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South Asia Department

Sinhala Language 1 (PG)

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate . . . 

  • knowledge and understanding of basic Sinhala grammar
  • knowledge and understanding of essential Sinhala vocabulary
  • knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of basic Sinhala structures and expressions in a given context
  • the ability to understand short passages in written Sinhala on everyday topics
  • the ability to produce short passages in written Sinhala on everyday topics
  • the ability to understand spoken Sinhala and to engage in short spoken discourse on everyday topics
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Sinhala in particular, in language-based scholarship and research - specific learning outcome for PG students


This course will be taught over 22 weeks with 4 hours classroom contact per week in language classes. 10 research seminars to be taken within SOAS.  Attendance to be proven by signature from chair and to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Masters by the last day of term 2.

Scope and syllabus

The course provides an introduction to Sinhala language with emphasis on practical written and spoken Sinhala. The course covers script and sounds, verb morphology, tenses, noun phrase structure and case, adjectives and adverbs, postpositions, conjunctions and basic sentence structure. Communicative practice is established through learning language around dialogues and role plays dealing with a range of everyday situations.
The course provides students with a basic knowledge of Sinhala and practice of using Sinhala in a variety of everyday situations. It allows students to interact with Sinhala speakers in Sinhala and to acquire familiarity with the Sinhala script. This provides students with a basis to approach research topics relating to Sinhala language, literature and culture.
A series of special PG lectures with associated seminars structured around the six themes Structure, Texts, Identity, Society, Translation and Transformation (provided for PG students studying different languages) introduces students to general questions of the role of language in language-based scholarship and research and provides them with the critical and methodological skills to relate their language acquisition to the thematic aspects of the studies.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (50%); a language learning portfolio consisting of a set of marked homework, short in-class tests, translation projects (30%); one 15 minute oral examination (10%); regular course work in the form of weekly short tests and 2 mid term tests 1 hour each (10%).

Suggested reading

Course Books

  • Fairbanks, G., De Silva, M.W.S and  Gair, J. -  Colloquial Sinhalese, Part 1, Cornell University. Ithaca,  New York,  1993.
  • Karunatillake, W.S. -  An Introduction to Spoken Sinhala, M.D. Gunasena & Co., 1992

Supplementary Reading

  • Dissanayake, J.B. -  Say it in Sinhala, Lake House, Colombo, 1974.
  • Dissanayake, J.B. -  Let’s Learn Sinhala, 1 & 2, Sridevi Press, Colombo, 2002
  • Godakumbure, C.E. - Sinhalese Literature, The Colombo Apothecaries, 1955
  • Halpe, A. - Madol Doova (English Translation), Sarasa Limited, Colombo, 2001
  • Reynolds, C.B. -  Sinhalese: An Introductory Course, SOAS, 1990
  • Wickremasinghe, Martin - Madol Duwa, Sarasa Press, Colombo, 2002

Additional material from relevant current publications (both Sinhala and English) will be provided throughout the course.

Additional resources relating to language-based scholarship discussed in the PG lectures

  • Austin, Peter, ed., 2008, 1000 Languages: The world-wide history of living and lost tongues, London: Thames and Hudson.
  • Baker, Mona, 1992, In Other Words: A coursebook on translation, London: Routledge.
  • Duranti, Alessandro, 1997, Linguistic Anthropology, Cambridge: CUP.
  • Geertz, Clifford, 1973/2000, The Interpretation of Cultures: selected essays, New York: Basic Books.
  • Pinker, Steven, 1994, The Language Instinct: the new science of language and mind, London: Allan Lane.