Sinhala & Malay | 2 Indigenous Languages Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka also known as Ceylon is an island country in the continent of South Asia. This country resides in the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and lies in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka also known as Ceylon is an island country in the continent of South Asia. This country resides in the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and lies in the Indian Ocean. There is the maritime border of Sri Lanka with the Maldives and India. The population of the country is around 22 million people and Sri Lanka has been home to multiple diverse cultures and ethnicities. 

Malay and Sinhala are two indigenous languages of Sri Lanka. It is important to mention that the Malay variant that they speak in Sri Lanka is a creole language and it is a mixture of Sinhala and Shonam. They also consider Shonam as the Sri Lankan Muslim Tamil. Many Sinhalese speak Sri Lankan Malay. All these languages that people speak on this island have a deep influence on various other languages such as India, Europe, and other Asian countries. Sri Lankan island has witnessed many invaders. There were Arab settlers and the colonial powers of Portugal who also contributed to the growth of the modern languages in Sri Lanka. Researchers and linguists often compare the attributes of other languages to the English language due to English being a universal language. Sinhala to English translation services is also becoming common among Sri Lankan businesses to cater to English audiences.


Sinhala is the native language of Sinhalese people who are habitants of Sri Lanka. They contribute 74.6% to the total population. It is an Indo-Aryan language and one of the largest ethnic groups in the country speaks it. This language originated from the Sanskrit term ‘Simha’ which means lion in Sanskrit. Sinhala holds the status of the official language. Sinhala also holds the privilege of playing a vital role in the development of Theravada Buddhist literature. Moreover, Sinhala is a prominent and important language of 16 million people and businesses have also been investing in Sinhala to English translation services for their effective business expansions.


The origin of the Sinhala language goes back to the 3rd century BCE. This was a language with long vowels and aspirated consonants. The closest relative of this language appears to be the Vedda language which is an endangered language and minorities speak it in Sri Lanka.

It has main four periods of historical development and evolution

  • Elu ranges from 3rd BCE to 4th c CE
  • Proto Sinhala lasted from 4th CE to 8th c CE.
  • Medieval Sinhala ruled from 8th to 13th CE.
  • Modern Sinhala started to take its place in the 13th century and is still in practice.


The people of Sri Lanka who speak Sinhala use Sinhala abugida script. The origin of this script is the ancient Brahmi script. Moreover, it is also important to note that about 300 people speak Veddah and it also becomes understandable for the speakers of Sinhala too.


Sinhala is one of the oldest languages and hence has evolved over the years. Consequently, there are many regional dialects and accents that are in practice in modern times. Regional variations are significant among all.

4 of the prominent and well-known variations include

  • Uva Province variation
  • Southern variation
  • Upcountry variation
  • Sabaragamu variation

Malay Language

An important language from the Austronesian language family is Malay. The official language of Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand has more than 290 million speakers which is quite a whopping number and good enough to expand businesses with the help of Malay translation services. The Malay language that they speak in Sri Lanka is known as Sri Lankan Malay. There are 40,000 speakers of the Sri Lankan variant of Malay.


Sri Lankan Malay’s history dates back to 200 BC. It happened during the days of Austronesian expansion reaching Sri Lanka’s island from Southeast Asia. This migration particularly accelerated during the days when Sri Lanka and Indonesia both were Dutch colonies. Most of these Malay migrants were Buddhists. They further became part of the Sri Lankan community by intermarrying Sinhalese people. As the scholars suggest Sinhalese population has notable people from Malay ancestry. The people who intend to explore the history and culture of the Malay language in Sri Lanka can get help from Malay translation services.

Most of the Sri Lankan Malays are Muslims and they speak Sinhalese, English, and Arabic as well. They can also be targeted with the help of Sinhala to English translation services as a target audience.


The original script of Malay comes from the Latin script. Moreover, people also use an Arabic script to write it. However Latin script is official in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. As for the Sri Lankan Malay, they use the Sinhalese alphabet and Tamil script. Considering this variety of writing systems it is important that the translators get their facts checked while working on Malay translation services. They should ensure they know their target audiences, their preferences, and the writing system the respective audience uses so that they can deliver the translation services accordingly.


Sri Lankan Malay as mentioned earlier is a combination of Sinhala and Shonam languages with the major lexifier of Malay. Therefore, the dialects of Sri Lankan Malay have a great impact on Sinhala and Tamil language too. Similar dialects and accents are used in Sri Lankan Malay too.


Sinhala is the main and one of the official languages of Sri Lanka. Whereas the Malay language has been used as a variant and mixture of the Sinhala and Sonam languages. Both languages' origin dates back thousands of years. Seeking translation services can help to indulge in the details of the relevant languages effectively.

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