« AnteriorContinua »
children and grand-children, are also named Sinhala. As (again) the city in which Sakkra (Indra) dwells is called the city of Sakkra, so likewise the island in which the Sinhala (Singhalese) dwell, is called the Island of Sinhala. As (also) people who are natives (of a place) speak in their native tongue, so likewise the people of this Sinhala country make use of the Sinhala speech—their language is called, the Sinhala language."
Thus the Singhalese language, which is the Elu, perhaps much neglected at the invasion of this Island by the Singha race, has been since enriched by accessions from the invaluable treasures of Pali and Sanscrit literature; and it is but reasonable and just to suppose, that during the Malabar dynasty, which commenced at a very early period, its richness was further increased from the stores of the Tamil and the Telingoo.
The origin of the Singhalese language thus ascertained, 80 far as the antiquity of the subject will permit of it, we would, before proceeding to give the reader a brief history of that language, beg to call his attention to a few observations ON THE ELU LANGUAGE, ITS POETRY AND POETS.*
There is nothing which has tended more to embarrass the Singhalese student at every stage of his studies, than a misapprehension of the terms Elu and Singhalese. “One of the difficulties,” says Mr. Knighton, the late Secretary of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, t "which present themselves to the student of Ceylonese literature, is the variety of languages in which the various works have been composed. A knowledge of the Singhalese tongue alone, does not unlock the treasures of their literature. Thus, if I mistake not, their scientific works are generally to be found in Sanscrit, their religious writings in Pali, whilst their poetry is in a dialect of its owon—the Elu,” &c. The Rev. Spence Hardy, than whom perhaps few Europeans have devoted greater attention to an exclusive study of the Singhalese, says, “The dialect in which the Singhalese works are written is called Elu, and differs considerably from the colloquial dialect both in structure and in the words that are used: but the native authorities whom I have examined upon the subject, are not agreed as to the meaning of the word Elu, nor has the difference between Elu and Singhalese been very well defined.”
* An Es-ay sead before the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, on the 23rd February 1850 ; and which has since received certain emendations, at the hands of the Writer.
+ See his essay on the trans'ated Ceylonese literature in the Society's Journal, No. 1. p. 30.
In view of these difficulties, a question has been very frequently proposed, but never yet, I believe, satisfactorily answered—“What is the Elu language? Is it a dialect of the Sanscrit ?"
A critical knowledge of the Singhalese cannnot but convince our readers, that Elu is a different term for the Singhalese, and that they are but two appellations for one and the same language, the vernacular Singhalese. Nor is the prevalence of two names for the same language an argument against this belief. For, the Magadha is also called Pali, and the Sanscrit Dew'wadana. But, it is said, that “the Elu is different from the Singhalese.” If by this, therefore, it were meant that the Elu “was the ancient language of the Singhalese;" | much reasoning is unnecessary to shew the error of this dictum.
* See bis essay on the Singhalese literature, in the Society's Journal, No. II. p. 102.
† The Rev. B. Clough in his Dictionary, Vol. II. p. 799, gives the following definition “20. the ancient language of the Singhalese."
The Sidath' Sangarawa, an Elu work (assuming that the remoteness of its date is the criterion which should decide the question)a work indeed written in the most concise ancient style—designates the language of which it treats, '' the colloquial Singhalese,” වහරට යුහුසියබස; andනාමාවලිය (which is a vocabulary of terms contained in all confessedly Elu works), calls the language of which it is a dictionary, the Singhalese.
OÇQ) çc 8718: @ceowo “In rhyme I sing Namawalia Singhalese.” Now, those who maintain that an ancient obsolete dialect was the Elu, different from the 200 , will not deny that the two books above quoted are in that so-called dialect.* How then will they, who give the two words different meanings, reconcile their opinion with the positive assertion of the learned writers themselves, as above cited; both of whom designate the language in which they wrote, the Singhalese ?
