20 January, 2022

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Sinhala Only, Tamil Also — And Also (?) English?

By Manel Fonseka –

Manel Fonseka

We have just learnt that the NMSJ’s “proposal on language is to declare Sinhala and Tamil as official languages and to recognise English as the link language.

On Colombo Telegraph, the first response to this was from Sri Krish: “Why not declare Sinhala, Tamil and English as Official Languages?” to which I replied: “Why not?”

A Sinhala scholar (plus Sanskrit, Pali, Latin, Greek, English, etc.), my father was dead against the “Sinhala Only” Act, anticipating many problems to which it would give rise. Extremely pessimistic, despite the fact that his own professional life had always been in Sinhala. From 1942, he had broadcast a regular Sinhala “letter” from the BBC in London, and later founded the Sandesaya program, which he ran until 1955. He then returned here, to the country he had left “for ever” 23 years earlier, to take up the job of Deputy Editor on the Sinhala Encyclopaedia, which is what he was working on when the Sinhala Only Act was passed.

L to R: Me, my father, mother (now 102 in London) with her arms around the “baby” Sirima, the only one born here (1956), brother Amal (2 years younger than me,) Leela & behind her, her best friend Devika, Doric de Souza’s daughter.

Unfortunately, I fell foul of the act as I struggled with a language I was hearing and seeing for the first time, even more daunting in its “duality” – having spoken and written forms. Even Sinhala classmates (one of them now a well-known, confirmed and vocal nationalist), used to tell me how difficult it was for them to master the written language. Unable to obtain a Sinhala O-Level pass, despite nine O-levels (incl. Latin and French), I was not eligible to enter university here. We lived on the Peradeniya campus at the time and knew of certain undergrads, born and bred in SL, who had managed to deal with language requisite by “influence”. Alas, despite having friends in high places, my father was never one to ask for favours.

So, traumatised when torn away from England in 1955, I had scarcely recovered when another wrench came a few years later. I had to return to London, leaving my family and the place and people I had come to love. No option. It was decided that I join a grammar school in England and prepare for the A-Level exam there.

A photo taken by the Evening Standard, when I was a children’s librarian in London.

However, yet another obstacle was planted in my way. The Sri Lankan government ruled against my parents sending money to support me abroad. Why? Because I wanted to study English for my degree, and English was a subject available in the university here! Crazy!

So my mother decided to take all four children back to England, put us in school, find a job to support us until I had sat the A-Level exam and been accepted by a university. She would then return to SL with the younger children.

Rev Narada, JV Fonseka (My father), MB Ariyapala @ BBC 2 June 1949

Soon after arriving in England, we discovered that though I was still a British citizen, entitled to a university grant in Britain, three years’ continuous residence again were necessary to qualify. So I had to get a job to support myself, meanwhile. Birkbeck College in London offered part-time degree courses for working people. Lectures from 6pm till 9pm. I was just 19 when I began working full-time at the British Council and attending lectures after work. The academic year began in September, autumn. After several winter months working, studying and arriving home late at night, by tube, I gave up. It was only years later, at the urging of a SL friend, with an honours degree in English from an English university, that I re-applied to university. The friend coached me for the interviews and I was accepted by my first choice and obtained a grant. Not enough to support me totally, of course, so vacation jobs were necessary.

I can’t resist sharing, all these years later, my answer to the first question at the interview: “Why have you chosen this College first?” (Out of six choices.) I lived in Hampstead at the time, right by the Heath, and a bus started near the bottom of my road, going straight to the college. (Every morning I sat upstairs a few rows behind the Labour MP, Michael Foot, who always beat me to the front seats.) So, without stopping to think of an answer that would impress the panel with my great intelligence, I replied: “Because you’re on the 24 Bus route from home!”

Upon graduating, amazingly, after all this trouble, provoked, in a way, by unyielding, short-sighted language policies, I actually decided to return to the “source”. Once again, my parents were not allowed to buy me a ticket to come back, so I had to work again, at the BC, to earn a sea passage. However, too many problems faced me back in Ceylon and, despite being offered an assistant lectureship at Colombo University, I returned once again to England where I studied librarianship and worked for a few more years.

By the mid ‘70s I had become certain that Sri Lanka, despite so many drawbacks, was where I would settle down, and returned overland with three friends in a VW Beetle, taking in all sorts of extraordinary places on the way – five months – including climbing to the top of the great Bamiyan Buddha. Once here, I was urgently in need of a job and was offered one as the librarian in the regional office of an international organization. But! Of course, there is always a “but”. The post counted as “local staff”, so one had to be a Ceylon (still) citizen and I was only a Brit. Further, dual nationality/citizenship was still not permitted here. So – to be or not to be? That was the question. Commit or keep a loophole? After over 30 years of the privileges of a British passport?

What to do?

I decided to commit to this country, and so renounced Brit. Cit. in a ceremony at the High Commission — even had to pay a fee for doing so. I became a Ceylon Citizen. And that is all I am to this day.

To get back to what I started out to say (!) — I sincerely hope that serious attention be given to bring back English as an official language, with sufficient resources to train competent teachers. I think that Prof. Laksiri Fernando has somewhat spoken for me in his: “Just ‘recognition of English as the link language’ does not make any difference and sense. However, recognition…as an official language would be simple and effective. Making it the language of higher education and teaching English as a language in schools in addition to Sinhala and/or Tamil can revolutionize the country both in terms of education, development, and reconciliation.”

However, I also defer to the immense experience of Sinhala man in this regard & realize my opinion here is very subjective.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    28

    Manel Fonseka,
    Sinhale was a country where Sinhala was the official language for thousands of years until British discarded Sinhala and imposed English as the official language on indigenous Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo. After Sinhalayo gained independence, they reversed the decision take by British. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that decision.
    Sinhala only policy had a negative impact only to a tiny minority of English speaking Sinhala, Tamil and Burgher people who dominated politics and administration of the country. But it benefitted Sinhalayo who were the majority in the country.
    Some Tamils say separatism emerged as a result of ‘Sinhala Only’ policy. This is nonsense because separatism was in the agenda of Tamil politicians even at the time Sinhale/Ceylon was ruled by British.

    • 12
      1

      ” After Sinhalayo gained independence they reversed the decision taken by the British”. It is not only Sinhalayo who got independence, even the Tamils got back their independence (at least so they thought) ) and the status quo of Tamils should have been restored in the North and East as it was, prior to the commencement of the British rule in 1833 in North/East. Unfortunately, British blundered and they were replaced by Sinhalayo from the south, resulting in blood bath and Colonization of the NE by Sinhalese in a manner, so as to change the texture of the Tamil population.
      What is wrong in Sinhala, Tami, and English being made the Official Language? Expensive? I t will be much cheaper than what we have gone through over the years. No shortage of anything including Dollars except of course the Sinhala ego?

      • 7
        1

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

        For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

        • 3
          1

          I don’t understand Sinhala, Tamil or English …….. use the sign-language of my ancestors.

          I am the happiest man alive.

    • 21
      2

      Eagle,
      “Sinhale was a country where Sinhala was the official language for thousands of years “
      Utter bullshit!!
      Perhaps you don’t know that Tamil was used in signing the Kandyan convention in 1814?
      And, why do you prefer to live in a country where English is the language? Practise what you preach.

