milonic

APPENDIX (II)

 

Modification of the Sinhalese character

A striking modification of the form of characters is first noticed about the year 937 AC. These modifications have gone through various stages before they came to their modern form. The changes that have taken place in the form in which characters are written, have been influenced mostly by changes in writing that took place in contemporary India. The original letters in the early inscriptions followed the Brahami alphabet. Further modifications of the shape and form of Sinhalese letters continued for sometimes longer till they developed in to the well shaped modern script. The present form of Sinhalese characters became fixed from about the Koţţe period, 15th century AC, and no changes have occurred since that time. Dr Wilhelm Geiger makes firm that idea saying “We can say that on the whole the mediaeval Sinhalese has already the characteristic features of the modern language.” I am of the view that the profound development of writing of palm leaf manuscripts, especially in the mediaeval age, may have affected the modern well-shaped scripts to be so smooth and polished.

Spelling each consonant with a proper vowel denotes that how consonant fixes with a vowel. Ancient Sinhalese repeated each consonant followed by the proper vowel in spelling a word. Here, vowels are suppressed leaving the consonant. In Sri Lankan language vowels are spelled separately unlike English. Therefore, Sri Lankan language has head pieces, foot pieces and side pieces.

The accompanying list of letters illustrates the influence that contributed to the development of modern characters.

 

Click on above images to enlarge

 

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