Evolution of Sinhala and Tamil Characters.


The Nature of the Sinhala and Tamil Alphabets

     There are no publications or even a simple chart giving the complete Sinhala alphabet in Sri Lanka. In Sinhala, there are three versions of the alphabet. The basic pure Sinhala (Elu hodiya) consist of 12 vowels and 25 consonants.  A mixed Sinhala alphabet (mishra sinhala akshara malawa) consists of 18 vowels and 41 consonants. However, the accepted Sinhala alphabet (sammatha sinhala akshara malawa) consists of 20 vowels and 41 consonants. In Sinhala, all consonants are expanded for each vowel combination. The present day Sinhala alphabet contains a total of 1660 individual characters



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evolution of Sinhala from Brahmi


Development of Tamil Characters

                 Tamil is the language of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu as well as Sri Lanka. The Tamil script evolved from the Grantha script of the Southern Indian group of scripts and the Tamil language is one of the oldest recorded languages in southern India. The earliest texts, written in a southern variant of Brahmi, date from just before the 1st century. Later, the Grantha script was employed in the writing of Tamil until the 8th century, when a distinctive script evolved exclusively for Tamil. Borrowings from Sanskrit added some special letters in Tamil which are still used for words borrowed from English.


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