Sri Lankan English
An SLE consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary and author of the book Knox's Words notes that British readers first encountered loan words from Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) in a book published in 1681 entitled An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies. Words from that book became used internationally: the best known is Buddha but others include Anaconda, betel leaf, bo tree, pooja, rattan, rillow, Vedda, and wanderoo.
Some years after independence in 1948, English ceased being the only official language of Sri Lanka, but it remained in use across the island's ethnic groups. It evolved to incorporate more Sinhalese vocabulary and grammatical conventions such as the use of "no?" as a tag question at the end of a sentence.
In spite of English's long history in Sri Lanka, 21st century Sri Lankan academicians debate about the legitimacy of SLE as a separate dialect.
A significant difference between British English and Sri Lankan English usage is its use of particular tenses. Many educated Sri Lankans would use past perfect tense to talk about things that happened at a fixed time in the recent past instead of past simple. Many Sri Lankans still use words such as frock (dress) and the question form 'to whom' which are not familiar to modern British English speakers below a certain age. Another example of typical Sri Lankan English is posing questions by changing the intonation, e.g. "you are hungry?"
There are certain nouns added to English by Sri Lankans and therefore a native English speaker coming to Sri Lanka for the first time would not know what Shorteats (snacks) and string hoppers (a typical Sri Lankan food) mean. If you read a daily newspaper, you may find a number of typical Sri Lankan usages, which may not be accepted in standard British English: such as 'lots of equipments', 'information system', 'education minister'
Some of the usages mentioned are common in Indian English as well
Words and patterns
- Tag questions: The use of "isn't it?" and "no?" as general question tags, as in You're going, isn't it? instead of You're going, aren't you?, and He's here, no? (In spoken Sinhala 'ne?' (meaning isn't it?), is used in a similar way)
- Overuse of the words 'Generally', 'Actually', 'Obviously', 'Basically',"Because" in the beginning of a sentence. e.g. "Actually I am not feeling well." (used mostly by urban people and Yuppies). This trend is common with Indian English as well.
- Use of "Can you drop me?" and "We will drop her first" instead of "Can you drop me off?" and "We will drop her off first". (used mostly by urban people and Yuppies). These forms are used in British English too.
- Omission of the definite article: e.g. "Let's go to city" instead of "Let's go to the city", also "in hospital" (in the hospital), "to hospital" (to the hospital). (In the case of "in hospital" and "to hospital", however, these forms are used in British English too when talking about a sick person, as against someone who goes there to visit a sick person.)
- Usage of 'Parallelly' as opposed to 'In Parallel'.
- "How are you keeping?" instead of "How are you doing?" or "How are you?".
- Overuse of 'also' in places where a general English speaker would not insert an 'also'. e.g. "The driver is new. He is driving fast also". Note that this is somewhat analogous to the overuse/misuse of 'only' in Indian English. An Indian speaker would say "The driver is new. He is driving fast only". This is due to the fact that their native languages has similar idiomatic usage of the general meaning of 'also' and 'only'. Using "also" several times when several people are involved in the same action is common too. e.g. "Papa also going, Mama also going." instead of "Both Papa and Mama are going."
- "send it across" instead of "send it over", as in "send the bill across to me" instead of "send the bill over to me". (used mostly by urban people and Yuppies)
- "back" replacing "ago" when talking about elapsed time, as in "I met him five years back" rather than "I met him five years ago." (Though this too is not uncommon in British English)
- "pass out" is meant to graduate, as in "I passed out of the university in 1995."
- "confinement" means "pregnancy". (mostly found in formal official use, and it is not that common as of recently; "confinement" is occasionally found in British legal usage, principally when referring to the final trimester of pregnancy)
- Use of "current went" and "current came" for "The power went out" and "The power came back"
- 'Shorteats' for snacks (in small Sri Lankan restaurants Shorteats sometimes morphed in to 'Sorties')
- 'String Hoppers' (a typical Sri Lankan/South Indian food that looks somewhat like a flat ball of noodles)
- "Hotel" could mean Restaurant As in "I ate in a roadside hotel".