      • 2
        14

        old codger,
        “Perhaps you don’t know that Tamil was used in signing the Kandyan convention in 1814?”

        Tamil signature with Sinhala letters in between. May be a Sinhala guy who wanted to show off that he knew Tamil like ‘Kalu Suddas’ who used English letters to sign.

      • 1
        1

        OC,
        Adigar Ratwatte is very clearly signed in Tamil amongst others in what you may call Tamil of different era!
        Forefather of that minister who visited the prison after consuming liquor and with is personal protection Gun to support his “Dutch” courage?!

    • 8
      1

      “Sinhala was the official language for thousands of years until British discarded Sinhala”
      Because it was crap and it still is. Other than Sorry Lanka where else can you use this crap and for what purpose?
      Even the hypocritic Sinhalese talk big about Sinhala and send their children for English tuition as there not getting enough in school.

      LOL

      • 1
        1

        Correction:
        They are.

      • 5
        0

        Dear Mr Bert,

        No british but our own people thrashed sinhala into bin in the course of last few decades. Elected govt except that of CBK did nothing much to education. Today most of TV channels have developed it as ” singlish – a mixture of English and Sinhala”. The trend should be coming from indian sub continent.
        :
        I think we should have a greater respect on any language be it european or any other vocal/sign langauges. Australians do respect aborignaö langauges yet today. So do the Kiwis. There are whole lot of various langauges in African continent and indian sub continent, those govts maintain due respect to all of their languages.

    • 1
      2

      EE,
      Reference,
      “Sinhale was a country where Sinhala was the official language for thousands of years until British discarded Sinhala and imposed English as the official language on indigenous Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo”
      Question is,
      How did the ‘preferred’ Pandian Queens (Tamil only) and princess communicate with their Kings (Sinhala Only)?!!
      For instance if they wanted to bring their relationship with each other (King and Queen) to a finale of their marriage, what did they do to overcome the impending ‘Impasse’??
      Each other chanting in their own alien languages (“I want an opportunity!!”) go around each other like a Cockerel and Hen do most of the time? Or bring in an interpreter communicating through a peephole?!
      It would have been very funny indeed!
      Historically, just interested to know? May be useful at times too.
      Most importantly, whether it was consensual is the important question to answer? Or Code?
      If not Sword or personal protection knife to induce??!
      No, No. Cannot dream of such things in the years of yore.
      It was reported some years ago, that a T56 or AK47 was used to subdue a Russian woman by killing her French Boyfriend, deep down south at a Christmas party!

  • 4
    24

    Manel Fonseka,
    ‘Sinhala only’ policy became a problem for Tamils because separatist Tamil politicians deliberately prevented Tamils learning Sinhala, the language of the majority indigenous people of the country giving hopes to Tamils in Yapanaya that there will be a separate State for Tamils. Even now, they do the same thing. Tamil is taught to Sinhala students but in Yapanaya, the PC does not recruit Sinhala teachers to teach Sinhala to Tamil students. The Central Government cannot do anything about this because education is a devolved subject.

    • 0
      8

      Agreed.

    • 3
      1

      Not true.
      Educated parents dint want their children learning garbage that will not help them in their life.

    • 2
      1

      EE,
      “Tamil is taught to Sinhala students”.
      This has been in fits and starts in the past.
      Chaotic and without purpose as it did not meet the objective.
      Ananda College, had Tamil medium class stream in the 40’s to early 50’s and scrapped thereafter. Result of 56 revolution I suppose?! SWRDB and SLFP/MEP “Vistas of Prosperity” put the lid on that?!
      From that time each community became isolated and suspicious of the other and whenever Sinhalese conveyed “best wishes”, the Tamils construed it as a matter of “disrespectful discourse” towards them?!
      And vice versa was true too!!!
      Utter ignorance and propelled by unwanted and ill-advised ulterior political comments!
      From when and where is it being taught now?
      Very good move. Critically, The 2 official languages should be a “Must Learn”, up to Grade 1 to 8, to gain sufficient proficiency along with English at least up to ‘O’ level to research purposes as most of them are in English.

    • 3
      1

      Sinhala was taught in some schools in JALPANAM prior to the Sinhala only bill was passed. There after as the equity was lost Sinhala was not taught. Subsequently so much of Tamil blood flowed as streams all over Ceylon /Srilanka and during 2009 it was river of Tamil blood without clots. Today No food, No Clothing , No Shelter, No Dollars, No Government.. What next?

  • 19
    2

    What Manel says took place in 1955 has continued unabated until now. Young people are denied of their rights including education in their mother land. Not just them but professionals including English teachers were driven away by successive immoral governments and their racist supporters. What started as language, race discrimination has now lead to youngsters from all communities leaving country en masse for their survival. For many of us,what was denied by our own country was provided elsewhere and though there were hardships, we still are grateful.

  • 3
    11

    Manel, to me, you are an utterly confused soul! I read your account a-z and seriously wonder how come such an intelligent and learned person so confused about all this?? To me it is just so simple, you are still living in that English culture and trying to do a hybrid stunt living in Sri Lanka!! Choose well my friend, either you WANT to belong to Sri Lankan culture or NOT? Cultures are different as you know, so which culture you choose? If you choose the authentic Sri Lankan culture, you cannot demand English to be a LINK language in this land!! English is an alien language to us. We are far away from England, in the Indian ocean, in Asia, so why you demand English to be a link language?? Our history is based in Sinhala and Tamil cultures and languages so you need to learn both languages if you want to communicate with the other. Don’t bring your second home language in to this scenario. England is far away a country to connect to our culture.

    • 11
      0

      Jit, I have just seen yr post while attempting a response to Mallaiyuran. Inter alia I tell him:

      “Incidentally, my ‘story’ here was not a deliberate or carefully thought-out prologue to a considered opinion about the language question. As a hybrid, born elsewhere, brought here under protest, etc., etc., once I made up my mind to settle here, I started attending Sinhala classes (along with another Eurasian, tho she was born here) & about 30 Tamil gentlemen (no women), after work, at Thurstan College. That came to an end with the 1977 “race” riots. Most of the class had “re-located” to a refugee camp. I began Tamil, some time later, at the BCIS. There was also a young Buddhist monk in the class. Sadly, living in Dehiwela & having to bus up and down, I gave up after a few months.”

      But that’s as far as have got now, working on a mobile. Unable to concentrate for long, forgetful, etc. You’re right, of course, about the hybrid. But please tell me what the “authentic SL culture is.” Perhaps you should ask my authentic SL friends if they consider I am “living” it.
      __

      • 10
        0

        Cont./
        I did NOT suggest English as a link language; I actually dismissed it.

