Cingalese Language (more correctly Sinhalese), a language spoken in the interior of Ceylon and on its southern coast. The name is derived from Sinhabahu (lion-son) a king of Ladha on the Ganges, whose son Yijaya (Victory) founded the kingdom of Ceylon in the 6th century B. C. This was called Sinhadvipa (lion isle), and by the Chinese Sze-tse-kwo (lion kingdom). The language is a modification of the aboriginal Elu by the Sanskrit, with a slight tinge of Malay, and has many dialects. The language of religion and of learning is the Pali. Deveni Paetissa, the ninth king, becoming a Buddhist, introduced writing in the beginning of the 4th century B. C, and Pali books were brought in under Manamraja, the fifth king of the Suryya-vansa (Sun dynasty, 5th century A. D.), or earlier. The Cingalese has degenerated so much that there is now a material difference between the vernacular and the written language. The latter is copious, has a regular grammar, and is capable of elegant style, although its pundits disagree in orthography.
The graphic system of the Cingalese is the Devanagari, but the figures of the letters are serpentine and slender, resembling the Pali. The 50 letters (8 vowels, 8 diphthongs, and 34 consonants) represent only 30 sounds (7 vowels and 23 consonants), because some only occur in Sanskrit words, and some cannot be distinguished by the ear. Our transcription is Italian as to vowels, and English as to consonants, excepting g, which is always hard. - There are three genders: masculine nouns end mostly in a, plural o, an, am; feminine in i, plural u, varu; neuter in a, u, plural adding vahov dropping the final syllable (thus: nuvaraval, cities; kadu, swords, from kaduva). The principal masculine and feminine case endings are: genitive, ge, ne; dative, ta, da; accusative, va; ablative, gen, nen; there is no ge, gen in the plural, but only the other terminations. Neuter endings of both numbers are: e, ata, ava, and en, of the above named four cases respectively. Examples: manuspayd, homo; guni, mulier; oluva, caput; genitive, manuspaydge, hominis; gumge, mulier is; oluvae, capitis; dative, manuspa-ydta, homini, etc.; accusative, gutuva, mulie-rem, etc.; ablative, oluven, cuprite, etc, as above detailed; plural, manuspayo, homines; guniu, mulieres; olu, capita; manuspayinne, homi-num, etc, respectively, as pointed out.
Adjectives are indeclinable and precede the substantives; thus: sonda pirimiya, bonus vir. Comparative particles are: bohoma, much; vada, more; ati, most; thus: vada naralca, worse; ati sudu, wisest; sarlrayata vada sonda prdna-ya (body-than more-good soul), corpore melior anima (est). Numerals: ckay, 1; delcay, 2; tunay, 3; hatary, 4; piayhay, 5; hayay, 6; hatay, 7; atay, 8; nevayay, 9; dahayay, 10; vissay, 20; tihay, 30, etc.; siayay, 100; dahay, 1,000. Ordinals: palamu-teni, 1st; de-reni, 2d; tun-veni, 3d, etc, suffixing veni to the cardinals, with some alterations. Pronouns personal: mama, ego; mange, mei; mata, mihi; mava, me; mangen, a me; api, nos; apage, nostri; apata, nobis; apava, nos; apagen, nobis. There are 14 terms in addressing the second person, regulated by the rank both of the speaker and of the person addressed, according to strictest etiquette; for instance, a person of the lowest caste is to, masc, ti, fern. (thou, you); a son or pupil is vmba; an equal is tamunnuhu, and somewhat respectfully ta-munse; a superior is tamunvahanse; the highest person is addressed by etanavahanse; with other varieties, all equivalent to thou and you, but modified by case and number. The third person is spoken of or pointed out with fewer variations.
The verbs are very peculiar; those of the Elu being radical and simple, but those derived from Sanskrit being nouns verbified by certain auxiliaries. Prepositions and postpositions, conjunctions and adverbs are numerous. Nouns and infinitives of verbs are often joined, both receiving a final t, thus: gandat, dendat, in order to take and to give; or tit after consonants, thus: vachanavalut Tcriyd-valut, to become and to act. - The Cingalese literature, being chiefly Buddhistic, has suffered very much from the intolerance of the Brahmans, who speak Tamulic and are Mala-bars. King Parakramabahu restored the sacred books in 1195, partly by the memory of priests, partly by new composition. Besides their own books, they also translated some scientific Sanskrit Brahmanic works, which they call Sanna. There are also versions into Elu from the Pali, for instance the Elu Atuvdvas, or comments on Buddha's life and doctrines. The Bana are sermons of Buddha. There are very many books on botanical medicine, many on astronomy, some of a rhetorical and poetical character, a few historical and lexicological.
The Bdjdvali (raja, king, and avali, line), a history of the kings of Ceylon, translated by Albert Johnston, Joinville, Davis, and Mahony, and the Amaracdsha (amara, immortal, and kasha, issue, bud, etc.), or in Cingalese Amara-sinha (the author's name), a dictionary, with a copious Cingalese commentary, are Sanskrit works. See also Singaalsche Taal Konst (Grammar), by J. Ruell, Amsterdam, 1708); a short grammar by David Wilkins (in the preface to Chamberlayne), who obtained the pronunciation from Pieter Croenenburg; " Dictionary of English-Cingalese and Cingalese-English," by the Rev. B. Clough (2 vols., Colombo, 1821-30); Mahavansa, an epos in Pali, translated by Tumour; Essai sur le Pali, la langue sacree tie la presquile du Gauge, by E. Burnouf and Christian Lassen (Paris, 1826).