Let's Prevent Attempts To Push Sinhala To The Heap Of Abandoned Languages...


February 26, 2024


A Supreme Court decision has not yet been delivered in Sinhala-PM

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that it is most regrettable that not a single Supreme Court verdict has been delivered in Sinhala so far. He also emphasized the imperative need to prevent the attempts by interested parties to push Sinhala into the pile of abandoned and extinct languages.

He stated this at the International Mother Language Day event organized by the National Language Education and Training Institute of the Ministry of Public Administration, the Official Language Commission, the Official Language Department and Sinhala Studies Department of Ruhunu University held on recently at the Sri Lanka Foundation, Colombo.

The Prime Minister further said;

“In the past, we did not have big buildings as centres to teach Sinhala language or to teach Buddhism.

Today, when people talk about constructing buildings for schools. But Sir D. B. Mr. Jayathilaka and the early leaders along with the Buddhist Theosophical Society fostered the Sinhala language and education in small huts covered with coconut branches in village to village across the country. Even at that time, there were heavy rains and droughts. There are many challenges faced by the children of our country. We did not get help from the English government at that time. But our village leaders donated lands. Schools were established. It is to nurture the Sinhala language.

The existence of a nation is not survived by statistics alone. In short, if we want to nurture our language, nourish it and protect it, it is essential to research on mother language and enrich it to face dangerous threats.

During the Colonial government, the police wrote complaints from the villagers in English. Complaints were not written in their own language. The Sinhalese and Tamil countrymen complained in their respective languages. At that time, there were a number of Malays. You can imagine how the English language was used to write the complaint. Those who claim they want to promote justice, ruled our country without giving us that justice we deserve.

The United Nations currently concludes that one language dies every two weeks. Hence, a proposal has been made at the United Nations for the protection of mother tongues.

Rabindranath Tagore used the Bengali language to awaken the people of entire India. He used Bengali lyrics, literature and music to instil patriotism among the people. Later a new country Bangladesh came into existence.

The government alone cannot prevent the attempts to push Sinhala into the pile of languages that were abandoned and extinct. However, the government has the responsibility and obligation to protect the unique identity of the people. For that it is mandatory to protect the mother tongue and its related spheres.

The mother tongue is as valuable as mother’s milk. We must not forget that language is a factor that adds value to life. By turning it into a process that we do voluntarily, different rules and regulations are made to deal with it. A national awakening and a process is needed to implement them. It is to be appreciated if the university sector, higher education and research sectors are more involved for this purpose.

Today, officials of the relevant departments were called to the Ministry of Public Administration by us to instruct them to correct many issues. We need to take immediate steps to contact the officials of the official language department and the heads of the remote rural departments to give similar instructions. If we do not take such steps one by one, our mother tongue may become isolated from our people. Let us rule out that possibility. I wish to give my respect to all those who dedicated themselves for the cause of mother language for a long time.

The Speaker still reads out the verdicts given by the Supreme Court in English. The parliamentarians said that no Supreme Court decision has been delivered in Sinhala. Another group of MPs said that verdicts have not been in Tamil too. There are many victories still far away from us. There is still a long way to go. I would like to mention at this time that we should dedicate ourselves more to the task of achieving it. Also, there is a prime need to create translation labs, to produce a generation with knowledge of translation from universities and related departments. There are no translators today. Due to lack of translators, service extensions have to be given to the retired people. The most difficult task according to public administration regulations is to extend service after retirement.

It can be protected by the United Nations General Assembly resolution on protecting the mother tongue and the Constitutional provisions of our country. Even more, this process will be a huge strength and encouragement to make the process to secure our own motherland.

Chancellor of Ruhunu University Ven Dr Akuratiye Nanda Thera, Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Ariful Islam, Public Administration Ministry Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne, diplomats, officials, university deans, professors, university students, representatives of various organizations participated in this event.