Sri Lankan English Literature: birth of a clan | Daily News

Sri Lankan English Literature: birth of a clan

The adoption of the British language was the most significant and well-known influence the English had on Sri Lanka. There are two official languages in today’s Sri Lanka: Sinhala and Tamil. Meanwhile, English is recognized as the link language and it is recognized as the official language in the corporate world. Even though Sinhalese has specific terms that sound similar to those in Dutch and Portuguese, only English left a lasting impression in every aspect people are engaged with.

All schools teach English and the native languages, and children are expected to be proficient in English. Sri Lanka English (SLE) has been rooted in the influence of British English based on many occasions, and the natives of Sinhala and Tamil were motivated to use English. SLE is accepted in the country though most speakers still tend to follow the British accent and the origins of English, even in literature. The influence of British English is rooted in the vernacular language pronunciations, legalization, or norm system, yet it had a highlighted position in literature as well.

British control during the Kandyan kingdom

British rule in Sri Lanka was more straightforward and, in some ways, unadorned.

Ceylon was a royal colony, and during the Kandyan war of 1815, the island of Ceylon was united under one government.

Because of British control, the English language had a tremendous impact on culture and languages. As a result, specific linguistic characteristics emerge when people use English, which must be adequately highlighted.

Furthermore, the effect of English on the Tamil and Sinhala languages is a significant feature; in addition to linguistic power, it can be determined by a language’s socio-cultural, political, and economic dominance. The colonial rulers’ actions resulted in a slew of other transformations in the position of local languages and the people’s overall linguistic behaviour. Western influences on lifestyle and culture emerged where native languages and cultures collided with Portuguese, Dutch, and English. In adding to their languages, these invaders took their culture, traditions, and faiths with them. However, rather than the rest of the nations who conquered the island, English was dominant in the language. The generations are to follow English and English literature to improve their language. Only after Sri Lanka obtained Independence from Great Britain in 1948 did significant literature in English emerge, with a large enough body of work to constitute a field in and of itself. However, the first English-language novel was launched in 1917, and Sri Lankan writing in English began considerably earlier than 1948.

 While the literature created in English before Freedom may not be enriching in literary terms, it is vital to fully comprehend the literature that evolved after independence. KR Srinivasa Iyengar’s Indian Writing in English was way overdue as a reference source on Sri Lankan writing in English. The first complete study of the issue is this latest book by DCRA Goonetilleke, who has done much to acquaint the world with Sri Lankan writing and produced key findings of colonial literature, Joseph Conrad and Salman Rushdie. While it considers literature before independence, it mainly concentrated on 1948.

Carl Muller phenomenon

Sri Lankan English writers with the influence of English tended to use their vital knowledge to the English educated class with the invention of novellas and novels. The books were written mainly based on Sri Lankan culture, norms, traditions, and even local terms and contexts. For instance, Sam’s Story, Waiting Earth, Funny Boy, and Jam Fruit Tree had Sinhala and Tamil influences on the characters and the contextual scenarios.

Moreover, the birth of Sri Lankan English happened to be with English being used in the education system. Yet, the English educated class valued the books, as they were unique. The novels are primarily based on the scenarios of war and its after-effects, social issues, and ethnic conflicts, particularly of the Burgher community in Sri Lanka and their lives with countless struggles. Sri Lankan English literature highlighted the burgher community and their social norms and customs from the novels of Jam Fruit Tree and Yakada Yaka by Car Muller. He has depicted the Sinhala community and the Burgher community related to the Sri Lankan English literature, emphasizing the growth of SLE.

After that, the chronology of Sri Lankan English literature is discussed. Its origin is described as social and literary influences (particularly the populist/nationalist upheaval of 1956). The primary difficulty that writers face, namely integrating their particular sensibility, cultural beliefs, and reality with Modern literary and other traditions, is discussed. Goonetilleke discusses the various reactions of talented writers to the English language and the inclination of prominent writers to make the language of literature a point of contention. Sri Lankan critics have adopted the Western stance on poetic language. T. Kandiah argues in “New Ceylon English” that the language of the Sri Lankan author should represent “the actual rhythms and idiom of contemporary Ceylon English speech” (92) and that the language of the Sri Lankan author in English acquires vitality if it is “derived from Sinhala,” from the vernacular (91).

In conclusion, it can be depicted that, with the invention of the colonial rule and the postcolonialism on the native languages in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan English emerged with excellent assistance to the local culture and context where the local reader can have significant access to it. The English speakers’ language has improved, and Sri Lankan English is still being used in the current language and educational curriculum to make it get broader and strong with novel authors with differentiated themes, which can be considered efficient for further studies growth of the language.

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