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The word centenary

70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE MALALASEKERA’S ENGLISH SINHALA DICTIONARY

70th Anniversary of the Malalasekara’s English Sinhala Dictionary a publication of M D Gunasena Company falls on September 15.

The Dictionary emerged in 1948 and the first preface of Prof Gunapala Malalasekara is dated September 15, 1948, while he was academic of par - excellence and a preeminent scholar at the University of Ceylon.

The second edition of the dictionary was published after ten years while Prof. Malalasekara was away in Moscow as Sri Lanka’s first ambassador on September 10, 1958. Prof. Malalasekara in his preface to this edition stated: “I was away from Ceylon while this book was going through the press. It was very fortunate, therefore, that my erstwhile pupil Lionel Lokuliyana volunteered to undertake the task of revising the entries and reading the proofs. His suggestions for the improvement of the work have been very valuable and I am most grateful to him for his assistance.”

The third edition was released only after 24 years in 1992, where Nanda Malalasekara of Peradeniya, GD Wijayawardana of Colombo and D R M Walton of Sussex were instrumental in releasing same which was facilitated by the then, President R Premadasa. This edition contained new 5000 words. The new features contained in this edition were thus: “Other innovation includes the use of slanted Sinhala characters for the English pronunciation guide, and of the universally popular Helvetica typeface for main and subheadings. Modern internationally accepted definitions and associated units (SI system), together with chemical formulae for simple compounds and the one two-letter codes for the elements have been introduced. Finally, the abbreviations section has been expanded to cope with the diverse range of acronyms commonly used, especially for international organizations.”

After an interval of six years in the year 2000 at the eve of the millennium the Dictionary was completely revised as the fourth edition, was expanded and updated with a board comprised of Prof A J Gunawardena, Prof Chandrasiri Palliyaguru, Piyadasa Hettihewa, Athula Manchanayaka and Percy Jayamanna functioning as the coordinating editor. This edition of the Malalasekara English-Sinhala Dictionary was a landmark as it marked the Golden Jubilee year of the Dictionary which coincided with the birth centenary of Prof G P Malalasekara.

The publisher’s prefatory note on May 3, 2000, asserted: “The never-ending popularity of this Dictionary vouched for by the fact that its sales have far reached those of any other similar publication in Sri Lanka”.

The fifth edition of the Dictionary the editorial consultants, comprised Professor Chandasiri Palliyaguru, Dr Edwin Ariyadasa, Prof. R.D. Gunarathne Dr Harischandra Wijayathunga, Piyadasa Hettihewa, Athula Manchanayake. The editorial team comprised Thusitha Malalasekara, A S Gunawardana and D D S Jayasundera. The coordinating editor was Percy Jayamanna.

The introduction to the fifth edition on September 8, 2007, stated:

“This fifth edition comes out seven years after the fourth. It is seen from the English Dictionaries that the English Language has been gradually transformed....”

The sixth edition emerged to mark the Gunasena centenary in September 2014. The principal editor was Prof Kusuma Karunarathne. Dr Lakshmi de Silva and Prof Sandagomi Coperahewa were the members of the editorial board while Buddhini Ramanayake functioned as the Assistant to the said editorial board. The Dictionary was completely revised. The publisher’s note for this edition states inter alia:

“A living Language is subject to change continuously with time. As such, we consider the updating of the dictionary, a necessity. It is with this in mind as well that the Malalasekara English Sinhala Dictionary has been presently updated and edited. The Dictionary is titled: “Most Trusted Dictionary in Sri Lanka - New Edition - Malalasekara English - Sinhala Dictionary”

Malalasekara English - Sinhala Dictionary is a towering landmark which is a gift for posterity. This Dictionary would continue to serve its readers as an epitome of legacy as a significant intellectual repast.

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