Sinhalese, known natively as Sinhala, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhalese is also spoken as a second language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totaling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhalese is written using the Sinhalese script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba alphabet. Sinhalese is one of the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese, along with Pali, played a major role in the development of Theravada Buddhist literature.
The oldest Sinhalese Prakrit inscriptions found are from the third to second century BCE following the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the oldest extant literary works date from the ninth century. The closest relative of Sinhalese is the Maldivian language.
|This article uses material from Sinhalese language on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0.|