17 January, 2022


Studying Sinhala By Tamils, An Ill-Timed & Inappropriate Plea By Wigneswaran

By Eelaventhan Manickavasakar

Eelaventhan Manickavasakar

Eelaventhan Manickavasakar

Northern Provincial Chief Minister Justice C. V. Wigneswaran in a recent speech has exhorted the Tamil students to study Sinhalese. The reasons he mentioned were:

  • Lack of knowledge in Sinhalese is the root cause of misunderstanding, suspicion, mistrust and lack of confidence.
  • If you know Sinhalese, you can effectively reply a Sinhalese, more particularly Sinhalese politicians.
  • Tamils in Norway and France are learning Norwegian and French language
  • All Sinhalese students are compulsorily learning Tamil
  • Learn Sinhalese keeping politics away out
  • To ensure proper understanding, Sinhala knowledge is essential
  • Those who don’t possess knowledge in Sinhala will face discrimination in future and Tamil speaking Sinhalese official will benefit Tamils.

The above reasons sound plausible, but only partially true, and politically unacceptable.

Firstly, the root cause of all problems originated when Sinhala language was taken up and exploited as a political weapon to launch the discrimination and marginalisation of Tamils in all public sectors, not to mention the ugly riots and mayhems unleashed against the innocent Tamils while jailing Tamil political leaders. In Sri Lanka, language and politics are intertwined and inseparable. The 1956 Sinhala only language act is the root and trunk of all present and past problems of Sri Lanka. As such there is justifiable reason for the Tamils to oppose the thrusting of Sinhalese language like the political opposition for thrusting Hindi in Tamil Nadu and other states by the ruling state governments.

The cause of mistrust, suspicion etc is not due to lack of knowledge of Sinhala language, but due mistrust and suspicion of Sinhalese of all Tamils and Tamil Nadu with fears of separation. This is very much embedded in the psyche of Sinhalese and extremist politicians, by speaking and easily communicating with Sinhalese may be good enough to explain but not enough to change the minds of Sinhala politicians whose power base is communal politics.

To justify studying Sinhalese with Tamils living in France and Norway studying Norwegian and French is not a comparable proposition. Tamils in those and other countries fled Sri Lanka fearing their lives and were accepted as refugees. Out of necessity for their daily livelihood, they are left with no other alternative but to learn the language of the country to qualify for citizenship and other state entitlements. On the contrary, Sri Lanka is home to two historical inhabitants, Tamil and Sinhalese. The Sinhalese being the majority has enacted several legislations marginalizing and discriminating the Tamils and compelling them to study Sinhalese to qualify for promotion and increments. The Privy Council upheld this as an act of discrimination in the Kodeeswaran‘s case. It is to be noted that Tamils are still receiving official communications in Sinhalese, though Tamil is also for name sake recognised as an official language. The government will find it convenient and easier to fully implement the ‘Sinhala only’ provision including communications once the Tamil have acquired sufficient knowledge in Sinhalese. To understand them the agenda of Buddhisisation and Sinhalisation by Sri-Lankan governments is simple history from 1948, and this is continuing subtly and unabatingly without ant hindrance. This process will quicken and be made easier when Tamil speaking Sinhala state official are occupying the administrative chairs in the north and east which the chief minister says will definitely help the Tamils, without realizing the “Mahavamsa mindset” operation as is now seen in the appointment of Mr.Cooray, a gentleman governor who is advocating interracial marriages to activate the process of Tamils assimilations and gradual extinction. It is well known fact that all Sri Lankan governments have been discriminating the Tamils in state employments, including security services.

There is no denying of the fact that enriching oneself with knowledge of one or more languages opens the door for wider communications and deeper and closer understanding. There is no harm in Tamil students and Sinhalese students studying each other’s language, but in the case of Tamils, in Sri Lanka this will be a double edged weapon for the government enabling it to use it both ways. But surely this will only serve the Sinhala politicians to accelerate the process of cultural genocide.