- "Lodge" refers to a place where you stay in temporary basis (in rooms).
- "Specs" means spectacles (as in colloquial UK English).
- 'Cover' to mean any envelope or a bag. For example, "Put the documents in a cover and post it", and "Put the gift in a cover".
- 'Today morning' (afternoon, evening, etc.) instead of 'this morning.' ("I met with him today morning."). Similarly, 'yesterday night' instead of 'last night'.
- 'Pattice'or 'Pattis' is used for a singular vegetable/Corn patty or plural Corn patties.
- The word "stay" used for "live" or reside at": "Where do you stay?" meaning not "Where are you temporarily lodging" but "Where is your residence?" (though this is normal in Standard Scottish English)
- 'Saloon' instead of Salon, as in "I will visit the hair saloon."
- 'Crail' instead of 'Curl' (This term is being dropped from use. A fluent SLE speaker would treat 'Crail' as a wrong term, rather than SLE word.)
- Intensifying adjectives by doubling them. This is a common feature of most Indian languages. For example: "We went to different-different places in the city in search of a good hotel", "Don't worry about small-small things" to mean very insignificant issues. This usage is common in Indian English as well.
- Word order following who, what, where, when, why, or how. In standard British English and in American English, the following are correct: "Where are you going?" "Tell me where you are going"
- In Indian/Sri Lankan English, however, a speaker will tend to choose one or the other word order pattern and apply it universally, thus: "Where are you going?" and "Tell me where are you going." combination, OR "Where you are going?" and "Tell me where you are going." combination
- 'Batchmate' or 'batch-mate' to mean college buddy or university contemporary.
- Chatni or Chutney (borrowed from Indian English)
- Cousin-brother (male first cousin) & cousin-sister (female first cousin);
- 'Dickie' for trunk(US)/car boot(UK).
- 'Funeral house' which is a literal translation of a Sinhala word which refers to the event of the funeral taking place in a regular household (as opposed to a funeral parlour or funeral home); this term has also been noted in British English, vide OED.
- 'Gone for a six', to mean something got ruined or went out of hand. (almost certainly has origins linked to the game of Cricket, in which six runs are automatically awarded to the batting side when the batsman hits the ball out of the playing field)
- 'How' as in 'How the life' or 'How your life' used to express disbelief - 'Your life is crazy' or "Your life is too much'.
- 'Lakh' means one hundred thousand, especially rupees (Also in Indian English)
- 'Mobile' for mobile phone/cell-phone (This is found in British English too.)
- 'Pass-out' means graduate from college/University
- 'Petrol shed' means a filling station [UK English]
Forms of address (informal)
- Use of the English words 'uncle' and 'aunty' as suffixes when addressing people such as distant relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, even total strangers of an older generation.
- Use of 'machan' when speaking between fellow Sri Lankans (mostly among men), equivalent to mate, original meaning "brother-in-law" in Tamil.
The Sri Lankan numbering system is preferred for digit grouping. When written in words, or when spoken, numbers less than 100,000/100 000 are expressed just as they are in Standard English. Numbers including and beyond 100,000 / 100 000 are expressed in a subset of the Sri Lankan numbering system. Thus, the following scale is used:
|In digits (Standard English)||In digits (Sri Lankan English)||In words (Standard English)||In words (Sri Lankan English)|
|100,000 / 100 000||1,00,000||one hundred thousand||one lakh|
|1,000,000 / 1 000 000||10,00,000||one million||ten lakh|
|10,000,000 /10 000 000||1,00,00,000||ten million||one crore|
Comparison of some Sri Lankan usage patterns with international usage
Some Sri Lankans closely follow the international - more often British - norms in usage. However, the patterns given below are often found, albeit to varying degrees, among Sri Lankan English speakers.
