinhala:

Independent Romanization Dependent
(on ක ka)
a ka
ā කා
i කි ki
ī කී
u කු ku
ū කූ
e කෙ ke
o කො ko

The niggahīta is represented with the sign ං. Consonant sequences may be combined in ligatures in a manner identical to that described above for Sinhala.

As an example, below is the first verse from the Dhammapada in Pali in Sinhala script, followed by Romanization:

මනොපුබ්‌බඞ්‌ගමා ධම්‌මා, මනොසෙට්‌ඨා මනොමයා;
මනසා චෙ පදුට්‌ඨෙන, භාසති වා කරොති වා;
තතො නං දුක්‌ඛමන්‌වෙති, චක්‌කංව වහතො පදං.

Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā;
manasā ce paduṭṭhena bhāsati vā karoti vā;
tato naṁ dukkhamanveti cakkaṁva vahato padaṁ.

— Yamaka-vaggo 1

Relation to other scripts edit


Sinhala is one of the Brahmic scripts, and thus shares many similarities with other members of the family, such as the Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil script and Devanāgarī. As a general example, /a/ is the inherent vowel in all these scripts.[3] Other similarities include the diacritic for ⟨ai⟩, which resembles a doubled ⟨e⟩ in all scripts and the diacritic for ⟨au⟩ which is composed of preceding ⟨e⟩ and following ⟨ḷ⟩.

Script ⟨e⟩ ⟨ai⟩ ⟨au⟩

Likewise, the combination of the diacritics for ⟨e⟩ and ⟨ā⟩ yields ⟨o⟩ in all these scripts.

Script ⟨e⟩ ⟨ā⟩ ⟨o⟩

Sinhala alphabet differs from other Indo-Aryan alphabets in that it contains a pair of vowel sounds (U+0DD0 and U+0DD1 in the proposed Unicode Standard) that are unique to it. These are the two vowel sounds that are similar to the two vowel sounds that occur at the beginning of the English words at (ඇ) and ant (ඈ).[27]

Another feature that distinguishes Sinhala from its sister Indo-Aryan languages is the presence of a set of five nasal sounds known as half-nasal or prenasalized stops.

n̆ga n̆ja n̆ḍa n̆da m̆ba

Computer encoding edit

Sinhala language support in Linux. Firefox is shown in the background, with mlterm in the foreground with text having been entered into it by ibus-m17n.

Generally speaking, Sinhala support is less developed than support for Devanāgarī, for instance. A recurring problem is the rendering of diacritics which precede the consonant and diacritic signs which come in different shapes, like the one for ⟨u⟩.

Sinhala support did not come built in with Microsoft Windows XP, unlike Tamil and Hindi, but was supported by third-party means such as Keyman by SIL International. Thereafter, all versions of Windows Vista and above, including Windows 10 come with Sinhala support by default, and do not require external fonts to be installed to read Sinhala script. Nirmala UI is the default Sinhala font in Windows 10. The latest versions of Windows 10 have added support for Sinhala Archaic Numbers that were not supported by default in previous versions.

For macOS, Apple Inc. has provided Sinhala font support for versions of macOS that are Catalina and above through Unicode integration. Keyboard support is available by third-party means such as Helakuru and Keyman. In Mac OS X, Sinhala font and keyboard support were provided by Nickshanks and Xenotypetech.

For Linux, the IBus, and SCIM input methods allow the use Sinhala script in applications with support for a number of key maps and techniques such as traditional, phonetic and assisted techniques.[28] In addition, newer versions of the Android mobile operating system also support both rendering and input of Sinhala script by default and applications like Helakuru serve as dedicated keyboard integrators.

Unicode edit

Sinhala script was added to the Unicode Standard in September 1999 with the release of version 3.0. This character allocation has been adopted in Sri Lanka as the Standard SLS1134.

