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MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA : SOME PHONOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS By Pror. J. B. DisanavaKE ‘The Maldive Islands constitute, in a sense, a unique, geographical entity. It consists of almost two thousand little coral islands, of which only about two hundred are inhabited, grouped into natural clusters called atols. Although the total jand area is only 115 sq. miles, the islands cover a distance of almost five hundred miles irom north to south, from six degrees north of the equator to one degree to its south, Male, the national capital, which is only one square mile in size, Ties a little to the north of the centre of this chain of islands. ‘The Sinhala name for the Maldives is ala divayin, perhaps a derivative of Mahila Dvipaka of the Mahavamsa, through the ‘Arabic Mahel Dib. ‘The Maldivians, however, call their nation Divehi Rajje, their language Divehi Bas, and their people Divehin, ‘The Maldivians have been occupying these islands for over two thousand years but the exact date of the peopling of their country js not Known, ‘The presence of the Divis as a distinct people was, however, recorded as early as the fourth century, A.D. Ammianus Marcellini, a Roman of the fourth century, in his description of the Roman Emperor Julian, says = “On the one side, the people beyond the Tigris and the ‘Armenians begged for peace; on the other, the Indian nations as far as the Diviand the Serendivi vied with one another in sending their leading men with gifts ahead of time”.* ‘The origin of the Maldivians has been the subject of some discussion and research since Francois Pyrard, a French captive in the Maldives in the early seventeenth century.* One of the factors that will play a crucial role in the determination of the nature and extent of the early migrations and settlements in the Maldives is the linguistic affinity of Divehi to Sinhala and other Indian languages. The aim of the present paper is to present the JOURNAL R. A. S. (SRI LANKA) Vol. XXX (N. S.) 1985/86 83 hypothesis, on the basis of the comparative method, that Divehi is derived from Proto-Sinhala, and also to describe the nature of the phonological relations that exist between Divehi and Sinhala, Divehi, as it is spoken in the Maldives today, exhibit regional variations in dialect. The variety of Divehi spoken in Male, the capital, is considered, for all mass media and educational purposes, the standard Divehi. The existence of dialect was recognised even as early as the seventeenth century, when Pyrard noted, in his preface to his Vocabulary, that : “In the Atoll of Souadou (Suvadiva), and towards the South, they speak a language hard to understand, Tough and barbarous; but still it is the common (Maldive) language”.* Many factors have contributed to the growth of dialects in the Maldives. First, the geographical distribution of the islands over a long stretch across the Indian Ocean. The northernmost island, Turaakunu, in the Tiladummati Atoll, is 470 miles away from the southernmost island, Gan, in the Addu Atoll. Second, the Jack of transport and communication among the islands. The only means of transport until recently were the fishing boats, odi faheru, and there is no national press, even in the capital, The’radio seems to be the only medium of mass communication that links the whole nation together. _ Third, the relative proximity to India and Sri Lanka. While the northern atolls are closer to South India, the southern atolls are closer to Sri Lanka. This culminated in different kinds of cultural and linguistic exposure over the centuries. Fourth, the impact of Buddhism. On the basis of Buddhist remains in the southern atolls, it is clear that these atolls formed the centre of Buddhist activity before the conversion of the land into Islam, in the middle of the twelfth century. In the South itself, the dialect is far from being uniform. Maloney distinguishes at least three main dialects in the South; one in Addu Atoll, another in Fua Mulaku, and at least one in Huvadu.! Since Huvadu lies fifty miles south of Haddummati ‘Atoll, in which is located the island of Dabidu whose vihara has been referred to in the Jomafanu copper-plates of the twelfth century, it may be assumed that Haddummati also maintains its own dialect. ie : 84 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA The dialect situation in Devehi has important bearings on the origins of this language. “The dialects of the southern atolls seem to retain” observes Maloney “old forms of Divehi and also to have medieval influences from Sri Lanka not found in standard Divehi.””