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Wijeratne, P.B.F. (1944) Phonology of the Sinhalese inscriptions up to the end of the 10th century A.D. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis deals with the Phonology of the Sinhalese Inscriptions from the earliest times up to the end of the 10th century A.D. The material for this study is culled from the Epigraphia Zeylanica and references are given to the various volumes, parts and pages in which the respective Inscriptions occur. The history of the Sanskrit sounds as recorded in these Inscriptions is traced throughout the centuries. Firstly that of the vowels - herein are given dates or probable dates of the shortening of original long vowels; of the first appearance in writing of contracted long vowels; of the secondary shortening of these vowels in certain cases; of vowel-modifications due to influence of other vowels in syllables immediately following; of the Influence of the Accent which ac- counts for many vowel-changes. Two important theories have been advanced: (1) compensatory lengthening due to shortening of original double consonants and consonant-groups and the fate of these compensatorily lengthened vowels is discussed. (2) criticiam of Geiger's theory of 'Vowel-levelling' and counter-arguments are adduced invalidating Geiger's theory. Secondly the fate of original single consonants is dealt with. It is shown when Sk. c- ,ch-> s- and Bk. j-> d- (the other initial consonants remain unchanged). Dates or probable dates are given of the voicing of intervocalic unvoiced stops > -y-, -v- and their final disappearance (and attention is drawn to the insertion of vocalic glides to avoid hiatus); of the change of original single intervocalic cerebrals to -1- and of original -c-, -j- to -d-. The fate of original -y-, -v-, -r-, -1-, -n-, -n-, -m- and the sibilants and h is shown and emphasis laid on the instability in the development of s and h in Sinhalese. The de-aspiration of the Sanskrit aspirates is stressed and 4- bh- is noted as a striking instance where aspiration is preserved. Thirdly the fate of the double consonants and consonant-groups of Sanskrit to considered and the date suggested for their shortening in Sinhalese; at the same time, the existence of double consonants and consonant-groups in Sinhalese due to elision of medial vowels is noted. Emphasis is laid on conservative spellings; on account of these the difficulty arises in deciding whether a word is a loan-word or not; consequently it is shown to be either. Finally, from the evidence of these Inscriptions it is shown that Sinhalese is fundamentally an Eastern language and wherever possible comparison is made with Modern Indian.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

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