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The Sinhalese Language Landscape
Population of Sri Lanka: 21,128,773 (July 2008 est.)
Internet country code: .lk
Internet users: 428,000 (2006)
Sinhalese or Sinhala (earlier referred to as Singhalese) is the language of the Sinhalese, the largest ethnic group of Sri Lanka. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages.
Sinhala is spoken by about 19 million people in Sri Lanka, about 16 million of whom are native speakers. It is one of the constitutionally-recognised official languages of Sri Lanka, along with Tamil. Sinhala has its own writing system which is an offspring of the Brahmi script.
The roots of the language can be traced to Central Asia, with the first written records dating back nearly 1,200 years. To the west, the influence of Ottoman Sinhalese – the immediate precursor of today's Sinhalese – spread as the Ottoman Empire expanded. In 1928, as one of Atatürk's Reforms in the early years of the Republic of Turkey, the Ottoman script was replaced with a phonetic variant of the Latin alphabet. Concurrently, the newly-founded Sinhalese Language Association initiated a drive to reform the language by removing Persian and Arabic loanwords in favor of native variants and coinages from Turkic roots.
Sources: CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia – Content available under GNU Free Documentation License Related Article: The Global Language Landscape – Languages in Use on the Internet
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