To study Sinhalese, to effectively reply or talk to a Sinhalese or Sinhalese politician does not sound as a justifiable reason to learn Sinhalese. As Sinhalese politician and polity always promises without execution of same without actions. The change of heart can only come when the southern politicians unitedly and unanimously reach the Sinhalese people at all levels and all places and launch campaigns explaining in Sinhalese the grievances of Tamils, the injustices and the need to solve them. As long as language and religion remain as political trump cards, in the south, the mistrust, suspicion, misunderstanding and lack of confidence will remain intact and un eradicated. Studying Sinhalese will hardly solve the various nagging problems of Tamils like, equal rights in employment, implementation of official language, state appointments, resettlements, accountability, repatriation, infrastructure, Sinhala colonisations, Buddhisisation and militarization. On the contrary, this will serve as the icing of a cake and as a useful tool for Sinhalisation.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran is now looked upon and stands out as a clean and bold politician fighting for the causes of the Tamils. He has generated the backing of Tamils and with his hands full as chief minister, as a promoter of Tamil people’s council while belonging to TNA, it is preferable for him to give priority to the problems which are piling up, day by day, including political issues and not to stir up controversial matters like studying Sinhala which is surely worthy of consideration at this juncture. Once the issues of justice, accountability and reconciliation, are solved to allow a climate of peace and goodwill to prevail in the entire country.

Wigneswaran’s right reply to the call of governor Cooray advocating interracial marriage that ‘this matter deserves attention only after all our issues are solved’. This also fits in as another right reply to this call of studying Sinhalese.

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Latest comments

  • 13

    Sinhalese and Tamils are destined by fate to live side by side in the Island – as they have done for millennia. The Tamils lived in the North-East Province/s and the Sinhalese in the rest – the vast Wanni jungle forming as a form of border to both sides. The coming of the British and their carving the country into 9 Provinces for “administrative convenience” was in good faith. This coupled with the exigencies of the Cash crop economy resulted in the emigration of Tamils from the NEP to Colombo and the South to help in governance and commerce – both conducted largely in the English Language, where Tamils were quite proficient for reasons far well known.

    Over a century of forced marriage between the two communities was destroyed by cunning Sinhala politicians resorting to majoritarianism only for temporary political advantage. Politicised Buddhist priests taking into politics from the sides initially and eventually directly virtually made the separation complete. It may be mentioned here that there was cause for concern by the Sinhalese of their future due to the
    clamour of Separatism in Tamilnadu during the 1950s. They feared if Tamils formed their own country in South India there was every chance the Tamil-speaking areas of this Island will join them. This illusionary fear proved to be baseless and Tamilnadu is now a firm part of the Union of India.

    For its own survival, the Sinhala side now seeks to create space for Tamils also to be part of the governing process. This is a welcome sign and should be encouraged. There have been ghastly mistakes from both sides but the fact is people must live – for the present and the future. Therefore, trying out new experiments must go on irrespective of how hard and unpleasant the past was. Sinhalese are now prepared to learn Tamil. There is no harm in Tamils reciprocating.

    The challenge is for the leadership of both sides to create societies and structures where the quality of life for both peoples overall improves for the present and the future. Needless to add, this includes the good of other minorities as well.


  • 11

    “The cause of mistrust, suspicion etc is not due to lack of knowledge of Sinhala language, but due mistrust and suspicion of Sinhalese of all Tamils and Tamil Nadu with fears of separation. This is very much embedded in the psyche of Sinhalese and extremist politicians, by speaking and easily communicating with Sinhalese may be good enough to explain but not enough to change the minds of Sinhala politicians whose power base is communal politics.”

    The author’s argument against the Chief ministers recommendation to study Sinhalese is futile and redundant.The cause of mistrust. suspicion etc may not have been due to lack of knowledge of Sinhala abut it certainly added fuel to the fire.

    I’d argue the language education would have been an essential part of the education long before the suya Basa issue. Had our leaders been visionaries they would have done it instead of talking percentages. I applaud and share the vision of the Chief Minister not in the belief that Sinhala Buddhist will be any generous in their thinking of us but we will be more aware of their thinking behind their decisions and will certainly enhance our standing in any negotiating situations.