The main Unicode block for Sinhala is U+0D80–U+0DFF. Another block, Sinhala Archaic Numbers, was added to Unicode in version 7.0.0 in June 2014. Its range is U+111E0–U+111FF.

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points
Sinhala Archaic Numbers[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+111Ex 𑇡 𑇢 𑇣 𑇤 𑇥 𑇦 𑇧 𑇨 𑇩 𑇪 𑇫 𑇬 𑇭 𑇮 𑇯
U+111Fx 𑇰 𑇱 𑇲 𑇳 𑇴
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Diringer, David (1948). Alphabet a key to the history of mankind. p. 389.
  2. ^ Handbook of Literacy in Akshara Orthography, R. Malatesha Joshi, Catherine McBride(2019),p.28
  3. ^ a b c Daniels (1996), p. 408.
  4. ^ Masica, Colin P. (1993). The Indo-Aryan Languages. p. 143.
  5. ^ Daniels (1996), p. 379.
  6. ^ a b Cardona, George; Dhanesh, Jain (2003). The Indo-Aryan Languages. p. 109.
  7. ^ Ray, Himanshu Prabha (14 August 2003). The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521011099.
  8. ^ a b "The Sinhala Script". Dalton Maag. Archived from the original on 26 August 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  9. ^ Nordhoff S (2009). A grammar of Upcountry Sri Lanka Malay. Utrecht: LOT Publications. p. 35. ISBN 978-94-6093-011-9.
  10. ^ a b c d Gair and Paolillo 1997.
  11. ^ Matzel (1983) p. 15, 17, 18
  12. ^ a b Karunatillake (2004), p. xxxii
  13. ^ Jayawardena-Moser (2004) p. 11
  14. ^ Fairbanks et al. (1968), p. 126
  15. ^ a b c Karunatillake (2004), p. xxxi
  16. ^ Daniels (1996), p. 410.
  17. ^ a b Matzel (1983), p. 8
  18. ^ Matzel (1983), p. 14
  19. ^ This letter is not used anywhere, neither in modern nor ancient Sinhala. Its usefulness is unclear, but it forms part of the standard alphabet <>.
  20. ^ Fairbanks et al. (1968), p. 109
  21. ^ a b Jayawardena-Moser (2004), p. 12
  22. ^ Fairbanks et al. (1968), p. 366
  23. ^ Brigadier (Retd) B. Munasinghe (19 September 2004). "How ancient Sinhala Brahmi numerals were invented". Sunday Observer. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  24. ^ "Unicode Mail List Archive: Re: Sinhala numerals". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  25. ^ Roland Russwurm. "Old Sinhala Numbers and Digits". Sinhala Online. Archived from the original on 30 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  26. ^ Matzel (1983), p. 16
  27. ^ "Trilingual Sinhala-Tamil-English National Web Site of Sri Lanka". 3 January 2016.
  28. ^ A screenshot showing some of the options

Further reading edit

  • Coperahewa, Sandagomi. Sinhala Akuru Puranaya [Chronicle of Sinhala Letters] Nugegoda: Sarasavi, 2018.
  • Daniels, Peter T. (1996). "Sinhala alphabet". The World's Writing Systems. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
  • Fairbanks, G. W.; J. W. Gair; M. W. S. D. Silva (1968). Colloquial Sinhalese (Sinhala). Ithaca, NY: South Asia Programm, Cornell University.
  • Gair, J. W.; John C. Paolillo (1997). Sinhala. München, Newcastle: South Asia Programm, Cornell University.
  • Geiger, Wilhelm (1995). A Grammar of the Sinhalese Language. New Delhi: AES Reprint.
  • Jayawardena-Moser, Premalatha (2004). Grundwortschatz Singhalesisch – Deutsch (3 ed.). Wiesbaden: Harassowitz.
  • Karunatillake, W. S. (1992). An Introduction to Spoken Sinhala ([several new editions] ed.). Colombo.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Matzel, Klaus (1983). Einführung in die singhalesische Sprache. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

External links edit

Online resources