        How did my father, born & growing up under the Brits, opt for Sinhala (& associated classical languages), tho fully conversant with English (also spoke Tamil in his youth), spending his life in its practice & development? Did fluency in English urge him to reject his mother tongue & culture? Quite the opposite!
        Sadly, I lack his brains.
        But along with early attempts to master S & some degree of Tamil, I also frequented S theatre, collected play scripts & had enjoyed “Maname” & other Sinhala plays in the late ‘50s.
        But, while some of our close friends prefer to speak Sinhala, I’m afraid most of them communicate in English.
        I did anticipate, that once I was working, & running a home, WITHOUT hired help, not having time/energy to study S. So planned to spend the first three months in a village, immersing myself…. Unfortunately, on arrival late at night from Talaimannar, after 5 months’ driving from England, I found my father in dire need of hospitalization. The next few months were terrible; my plans went up in smoke. And happenings of subsequent years might go some way to explain my parthetically hybrid state. Cont./

        • 0
          7

          When you are living in a post British colonized society, you’d have felt comfortable to a degree that your British background would help to wade through the daily challenges such as language or communications if you lived in Sri Lanka/Ceylon. However, what I have observed is that the ease of using English for daily communications became more and more challenging in the 70s, 80s and the 90s than in the 50s or 60s. Obviously the Sinhala only policy and the two uprisings in the south and the one in Tamil dominated areas pushed us to more nationalistic characters bashing the colonial characteristics in our society. Also, we saw so many Sinhala Buddhist movements proliferating in our society in the last five decades and naturally for a person who didn’t know the native languages would face quite daunting tasks in their daily life. That is what you went through and still going through. It could be frustrating in many ways although you have genuine intentions to be embedded to the society, culture you believe you belong to. But sorry to say this Manel, as an outsider, reading your profile, I do not believe you belong to the cultures in Sri Lanka.

        • 0
          6

          Cntd…./ By saying that I did not for a moment suggest that you don’t have any future living in Sri Lanka. You know that our lifelong values are mostly shaped and determined by the things we see, hear, and learn in our childhood and teenage. We tend to peg such values to anything we confront in our daily happenings, so it is natural you get frustrated when things are not happening as you’d like to see them. That might have added to your challenges too trying to adapt to Sri Lankan way of life. I am not suggesting you were quite comfortable living in the UK either, but I wonder how the life values and expectations of your childhood learnings meet the complexities of living in a practical situation in a different land later. Wouldn’t it bother you, or feels like re-winding life backwards or get exhausted?? I am not sure, but that is what the third sense tells me. End.

      • 3
        4

        I quite get your humble situation, Manel! I did not mean to blame you at all, but just said the situation you are in is your own choice. You look sort of frustrated as your attempts to learn either Sinhala or Tamil languages did not work well. Again, I don’t intend to blame you but you had not deployed the fullest dedication to learn the languages that were necessary to execute your dream plan living in Sri Lanka. You probably had valid reasons to give up, but that wouldn’t help you with your herculean task of living in a completely different society. The stark truth in your case is, your comfort zone is not either Sinhala or Tamil but English and affiliated cultural values and backgrounds despite your father’s tenacity to swim against the tide. Your childhood and teenage were entirely influenced by the western teachings and values which has worldwide acceptance including in Sri Lanka so probably your subconscious did not push you to reach your language goals to the level it needed to.

    • 5
      0

      Jit,
      thank you for your comment.

      “Our history is based in Sinhala and Tamil cultures and languages so you need to learn both languages if you want to communicate with the other. Don’t bring your second home language in to this scenario.”

      Fact as itis, that we are another poor nation, whose graduates have no other options but to use English for their further education . Even non-english speaking europeans widely rely on English in post doctoral level education. I know whole lot of German and Italian Professors that wish, if they had the opportunity to improve their language in skills in their school education.
      Considing all these the facts as they really are, paving sufficient facilities to all srilankens equally in order to improve their their skills from the begining on could be very advantageous to them in the their higher education.

      .
      And, I understood, I think Manel has not suggested English to be a link language in this country.

      • 5
        0

        2/2
        Learning a language from the begining on is very important for everyone of us. If I knew tamil to some extent, I could understand our tamil friends much better today and vice versa. The same is the case with muslim friends. As one living out of the country for such a long time, I think langauge skills do help resolving our human problems regardless of where we are. THe problem that we srilankens ve been facing yet today is solely based on lack of langauge skills.
        Just few weeks ago, Durden hospital has failed to help their customers based on PCR testing just because the service personnel could not understand English, not just a single issue, but many known to me complained on this topic.
        :
        Btw, could you kindly tell us more about ” the authentic srilanken culture” ? so that the CT readership would comphrehend what you meant by.
        :
        Switzerland (7 millions), Germany (83 millions), France (65.5 millions), Italy (60 millions ) and Spain (47 millions ) and several other smaller countries in europe are not that far from England, but as you may know, their knowledge in English is much better than that of the average in our country (a former english colony). I have added the link for everyone*s note so that each of you could compare it by yourself.

        https://www.ef.com/wwen/epi/

        • 1
          2

          Leelagemalli, thanks! Both Sinhala and Tamil languages are of somewhat similar characteristics so it is not a herculean task to learn the language. My point is, if we pay 101% attention to learn English which is a Latin based language, why not put some efforts to learn a Sanskrit based language which is much easier to learn? As a kid/teenager, I learnt Tamil to a certain degree and still can write their full alphabet and talk the language to a certain degree (I left SL in my late youth so didnt get a chance to improve). So why we stress that English be brought in to communicate with the Tamils?

          • 1
            0

            English is to communicate with the rest of the world.
            .
            It is true that about 2% know English well: about 10% think that they know English. We matter little.
            .
            How little we matter will again be proved the next time we have an election. I can’t tell you how you should vote, except to say, “vote intelligently”.
            .

          • 3
            0

            Jit,
            that is the reason why I beleive, it should be taught from the begining on . My indian collegues (from the US) make every effort their children to be multilingual. My italian and swiss friends (colleagues) do the same. As Manel repeats it – my dream is also a triligual country for future srilanka.

            Latin and greek would be a plus if future generations in their higher education.

            The reason srilankens to get cheated by political crooks, not once but again and again is connected with lack of proper education. Today, young generations abuse their smart phone accesses just because their parents have no knowledge in simple english. If you can, please call an opinion poll and clear your doubts. This I do each time travel back home ( 3-4 times years in the prior to covid crisis). My last trip to lanka was in 8 wks ago. I spoke with tuk tuk driver to uni dons to gather my own info about ground realities in the country.
            :
            I agree with you that TAMIL and SINHALA re dravidian and aryan respectively are more or less similar, Me as mid quintagenarian I happened to meet my tamil batchas first at Peradeniya and then in EUrope. I thought if I knew their langauge, i could exchange much better. Most i came to know in Germany and rest of europe are not graduates.

  • 8
    0

    Cont./
    What I would really like to see, Jit, is a tri-lingual country, with free choice of the language of education. And a clear separation between state and religion. All wistful thinking, of course. Anyway, whatever happens next, it’s too late for me.

    • 0
      3

      Manel, sorry that my 3 replies are not published in the order it was intended but hope you will get the message when you finished reading them all. Cheers!

    • 4
      0

      Dear Manel,
      .
      on the subject of trilingualism, I am in full agreement with you. I have been travelling across the globe today. And I have got to know many nationalities in europe.
      .
      Whenver I travel to Switzerland (francophone and anglophone regions) I feel, how fluent lingual they are in that part of europe. That is the not the same in grand countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
      .
      What is the difference between official lanaguage and national langauge
      .
      In broad terms, national languages refer to the tongues spoken on a certain territory (usually a nation-state, but not always) by one or several groups of people. Official languages are the ones used by a region’s government for official purposes.

      If future generations would learn all three langauge from kindergarten level, things would have very positive for a peaceful nation. No doubt about that.

      tbc

      • 4
        0

        Thanks for dropping by, Leelagemalli. Good to know you feel the same as I do about the language question.