    I for one regret not learning Sinhalese. That said the facilities were not there and not there even now.

  • 14

    The Hon CM who was a former CJ lives in Sri Lanka. He sees things from a pragmatic point of view. I do not think people like you, or myself who live overseas need to start wars and foment hatred to collect Tiger Tamil fascist money again. This is REALITY of multi linguistic societies. Those who come to WEstern nations shall learn the language of official functions. In India because of massively different languages, English is used but even Tamils and Malayalis have to learn a bit of Hindi in school. You want Eelam see if Amma in TN can set it up and see how fast Hindi majority Modi Sahib’s Army descends on Chennai. Even before you could say Beef Head Curry in Eggmore they will deploy CRPF and ITBF and then the Army if you declare separate nations.

    Perialethu Mathunny

  • 19

    Dear Sir

    I beg to differ. For once I am supportive of what the CM has asked of Tamils.

    A good strategy of divide and conquer is to prevent people-to-people communication. This lack of communication empowers a whole band of interlocutors with their own agendas (think politicians and their ilk) to sow seeds of mistrust among the various ethnic groups. Being able to discuss ideas, desires and fears one faces with another from a different ethnic group is the first step in REAL RECONCILIATION, and the prevention of future war.

    Of course the ultra-nationalists and those who profit from war including foreign financiers and supporters do not want peace – thus they will do everything possible to prevent this people-to-people communication and the relationships made possible as a results of a common language.


    PS: I am learning Tamil my self, so I can travel and interact with people from all over this island.

  • 18

    the author is a racist.nothing wrong with studying another language.The benefits far outweigh the costs.These kind of racists have ruined the tamils.

  • 7

    SWRD Bandaranayake tried to force an Alien language (Sinhala only) on to the NE Tamils and screwed up the whole country, still in a mess. Why should the Tamils learn Sinhala?

    When we live in other countries we should learn to speak their languages but when we live in our traditional Tamil homeland in the NE of Sri Lanka why should we learn to speak a foreign (Sinhala) language which does not add any value to us?

    Sinhala is ONLY spoken in some parts of Sri Lanka (not the whole country) by 70% of the Sri Lankan population (Sinhalese). In Sri Lanka, the Majority language in the South, West and Central is Sinhala but in the world, Sinhala is a language not known to many (somewhat similar to a minor tribal language).

    Sri Lanka has two main historical languages Sinhala and Tamil. Sinhala is spoken as mother tongue in two-thirds of the country (South, West and Central) by 70% of the Sri Lankan population (Sinhalese majority), Tamil is spoken as mother tongue mainly in one-third of the country (North and East) by the Tamils and Muslims. There are also Tamil speaking Muslims and Tamils in the South, West and Central.

    English is an important universal/International language spoken/understood in most parts of the world. Today everybody need English. Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims strive hard to learn English because they also consider it as a prestige to speak in English. If you look at the number of International schools popping up in Sri Lanka, more than 90% of the students are locals, WHY? Every Sri Lankan will learn English if he/she can afford.

    Tamil language, the lingua franco of the Tamils, is not only a classical language but also one of the five oldest living languages of the world. Tamil is also a language spoken in several parts of the world from West to East (India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, as well as in smaller communities in the Middle-East, South Africa, Europe and North America) by around 80 million people. Even if you go to the mid-east without any knowledge of English, you can still survive if you know Tamil. In Sri Lanka, the Majority language in the North & East is Tamil.

    Neither Tamil nor Sinhala but English was the administrative language of the country before 1956 and those locals who excelled in English (the Tamils) and occupied high positions in the Ceylon Civil Service.

    When SWRD tried to replace the English language with ‘Sinhala Only’ to gather some cheap Sinhala votes, he did not realize that there was another superior language (Tamil) spoken in one third part of the country (North & East). The Tamils refused to learn Sinhala because it was forced on to them. Otherwise they would have learned and mastered the Sinhala language, like Sir Mutthukumaraswamy who translated and saved so many centuries’ old Sinhala literatures. How will the Tamils accept a good for nothing language (only spoken in some parts of Sri Lanka) as their official language?

    For the people in the North and East (Tamils & Muslims), Sinhala is an alien language, never spoken in their areas and not a requirement at all unless otherwise they need to go to the South for employment. Why should the people in the Tamil speaking North & East learn Sinhala? What is the advantage of learning a language that is good for nothing?

  • 10

    “Nothern CM has exhorted Tamil youth to learn Sinhalese…”

    What a great idea, Vigneshwaran you’re really a practical person.

    I’m sure Sinhalese will start to love you, giving up dislike which has been fermenting in their hearts for some time.

    There’re advantages for both Sinhala and Tamil people to learn each other’s languages.

    Time is not far away for both of them to understand the advantage of living together with mutual respect for each other, shedding differences for a bright future.
    Decentralization/power sharing may be better approached in democratic and peaceful environment than in a hateful background.

  • 15

    //The 1956 Sinhala only language act is the root and trunk of all present and past problems of Sri Lanka. //

    Uncle Eelaventhan Manickavasakar,

    If that is the case, can you please enlighten us with following:

    Why did C. Sundaralinkam, an ex MP of Vaunia talk about an “Ealam” in 1940’s?

    Why did “Ilankei Thamil Arasu Kachchi” alias “Demala Raajya Pakshaya” started by SJV C by 1949?

    • 1

      If the author is not capable of answering, could you Native – the one with “I know everything” mentality – come forward and clear my doubts pls?

  • 8

    As I said before, Sri Lankan Tamils should not only study Singhalese but study in the same schools as Singhalese.

    The problem we have is one of RACISM? The politicians have to solve that!

    • 1


      As a matter of fact, we don’t want schools to be named as Sinhala Vidyalaya, Hindu vidyalaya or Muslim vidyalaya.

      All the schools should be able to use both languages as medium of instruction.

      Some selected subjects in English medium will be helpful for children in university or any other tertiary education.

      No need of teaching religion in schools. it can be handed over to temples or churches.

      All the schools should be made mixed schools and a common uniform for boys and girls must be introduced taking country’s geographic and climatic conditions into consideration.

      Making a school available at walking distance for children will be a great relief for many.

      Make it clear that legally children belong to the country (government), not for their parents so state rule stands for children; not parents rule to cause troubles for them.

      Maintain uniformity in school standards to minimize many social evils.

      • 2


        I agree 100% with your comments. This is the way forward.

      • 1


        “Make it clear that legally children belong to the country (government), not for their parents so state rule stands for children; not parents rule to cause troubles for them. “

        After all the LTTE was right all along.

        You remind me of Nicolae Ceaușescu, Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung, Hitler, … Cults that separate the children at birth from their parents, and deprive them of Parents, Extended family, Mother tongue, identity, Existence, Name, ….. and you also believe the state can look after the children well.

        This is what wise persons calls a mass brainwashing of the future generation.

        • 0


          But LTTE wasn’t a legally elected government.

          Even now state enjoys the right to save children from parents cruelty, parents beating children can be prosecuted.

          Some parents aggrieve children due to superstitions, addiction, excessive devotion to religion, poverty etc.

          However it’s not to grab children from mother’s breast but to make children more comfortable in mother Lanka’s breast and to make better future citizens.

          • 1


            Please drop the idea of nationalizing A to Z including children.

            “Even now state enjoys the right to save children from parents cruelty, parents beating children can be prosecuted.”

            It has a duty to protect but no right to nationalise children of this island nor in any other part of the world.

            “But LTTE wasn’t a legally elected government.”

            Did the country legally elect MR in 2005, in fact LTTE elected him as the president, and you did not protest the illegality of his victory then or now.

            You cite law as your friend and mentor when it suites you.

            “However it’s not to grab children from mother’s breast but to make children more comfortable in mother Lanka’s breast and to make better future citizens.”

            We know when state is allowed to poke its nasty nose in private affairs how it ruins life of people.