- in vain
My brother has extra tickets. We bought tickets in vain. [Sri Lanka]
My brother has extra tickets. It’s a shame (that) we bought tickets too. (We shouldn’t have bought tickets.) [international]
The manual is in German. In vain. / In vain we bought this gadget in Germany. [Sri Lanka]
The manual is in German. What a shame. / It’s a shame (that) we bought this gadget in Germany. [international]
- for lies
Don’t shout for lies. [Sri Lanka] Don’t shout in vain. [international]
He said it for lies. [Sri Lanka] He said it as a joke. [international]
She is crying for lies. [Sri Lanka] She is pretending to cry. [international]
The verb 'keep' is sometimes used in SLE in the same sense as 'put' or 'place'.
Keep it on the table. [Sri Lanka] Put it on the table. [international]
Keep it in the cupboard. [Sri Lanka] Put it in / into the cupboard. [international]
- too much
That child is too much. [Sri Lanka] That child is quite naughty / mischievous. [international]
This salesman is too much. [Sri Lanka] This salesman is really pushy. [international]
That girl is too much. [Sri Lanka] That girl is too forward. [international]
- small small things
'small small things' [Sri Lanka] ' various small things' / 'many small things' / 'several small things' [international]
'different different problems' [Sri Lanka] 'various problems' / 'many different problem' / 'several different problems' [international]
- In international usage, an adjective is sometimes repeated to have an intensifying effect.
I saw her long, long ago.
- fully worth
'It's fully worth', 'Fully worth' [Sri Lanka] 'It's good/excellent value', 'It was good/excellent value' [international]
- get down from the bus
'get down from the bus / train / car...', 'get off the car / van...' [Sri Lanka] 'get off the bus / train / motorcycle...', 'get out of the car / van...' [international]
- get him/her/them down
'We must get him/her/them down' [Sri Lanka] 'We must invite him/her/them (over)' [international]
- play out
They played me out. [Sri Lanka] They cheated me / deceived me / conned me (informal usage) / took me for a ride (informal usage). [international]
- ask from him
Ask from him. [Sri Lanka] Ask him. [international]
I want to ask a question from her. [Sri Lanka] I want to ask her a question. [international]
- The repetition of 'also' when several people do the same thing
Nimal also is there, Mala also is there. [Sri Lanka] Both Nimal and Mala are there. / Nimal and Mala are both there. [International]
- Using 'even' after the word or phrase it refers to
They are open on Sundays even. / On Sundays even, they are open. [Sri Lanka] They are open even on Sundays.[International]
He didn’t call even. [Sri Lanka] He didn’t even call. [International]
She didn’t open the letter even. [Sri Lanka] She didn’t even open the letter. [International]
- In international usage, 'even' is sometimes placed after the term it is associated with when something more precise is added.
Their home was large, even huge / huge even.
- Using 'have' to say that something is available
Do you have enough money with you? – Yes, have. [Sri Lanka] Do you have enough money with you? – Yes, I do. [International]
Have enough petrol? – Yes, have. [Sri Lanka] Is there enough petrol [BrE] / gasoline [AmE]? – Yes, there is. [International]
- Overuse of 'put', i.e. in instances where other words are found in international usage
‘put a wash’ [Sri Lanka] ‘take / have [BrE] a wash' [International]
‘put a walk’ [Sri Lanka] ‘take / have a walk’ [International]
‘put a nap’ [Sri Lanka] ‘take / have a nap [International]
‘put a look’ [Sri Lanka] ‘have / take a look’ [International]
‘put a chat’ [Sri Lanka] ‘have a chat’ [International]
‘put a complaint’ [Sri Lanka] ‘make a complaint’ [International]
‘put a drink’ [Sri Lanka] ‘have a drink’ [International]
- Different word order in sentences with 'only'
Yesterday only they came. [Sri Lanka] They only came yesterday. / They came only yesterday. / It was only yesterday that they came. [International]
Then only they saw the thief. [Sri Lanka] They only saw the thief then. / They saw the thief only then. / It was only then that they saw the thief. / Only then did they see the thief. [International]