? To illustrate this dialect variation, some examples are cited below : Standard Divehi Addu Dialect Meaning (Male dialect) aharen ma, afiri 1 bema buma eye-brow fonu feno foam furana. farana. old ha hau cock issas i istas i head kakuni kakidi crab Kale i you kira milk koniraku konkaleki when kontaka kontanaka where koveli dikoi cuckoo kuda kuda small kujja kudin boy kurafi . korafa cockroach. Kutta bala dog la ele young, tender ma mau flower nera nura grey hair ossani fuhani (sun) sets undoli indoli swing ‘uramati tina breast valu vada water-well vedi ogi big boat veheni garani (rain) rains Modern Divehi is written in a script known as Tana, which was first introduced in the sixteenth century, It is written from right to left, and the writing resembles, at a first glance, Arabic. JOURNAL R. A. §. (SRI LANKA) Vol. XXX(N. S.) 1985/86 35 Letters are called akuru and the strokes that represent vowels fli. Two other systems of writing preceded Tana: Dives akuru and Eveylé akuru. Dives okuru which immediately preceded ‘Gna could be found in tombstones and in certain historical documents such as the Tarikh, which records the history of Muslim Maldives, The carliest system of writing was known as eveyl@ akuru, literally, ancient letters. The oldest historical documents of the Maldives, the lom@fanu copper-piates are written in the script which resembles Sinhala writing of the eighth century AD. Both Eveyla and Dives akuru were written, like Sinhala, from left to right. The in of Divehi is intimately linked with the question of the peopling of the Maldives. Historians and linguists have postulated two main hypotheses relating to the origins of the Maldivians and their language. Wilhelm Geiger sums up these hypotheses as. follows® : “The fact can scarcely be disputed that, at a period of time still unknown to us, the Maldives were colonized from Ceylon, or, as also may be possible, were colonized at the same time as Ceylon, by Aryan immigrants who came over from the Continent of India.” Geiger, however, considers the colonization from Ceylon, more probable, “owing to reasons which appear on a study of the character of the Maldivian language. This, in fact, shows a number of features which are characteristic of the Sinhalese language, and which have not arisen in the Prakrit foundation of Sinhalese, but seem to have originated on Ceylon soil itself.” That Divehi is a member of the Indo-Aryan family of languages is beyond dispute. Inspite ‘of the present system of writing, and the large number of loan. words from Islam, the structure of the languages is unmistakably Indo-Aryan. Examples of this affinity can be found in phonology, morphology, syntax and the semantic structure of Divehi. The problem at issue is whether the source language from which Divehi originated was an Indian Prakrit or Old Sinhala. On the basis of the comparative method in historical linguistics, I wish to substantiate the hypothesis that modern Divehi and modern Sinhala have branched off from a common source — Proto — Sinhala. 86 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA ‘The comparative method, the most common procedure, employed by linguists to determine the genetic affinity of languages, studies systematic similarities and differences between two given languages at a given time. As Lehmann Observes. “The comparative method has been highly successful in disclosing. relationships between language, and in permitting us to reconstruct carlier forms than those attested.”? Studies of such correspondences between modern Divehi and Modern Sinhala reveal that both have originated from a common source : Proto-Sinhala, the variety of Sinhala used in the lithic records of Sri Lanka between the fourth century AD to the eighth.