  • 6
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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  • 4
    7

    Reply to the writer & the commenters from someone who studied in the Sinhala medium
    .
    We are no longer colonized by the British, but it is clear that the BRAINWASHING that started during the colonization of Sinhaladvipa, where the Sinhalese were forced to take on Western ways of life, religion, language, classism, etc still persists to this day.
    There is no need to be ashamed of our native Sinhala language.
    You need to ask yourself why English, the native language of Sri Lanka’s predominant colonizer, is this important to you.
    The Western countries, desperate for resources, built their empires on the backbones and riches of the countries they colonized, such as Sinhaladvipa.
    My hope for you and everyone else that carries this MENTALITY is to release the shame you have for our native language and appreciate the fact that even after being colonized by so many Western countries for so many centuries, we are still keeping our native Sinhala language alive.
    Oh, and fun fact:
    Although Sinhala is a minority language, unlike English which originated only in the 5th Century-AD, there is archaeological, epigraphical, historical, speleological & documentary evidence to prove that the Sinhala alphabet is the world’s oldest scientific writing system.

    • 3
      7

      I posted the above comment (appeared on page 1) after seeing 48 comments that supported the writer, Manel Fonseka’s desire to “bring back English as an official language”.
      .
      Reply to Native Vedda (page 1)
      .
      Your reply to my comment highlights the lack of character in you, which is a shame.
      Of course, those who want to bring back English as an official language are ashamed of the Sinhala language. Their choice to classify people’s worth/status based on their ability/choice to speak English is a fine example of classism, among other things.
      Our Sinhalese ancestors engaged in foreign trade even before the English was born. They exported ‘Ithaka’ (tiles and bricks) and manpower to Egypt to build Pyramids. What do you know about the trade history of Sinhaladvipa, keyboard Vedda!
      It is absolutely not necessary to adopt English as an OFFICIAL language in Sri Lanka to conduct international business. For your information, 94% of the world’s population does not speak English as their first language. Studying foreign languages, including English, helps people to develop verbal and written communication skills.

      • 11
        1

        Champa,
        I am utterly puzzled by your remark: “Of course, those who want to bring back English as an official language are ashamed of the Sinhala language.”
        ASHAMED?
        What has shame got to do with it? I just don’t follow your line of thinking – maybe Jit would say that’s because I’m a hybrid. My father didn’t shed his native language or culture having attained fluency in English. Maybe he even had an eye to the future when, around 1957, he began to study Chinese under a Chinese lecturer in Peradeniya. Anyway, he was certainly in the business of preserving & developing his mother tongue.
        I can understand a concern for the preservation of the Sinhala language & culture, but did Sinhala disappear after 400 years of Portuguese, Dutch & British intervention/rule/expropriation?
        Jit speaks of an “authentic” culture. I wish that someone would write a book describing exactly what constitutes an “authentic culture”.

        For 50 years of my life I have been fairly closely involved with certain aspects of Sri Lankan culture, mainly in the context of archaeology & am the last person to have any sense of shame about Sinhala or Sri Lankan (THAT is always a problem for me) civilisation. What I AM ashamed of is the fact that I have such a poor command of the language.

        • 1
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          Manel Fonseka
          My comment was not personal.

          • 2
            1

            Champa

            “My comment was not personal.”

            Was it meant for just you?

        • 1
          1

          Manel, as you may very well know the word authentic means the originality, not an acquired copy. Well, you may argue with me that there is nothing original in this universe to which I wouldn’t oppose, but Sri Lankan culture, be it Sinhala or Tamil, has various characteristics of its own that can be defined as unique. I do not want to go in to details but if you think about the way we make our food, dress or language with certain dialects – they all have unique characteristics. Culture is the way of life which represents its own values, beliefs, rituals, customs, languages and traditions. Needless to say that culture had been well reflected in the history and heritage of any nation, a fact common to Sri Lanka too.

          • 2
            0

            Authenticity in culture is a matter of opinion. Are our major religions indigenous? Only Champa claims that the Buddha was born here. Do we have any popular music that doesn’t depend on imported Indian/ Portuguese tradition?
            There are a few food dishes that are unique to the island, but many are imports.
            As to English, this is the 21st century, and English use is even more widespread than in the past. For an example, Internet content is mostly English, even if it originates in non-English speaking countries. (contd)

            • 3
              0

              English use nowadays is analogous to the use of the dead languages Latin and Greek even now in science, simply because they are easily understood by scientists everywhere. Imagine trying to translate the names of, say, organic compounds into Sinhala! Computers are programmed using various languages, mostly English based. In the 1950’s, we thought that simply translating English textbooks into local languages would suffice, but we know how that turned out. The knowledge base, especially in science and engineering, expands much faster than expected. It is OK to be proud of one’s culture, but the Chinese, who are a much older culture than ours, have adapted themselves. They have fully functional Western orchestras and classical singers, whereas we in our superiority condemn “Danno Budunge” sung by a soprano!

            • 3
              1

              Dear OC,

              Champa has been a close confidiante of Wimal Buruwanse until last year.
              :
              So I think we dont need to bother with her thoughts on authentic srilanken culture based on BUDDHGAMA – which I think is totally against NON-VIOLENCE.
              .
              I have been trying hard to understand what Champa has been uttering. Most of her comments are not consistent at all. What is the point of being – a nationalist not knowing the ground realities better ?
              .
              Brother, OC, exactly the truth
              .
              “As to English, this is the 21st century, and English use is even more widespread than in the past”
              .
              There are non-english speaking europeans promote English language schools in Italy, France and Spain. I know their thoughts and minds better because I have been dealing with them for business issues.

      • 2
        0

        And with so many of our Nationals working overseas, and after their children learn the linking language of English in other lands, find impossible to assimilate into their Mother-tongue when they get back,
        And when our Motherland is filled with potential of civil wars at all sides, Yes, English as a third language is the best way to go so our struggling Masses will have some reprieve.

        Yes, many are afraid of their Mother-tongue, Sinhalese, because they see poverty  associated with it, in the midst of a country attempting to ape-capture the fruits of the Western world.

        There are many who also use the language issue to demean the “hybrids,” but are first to run to the West and ensure their children learn English with the correct accent first, before teaching Sinhalese as a side subject…..all the while touting High Sinhala Culture to boost themselves up
        and demean the hybrids they fume with jealousy towards.

        At least Manel Fonseka went back to her Fatherland and attempted to assimilate with her father’s heritage. She sees and has felt deeply, the hopelessness and frustration of the average Lankan, and is attempting to show our Motherland a better way forward.

        • 1
          0

          Dear RTF,
          .
          Does this comment indicate that at last you are going to return to us?
          .
          According to nf, oc is waiting impatiently.
          .
          The admirable Manel Fonseka is till doing her best. I’ve never met her, but I have heard about her from many. She’s been a doughty fighter for all the right causes all her life.
          .
          The question is: are we willing to at least ready and try to understand objectively. She is a Lankan, and one of the few Lankans who is not to blame for our present plight.
          .
          In a comment on the other page, chiv (who is a good guy), thought that Manel is such a good person because she’s British. No, she’s Lankan only now, as she has carefully explained.
          .
          Let us not try to “understand” every person, but please try to understand what Manel’s message to us is.