Only in Sri Lanka you find it. [Sri Lanka] You only find it in Sri Lanka. / You find it only in Sri Lanka. / It is only in Sri Lanka that you find it. / Only in Sri Lanka do you find it. [International]
Only if you go there you will meet her. [Sri Lanka] You will meet her only if you go there. / Only if you go there will you meet her. [International]
- Inverted word order found sometimes in questions
Why they are here? [Sri Lanka] Why are they here? [International]
Why you wanted to talk to him? [Sri Lanka] Why did you want to talk to him? [International]
- Or the opposite of it sometimes in reported speech
My wife asked where was the daughter. [Sri Lanka] My wife asked where the daughter was. [International]
Ask her when will she come. [Sri Lanka] Ask her when she will come. [International]
Ask her what is her email address. [Sri Lanka ] Ask her what her email address is. [International]
- Wrong use of tenses in the third conditional
If you came here yesterday, you could meet her. [Sri Lanka] If you had come here yesterday, you could have met her. [International]
- The use of the past perfect to convey third-party information
The robbers had come in a van. [Sri Lanka] The robbers have come in a van, they say. / They say (that) the robbers have come in a van. / It is said that the robbers have come in a van. / The robbers are supposed to have come in a van. [International] (Or, if suitable,) It was reported that the robbers had come in a van. [International]
Speakers of Sri Lankan English are often incapable of producing certain sounds such as /ou/, /ei/ and use the same sound for both /v/ and /w/ as they do not bite their lower lip for /v/ or round their lips for /w/.
- Pronouncing 'Exercise' as 'Excise'
- Pronouncing 'Inventory' as 'Inventri' or 'Inventry' by dropping the 'o'. (Also common in British English)
- Dropping the 'r' sound and pronouncing 'Carpet' as 'Capat' and 'Market' as 'Makat' (However, not pronouncing the 'r' in these places is standard practice in British English too, though not in American English.)
- No difference between 'raw' and 'row' (Similarly, no difference between 'saw' and 'sow' and 'so')
- Confusing hard and soft "v" . e.g. "WOID" for "void", "WOMIT" for "vomit" and "Vee" for "We", "Vent" for "Went"
- Pronouncing 'Ya' instead of 'Air' such as in 'Airport', thus it becomes 'Yapot' (the 'r' sound is not pronounced, as in British English)
- Inversion of 'il' to sound out 'li' or adding an extra 'i' sound - example: 'flim' or 'filim' instead of 'film' (this is relatively rare, nowadays)
- Pronouncing 'psy.chi.at.ric' as 'psy.chac.tric' or inability to properly pronounce it at all.
- Pronouncing 'Secretary' as 'Secetry' (se-ket-ri) and 'Secondary' as 'Secondry' (second-ri). (This pronunciation of 'Secondary' is also common in British English)
Detailed description of pronunciation differences
It should be noted that there are Sri Lankans who closely follow the international - more often British - norms in pronunciation. However, the patterns given below are often heard, albeit to varying degrees, among Sri Lankan English speakers.
- note, boat
Such words are pronounced with a diphthong, /nəʊt/, /bəʊt/… in British English, and /noʊt/, /boʊt/… in American English (/ə/ - mid central vowel, /o/ - close-mid back rounded vowel, /ʊ/ - near-close near-back rounded vowel). In Sri Lankan English, they are mostly pronounced with the monophthong /oː/ (/o/ -close-mid back rounded vowel) as /noːt/, /boːt/… This form has received general recognition in the country.
However, pronouncing words like hot /hɒt/, office /ˈɒfɪs/… (/ɒ/ - open back rounded vowel) with the /o/ sound (as /hot/, /ofɪs/...) or words like hall /hɔːl/, caught /kɔːt/… (ɔ - open-mid back rounded vowel) with the /oː/ sound (as /hoːl/, /koːt/..) has not been accepted that way, though some people pronounce them so. In fact, these pronunciations are ridiculed by those who speak what can be called Standard Sri Lankan English. On the other hand, certain people - especially from rather unban areas – have got these sounds mixed up and pronounce words like local /ˈləʊkəl/ (BrE) - /ˈloʊkəl/ (AmE) with the /ɔː/ sound (as /ˈlɔːkəl/).