® The phonological systems of modern Divehi, modern Sinhala and Proto-Sinhala are presented below : Modern Divehi Vowels There are five vowel phonemes which may be arranged as follows : front central back high i u mid e ° low * a Length is also phonemic in modern Divehi. It will be noted that the front low vowel/ae/is absent in modern Divehi. Consonants : ‘There are twenty six consonantal phonemes which may be arranged as follows : labial labio dental retrofiex palate! velar dental stops voiceless Pp t t c k voiced b a a j g pre- nasalized mb nd ong ae, JOURNAL R. A, S. (SRI LANKA) Voi. AXX(N. S.) 1985/86 87 Sricatives f sibilants voiceless s $ voiced Zz laterals 1 1 nasals m n trills r semivowels v Modern Sinhala Vowels : There are seven vowels which may be arranged as follows: Sront central back high i u mid © ° low ae a a Length is also phonemic in modern Sinhala. Consonants : There are twenty six consonant phonemes which may be arranged as follows : labial dental reiroflex palatal velar stops Z voiceless P t t e k voiced b a a ji’ og pre-nasalized mb ond ond ng fricatives f 88 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA sibilants s 5 h laterals i nasals mooi n N trills x semivowels : v y Proto-Sinhala Vowels : There were five vowels which may be arranged as follows: front central back high i u mid e ° low a Length is phonemic. Consonants : There are twenty consonants which may be arranged as follows : labiel dental retroftex palatal velar stops voiceless P t u c k voiced > d a i g sibilants s s laterals " ‘ nasals mon on trills r semivowels v y JOURNAL R. A. S. (SRI LANKA) Vol. ¥XX(N. S.) 1985/86 89 Changes in the vocalic system reveal the following inter- relationships : J. High front vowel/i/ While Modern Sinhala has retained the Proto-Sinhala high front vowel/i/ of Sinhala, it has changed into its corresponding back yowel/u/in Devehi : Divehi biru da (fa)fuhi gugum gunguru sur hukuru(da) hura (g8) hus kekuri kira kukulu miru 2. High back vowel/u/ : While modern Sinhala has retained the high back vowel/u/ of Proto-Sinhala, it has changed into its corresponding front vowel/i/ in Divehi : Divehi ali ali ambi bile dari diri Sinhala biti diva (pa) pisi gigum gigiri gira sikura(da) hira(gé) his kae kiri Sinhala alu (yam) alu ambu avu bulat daru dura Meaning | deat tongue door-mat rumbling jingle bells parrot Friday jail-house r empty cucumber milk: hen sweet meaning light ash, grey wife sunshine betel child cummin a 90 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA duni duni bow enditi anduru darkness fani panu worm fati (iya)potu (fingernails gavi gave measure of distance goboli gobollu early stage of a coconut huni hunu, uu hot kani kanu post kakidi Kakuln crab kis kusa stomach kuni kunw dire madiriui madura mosquito mudi mudi ring ali tal palate tari taru star tina tuna three 3. Low central vowel/a/ : Whiie modern Sinhala has retained the low central vowel/a/ of Proto-Sinhala, it has changed into the front high vowel/i/ mostly when it occurs in the first syllable, and into the high back vowel/u/, when it occurs in other syllables. (a) Correspondence between Divehi/i/ and Sinhalafa/ : Divehi Sinhala Meaning bila bala name of fish dida dade. flag diha daha, dasa ten girani gara-nava cleans (like rice) libi laba (gannani) gan-nava receives mila mata dirt tila tala surface (faitila) pada tala foot tima tama self, you vila, vala. cloud JOURNAL R. A. S. (SRI LANKA) Vol. ¥XX(N. S.) 1985/86 1 The present tense verbal suffix/nava/ in modern Sinhala corresponds to the present tense verbal suffix/ni/in modern Divehi. Divehi kaha-ni tala-ni gugura-ni Sinhala kaha-nava tala-nava_ gugura-naya Meaning scratches beats thunders (b) Correspondence between Divehi/u/ and Sinhala/a/ : Divehi adu agu ambu adu beru bondu bula buna-ni dadu dalu dambu daru digu doru duvas erdu faharu (ef-faharu) handu hondu hulangu huras huvandu (ma) ire kanu Sinhala ada age abma anda bera bohonda(old) balal bani-nava dada dala damba dara diga dora davas aendu pahara, para (ek-parak) handa hoada hulanga haras suvanda ira, kana Meaning today value mango sound drum garden lizard cat speaks, scolds scabs horn purple, fruit firewood jong door day bed ence moon trunk of elephant west cross scented, jasmine sun bling 92 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA koru kora limps Gahant) (gaha-nava) ladu lada shyness nuva nava,nama nine ult ula hook magu maga road uturu utura north valu vala jungte valu vala well, pit In a few instances, Sinhaia/a/corresponds to Divehi/e/ : Divehi Sinhala Meaning dekunu dakunu south vehe-ni vahi-nava, rains The direvative suffix/veriya/added