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(sĭn'həlēz`), language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. An alternate spelling for Sinhalese is Singhalese. See Indo-IranianIndo-Iranian,
subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by more than a billion people, chiefly in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (see The Indo-European Family of Languages, table).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a nation (in the historical sense), the basic population of the Republic of Sri Lanka. The island of Sri Lanka has 9.2 million Sinhalese (1973, estimate). Anthropologically the Sinhalese belong to the Europeoid race and are related to the peoples of northern India. They speak the Sinhalese language. Most are Buddhists; some are Christians, mainly Catholics. Usually the Sinhalese are divided into two groups: low-country Sinhalese and Kandyan Sinhalese, who inhabit the mountains. The Kandyans acquired their name from the city of Kandy, the capital of the last independent Sinhalese kingdom, which was annexed by Great Britain in 1815. They have retained some archaic features in their present way of life. Most Sinhalese are farmers; those living along the coasts engage in fishing. The Sinhalese also constitute the country’s basic stratum of government employees.


Narody luzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963. [23–1219–]



the language of the Sinhalese, the principal population of Sri Lanka, who live mainly in the southwestern and central regions of the island. Sinhalese is spoken by approximately 9 million persons (1973, estimate).

Sinhalese belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European languages and derives from Sinhalese Prakrit. Phonetically, there is a tendency toward vowel harmony. The morphological structure has strong elements of agglutination and new inflection; declension is well developed. The vocabulary contains numerous borrowings, mainly from the Dravidian languages but also from the Western European languages. The writing system is based on one of the variations of southern Indian script. The oldest inscriptions date to the third century B.C., and the oldest literary text dates to the ninth century A.D. The literary language, which developed in the 13th and 14th centuries, survived in its old form until the 19th century. Later, a new form of the Sinhalese literary language, containing a large number of Sanskrit elements, was created on the basis of the colloquial language. There is a substantial difference between the literary language and the spoken language, which has lost conjugation.


Vykhukholev, V. V. Singal’skii iazyk. Moscow, 1964. (References.)
Geiger, W. A Grammar of the Sinhalese Language. Colombo, 1938.
Matzel, K. Einführung in die Singhalesische Sprache. Wiesbaden, 1966.
Gair, J. W. Colloquial Sinhalese Clause Structures. The Hague-Paris, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Singhalese
1. a member of a people living chiefly in Sri Lanka, where they constitute the majority of the population
2. the language of this people, belonging to the Indic branch of the Indo-European family: the official language of Sri Lanka. It is written in a script of Indian origin
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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