Sinhala is the officially recognized language in Sri Lanka, along with Tamil. Also known as Sinhalese and previously as Singhalese, it is the language of the Sinhalese people, the largest ethnic group in that country.
It belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, which also includes most of the languages of Europe and South Asia.
Sinhala is also spoken outside Sri Lanka, in fact anywhere in the world where there has been a migration of the Sinhalese people: Singapore, Thailand, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.
• Writing system: a syllabary of 56 letters, a Southern adaptation of the Brahmi script. A syllabary implies the idea that consonants carry an inherent vowel. Another example of a syllabary writing system is Japanese.
• Though it is a syllabary, when the vowels appear at the beginning of a syllable they are written as independent letters. The intentional absence of a vowel is marked by a diacritic.
• The vowels that accompany consonants are indicated by changes above, below or next to their corresponding consonant.
• Direction of writing: left to right, horizontally.
• Gender issues: there are two major divisions: the animate and the inanimate. In turn, the animate is divided into male and female. The inanimate belong to the group of neutral, as far as gender is concerned.
• Order syntax: subject, object and verb.
Like all languages, Sinhala is not an island and is permeable to the influences of other languages with which it relates. It has been enriched by loans from the Dutch, Portuguese, English.
Dhivehi is a language derived from Sinhala. It is the official language of the Republic of Maldives, which is also influenced by Arabic, Tamil, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese and English.
We can see that here, as always, there are many languages that are very similar to each other, linguistically and culturally speaking. In fact, for someone who is not very familiar with them, they are so similar that they can easily be confused for one another. For this reason it is once again best practice to seek out and use a language professional for each particular language.
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