- take, made
These words, which are also pronounced with a diphthong as /teɪk/, /meɪd/… in BrE and AmE, are generally pronounced with the monophthong /eː/, as /teːk/, /meːd/… (/e/ - close-mid front unrounded vowel, /ɪ/ - near-close near-front unrounded vowel)
- father, luck
Since the sound of the letter “a” (/ɑː/ - open back unrounded vowel) in “father /ˈfɑːðə(r)/” and that of “u” (/ʌ/ - open-mid back unrounded vowel ) in “luck /lʌk/” are both absent in Sinhala, they are pronounced as /aː/ and /a/ (/a/ - open front unrounded vowel) respectively.
- net, letter
- lid, happy
In BrE and AmE, the sound of the letter “i” (/ɪ/ - near-close near-front unrounded vowel) in “lid” may be different from that of “y” (/i/ - close front unrounded vowel) in “happy.” Or else, the latter will also be /ɪ/. But in Sri Lanka both are often pronounced /i/.
- book, boot
- cat, lad
The sounds of “t” (/t/ - voiceless alveolar plosive) and “d” (/d/ - voiced alveolar plosive) in words like cat /kæt/ and lad /læd/ are often replaced by /ʈ/ (voiceless retroflex plosive) and /ɖ/ (voiced retroflex plosive) respectively in SLE.
- pull, take, kit
When “p”,”t” or “k” occur at the beginning of a word (as in “pull”, “take” and “kit”) or a stressed syllable (as in the second syllable of “potato”), they are aspirated (pronounced /pʰʊl/, /tʰeɪk/, /kʰɪt/…) in BrE and AmE. This is rare among Sri Lankans.
- thin, this
These two sounds of “th” (in /θɪn/ and /ðɪs/) are fricatives (/θ/ - voiceless dental fricative, /ð/ - voiced dental fricative) in BrE and AmE, but plosives - /t̪/ (voiceless dental plosive) and /d̪/ (voiced dental plosive) respectively - in SLE.
- ship, chin
The “sh” sound (/ʃ/- voiceless postalveolar fricative)in “ship /ʃɪp/” and “ch” sound (/tʃ/) in “chin /tʃɪn/” are produced further back in the mouth in SLE than in BrE and AmE. So /ʃ/ becomes /ɕ-/ (voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative) in SLE. Though some people unfamiliar with English even replace /ʃ/ with /s/ (voiceless alveolar fricative), making “ship” sound like “sip,” it is not an acceptad form.
- vision, measure
Most Sri Lankans are unfamiliar with the /ʒ/ (voiced postalveolar fricative) sound in words like “vision /ˈvɪʒən/” and “measure /ˈmɛʒə(r)/”, and therefore replace it with their “sh” sound in “ship.”
- sip, zip
As the “z” sound (/z/ - voiced alveolar fricative) does not occur in Sinhala, some Sri Lankans tend to pronounce “zip /zɪp/” like “sip /sɪp/” (/s/ - voiceless alveolar fricative), or even ship /ʃɪp/ (/ʃ/- voiceless postalveolar fricative), but those familiar with English generally pronounce it correctly (unlike in the preceding case).
- wail, veil
- pin, fin
As the “f” (/f/ - voiceless labiodental fricative) sound do not occur in Sinhala, some Sri Lankans pronounce it like “p” (/p/ - voiceless bilabial plosive), but those familiar with English generally do not do so and ridicule that "p" pronunciation too. On the other hand, certain people - especially from rather unban areas - occasionally put the /f/ sound where /p/ should be, e.g. sales rep /-ref/
- skill, smell
Some people, generally those unfamiliar with English, tend to have an almost involuntary /i-/ before words that begin with an “s” preceding a consonant. So words like skill /skɪl/, smɛll /smel/… are pronounced /iskil/, /ismel/. This is also ridiculed by those who speak Standard Sri Lankan English.