      • 3
        2

        Champa,
        Good morning.
        Your reference,
        “For your information, 94% of the world’s population does not speak English as their first language”
        Excellent Champa! I admire you with such command of the English language you exhibit, it is brave indeed on your part to comment as such – insignificance of English for trade and economic reason?!!
        Sinhala only educated, as you say, perhaps influenced by the ‘Menike’s’ in your employ advanced it?
        94% of trade in English!
        What would you suggest alternatively?
        Is it Spanish or Chinese (Mandarin or some other dialect)?
        We should do that?
        Here we are struggling with English, the thought of learning Spanish and/or Chinese is daunting!!
        Thinking of the latter, I venture that it may be proactively good and advantageous as more property and trade becomes Chinese controlled in the future!!!
        That’s where we are heading, isn’t it??

        • 3
          1

          I don’t think anyone who studied in the Sinhala language will forget Sinhala, no matter how long they stay overseas.
          However, those who studied in the English medium and learnt Sinhala as a ‘second language’ may find it difficult to remember Sinhala if they stopped talking/learning Sinhala, as the brain simply gets rid of unused information, which is called ‘synaptic pruning’.
          Based on personal circumstances, Sinhalese parents/children have a right to choose English as their medium of education. But, forgetting their roots and suggesting that English should be adopted as an official language in Sri Lanka is unacceptable.
          Moreover, it is not fair when Sri Lankan children and adults who studied overseas try to grab professional government jobs from those who have studied in their native language in Sri Lanka.

          • 3
            1

            Champa,
            .
            You may be right, but everyone is different with their skills in languages.
            :
            I know germans that live in the states for such a long time, but cant speak in German today. The same is valid for some srilankens live in Europe and America or any other geographical locations. I also have cousins that pronounce sinhala with an accent today because they have been away from their home country for sucha long time. I think it is common to all human beings. The problem lies somewhere else, our sinhalaya attacks the others calling ” umbata dhan sinhalath baeriwela”…. this is the LING GEMBA attitude of our average sinhalaya.

            Abusive sinhala became everyone’s common language after rascal Rajapakshe came to power because WIMAL WEERAWANSE and his toilet mouth piece or the like uneducated bastards/low lives were well hired to give a thrill to the commoners – calling it as their ” Mahinda Balu chinthanaya”. So called Mahinda MOLA SEEDEEMA (brain washing) , looking back is based on fake public perceptions. Even that self-proclaimed political WISARADHA, DJ was caught by Mahinda Balu chinthanaya and got upside today as of today.

          • 2
            0

            Thanks, Champa.
            .
            You have not disappointed me.
            .
            “Based on personal circumstances . . .”
            .
            A very significant . I’ll come back to all this later today.
            .
            Panini Edirisinhe

        • 0
          0

          Mahila
          My comment mentioned by you is a reply to Native Vedda. Therefore, you need to read Native Vedda’s comment and my reply to him in that order.
          You say, “……it is brave indeed on your part to comment as such – insignificance of English for trade and economic reasons?!!” Please quote and show me where I said that.
          What I tried to point out to Native Vedda was that, even when non-British empires/countries dominated international trade, our Sinhalese kings sent trade (and religious) missions to those countries. Eg: Egypt, Rome, Burma, (China, Siam).
          As per above, the rest of your comment is not relevant to my comment under reference. However, I wish to mention the following:
          The reasons that English has become the language of trade, commerce, science, diplomacy, medicine, etc:-
          1. A total of 65 former British colonies became English speaking countries.
          2. Global power transition from Greeks and Romans to the British.
          3. The dominance in globalization that revolved around the Americans and the British.
          4. Other contributory factors such as; the simplicity of the language, wide availability of learning resources, etc.

          • 0
            1

            Champa,
            “Sinhalese kings sent trade (and religious) missions to those countries. Eg: Egypt, Rome, Burma, (China, Siam).”
            They did, but they were transported by the foreigners. Remember, they found us, not the other way around. Doesn’t that tell you something??

          • 2
            1

            Champa

            “…. our Sinhalese kings sent trade (and religious) missions to those countries. Eg: Egypt, Rome, Burma, (China, Siam).”

            Are you implying/saying Sinhala was the International Business Language? If so, how come Zheng He’s stone was inscribed in Chinese, Persian and Tamil and not in Sinhala?

            I also would like to make Sinhala as the International Trade and Official language.
            What should I do?
            What should Sinhala/Buddhists do?

    • 4
      1

      Champa,
      .
      Whilst studying in the Sinhala Mediumm, how did you so effectively master English.
      .
      This is a genuine question. You write so effectively and so much sense when you discuss the local politcal sçene, be the writing in English or in Siñhala..
      .
      Of course, you talk absolute nonsense when talking History.
      .
      By now you’d probably understand why I’ve been asking you to pay attention to economic affairs. Come what may I regard you as a decent egg.

      • 5
        3

        Sinhala_Man
        I studied the history of Sri Lanka by myself. All my comments are based on facts and evidence.
        .
        Re: Economic affairs; Nothing much to say. Sri Lanka’s economy has been dazed, confused and disoriented for over 7 decades. Sri Lanka has to take only two decisive steps to revive the economy.

      • 4
        1

        Thanks, Champa.
        .
        However, what I’d like you to tell us is how you managed to master English so well.
        .
        I’m sure that you’d like to help every young Lankan to use English effectively, whilst being able to use our own languages well enough to keep our culture alive.
        .
        How to do?

        • 3
          0

          Sinhala_Man
          Oh, reading! Reading is the key.
          My writing style is unique to me. It came naturally.
          I use colloquial Sinhala to write comments in Sinhala. But, if I write a book, I will definitely use formal Sinhala.

          • 3
            1

            Thanks, Champa,
            .
            A very simple, honest, and helpful observation.

            .
            Your writing style is excellent.
            .
            LM’s list (above) initially surprised me, but, after thinking it out, it doesn’t. We are listed “Low Proficiency” in English – at number 82 out of 112, way below Indonesia, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, South Korea, France (31), and – surprisingly – Germany (11). I apologise for putting that in the “wrong” order; deliberately to shock readers.
            .
            Who compiled that list, and how reliable, is open to question.
            .
            Appalling, I know, but that is the unpalatable truth. Who is to blame? A representative of that group who has three comments above, is “Bert”. I submitted a comment on him, but the kind moderators have “quietly dropped” it. I think that they sense that I’m sometimes a little too honest for my own good.
            .
            This also may be dropped without “editing out” because they don’t want personal praise.
            .
            tbc

            • 1
              0

              Continuing; and thanks moderators.
              .
              I make typos,
              and am very careless with punctuation (the difference between a defining and a non-defining adjectival phrase can be of crucial importance) but nobody has so far said that I (also nimal fernando, oc, Champa, or Manel Fonseka!) lack proficiency in English, but there’s little to suggest that you actually read what is seriously said. Many comments by me on the previous page have been neither liked nor disliked. If you feel so, please DISLIKE.
              .
              Also, I have given you a link from there to an article by Jumpy Wickremaratne that triggered all this. From there, you will understand the mess that we are in, and why it is so.

            • 2
              0

              Dear SM,
              .
              This is a reliable list, I have read that also in German.
              .
              Please see that our rank is far from india (48). You as one of the pioneers in srilanken efforts in the improvement of English among school teachers, you should be well alert on the updated information. Germany s level has fallen from 10 to 11. They are much worried of it today.

              I thought it is much worst in Venzeula, because most of them cant speak any other langauge other than spanish.
              .

              Venezuela
              75

              Algerien
              76

              Nicaragua
              77

              Madagaskar
              78

              Japan
              79

              Katar
              80

              Indonesien
              81

              Kolumbien
              82

              Sri Lanka
              83

              Mongolei
              84

              Kuwait
              85

              Ägypten
              86

              Aserbaidschan

      • 3
        1

        Sinhala Man,
        .
        Champa is a well-read person from what we ve been reading from her on CT. She is the only person to add her thoughts on sinhala articles on CT.

        AS a well read person, I thought, she would not get cheated by MAHINDA CHINTHANAYA.. but she was caught until few months back. Now only she has started criticising Rajapkshes and their mlechcha politics.
        :
        With this being the reality about Champa, however, she is somewhat obsessed with her nationatlistc thoughts, even if she was then studying in UK.

        And It was not normal how she then supported Wimal Weerawanse and his false rhetorics. Now the artery is fully cut and blood supply is blocked.. in such a situation, we cant forgive her for such blind acts.

    • 2
      1

      Jim you’re the guy who imagines that before 1956 everything was hunky dory in this paradise. Dudley Senanayake was the exemplary politician.
      .
      Prime Minister before Banda was Sir John Kotelawala. His father swallowed poison before he could be hanged. Why? He had murdered his Atygalle brother-in-law so as to get control of the Bogala Mines. Unpleasant facts. It may even be nasty of me to talk like this. But unless I tell you this you will not be able to dispassionately see the present.

      • 1
        0

        SM, we are looking at, and trying to discuss much wider issues in our society than trying to mine the reasons behind a person swallowing poison to cover up a family murder. I do not give a hoot about the matters that take place inside the kitchen but in the lounge.

        • 3
          0

          Dear Jit,
          .
          You’re quite right.
          .
          Now help me to analyse our problems relating to the three languages that we use in this country with objectivity.
          .
          I began making my recent comments in relation to another article; I won’t repeat what I have said there, but since you are extremely interested in the subject, may I suggest that you look there
          .
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/nmsj-proposals-on-the-judiciary-fundamental-rights/
          .
          and then help me here.
          .
          Well, I plan to place all my comments close to each other, at the bottom of this page.

          • 0
            1

            SM, I get your point but sorry, do not have much time to read all that jargon in the link you provided, but Ive read some. All I can say is, as I have responded to Manel in my very first comment, I do not believe Sri Lankans do need a link language such as English to talk to each other. Learning English to wade through the world is fine and I definitely encourage that. But should Gunapala in Welimada need to learn English to talk to Ganesh in Kilinochchi? That sounds ridiculous to me. Why not Gunapala learn Tamil or Ganesh learn Sinhala? Why English, which is an ALIEN language to us, should play a role TO COMMUNICATE with my brother Ganesh in Kilinochchi?

            • 3
              1

              Jit and SM,

              Gunapala in welimada, Sinchuappu in walasmulla would have become knowlegeable in order to search on the web through self learning, if their english skills were better. Dont u think so ?

              Voters have become total stupid comparably to that of illiterate nations, because so called literacy dominated srilankens dont make any big difference looking at the manner, over 6.9 millions of voters were fooled by the stupid leaders in last election. That has lot to do with them being kept away from comparisons.

              Besides, Manel does not mean it to be a linked langauge but to be taught from the begining on. Then only we can expect them to be trinlingual. Germans become somewhat envious each time meeting with their colleagues from Switzerland and Denmark because they are better at English skills: I have no doubt, if we as majority in sl, would have much easier to communicate with our friends in tamil, if we were taught tamil from the begining on. We have only 3 langauges to learn, but the elected govt dont seem to make effort to implement it yet today, by end of 2021. And to my exp, that is what the swiss and several other north europeans (scandinavians) do today. I know it very well because I have been travelling across europe at least 3-4 times a year.

              • 0
                1

                Thanks, LM, I’m seeing this only after submitting my comment below. I was planning a continuation of that, where I wanted to fault you for criticising other aspects of Champa’s (past) thinking. I’ve been following her comments more closely than you.
                .
                She was never enthusiastic about Gota’s nomination for Presidency. She wanted Malinda to bulldoze his way towards getting nominated yet again, and see if the Courts would have the courage to disqualify him. I disapproved of such talk myself.
                .
                Champa’s Sinhala nationalism I have always approved of, and tried to learn from, but I have been ever opposed to her holding it at the expense of the Tamils. Her cock-eyed view of History has allowed an otherwise decent and intelligent person to talk rot. She also believes that the armed forces as a whole are heroes; not to me.
                .
                Champa is not a calculating politician; we are as unaware of her identity as that of oc. Like you, she has no personal agenda. How different from Sepal Amarasinghe, whom you admire off and on. If the change in Champa is genuine, your forgiveness of her must involve not “remembering” that past.

            • 1
              0

              Jit, let’s cut the jargon out, but you must understand that your ”little learning” on this (and any other subject) is dangerous. Gota has learnt that many times over during the past month.
              .
              We can have a State Policy; Mahila has said teach Sinhala AND Tamil upto Grade 8, and only thereafter teach English up to at least O. Levels. He has got one thing right: the relative importance of the languages for the country as a whole.
              .
              Guys who favour “Big Government”, be they Donald Trump or Xi Jinping, will want this sort of regimentation. Mahila was replying the racist Eagle Eye who wants only Tamils to learn Sinhala, and not vice versa.
              .
              However, I have already highlighted something that Champa has said, above.
              .
              “Based on personal circumstances . . .”
              .
              Gunapala in Welimada will hear some Tamil around him. But Ganesh in Kilinochchi? As far as I know it’s a totally Tamil area. And if Ganesh is going to be a paddy cultivator there’ll be little need of Sinhala or English for him. The first language is terribly important. However, that doesn’t depend on ethnicity, but on the sort of life people lead.

        • 3
          0

          In the ….tube…..

          Jit
          I guess there’s little difference between what you say, or imply, & something hurled at me in London in 1984.

          I was walking along a secluded, narrow road without pavements, when suddenly an open sports car hurtled round the corner behind me. I just managed to jump out of the way. The driver, 30/40 years old, screams out: “Get back to where you came from, you bloody Pakistani!”

          During the same visit to England, I was travelling by tube with a well-known, female SL architect (Sla) in her late 60s, probably. A small group of Indians or Pakistanis got into the car. Sla turned to me & said: “These Indians have made things so difficult for us here.” I was shocked. But so it goes. Though she was basically resident in SL, she visited Europe fairly regularly. Cont/…

          • 3
            0

            /Cont.
            According to some of my early SL friends, when I first came here I was under the impression that the Brits had done everything for SL….built the roads, the hospitals, schools, etc. Five years later, when I returned to Britain & my much-loved English relations, my whole outlook had changed & I fell out with them over my anti-Brit, nascent anti-imperialist attitude. And within in a few years, my hitherto a-political self had woken up to South Africa, Vietnam, Israel, etc. And I was actively anti-imperialist. In time, that pushed me to reject the greener pastures of England for this survivor of its depredations – a source which had helped to nourish it.

