Reading and writing Sinhala

Marasinghe A. D. K. Wijaythilake, Rauno Parrila*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Sinhala is one of the two official languages in Sri Lanka spoken by about 74% of the population. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages and is written with a distinct, highly cursive akshara script. The extensive Sinhala akshara set (600 plus) is mostly consistent from akshara to sounds, and the basic literacy rates in Sri Lanka are high. Advanced literacy skills, however, require extended study due to strong diglossia: Spoken Sinhala has been open to influences from Dravidian (mainly Tamil) and European (Portuguese, Dutch, and English) languages, but Literary Sinhala has mostly maintained the classic vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. As a result, spelling and writing are complicated by significant differences between the two forms. In this chapter, we will first describe both forms of Sinhala and then review the limited existing research on Sinhala literacy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of literacy in Akshara orthography
    EditorsR. Malatesha Joshi, Catherine McBride
    Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages22
    ISBN (Electronic)9783030059774
    ISBN (Print)9783030059767
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Publication series

    NameLiteracy studies
    ISSN (Print)2214-000X
    ISSN (Electronic)2214-0018


    • Sinhala
    • phonology
    • orthography
    • diglossia
    • reading development
    • writing development


    Dive into the research topics of 'Reading and writing Sinhala'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this