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Sinhala (සිංහල)   Sinhala (සිංහල)

Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 16 million Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka. It also used as a second language by another 3 million people belonging to other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, where it is one of the official and national languages, along with Tamil. There are also considerable numbers of Sinhala speakers in Singapore, Thailand, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

Sinhala at a glance

  • Native name: සිංහල (Siṃhāla) [ˈsiŋɦələ]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European; Indo-Iranian; Indo-Aryan; Southern Indo-Aryan; Insular Indo-Aryan
  • Number of speakers: c.17 million
  • Spoken in: Sri Lanka
  • First written: 9th century AD
  • Writing system: Sinhala alphabets
  • Status: official and national language in Sri Lanka

Sinhala is also known as Sinhalese or Singhala - the latter version is closer to the pronunciation native name. The native name of the language is සිංහල (Siṃhāla), which comes from Sanskrit and could be translated as "lion-seizer", "lion-killer" or "lion blood", which refer to the legendary founder of the Sinhala people, Prince Vijaya, a descendant of Sinhabahu/Sīhabāhu ("Lion-arms"), the son of a princess of the Vanga Kingdom and a lion.

Sinhala alphabet

The Sinhala alphabet, a descendent of the Brahmi script, started to appear in Prakrit inscriptions during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Both the alphabet and the language have changed considerably since then. The earliest surviving literature in Sinhala dates from the 9th century AD.

The Sinhala alphabet is also used to write Pali and Sanskrit in Sri Lanka.

Notable features


Sinhala vowels

Vowel diacritics with ka

Sinhala vowel diacritics with ka


Sinhala consonants and conjuncts

Conjunct consonants

A selection of Sinhala conjunct consonants


Old Sinhala numerals

These numerals are no longer used in written Sinhala, instead the Western-style numerals are used.

Spreadsheet of the Sinhala alphabet (Excel, 56K)

Sample text in Sinhala

සියලූ මනුෂ්‍යයෝ නිදහස්ව උපත ලබා ඇත. ගරුත්වයෙන් හා අයිතිවාසිකම් සමාන වෙති. යුක්ති අයුක්ති පිළිබඳ හැඟීමෙන් හා හෘදය සාක්ෂියෙන් යුත් ඔවුනොවුන්වුන්ට සැළකිය යුත්තේ සහෝදරත්වය පිළිබඳ හැඟීමෙනි.


Siyalu manuṣyayō nidahasva upata labā æta​. Garutvayen hā ayitivāsikamvalin samāna veti. Yukti ayukti piḷiban̆da hæ​​n̆gīmen hā hṛda sākṣiyen yut ovun, ovuno​vunṭa sæḷakiya yuttē sahōdaratvaya piḷiban̆da hæn̆gīmeni.

Hear a recording of this text by Ajit Alles (අජිත් අලස්)


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Sinhala | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about the Sinhala alphabet and language

Sinhala lessons and courses

Sinhala phrases

Sinhala and Tamil word and letter puzzles

The South Asian Literary Recordings Project - Sinhalese authors reading extracts from their work:

Online Sinhala dictionaries

Online Sinhala radio

Online news in Sinhala

Free Sinhala fonts and software

Convert romanized Sinhala to the Sinhala alphabet

More Sinhala links

Indo-Aryan languages

Awadhi, Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Chakma, Dhivehi, Fiji Hindi, Gujarati, Hajong, Hindi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Kotia, Kutchi, Magahi, Maithili, Marathi, Marwari, Modi, Nepali, Odia, Palula, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Rohingya, Romani, Saraiki, Sarnámi Hindustani, Sindhi, Sinhala, Shina, Sourashtra, Sugali, Sylheti, Urdu

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

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