            Saddened though I am by your implicit rejection, I appreciate your thoughtfulness, even while I cannot entirely agree with its conclusions. And you have given me food for thought, too.

            I am sorry to see no input here from one of CT’s most frequent, dare I say, voluble, respondents. Living, as he seems to, in Germany, he must surely have something worth contributing on the language question, the culture question. His own experience of both? /End

          • 2
            0

            Manel,

            The same kind of experience reminds me in Switzerland
            :
            Some areas where various nationatities live as migrants (asylums seekers) they publicly attack them asking ” Ausländer raus, jetzt reich es- get out of here and now enough is enough”

            But our people back in home country behave as if English people would treat them equally. And the fact is most of them are not into xenophobia but some fractions do against. The comparable numbers in srilanka, in our motherland are much higher I would say.

    • 2
      1

      Champa,

      If we had humbly gone the insolationist way of Burma, and involved ourselves in heritage way of pure Sinhala life, all would have been in perfection.

      However, our Sinhalese want to live the way of the West with all if its technological and scientific advances….or at least is painfully trying to reach that status, to the calls of “Yes, we can do better, ” and is now liaisoning with China for the effect, in a crazed attempt to in fact, take over from the West.

      The mad and vain attempts with the howls of Ape-Rata and the glorious visions of the Sinhala past are the very things that has bogged down our Motherland from being true to our struggling Masses. Other countries that had the very same colonial history have done admirably better. They were humble and accepting of their adverse situation, assimilated with any new found kowledge, and built up out of their colonized ashes, with no hard feelings.

      Our fellows on the other hand are shamefully filled with a misguided and fallacious hubris, all the while touting High Sinhala Culture, but concrete plans to actually get the country going in any honorable fashion is Zero!

  • 6
    2

    Singhala Only act was introduced by Oxdoird educated SWRD to become PM>. Hus father became a Christian under British rule to het favourd and beame a Sir . He was niy a Buddhist when he died. His rootsa are from South indai Neela erumal . The aim of Singhla only was toivh the sentiments of Majority people. SWRD was mrfered by a Singhla Buddjist monak Singhal only is the poison that was sawn in the island caused tiots and deteriorayion of ecnomy and commual jarmonuy . We talk about the island becoming another Singapore. it is rubbisj with Songhala only act.

  • 5
    1

    This island-nation had emerged from almost 450 years of European rule at Independence. Did the Sinhala or Tamil languages become extinct? Certainly not.
    Let there be Sinhala Nationalism and Tamil Nationalism; Fine.
    Well did John Donne write ……….No man is an Island………….
    Make English also an official language, at least for the sake of the youth in this country so that they may not be insulated from the rest of the world………….

    I believe Manel Fonsekas voice on this vital issue was essentially futuristic.

    • 2
      0

      Jit,
      I’ve been thinking about this “authentic” qualification. It seems to me that it demands a stripping-away of all the accumulations of adaptation to time, new encounters & changing environment. And militates against a multi-faceted society; resists evolution.

      Are you familiar with People Inbetween: The Burghers and the middle class in the transformations within Sri Lanka…, by Roberts, Raheem, Colin-Thomé, 1989? I think it could be quite interesting to dip into again in the light of your comments. Some years ago, Roberts delivered a lecture at the National Trust on “Class & Ethnic Prejudice in 19th-20th Century Ceylon,” which he said was provoked by the book, in particular, the chapter “Pejorative Phrases: Sinhalese Perceptions of the Self through Images of the Burghers.” He points out that the book was not a history of the Burghers, but multi-faceted & “describes the rise of the middle class in British times, an influential force within which the Burghers were a critical element & a vanguard in the questioning of British rule; (&) the initial strands in the development of Ceylonese nationalism italics added)…” Another interesting essay by him, addressing the problem of “authenticity”, is “Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism”. Cont/…

      • 3
        0

        …Cont. to Jit

        Would you say Jawaharlal Nehru was not “Indian”, Jit? Or that his place was elsewhere?

        In an essay on James de Alwis (“English Education and the Estranged Intellectual in Colonial Sri Lanka”), Sarathchandra Wikramasuriya quotes Nehru as saying,
        “I have become a queer mixture of East and West, out of place everywhere, at home nowhere;”
        & Ananda Coomaraswamy: “…we have already fallen between two stools, and do not know our own mind.”

        Can India or Sri Lanka deny the cultural “authencity” of men like these two? Can they not accommodate them as Indians, Sri Lankans, of another variety? They contributed so much to these countries. Certainly I make no claim to any such value, but much of my life has been devoted, in a small way, no doubt, to supporting others who HAVE contributed or still are contributing to benefit this country – not Britain.

        • 2
          0

          Is CONFORMISM the name of the game?

          • 0
            0

            By all means I am NOT a conformist Manel, so pass that happily :)

        • 1
          0

          Manel, I am trying to reply to you in 3 parts. Part 1 of 3 – Nehru was educated at the Harrow School and Trinity College, trained at the Inner Temple, and then returned to India, enrolled at the Allahabad High Court as a Barrister. Then he took on to politics very successfully and became the Republic of India’s first prime minister where he promoted a pluralistic multi-party western democracy. Totally different to the way ancient Indian kings ruled India. Did it reflect the authentic Indian culture, rituals, traditions, or governance? I’d dare say no! As you and I know, particularly learning Buddhism and related stories, India always had been ruled by kings, either indigenous or foreign. A typical monarchy! No parliaments. No oppositions. King was THE man! His word was the rule or law! Were there any courts, hear the other side, trials, juries…? Treating the guilty as innocent until proven otherwise?? Heck NO!! Few people appointed by the king, mostly his stooges, gave the judgements on any case. No trials, no hearing the other side….and punished in the end with NO appealing process!!!

        • 0
          0

          Part 2 of 3 – Nehru’s administration entirely rejected that and implemented the western way of law and order, democracy, and administration system. So how come Nehru, a British trained lawyer who only studied English natural law became a ‘nationalist or a patriotic hero’ in India overnight who implemented a pluralistic multi-party democracy? In the land of kings! Was ‘pluralistic multi-party democracy’ has ANY links to authentic Indian way of monarchical governance? Again, heck no!! So what was/is going on in India? Typical copying of western ideologies and presenting them to Indian people with a patriotic sugar coating! Telling Indian people that ‘we bashed the colonial masters and doing our own way of governance to suit Indian people’. But what Nehru and ALL his successors did was actually practicing and implementing the very western democracy with a touch of Indian authentic way of authoritarianism. That is all! Nothing else!! Now Manel, I will avoid repeating the same narrative about Sri Lanka too, which means, what happened in Ceylon post 1948 was and is the same thing that happened in India.

        • 0
          1

          Part 3 of 3 – We are trying to show the world that we are implementing western democracy, their way of governance, but which is absolutely different and alien to the monarchical, feudal governance that took place in the land called Thampapanni, Sinhale or whatever in our ancient times. Those who always whine here about our ancient, authentic heritage and culture would not have a clue that what we are practicing today is furthest from our own historical culture. In other words, every citizen is equal, has the same rights as any other, and has the freedom of expression, and the right to access the law of the land, was not the culture we had at all in our history! I for one do not condone that kind of a rule for a minute but when we all so proudly want to glorify our own ancient history or culture, what we see is ONLY a monarchy. Only a dictatorship! We may have built so many dagabas and tanks and irrigated lands but it all was possible with the monarchical way of rule. Do you want to live in that society again?

