WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka

Vedda language - A regional dialect of Sinhala


It was with great interest that I read Asiff Hussein's article in the Sunday Observer (Outlook of November 18) on the subject of the Vedda language.

He is close to the truth when he says that the language used by Veddas shows signs of influence of the Sinhala language. The purpose of my article is to show that Vedda language is only a regional dialect of the Sinhala language and that there was no separate Vedda language.


In fact they were not pre-Aryan people as is evident from Tissahamy's claim that they are the descendants of Vijaya's children who fled to the forest to escape Kuveni's Kuvini's as the Veddas correctly refer to her relatives. Scholars have recorded this claim, in the Vedda Chieftain's own words.

The word Vedda itself has been given to them by the Sinhala people as is evident from the etymology of the word.

'Dava' means running. The forest which spreads rapidly seems to be running or moving and was consequently called 'Dava'. Timber which is obtained from the forest is called 'Dava'. The people who inhabited the forest were called 'davi'.

Just as those who go on a ship are called 'Navi'.

The Veddas call themselves 'Vanniyaletto' or 'those of the forest'.

'Davi' becomes 'vadi' just as 'vaka' becomes 'kava' in Sinhala.

So the word Vedda is a term used by the original inhabitants of this land, namely the tribes yak, rakus, asura, na forming collectively Sivuhela (Sivhela > Sihala which became Sinhala).


The word 'appiletto' used for father and 'ammiletto' used for mother in the Vedda language have had their origin in Sinhala words 'appa', and 'amma' which can be etymologically analysed as follows: 'Ak'+'pa' > 'Ag+pa > Appa

'Ak'or 'Ag' means chief or main and 'pa' means support. That which supports our body is 'pa' (feet). The main source of support to the family is the father, most aptly called 'Appa' in Sinhala. 'Amma' is similarly derived as follows:

'Ak' + 'ma' > 'Ag' + 'ma' > 'Amma'.

'Ma' means create she who creates is 'mavu'.

'Mavu' becomes 'ma' just as 'Mavu piya' becomes 'Mapiya'

The person who brings for the most important product, ie. the child, has been most aptly called 'Amma' is Sinhala.

We can also see that the Veddas use a number of words for what we very often use one word. eg.

Paddy - 'De potullan tana'
Go - 'Mangachchanava'
Plane - 'Uda tanin Mangachchana dandu kachcha'
Bee's honey - 'Kadar nije diya tana'
Sea - 'Madiya gan ella'
Comb - 'Isa kotana poruwa'
Gun - 'Puchcha kadana yamake'

'De potullan tana' can be analysed as follows:


'De potu' means two husks 'Ulu' means grain as in 'Bat ulu'.

It was referred to as 'vi' by the Sinhala people 'Vi+si' > 'Ihi' > 'Vi'. That which is sown specifically 'Mangachchanawa' is the word used for the verb go. 'Man + 'ga' + 'asvanava'.

When they refer to the plane as 'Dandu kachcha', they seem to be aware of the fact that planes were made of timber just like King Rawana's 'Dandu Morana'.

Thus it is quite evident that the veddas belong to the post Vijayan period and that they use a language which has its origins in the Sinhala language.

They have been living in the jungles and have retained their original traditions and culture to this day.

This may be the reason why they are mistakenly considered to be the indigenous (aboriginal) population of this country.

WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka