Sinhala, Sri Lanka's official language since 1948 (now shared with Tamil), is spoken by almost 74% of the island's population, or over 13,000,000 speakers.

Discover the language

Singhalese has linguistic characteristics that make it unique in its geographical environment. This originality is due to the contribution of the languages and cultures that have shaped its identity: its Indo-Aryan origin (Sinhala is related to the languages of North India); a very long period of contact with a Dravidian language, Tamil; the existence on the island of an ancient indigenous language called Elu, little known to linguists and thought to be neither Indo-Aryan nor Dravidian, but which has left its mark on Sinhala; and a large stock of vocabulary imported from Portugal, Holland and England. The language closest to it is Dhivehi, spoken today in the Maldives.

There are two quite distinct variants of Sinhala: a form known as Spoken Sinhala, and a form known as Literary Sinhala. Literary Sinhala is very distinct from spoken Sinhala in terms of pronunciation, grammar and above all vocabulary, which is enriched by many borrowings from Sanskrit and Pali, the two mother languages. It is a language found in written communication, in oral speeches prepared in advance, in written and televised newspapers, in narrative novels, or in treatises.

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Discover the atmosphere of Sinhala classes through students' productions.
See the video of our trip to Sri Lanka.