Other common patterns
- SLE sometimes uses longer written forms in speech where shortened forms are used in BrE and AmE.
What’s the matter? [International] What is the matter? [Sri Lanka]
I’ve already seen that film. [International] I have already seen that film. [Sri Lanka]
They’ll be here tomorrow. [International] They will be here tomorrow. [Sri Lanka]
- Some syllables elided in BrE and AmE are prononced in SLE.
different /ˈdɪfrənt / [International] /ˈɖifərənʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
logically /ˈlɒdʒɪkli/ [International] /ˈlɒdʒikəli/ [Sri Lanka]
evening /ˈiːvnɪŋ/ [International] /ˈiːʋiniŋ/ [Sri Lanka]
- Some unstressed syllables reduced to /ə/ in BrE and AmE are pronounced /a(ː)/ in SLE
camera /ˈkæmərə/ [International] /ˈkæməra(ː)/ [Sri Lanka]
villa /ˈvɪlə/ [International] /ˈʋila(ː)/ [Sri Lanka]
welcome /ˈwɛlkəm/ [International] /ˈʋelkam/ [Sri Lanka]
wholesome /ˈhəʊlsəm/ [BrE], /ˈhoʊlsəm/ [AmE] /ˈhoːlsam/ [Sri Lanka]
- Certain unstressed syllables reduced to /ə/ in BrE and AmE/ are pronounced /o/,/u/, /e/, /i/ etc. in SLE
polite /pəˈlaɪt/ [International] /poˈlaɪʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
promote /prəˈməʊt/[BrE], /prəˈmoʊt/ [AmE] /proˈmoːʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
today /təˈdeɪ/ [International] /ʈuˈɖeː/ [Sri Lanka]
together /təˈgɛðə(r)/ [International] /ʈuˈged̪ə(r)/ [Sri Lanka]
commentary /ˈkɒməntri/ [BrE], /ˈkɒmənˌteri/ [AmE] /ˈkɒmenʈri/ [Sri Lanka]
compensate /ˈkɒmpənˌseɪt/ [International] /ˈkɒmpenˌseːʈ/ [SriLanka]
pencil /ˈpɛnsəl/ [International] /ˈpensil/ [Sri Lanka]
council /ˈkaʊnsəl/ [International] /ˈkaʊnsil/ [Sri Lanka]
- In BrE and AmE, the letter 's' at the end of plurals are pronounced /-z/ after voiced sounds like ‘b /b/’, ‘d /d/’, g /g/, ‘m /m/’, n /n/, ‘ng /ŋ/’, r /(r)/, v /v/, w /ʊ/, l /l/, ‘th /ð/’ and vowel sound. But in SLE some pronounce it /s/ in such positions.
Moreover, the 'es' added to form plurals of nouns ending in ‘s /s/’, ‘z /z/’, ‘sh /ʃ/’, ‘ch /tʃ/’, ’j /dʒ/’, though pronounced /-ɪz/ in BrE and AmE, tend to become /-əs/.
(However, the 's' added to words ending in voiced sounds ‘p /p/’, ‘t /t/’, ‘k /k/’, ‘f /f/’, ‘th /θ/’ are pronounced /s/ even in BrE and AmE.)
cabs /kæbz/ [International] /kæbs/ [Sri Lanka]
rings /rɪŋz/ [International] /riŋs/ [Sri Lanka]
clothes /kləʊðz/ [BrE], /kloʊðz/ [AmE] /kloːd̪s/ [Sri Lanka]
mangoes /ˈmæŋgəʊz/ [BrE], /ˈmæŋgoʊz/[AmE] /ˈmæŋgoːs/ [Sri Lanka]
discos /ˈdɪskəʊz/[BrE], /ˈdɪskoʊz/[AmE] /ˈɖiskoːs/[Sri Lanka]
masses /ˈmæsɪz/ [International] /ˈmæsəs/ [Sri Lanka] gaya
wishes /ˈwɪʃɪz/ [International] /ˈʋiɕəs/ [Sri Lanka]
judges /ˈdʒʌdʒɪz/ [International] /ˈdʒadʒəs/ [Sri Lanka]
- The 'ed' added to form the past tense of verbs ending in voiceless sounds like ‘p /p/’, ‘k /k/’, ‘f /f/’, ‘s /s/’, ‘sh /ʃ/’, ‘ch /tʃ/’, ‘th /θ/’, though pronounced /-t/ in BrE and AmE, are pronounced /-ɖ/ by some Sri Lankans.
