Introduction to sumihiri
We write our Sinhala names using English (Roman) letters, aren't we?
The way we use Roman letters has certain ambiguities however. The
`sumihiri' notation (or translation scheme ) is designed to remove
those ambiguities, keeping the common conventions that are already
being used. Easy readability was also one of the main criteria in
You can know everything about `sumihiri' by reading the following
Transliteration Scheme for the Sinhala Language
The quick introduction given here will however be sufficient to
read text written using `sumihiri'.
In the Sinhala language there are the following vowel sounds,
which are represented by distinct characters.
|a|| 'u' in 'bus'|
|i|| `i' in 'big'|
|E|| 'e' in 'bed'|
|o|| 'o' in 'box'|
|u|| 'u' in 'bull'|
|z|| 'a' in 'bat'|
|e|| 'e' in 'the'||
|aa|| 'al' in 'calm'|
|ii|| 'ee' in 'beep'|
|ee*|| 'a' in 'pane'|
|oo*|| 'o' in 'bone'|
|uu|| 'oo' in 'boot'|
|zz|| 'a' in 'bag'|
* This is only an approximation. This sound is actually not
present in English. What we mean by this is the vowel obtained
by prolonging the corresponding shorter form.
You will at once complain about the usage of `z' for the
sound `a' in `bat'. We have chosen `z' for this sound because
Another obscurity is the use of `E' for the sound `e' in
`bed'. Most Sinhalese will suggest using just `e'. But we have
reserved the letter `e' for the `e' sound in the word `the'. This
facilitates reading text written using sumihiri enormously. That
should be enough to get you started.
- the English `z' sound doesn't exist in Sinhala
shape of `z' slightly resembles the decoration used to indicate
that sound. We are confident that you will get used to this