Languages of Sri Lanka
|Languages of Sri Lanka|
A road sign in Sinhala, Tamil and English
|Signed||multiple sign languages|
Several languages are spoken in Sri Lanka within the Indo-European, Dravidian and Austronesian families. Sri Lanka accords official status to Sinhala and Tamil. The languages spoken on the island nation are deeply influenced by the languages of neighbouring India, the Maldives and Malaysia. Arab settlers and the colonial powers of Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain have also influenced the development of modern languages in Sri Lanka.
Native and indigenous languages
As per 2016, the Sinhala language is mostly spoken by the Sinhalese people, who constitute approximately 74.9% of the national population and total about 16.6 million. It uses the Sinhala abugida script, which is derived from the ancient Brahmi script. The Rodiya language, a dialect of Sinhala, is spoken by the low-caste community of chamodi veddhas. The Veddah people, totaling barely 2,500 in 2002, speaks the Veddah language, of which the origin is debated. The Tamil language is spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as by Tamil migrants from the neighboring Indian state of Tamil Nadu and by most Sri Lankan Moors. Tamil speakers number around 4.7 million. There are more than 40,000 speakers of the Sri Lankan Malay language
Languages of foreign origin
English in Sri Lanka is fluently spoken by approximately 23.8% of the population, and widely used for official and commercial purposes. It is the native language of approximately 74,000 people, mainly in urban areas. A handful of the 3,400 people of Portuguese descent speak Sri Lankan Portuguese creole. The Muslim community in Sri Lanka widely uses Arabic for religious purposes. Seldom used nowadays is Arwi, a written register of Tamil that uses the Arabic script and has extensive lexical influences from Arabic.