            Chapter II of the constitution has already ruined Buddhism in this island.

            The saffron clad thug Gnanasara will be let loose to monitor and impose his interpretation of law, order, race, religion, life, love, sex, ….

  • 11

    These hair splitting arguments will not help the Tamils.If the Tamils were allowed to learn Sinhala at the time it was made the national language our Sri Lanakan history would have been very different from the pathetic one we have now and more than anything many lives would not have been wasted unnecessarily.
    The Tamil mudalali’s who owned and ran the ‘Jaffna stores’in Maharagama,Nugegoda and other suburbs learned at least broken Sinhala to communicate with their customers and they benefited from that.
    The bottom line is that the Eelamists then and now are afraid of Tamil sinhala reconciliation that will make them irrelevent.

    • 7


      Why should anyone be forced to learn another language when Sinhala only was imposed by a section of the people, the noisy minority?

      Why Tamils or Muslims are expected to deal in Sinhala only language at government departments, police stations, …. ?

      “If the Tamils were allowed to learn Sinhala at the time it was made the national language our Sri Lanakan history would have been very different from the pathetic one we have now and more than anything many lives would not have been wasted unnecessarily.”

      If the stupid asses stopped their stupid racist Sinhala only policy we would not be wasting our time going back and forth on the bloody history of this island, very often back to 500 BC, ……… in fact we should have been the first people to race to the Moon, Mars, any anywhere we decided to.

      It is time for the racist to shut up and leave the future generation to build a liberal more humane country.

      Therefore I am humbly asking you to put your brain back into your head.

  • 4

    “There is no harm in Tamil students and Sinhalese students studying each other’s language, but in the case of Tamils in Sri Lanka this will be double edged weapon for the government enabling it to use both ways. But this will only serve the Singhalese politicians to accelerate the process of cultural genocide.”

    There is some validity for Tamil fears with respect to the author’s position, but in this 21 century considering the proximity of Tamil Nadu’s cultural influence in this technological age
    I think this fear of Sinhalisation is unfounded and somewhat extreme as long as the unrelenting pursuit of the Tamils for the cause of justice and reconciliation is kept alive.
    The Sinhalese people will come to soon realise the abject hollow demagoguery of their political leadership.

  • 0

    Each new release in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced a unique addition to the growing mega-franchise, and the upcoming

  • 3

    To know what they talk, think and do you need to know their language. To let them know the truth you need the language. For trade and commerce you need the language. To lie and love you need the language.

  • 4

    not only singhala but also Hindi and mandarin chinese

  • 5

    There is no need to learn Sinhalese, learn Buddhism and how not to cheat.
    Cheating by Tamils to enter Universities is the root cause of problems. Majority of Tamils are smart enough to compete with Sinhalese and they do not need cheating. However, soon after SWRDs policy of giving worthy official position to majority language, Tamils resorted to cheating to enter the Universities.

    • 5


      Could you cite evidence for your typing.

  • 6

    The writer continues to betray his negative and misplaced thinking. Bensen

  • 12

    People like Manickavasakar are the TRAITORS of Tamil race. They live abroad, collect money for LTTE (still going on), pocket part of it, never want to live in Sri Lanka but make statements and write articles that would make the majority Sinhalese mad. The bottom line is, Sri Lanka has majority Sinhalese. If Tamils do not learn Sinhalese they can work only in Jaffna and Batti. Do we have enough jobs for Tamils just to work in those areas? The answer is NO. So the Tamils should learn Sinhalese. Similarly Sinhalese should learn Tamil. These stupid LTTE remnants should not be tolerated.

  • 4

    Ideally both Tamils and Sinhalese should learn each other languages. However to allay the fears of the Tamils, the Sri Lankan government should implement the official language policy fully and them means dealing in Tamil with the Tamils and not sending letters to them in Sinhalese or demanding them to translate documents written in Tamil or stating they are not acceptable. If Tamil is an official language any document written in Tamil is acceptable and all government servants by now should be fluent in both languages to deal with the public.
    Unless this is done many Tamils will still be deeply suspicious of learning Sinhalese due to past bitter experience, as they will feel this is cunning back door method of Sinhalisation by stealth.

