Translating into Sinhalese

Did you know that the oldest discovered writings of Sinhalese date back to 200 BC? The language changed and developed over time, but since the year 1250 it has remained intact for the most part.

We recently spoke to Amali Boralugoda, one of our NAATI accredited Sinhalese < > English translators, who told us her tips and main challenges of translating into this Indo-Aryan language.

How many people in the world speak Sinhalese nowadays?

It is mainly spoken in Sri Lanka, but around the world 17 million people speak Sinhalese. Being a diaglossic language, the written form and the spoken form are distinguished. Written form is standardised, however there are regional variations in the spoken form.

What is the most difficult part of translating into Sinhalese?

The main challenge is the new terms. The language keeps evolving and terms are being updated constantly. Sometimes, there might not be an equivalent term in Sinhalese language for certain words or phrases. For example, I found that there is no equivalent Sinhalese term for ‘Voluntary-assisted- dying’ and I had to come up with an equivalent for it. It was very challenging!

How many words you are able to translate in a certain time?

I have learned translate 250 words in 30 minutes.

What would you recommend to improve the quality and efficiency of translations?

Checking, checking and checking… There is no other way!

If you had to teach the world ONE word in Sinhalese, what word would that be and why?

It would definitely be ආදරය (adaraya): Love. Because the world today lacks of it and love can make the world a better place for everybody.