Introduction to sumihiri

We write our Sinhala names using English (Roman) letters, don't we? The way we use Roman letters has certain ambiguities however. The `sumihiri' notation (or transliteration 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 designing `sumihiri'.

You can know everything about `sumihiri' by reading the following article:

A 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

  1. the English `z' sound doesn't exist in Sinhala
  2. the shape of `z' slightly resembles the decoration used to indicate that sound. We are confident that you will get used to this usage quickly.
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.

Happy Browsing!
sube thareNeyak!