          • 1
            0

            “Do I want to live in that society again, Jit?” Of course not.
            But I’m beginning to think we’re talking at cross purposes. Also I never suggested English as a link language.
            .
            But I’d love to meet YOU!

            • 1
              0

              No need to respond to that & I think it’s high time I switched off this now.

        • 1
          0

          Sarathchandra Wikramasuriya?
          .
          You often have something amazing up your sleeve. Many people would have glossed over that as “Ediriweera Sarathchandra” or something like that.
          .
          Fewer than 1% in Peradeniya University knew that such a guy existed! I’ll give a few hours for people to claim that they knew.
          .
          You won’t be surprised when I tell you something more about him.
          .
          I read that essay in a “Navasilu”.
          .
          Tell me, Manel, did you ever manage to have a chat with him? He may have bolted at the sight of you!
          .
          Well, you won’t allow me to meet you, despite my approving of everything that you write.
          .
          Human beings are strange!
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe

  • 3
    0

    I have already stated, below the Jayampathy Wickremaratne article, just how much of a mess the teaching of English is. There’s no point repeating all that. It is a harsh truth, even about CT readers, that few have the patience to delve into the details that matter.
    .
    To what extent our State Universities are keeping the Academic study of English going, I will come back to later if I have the time. It’s important mainly to guys like me!
    .
    There is also the important effort being made to spread English using this sort of methodology:
    .
    https://www.english.com/blog/content-and-language-integrated-learning/
    .
    Please spend a few minutes trying to understand that. Unless a few questions pop up, I can hardly write more on it. I need the help of intelligent laymen.
    .
    Lastly there is all the learning that is taking place independently of the Ministry of Education. The “International Schools”. Some of them very good, and doing excellent work. Maligned by many, including the Education Ministry, and most politicians.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe
    , retired teacher of English (NIC 48 3111 444V)

    • 2
      0

      I had a quick look at that site, S_M, about CLIL, & thought the approach seemed very helpful. Must read it on the PC sometime. But it certainly seems worth following up.

      • 1
        0

        Yes, it is worthwhile. It means not bothering too much about correctness of language, even that used by the teacher. Emphasis on the subject matter.
        .
        To be honest, I’m not all that sure about the details that particular link brought you. It is one of many that were available.
        .
        The problem in Lanka is that people are so conscious of the social status of English that they don’t want to even call it CLIL, they want it called English Medium. No, it is not that. I wanted to get in to that, at least in the Uva Province. No. The Science fellows said that it was for their subjects that this approach was necessary. In fact, it is possibly more relevant to the World of Trade and Commerce.
        .
        What is important is that only some subjects be taught in the exotic language, and that in assessing performance only mastery of the subject matter should be emphasised. Correctness of language would certainly be a bonus, but not part of the desideratum.

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    Dear Sinhala_Man ,
    Your verdict, ‘Children nowadays are rude’, interests me!
    .
    Didn’t our parents say the same thing about us.
    This description is generational in character.
    .
    Our children are not as polite as we would wish them to be!

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      Nathan,
      “Didn’t our parents say the same thing about us.”
      Ah yes, People forget so easily. We were accused by our parents of growing our hair, listening to uncouth music, etc etc. And, I suppose their parents accused them of not wearing ties, driving cars instead of carts, and listening to an evil device called a wireless. Some things never change.

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      Nathan,
      .
      This has lot to do with IT.
      .
      Children nowdays have no time to exchange anything with their parents and the relatives, because they are made busy with their SMART phones and computers.

      Yes, our parents did, but the difference is huge. Dont you think so ? Today parents with their computer illiteracy feel that their children doing well even if they would have been watching abusive erotic films on youtube. Alone to have a smart phone and laptop make them feel that the children are doing really well with their education. That is the impression I collected each time coming to my motherland.

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    I think, most of you are fighting last century’s battle. ……… The ideas we still carry are from an era when Lanka was a closed country/society and inward-looking: the world was a closed place. Each country in the world was a “closed” country. Now the borders have opened up and people travel all over incessantly. In the age of television and the world-wide-web …….. other cultures are beamed into the living rooms daily ……… and not strange anymore.

    I’m struck by a line from a U2 song …….. ” I believe all the colors will bleed into one” ………. this is what’s happening now ………..

    Cultures, languages, colors ………. are bleeding into one ………. people should go with the flow ……. and adopt whatever they are comfortable with ……….. we are heading towards a universal culture/language/color ………

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      continued

      This is an excerpt from a comment by Ms Ethel Nanayakkara (who I believe is a lecturer – Google search) here ……… https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-english-language/ ……. and I agree with it totally: English shouldn’t be a “social factor.”

      ” Now, here, in Sri Lanka, I think, more emphasis is given to the importance of using the English language as a means of communication rather than a social factor. Hence, hopefully, the focus on the accent of the speaker will eventually become relatively insignificant in comparison to the content.”


      Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
      And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
      Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
      Your old road is rapidly aging
      Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
      For the times, they are a-changin’ —- (Eagle Eye Jnr.)

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      nimal fernando

      “The ideas we still carry are from an era when Lanka was a closed country/society and inward-looking: …..”

      Did you mean the period between 1970 and 1977 when the country was ruled by SJ’s favourite leader his old flame Siri Mao?

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    Manel,

    Lots of people have commented here, so I will just leave them to debate what Ludwig Wittgenstein said: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

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      No, no, Agnos.
      .
      You may have followed the debate, but you have not contributed at all. Wittgenstein’s aphorisms are stimulating but they are not the last words on anything. I don’t think that I can afford to go into all this in the last few minutes of comments, because now i have learnt how to count up to five, and I think that comments will be over in an hour.
      .
      https://cameronharwick.com/blog/wittgenstein-needs-chomsky/
      .
      The issues here are far too important to brush aside using a hackneyed quote, however famous.

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    (1) Elected at that time audited the system and evaluated what needed to be done to put the Country on a development path. This is called a system evaluated/audited/taking stock of what we have and where we want to be. The majority Sinhala speaking people were found to be the folks who needed the most help. One and only nation in the world where Sinhala is spoken (a beautiful language) should be protected by the UN let alone by Sri Lankans.

    (2) This would have brought about the unity and uniquness the Nation needed to keep her out of any divisional politics. Democracy in action.

    (3)There were no need for the anyone to feel minority because their mother tongue does not have official status. The minority leaders?? were happy with English until Sinhala Only and then realised Tamil is a great language too.

    (4) if it was not for the FP blunders things would have been just fine over time……..they even have to kill those elected by the Tamils speaks volumes of what did really take place in our Nation. We are not going to rewrite our history by repeating the lies. However the Authors personal experience is taken with context and respected does not necessarily means this supersedes the Majority needs at that time.

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      (5) Yes having an English medium would have helped all of us on the long run but is hard to translate this need as lack of vision but a necessity at that time for the Majority. This transition path or journey could not have been avoided is the reality we all fail to appreciate. We also fail to appreciate what this has presented with for the Tamils is to diversify as a community in all sectors as suppose to just end up in Universities. Did this happen????? FP made a living out of this until we all lost what we had.

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