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Title: Sinhala
Written By: James W. Gair
John C. Paolillo
Series Title: Languages of the World/Materials 34

Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Sri Lanka, where it has
developed largely independently of the other Modern Indo-Aryan languages,
which are spoken primarily in northern India. As a result of this
development, it exhibits grammatical and phonological characteristics not
found in other Indo-Aryan languages. Some of these developments may be
traces to the influence of the neighboring Dravidian languages, principally
Tamil and Malayalam, but many developments include the loss of the aspirate
series of stops, the innovation of a series of prenasalized stops in
contrast with nasal-stop clusters, and a new low-front vowel /æ/
phonemically distinct from /a/. Morphologically, Sinhala possesses an
unusual four-way deictic system, a system of volitivity marking of verbal
forms, definiteness marking on nominals, and both causative and plural
formation systems involving gemination. Sinhala has basic SOV word order
like most languages of the region. Nevertheless some of its most remarkable
properties concern its syntax. Non-verb predicates do not use a copula
verb, and fail to participate in subordination constructions that employ
special verbal morphology. There is a cleft-like construction that uses a
postverbal position for focusing, but with variants with the focused
element in different positions, in accord with the high degree of
constituent freedom of the language. This construction is extremely common
in discourse, and it is grammatically required in certain circumstances
(e.g. constituent and most WH-questioning).

Sinhala is a strongly diglossic language, with Spoken Sinhala being used
for everyday purposes and Literary Sinhala for most written or scripted
forms of communication. Available descriptions of Sinhala tend to address
Literary Sinhala primilary, so the present volume will focus on Spoken
Sinhala. The volume will include a sample of oral narrative collected by
one of the authors, complete with interlinear translation.

2nd printing 2007.

Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation
Subject Language(s): Sinhalese
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 3895860247
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 60
Prices: Europe EURO 37.00