Sinhala bloggers are having an event on April 18th. On Sinhala New Year members and associates of the Sinhala Bloggers Union will write, in Sinhala Unicode, all day. This will hopefully fill Kottu and show how far Sinhala bloggers and Sinhala in general has come in the last few years. The unicode didn’t exist just a short while ago but now, flawed though it is, it gives tens of peeps the chance to express themselves in a beautiful and rich language. One of the biggest impediments to Internet growth in Sri Lanka is the lack of local content. Specifically, we have bandwidth in the country, but things slow down when we go to international servers. Local content in English isn’t enough, because the vast majority of people here don’t speak it. Sinhala (especially the spoken form) is a rich and well used language, and it is very good that we’re getting it online. It’s good for the Internet, it’s good for the country, and the growth is ultimately good for all the languages on this island.
For more info on the blogathon, check out Apramana’s blog post or sinhalabloggers.com. Sinhala is, in many ways, a tiny language. We are the majority here, but in the greater sea of things 16 or 17 million speakers is but a drop. There are hundreds of millions of Tamil speakers, billions of Chinese readers, etc. Sinhala is, however, a witty and deft language with the most intelligent script I’ve ever seen. In linguistics classes we used the International Phonetic Alphabet which could represent any languages with sounds. What you wrote was literally what it sounded like, so we could write and analyze anything from Inuktitut to Welsh. Sinhala is one of the few alphabets with a phonetic script, making it incredibly easy to write and read (even if you don’t know the meaning). I think one reason we have high literacy is because you can seriously learn to read (sans comprehension) in a few days. There are consonant sounds with standard vowel attachments, and few exceptions. It’s very cool.
Sinhala, aside from being technically and esthetically interesting, is also what is spoken in Sri Lanka. It has great meaning, depth and humor, and it reaches people. The number may be small, but it is also big enough to matter, and it is our country. Local content is important, and at a time when the press is being repressed and militarized, giving everyone the ability to write and publish direct is important.
So, yadda yadda, it is certainly important to write in Sinhala and I am very happy when Sinhala (and Tamil) bloggers request to be added to Kottu. I think it’s a vital part of the growth of the Sri Lankan blogosphere and media in general, and I wholly support the Sinhala Blogathon on April 18th. Best of luck, and I’m looking to see what local talent is out there. In all honesty, I’ve found great demand for Sinhala content outstation in some print work I’m doing. I’ll keep an extra eye on the thing to look for potential free lancers. This is a Sinhala speaking country and there is demand for Sinhala content. It is actually something that can be immediately monetized. For the growth of the language, the blogosphere and the nation this is a very good thing. Props to everyone participating.