  • 5

    Dear Tamil brothers, do not listen to this arrogant, senile, self-serving selfish son of a bitch. Learn Sinhala and teach the Sinhalese suddha Sinhala; just like when you learned English in the early 20th century.

    • 3

      Why don’t you tell the same thing to the Sinhalese. After all 35-40% of the Sinhalese vocabulary is derived from Tamil. Its grammar lexicon syntax and alphabet is purely based on Tamil. Not Pali or Sanskrit.
      Also around 60% of the present day Sinhalese both low and high born have a recent Tamil origin

    • 3


      “Learn Sinhala and teach the Sinhalese suddha Sinhala; just like when you learned English in the early 20th century.”

      Tamil old codger I have known for a long time who had refused to sit for his Sinhala proficiency examination and left his job on a point of principle. He went abroad though he was fluent in all three languages. He is able to read, write and speak in Suddha Sinhala, Suddha Tamil, and Suddha English.

      He is still alive and doing alright.

      A Sinhala old codger I have known for sometimes was fluent in all three languages and was able to read, write and speak in Suddha Sinhala, Suddha Tamil, and Suddha English.

      Sadly he passed away some years ago.

      Both may be gifted however one needs a big heart to transcend one’s own parochial politics to learn and excel in languages.

      If you force your child to learn a particular subject he/she develops a hatred for the particular subject.

  • 3

    By refusing to learn each other’s language we are letting politicians to do what they want,sadly all our politicians( singhala,Tamil,Muslim) have only one thing in their minds.they want to make money, to do this people need to be occupied with other things like racial conflicts.
    Our inability to communicate directly has caused a lot of harm to this country our generation never had the opportunity to learn Tamil.it appears now Tamil is offered in schools ( singhala schools and vise versa) hope the younger generations will be smarter than us.

  • 1

    Dear Native Veddah,
    After higher education was open to ordinary Sinhalese ( which was only open to high class elite before that), Tamils organised to cheat “practicals tests” required to enter Universities. This was the 2nd step, first being writing “Om” when there was “English only” act.
    There was a time (1960-72) Tamil percentage entering Engineering and Medicine was 70%. Was that not cheating ? Tamils should learn to accept mistakes and this is not even a mistake but deliberate cheating. That made the government to cancel the “practicals”. However, cheating continued as Tamil exam markers cheated and kept giving high marks to Tamil candidates, whereas Sinhalese did not cheat. Finally in 1973, government introduced “District Basis” which can be said fair, if cheating by Sinhalses as moving into remote places just to do exams was negligible.
    There is no doubt, “discrimination” and “cheating” was taught to Sinhalese by Tamils. Sinhalese still haven’t learned it, even today we can see Sinhalse don’t mind to employ Tamils as long as they think they are not terrorists, but Tamils never employ Sinhalese ( except for big corporations, where it is not practical to do so.
    Now, fearing terror Sinhalse to not trust Tamils. They discriminate Tamils with a justifiable doubt in mind. So who should initiate reconciliation ?

    • 3


      Please cite evidence.

      Your paranoia can’t be the basis or substitute for a independently well researched conclusion.

      Try your best.

      • 0


        I think you are merely trying very hard to establish an imaginary falsehood in a desperate attempt to hide the country’s shame of a short sighted, discriminatory, undemocratic language policy.

        In the 60’s and 70’s Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was rated the most developed nation in the East, with World Bank ranking the quality of life index as matching that of the most developed countries.

        Band’s policy of majority language expressly degraded the country to bring it down to be at par with the worst of the damned nations in the darkest of continents.

        In any case, let me repeat two of your statements from above:

        “soon after SWRDs policy of giving worthy official position to majority language, Tamils resorted to cheating to enter the Universities.”

        “There was a time (1960-72) Tamil percentage entering Engineering and Medicine was 70%. Was that not cheating ?”

