Historical Development of Sinhala & Scripts
Language experts have traced three main stages in the development of Indo-Aryan languages. The first stage was the Sanskrit language. Migrant peoples from the northwest used Sanskrit in northern India sometime before 1000 B.C.
In the next stage, Prakrit evolved from Sanskrit by 250 B.C. Pali was another language of these times that derived from Sanskrit. From about A.D. 1000, later forms of Prakrit, collectively called Apabhramsha, gave birth to the various regional languages in common usage today including modern Sinhala.
Archeological findings excavated recently from Anuradhapura area indicate that the north Indian version of Prakrit had been used in Sri Lanka as the language of communication even before Vijaya period. The North-South language link had been reinforced by the arrival of Vijaya and his followers. This has been further strengthened by the arrival of Arahat Mahinda to introduce Buddhism to Lanka.
The following diagrams show how the Sinhala scripts were developed
from the original Brahmi scripts, but with a significant influence
of Dravidian languages over the years. However Tamil texts are considered
to be a comparatively recent development (See below)extract from the
book "The Smile of Murugan" by Prof. Kamil Zvelebil)
Most ancient Texts in Tamil
The following is an extract from the book "The Smile of Murugan"
by Prof. Kamil Zvelebil on the most ancient texts in the Tamil language
(Kamil Zvelebil, The Smile of Murugan - On Tamil literature of South
India, E.J.Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands, 1973).
Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.