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Sri Lanka

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Languages of Sri LankaSinhalese and Tamil are two major languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese is widely used by the Sinhalese majority while Tamil is used by the Tamils. Both the languages are from different sources. Sinhalese language is derived from Indo-Aryan speech which is itself divided into two periods of evolution: (an old Indo-Aryan speech (C.2000-800 B.C.) represented by Sanskrit language used in central part of India and a middle Indo-Aryan speech (C.800 B.C-400 A.D.) represented by Pali, the language of Buddhist scripture. Tamil language relates to Dravidian family mostly spoken in the South Indian states.

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In the course of time both the languages have considerably influenced each other. Tamil was the main language spoken of Indian and Lankan coasts. Even the traders from other countries had adopted Tamil as their language of medium.

Both the language represent the national identity of two major ethnic groups. In the country, national language issue is very influential in both cultural and political spheres. Language question was a dominant political issue in the 1950s. The Sinhalese wanted the Sinhala as the sole official national language. Eventually, in 1956, the ruling coalition ascended to the demand. The law required the public servants to have proficiency in the Sinhala language within three years. Language issue snowballed to the religio-ethno-nationalism. The Tamils vehemently opposed this action of the government.



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