Furthermore, after ‘t /t/’, ‘d /d/’ (and sometimes ‘s’, ‘g’ ‘n’ etc.), where 'ed' is pronounced /ɪd/ in BrE and AmE, it tends to be pronounced /-əɖ/ in SLE.
knocked /nɒkt/ [International] /nɒkɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
passed /pɑːst/ [BrE], /pæst/ [AmE] /paːsɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
finished /fɪnɪʃt/ [International] /finiɕɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
wanted /ˈwɒntɪd/ [International] /ˈʋɒnʈəɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
landed /ˈlændɪd/ [International] /lænɖəɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
cussed /ˈkʌsɪd/ [International] /ˈkasəɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
- Unstressed syllables where 'et' is pronounced /-ɪt/ in BrE and AmE but rather /- əʈ/ in SLE
pocket /ˈpɒkɪt/ [International] /ˈpɒkəʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
market /ˈmɑːkɪt/ [BrE], /ˈmɑrkɪt/ [AmE] /ˈmaːkəʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
biscuit /ˈbɪskɪt/ [International] /ˈbiskəʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
- Instances where 'th' is /θ/ in BrE and AmE but /ð/ in SLE
healthy /ˈhɛlθi/ [International] /ˈhelði/ [Sri Lanka] (Similarly 'wealthy')
- The pronunciation related to the letter 'r' in words like 'air' and 'care'
care /kɛə(r)/ [BrE], /kɛr/ [AmE] /kea(r)/ [Sri Lanka] (Smilarly 'air', 'fair', 'fare', 'bare', 'bear', 'pear', 'pair'...)
- The difference in pronunciation in wrds like ‘power’ and ‘tower’
power /ˈpaʊə(r)/ [International] /ˈpaʋə(r)/ [Sri Lanka] (Similarly 'tower', 'flower'...)
- The difference in pronunciation in words like 'quick' and 'twist'
quick /kwɪk/ [International] /kʋik/ [Sri Lanka]
twist /twɪst/ [International] /ʈʋisʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
- Unstressed syllables where 'age' (or 'ege') is pronounced /ɪdʒ/ in BrE and AmE but rather /e(ː)dʒ/ in SLE
damage /ˈdæmɪdʒ/ [International] /ˈɖæmeːdʒ/ [Sri Lanka]
marriage /ˈmærɪdʒ/ [International] /ˈmæreːdʒ/ [Sri Lanka]
manager /ˈmænɪdʒə(r)/ [International] /ˈmæneːdʒə(r) / [Sri Lanka]
village /ˈvɪdʒɪdʒ/ [International] /ˈʋiledʒ/ [Sri Lanka]
college /ˈkɒlɪdʒ/ [International] /ˈkɒledʒ/ [Sri Lanka]
- Unstressed syllables where /ɪ/ in BrE and AmE becomes /e(ː)/ in SLE
delicate /ˈdɛlɪkɪt/ [International] /ˈɖelikeːʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
intimate (1) /ˈɪntəmɪt/ [International] /ˈintimeːʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
accurate /ˈækjərɪt/ [International] /ˈækjureːʈ/ [Sri Lanka]
examine /ɪgˈzæmɪn/ [International] /egˈzæmin/ [Sri Lanka]
example /ɪgˈzɑːmpəl/ [BrE], /ɪgˈzæmpəl/ [AmE] /egˈzɑːmpəl/ [Sri Lanka]
enamel /ɪˈnæməl/ [International] /eˈnæməl/ [Sri Lanka]
(1) However, when words like 'intimate' are used as verbs, the pronunciation is different (/ˈɪntəˌmeɪt/ ) in BrE and AmE .
