Writing in Sinhala used to be practically impossible but I had no intention of learning the Wijesekera keyboard, a relic of type writer era. Then I discovered University of Colombo’s Unicode converter on the Web.

දැන් මම වතුරේ දාපු මාලුවා වගෙ. මහප්පරාන නැති නිසා අකුරුවල පෙනුමෙ පොඩි ප්රස්න තියෙනව, ඒත් කල්පනා කරලා බැලුවම මතක් වුනා මාර්ටින් වික්රමසින්හ මැතිදුන්ගේ ලිපියක්, ජන වහර සන්ස්කුරුත කරපු නාගරික උගතුන්ට බැට දීලා ලියපු. හොයාගන්න ටිකක් වෙලා ගියා ඒත් මෙන්න උපුටනයක් ඉන්ගිරිසියෙන්.

Martin Wickramasinghe (1975) in Sinhala language and Culture, 1997 edition. Chapter 15, Science and Dead Languages, page.98.

“The majority of the words of the spoken language of the Sinhalese people are derived form three dead languages: Prakrit, Sanskrit and Pali, which is a literary Prakrit. The words derived from Sanskrit and Pali, which is a literary Prakrit. The words derived from Sanskrit and Pali have been instinctively modified by the common people to accord with the genius of their mother tongue, which is now an independent living form of Prakrit developed over a period of two thousand years. The common Sinhalese people, naturally disciplines by the phonetics of their mother tongue, adapted the Sanskrit word [vidya with the yansaya] to විද්දියා. The scholars and educated people of the cities who sheepishly imitate Sanskrit treat විද්දියා as a crudely vulgar word.”

Wickramasinghe goes onto develop his argument further but I like take this blog to reminisce about another person from whom I should have learned long ago.

Back in my school days I used to be slightly uncomfortable when my father said පුරස්නය හෝ චාරිත්තරේ in front of my school principal. Little did know I was sheepishly imitating Sanskrit and looking down on a living language. Forgive me, dear Thaththa.

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