Some writers have also defined the word e, to be “that dialect in which the poetical works of the Singhalese are written:" | doubtless intending to draw a distinction between the poets of old and those of a comparatively recent date. This is incorrect also. Any one who will be at the trouble to compare together the poetical works of the Singhalese, will find that they are all written (with the exception of a few in blank verse) in the same poetical style now used amongst the literary Singhalese, and that there is no real difference, approaching to anything like a dialect between any two of them. Indeed we fail to perceive any difference of
සිදත්සඟරාව 8@hotos zooge -a Grammar of the Elu
: or ancient language of Ceylon."-Clouzh's Dictionary, Vol. II. p. XIX.
“At a much later stage of my proceedings another na:ive production came into my possession, the careew, a Vocabulary of Elu nouns,” &c.- ib.
7 • The Elu q95&c had been composed to facilitate the study of the purest E’u authors, especially the poets.”-ib.
dialect, between Totagamuwa, the father of Poetry after the destruction to which allusion has already been made, and the celebrated Meeripenna of the present day. It is however true, that, as in the Shen Tamil when compared with the modern, many words which occur in the old Elu works are no longer in use. Again, the opinion that the Elu is the dialect in which the poetical works of the Singhalese are written, or that our “poetry is in a dialect of its own,” the Elu, is, we apprehend, founded upon the imperfect observation of Europeans, who find the great bulk of the Elu works to be in poetry; a species of composition, which, as in the ancient Greek and Latin languages, admits of so many poetical licenses unknown in prose, that the remark has been but an echo of what Cicero says in his De Oratore, lib. 2, Cap. 14, “the Poets spoke in some foreign tongue. This, therefore, is not a sufficient reason to justify the conclusion, that the so-called old dialect was not the Singhalese. For, otherwise, we may with equal propriety say, that Milton and Shakespeare were not English poets. Yet the difference between the ancient and the modern Singhalese presents no peculiarity of grammatical forms. In the former(to adopt the language of Professor Wilson* in respect of the Sanscrit and the language of the ancient Vedas) “the predominating construction is precisely the same as that of ordinary grammar, and we have, for the far greater part, the same modes of inflexion, derivation, and composition, as are found in more modern writing.”
But we trust the question may be satisfactorily disposed of, by an inquiry into what the Poets themselves called the language or dialect in which they wrote. For, if (as it is supposed) there be a difference between Elu and Singhalese; and moreover, if the first be an obsolete dialect succeeded by the second, the old writers alone could have designated that which they wrote, the Elu. This, however, is far from being the
On the Gram : of the Vedas : p.p. 449, 450.
case, as some of the old writers have called the language in which they sang, the Singhalese, and some of the modern have designated it the Elu; and very often the same writer has given both the appellations. A reference to books will shew, that Singhalese and Elu are synonymous terms, and have always been used as such. This appears very clearly from the following passage, extracted from the Sulu Rajha' Ratnacara, p. 29, where the words come and ed are used as convertible terms. පඩිත පරාක්රමබාහු මහරජ •* * අටුවා අසාලගණපාලිභාසාව පර ලාක්රමයන් සිංහල භාසාවට නගා එජාත කගපත මේධංකර ම් මහසථවිරයකගනකුට භාර කරමින් බොහස සනාපකාරකලේය. “The great king Pandita Parakkramabahu having heard and learned the commentaries, and having gradually translated (the Jatakas) from the Pali language into the Singhalese language, and having entrusted the same. Elu version of the Jatakas to a Chief Priest, of the name of Mádankara, greatly patronised the religion.”
We quote a few passages in addition to the two extracts already given. . 1. ගපිලිගදිපළුද - ලතු නුසර.
Thus is the Elu to be known-before A. D. 1415.
They thus occur in the Singhalese.
I sing a little in the Elu- A. D. 1415.
That I have sung in Elu, &c.—A. D. 1472.
tude, I have composed Kusa'tha in the Singhalese
language.-A. C. 1610.
In Singhalese rhyme do I sing, &c.—A. D. 1612,