- Stressed syllables where /ɪ/ in BrE and AmE rather becomes /iː/ in SLE
video /ˈvɪdiˌəʊ/ [BrE], /ˈvɪdiˌoʊ/, [AmE] /ˈʋiːɖiˌoː/ [Sri Lanka]
competition /ˌkɒmpɪˈtɪʃən/ [International] /ˌkɒmpeˈʈiːɕən/ [Sri Lanka]
electrician /ɪlɛkˈtrɪʃən/ [International] /ilekˈʈriːɕən/ [Sri Lanka]
- Words like 'is' and 'nose', where the 's' is pronounced /z/ in BrE and AmE, but often /s/ in SLE
is /ɪz/ [International] /i(ː)s/ [Sri Lanka]
nose /nəʊz/ [BrE], /noʊz/ [AmE] /noːs/ [Sri Lanka]
(Similaraly 'isn’t', 'was', 'wasn’t', 'these', 'those', 'pose', 'propose', 'close' (2), 'use' (2), noise...)
(2) Though the letter 's' in words like 'close', 'use' and 'house' is pronounced /z/ in BrE and AmE when they are used as verbs, it becomes /s/ when they are nouns or adjectives.
- Some more words with differing pronunciation
of /əv/(weak) - /ɒv/(strong) [International] /ɒf/ [Sri Lanka]
vehicle /ˈviːɪkəl/, / ˈviːəkəl/ [International] /ˈʋehikəl/[Sri Lanka]
husband /ˈhʌzbənd/ [International] /ˈhasbənɖ/ [Sri Lanka]
tuition /tjuˈɪʃən/ [BrE], /tuˈɪʃən/ [AmE] /ˈʈjuːɕən/ [Sri Lanka]
poem /ˈpəʊɪm/ [BrE], /ˈpoʊəm/ [AmE] /ˈpojəm/ [Sri Lanka] (Similarly 'poet' )
houses /ˈhaʊzɪz/ [International] /ˈhaʊsəs/ [Sri Lanka] ( Though the letter 's' in the singular ‘house’ is pronounced /s/ in BrE and AmE, it becomes /z/ in the plural.)
quarter /ˈkwɔːtə(r)/[BrE], /ˈkwɔrtər/ [AmE] /ˈkʋaːʈə(r)/ [Sri Lanka]
- Words stressed on the second syllable in BrE and AmE, but often on the first in SLE
address, cassette, dessert, museum, hotel, gazette, rupee, papaw, maintain, migrate, translate, weekend, ice cream, although, already, hello, unless, mature, analysis, apparel, upstairs, downstairs, Chinese, American, Nigeria, Bulgaria, UK, US, umbrella, interior, vanilla, specific, terrific, participate, participant...
- Words with primary stress on the third syllable and secondary stress on the first in BrE and AmE, but vice versa in SLE
Japanese, lemonade, engineer, afternoon, understand, recommend, entertain, represent, disappear, conversation, application, education, information, qualification, university, opportunity, possibility, probability, scientific, Panamanian...
- Words with primary stress on the fourth syllable and secondary stress on the second in BrE and AmE, but vice versa in SLE
association, accommodation, communication, pronunciation, examination, imagination, determination, responsibility...
- Words with primary stress on the fourth syllable and secondary stress on the first in BrE and AmE, but vice versa in SLE
- Boyle, Richard (2004). Knox's words. Visidunu Publication. p. 389. ISBN 955-9170-67-8.
- anaconda. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Dictionary of Sri Lankan English
- A brief history of Sri Lankan English from the Oxford English Dictionary website
- An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies, from Project Gutenberg
- A review of Knox's Words, from the Sri Lankan newspaper Sunday Observer
- Another review of Knox's Words, from a fellow author's personal website
- Our British heritage, another Sunday Observer article