Sinhala Alphabet - History and Usage

History and Usage

The Sinhalese script originated from the Brahmi script, thought to have been brought from Northern India, around the 3rd century B.C., however there are recent findings on pottery from Anuradhapura, dating from the 6th century BCE, with lithic inscriptions dating from the 2nd century BC. Thereafter it underwent a largely separate process of development, than the mainland scripts. It was also influenced by south Indian scripts, at various stages of its development, particularly the Pallava script (early Grantha script). By the 9th century CE, literature written in Sinhalese script had emerged and the script began to be used in other contexts. For instance, the Buddhist literature of the Theravada-Buddhists of Sri Lanka, written in Pali, used the Sinhalese alphabet.

Today, the alphabet is used by approximately 16,000,000 people to write the Sinhalese language in very diverse contexts, such as newspapers, TV commercials, government announcements, graffiti, and schoolbooks.

Sinhala is the main language written in this script, but rare instances of Sri Lanka Malay are recorded.

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