to nominal bases in Divehi, appears to correspond to/varaya/in Sinhala. Divehi : bés-veriya medicine-man gam-veriya village-chief beru-veriya drummer atoht-veriva chief of atol 4. Low front vowel/ac/ : Modern Divehi does not have the low front vowel/ae/, but modern Sinhala does. However, this vowel appeared in Sinhala only by the seventh or eighth century. Wijayaratna, in his discussion of the history of the Sinhalese Noun, observes that the Proto-Sinhala word vavi (from Sanskrit and Pali, vapi) occurred in inscriptions upto about the sixth century, when it was replaced by veva, and changed into vaev by the tenth century.” Since, Divehi does not have the vowel/ae/it has to be assumed that it branched off from Proto-Sinhala before the appearance of this vowel. On the basis of this development, De Silva concludes that “Divehi certainly shows pre-eighth century characteristics of Sinhalese, probably going as far back as the fourth century”1® JOURNAL R. A. S. (SRI LANKA) Vol. XXX(N. S:) 1985/86 93 Thus, modern Sinhala/ae/corresponds to modern Divehi/e/ : Divehi ei dekun demme cedure, endu es (fiya) fen gemburn, kekuri meda (ge) mehi res veli veli veyo 5. Mid front vowel/e/: Sinhala act dackun daemma aeduru aenda aes (piya) paen gaemburu kaekiri maeda maesi raes vaeli vael vaey Meaning elephant gift just now teacher bed eyelid water deep, further away cucumber inner room fly ray sand creeper tank, pond While modern Sinhala retained the mid front vowelfe/ of Proto~Sinhala, it changed into its corresponding back vowel/o/ in“many instances, and occasionally into the high back vowel/u/: (a) Correspondence between Sinhala/e/ and Divehi/o/ : Divehi boli honihiru honuw fonu Sinhala beli senasuru. hena pena Meaning shell Saturday thunder-bolt foam {b) Correspondence between Sinhala/e/and Divehi/u/ : Divehi Kuju kulu kulani Sinhala kela keli keli-nava Meaning spit games plays 94 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA Most of the consonantal phonemes of Old Sinhala were, retained in both modern Sinhala and Divehi. Changes exhibit the following correspondences. 1, Labial voiceless stop/p/ : While modern Sinhala retained the labial voiceless stop/p/ of Proto —Sinhala, it changed into the fricative labio-dental/f/. Since the lémdafanu copper-piates of the twelfth century have, preserved the phoneme/p/, iz is assumed that the change occurred after the introduction of Arabic, the vehicle of Islamic culture. However, modern Divehi has reintroduced/p/in loan words such as pan bread’, piydad piano’ and peyru ‘name of Sri Lankan fruit pera’. Divehi Sinhala Meaning faharu paru boat fahe paha five fai pa foot fansas panas fifty fas pas soil, earth fan pan coconut leaf fas’ani patan (gaunava) begins faru para reef faru . Pavuru wall fati potu finger-nail fen pacn water feno pena foam firimiha, pirimi male fili pili vowel-stroke fili pila back-yard fini pini dew, mist fode podak bit, drop foy pot book foyfai potpat books ete fua . puvak avecanut fund pana comb JOURNAL R. A. $. (SRI LANKA) — Vol. XXX(W.S.) 1985/86 95 kafa kapu cotton kaftre kapuru. camphor ufaddant upadda-nava _ creates out of nothing 2, Retrofiex voiceless stop/t/ While modern Sinhala retained the retroflex voiceless stop/t of Proto - Sinhala, it changed into the voiceless retroflex sibilant/s/: Divehi Sinhala Meaning ase ata eight asara atalos eighteen basi batu egg-plant, — brinjal fasant patan(gannava) starts, begins fosi petti box kasi katu bones, shell kasara kofara store-horse kosi kotu cage kosuni kota-nava to cut misi (vela-) miti (vaela-) —_elboe mugosi mugati squirrel nasi natu stem nasani natanava dances rasi rata island (nirasi) this island Tosi roti food item vasi i tray tasi tatty tray 3. Retrofiex masal/n/ : Graphemic evidence from Proto-Sinhala suggests the existence of a retroflex nasal/n/but its phonemic status is a matter of dispute. However, both modern Sinhala and Divehi have Jost it as a distinctive phoneme, although modern Sinhala orthography stil! maintains its graphemic counterpart. It may be assumed that Divehi lost this phoneme after the twelfth century, since it occurs in the lomdfanu plates. 96 MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA 4. Retrofiex latersl/i/ : The graphemic system of Proto-Sinhala shows a phonemic contrast between two lateral phonemes : dental/l/and retroflex/l/. ‘That this contrast was phonemic is borne put by the fact that modern Divehi retains this contrast while modern Sinhala has lost it. Modern Sinhala graphemics however retain the symbol for the retroflex/l/. Divehi Sinhala Meaning alani ela-nava spreads out ali alu ash, grey dalu di horn ii pili back-yard Kukulu kikili hen kuly kela spit kulani keli-nava plays vahu vala water-well 6, Dental voicctess sibilant/s/ : While the dental voiceless sibilant/s/of Old Sinhala has changed into the fricative velar/h/in Divehi, it occurs in free variation with fhjin Modern Sinhala. Divehi Sinhala Meaning bahu bas, baha language handu sanda, handa-~ moon harufa. sarpa serpent heni senava, henava laughs honihiru senasura(da) Saturday henahura(da) hudu sudu, hudu white hukuru sikura(da) Friday huvandu(ma) suvanda jasmine, scent raha rasa. raha tacty JOURNAL R. A. 8. (SRE LANKA) In some instances modern Sinhala has lost its altogether, while Divehi has retained its phoneme : Divehi Sinhala huna una hin wan Vol. XXX (N.S) 1985/86 fever heat 97 intial)h/ Meaning A further development both in Sinhala and Divehi is the disappearance ofjh/when it occurs between two identical vowel phonomaes. merge into their respective long vowels. (a) between/a/ : Divehi Sinhala vare, vaharé varé, vaharé ngru, naharu nahara faru, faharu ma ma, maha (b) between/i/ : Divehi Sinhala miri, mibiri © Sinhala bét, behet bagra, baehaera @ Sinhala midu, muhudu miu, muhunu (©) between/o/ : Divehi Sinhala 1 16, loho Once the consonantal phoneme is lost, the vowels Meaning rain vein big (l6mafanu) Meaning deaf sweet Meaning medicine out of doors Meaning sea face Meaning copper (lomafanu) 98 Pre-nasalized stops : (b) © MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA A set of consonantal phonemes that are specific to both Sinhala and Divehi are the pre-naselized stops,/mb/, /nd/, /nd/ and/ng/. Divehi ambu ambi amburani dambu gemburu kambure kimbu kimbihi kurumba tambu /nd/ : Divehi andun bandi indoli handu huvandu kandi kendi nindani /nd/ = bondu dand) (talu) dandi gOndi . gandu (loy gandu haru gandu fihi gandu es toes Sinhala amba ambu ambara-nava damba gaembure kamburu kimbul kimbuhun kurum-ba taemba Sinhala andun baendum hindoli(old) handa suvanda kaedna kendi ninda-nava bohonda (old) dandu ft a ii Meaning mango wife twists, turns purple deep blacksmith crocodile sneeze young coconut pillar Meaning collyrium compositions swing moon jasmine gruel tendril sleeps chameleon pole, stick key chair, stool mirror ladder broom-stick Guanidier JOURNAL R. A. S. (SRI LANKA) Vol. ¥XX(N. 5.) 1985/86 99 @ /ng/ Divehi Sinhala Meaning anga mouth, opening engani angava-nava informs inguru ingura ginger ingili aengili finger angurt angure charcoal gungura gigiri jingle bells hulangu hulangs west On the basis of the phonological inter-relationships discussed above, it is possible to consider that modern Divehi and modern Sinhala have sprung from a common ancestor Proto - Sinhala. The variety of Sinhala in use probably between the fourth and eighth centuries. Evidence from other areas of the language, such as its morphology and syntax also support this view. But an analysis of these aspects of the language is beyond the scope of the present paper.!! | i MALDIVIAN AND SINHALA Notes Maloney, Clarence, People of the Maldive Islands, Orient Longmans Ltd. New Delhi 1980, p. 415. Geiger, Wilhelm, Maldivian Linguistic Studies, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal AsiaticSociety, Vol. XXVIL Extra Number, Colombo 1919, pp. 3-7. ibid, p. 127. Maloney, op. cit., p. 89. ibid, p. 89. Geiger, op. cit, p. 3. Lehmanna, W. P. Historical finguisties, Holt, Rinehart and Winster New york, (1962) p. 91 Geiger, Wilhelm, A Grammar of the Sinhalese Language, RAS,, (Colombo) 1938. p. 3. Wijayaraina, D. J. History of the Sinhala Nout, University of Ceylon (1936) p. 15. De Silva, M. W. S., “Some Affinities between Sinhalese and Maldividan”, JRAS (CB), New Series, Vol. XIV, Colombo 1970, p. 26. Linguistic data for this paper from modern Divehi were collected in Male and Gan in Addu atoll during September 1981 and September 1982. Lam thankful to Mr. Hassan Ahmed Maniku and to The Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka for providing me with the opportunity of visiting the Maldive Islands, and to the many Maldivians who assisted me in my fieldwork”.