        Can you tell us first what year exactly “SWRDs policy of giving worthy official position to majority language” was introduced?

        What were the percentage of Tamil entrants to engineering and medicine in the years prior to that?

        May be looking at that detail will help you answer your own question!

        In fact the whole and only reason why the Swabasha initiative and the language based quota system was instituted because, under competitive conditions, the share of Tamils could not be shaken!

        Of course that short sighted policy was retracted two decades later by Banda’s own daughter, who belatedly saw the monumental damage it had done to the education system and the reputation and recognition Ceylon degrees enjoyed the across the globe in the pre-Swabasha period.

        If not for that stupidity of Banda, the entire investments that Bangalore received in the 80’s and 90’s would have been endowed in entirety to Sri Lanka (actually Ceylon) and Sri Lankans would not be sending their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters to wash Arab backsides for a mere fist full of Riyals and Dinars.

        And MR would not have been able to entice voters with 50,000 (or was it 500,000) “porin” jobs in his election campaign. Now, not even the Arabs want you – and the Sri Lankan women are desperately looking towards Chennai it seems!

        So, you are just desperately concocting new stories to hide the shame of a failed state – right? Go check what the share of Tamil entrants to Ceylon university in the years prior to the policy change you talk about. Care to report what you find?

  • 4

    Tamils in the Jaffna Peninsula were once eagerly learning Sinhala. The FP was responsible for putting an end to it. All manner of reasons which did not apply to learning English were used against the common Tamil person learning Sinhala. But the children of several top leaders learned and went places with the language qualification.

    The Tamil middle class has no interest in using its language rights to the full. It is happy with any piece of paper with the relevant text in English. But many of their Sinhalese counterparts demand information in Sinhala even when they know English.

    If the Sinhala Only Act was designed to keep Tamils out of government jobs, the FP played into the hands of Sinhala chauvinism by preventing Tamils from learning Sinhala, a far easier language for a Tamil to learn than Sinhala.

    Some fear the prospect of a dialogue between Tamils and Sinhalese. I hope that a sufficient number of Sinhalese learn at least to speak Tamil– whatever dialect of their choice –fluently to help break the political isolation of Tamil speakers, imposed by their selfish leaders.

    • 1


      Here we go again.

    • 0

      Sorry, a minor correction:
      Sinhala, a far easier language for a Tamil to learn than English (not Sinhala as typed).

  • 3

    I am among those who were very excited by CVW coming out of retirement and taking on a much-needed, challenging and responsible leadership role in post-war North. However, the excitement decayed exponentially over the last three years because, instead of ‘getting on with the job’, he let himself be distracted by his newly-discovered nationalistic stance — something which demonstrably failed the Tamil people. If CVW has now encouraged Tamil students to study Sinhala, that is indeed a very positive sign. (As Sekara correctly observes, FP played right into the hands of the chauvinists in discouraging Tamils from learning Sinhala.)

  • 1

    Mr. Eelaventhan as usual is indulging in barren politics.
    Firstly, whether Thamils must study Sinhala or not is a matter for the Thamil people living in Ceylon.
    Secondly, Thamil language is now an official language after the enactment of 13A.
    Thirdly, Thamils who enter public service are studying Sinhalese which is compulsory to keep their jobs. Some schools in the North are teaching Sinhalese.
    Likewise, Sinhalese are studying Thamil.
    In this respect, we must learn a lesson or two from the Muslims. Muslim students are now proficient in all three languages.
    In fact for Muslims the medium of education is English, not Sinhalese or Thamil, thanks to late Badiudin Mahmud who held the Education Portfolio in Srimavo Bandaranaike’s cabinet.
    Chief Minister Wigneswaran wants the Thamils to study Sinhalese for a different reason. Thamils cannot object to Sinhalese officers posted to Northeast, if those Officers are proficient in Thamil.
    A considerable section of the armed forces is now bilingual. I observed it at first hand at Thandikulam checkpoint in 2004.
    So let us ignore demagogues like Eelaventhan who is living in the past and follow Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s advice.

