Monday, October 10, 2011

The ‘Oo’ gene… the British preferred…

Man’s primitive means of communication was the human voice.  Various sounds at various intensity levels may have been adapted to communicate, depending on the distance of the receiver. Beyond the distance of hearing; a symbolic note on leaf or papyrus, hand delivered would have fulfilled the need…. This is thought to be the inception of language.

When the distance was large and intercepted different communities having the same sounds and symbols giving different messages, the free flow of knowledge was interrupted. When a community was superior in knowledge, so was the language adopted by them.The superior language overran other languages. This is shown as the Western domination in the world.

The English Language became a ‘Kaduwa’ in Sri Lanka.

This domination is researched by Tissa Devendra, the english writer author GA [not forgetting the Sinahala writing GAA Leel Gunasekara, Amara Hewa Madduma & Amaradasa Gunawardana] in his book a Quest for Shangri-La. In this book he discusses how the Englishman set about writing  Sinhala sounds in the English language. There isn’t a formal way to interpret the sound ‘oo’ other than when in the use as in ‘book’, ‘look’ or ‘nook’. Thus he wrote Labukele Estate as ‘Labookellie Estate’. This deviation of writing was later adapted to show a social difference in society. Those Sinhala families who embraced the English culture and needed identification in the elite social class preferred writing their names in this form. They were the Goonathilake, Goonawardane and those that ended with an ‘e’ as in wardane, thillake and naike. He also says that these families invariably tendered to be Christians in the 19th century, for the simple reason that the British favoured those in this faith.

However by the 20th century with the spread of English education the not so elite preferred to write their names in the simple form with the use of the letter ‘u’ for ‘oo’ and ended with an ‘a’ for an ‘e’. Them now are said to outnumber the former as given in the new Telephone Directory, says Tissa Devendra.

The British left us independent in 1948………or was it the other way round? ……for their presence is very much felt even in this 21st century. 

It’s a funny world…………………and if you can read these boards on the way to Badulla passing Bandarawela…..…you can be sure... you still have that 19th century gene………… the British preferred.


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