  • 0

    The author Manickawasagar with his views on learning the Sinhalese language, seems to be a terrorist sympathiser who is longing for anarchy and destruction. He is no fit for society. Just another ignorant individual.

    • 0

      those same Tamils will speak English , French or what ever language on adopted country when they got refugee status but same one refuse to learn Sinhala, what a shame

  • 1

    The Author miss the point at all. There is no harm in learning Sinhalese language and even it will help in manyways. The Tamils who speak in English are regarded as educated by the Tamils themselves but if they try to learn Sinhalese language the racist motivated claim it is forced upon them??? there is no logic. Why should a Tamil in Sri Lanka learn English? do we have a english speaking community in SLK or what? It is also correct for the Sinhalese population to learn Tamil.. bilingual. The author accepts that the tamils in foreign countries lern the foreign language a s correct to get (only) the legal status… how idiotic is this? if you live in a country and cannot communicate you are lost. In Canda the children learn French and English, in the Swiss they learn French, German, Italien and English. The Statement is racism maotivated.

  • 0

    I got the opportunity to study abroad. There were students from all SAARC countries. All of them, except those from Maldives and SL, other could speak in URDU. Those from TN also joined but never used URDU to speak with fellow Indians. They used English.

    We in in SL are fighting ideological battles in the parliament in Sinhala and Tamil. Tamil speaking politicians do not nee headphones when Sinhala speaking politicians speak. I can imagine how it might have been if there were no translators and headphones.

  • 0

    In the forties the students in the North studied Sinhalese. There were Sinhalese teachers who taught Sinhala to Thamil students. But the situation changed after Sinhala Only was forced down the throats of Thamils in 1956. The Thamils refused to study Sinhala as a mark of protest. The situation has changed since 1987 when Thamil was also made an official language.
    Study of Sinhalese is far more easier than studying English. With the mixture of Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit languages, evolved that Sinhala language during 8 A.D. It was not Pali or Sanskrit, but the Tamil language that helped in the formation of the Sinhala alphabets. The alphabets of the Sinhala language are round in shape like the alphabets of the other Dravidian languages. Telugue, Malayalam, Kannadam and proto-Tamil. In the 10th century. Thamils changed the shape of their alphabets to the square shape.

    According to Rev. S. Gnanapiragasam- a well known linguist – ‘There are more than 4,000 Thamil words in the Sinhala vocabulary. If the Sinhala vocabulary is stripped of all the Thamil words there will be no Sinhala language.’

    mudala – Money -mutal- Capital

    mudalali – Merchant, owner of a shop- mutalali- Merchant

    mudali- Part of a name -mutaliyar – Name of a caste

    murunga -‘Drumsticks’, murunkai -Drumsticks’,

    nadagama- Stage-play -nadaakam -Drama, stage-play

    nangi – Younger sister- nankai- Young girl

    Ona,OnE – Necessary, must- veNum- Necessary, must

    oppuva -Proof- oppu- Proof, same

    ottrai – Odd number- otrai- Odd number

    ottuva- Espionage- ottru -Espionage

    padakkama – Medal – patakkam- Medal

    padaama – Lesson -padam -Lesson

    padiya -Wage- padi – Extra pay

    palama- Bridge- palam – Bridge

    paliya -Revenge- pali – Guilt, revenge

    pandalama – Bower, shady place -pandal- Bower, shady place

    pandama -Torch -pantam -Torch Religious

    parippu – Lentils- parippu- Lentils Food

    According to Dr. C.E. Godakmubara, the Sinhala Grammar Sidathsangarawa was based on the Thamil Grammar Virasolium in the 11th A.D.

  • 1

    If there was no Tamil Sinhala would have acquired its word stock from elsewhere.
    Much of the Tamil word stock in current use had their source in Sanskrit and some of the Prakrits.
    There is no pure language that is alive.
    A language that fails to adapt dies.

    Sinhala has thus far adapted far better to changing times than Tamil.

    Sadly, both languages are now rather neglected by their speakers for many reasons.

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