Sri Lankan English

Sri Lankan English (SLE, en-LK[1]) or Ceylonese English is the English language as it is spoken in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka it is colloquially known as Singlish, a term dating from 1972.[2] The classification of SLE as a separate dialect of English is controversial.[3][4] English in Sri Lanka is spoken by approximately 1.8% of the population (2019 est.), and widely used for official and commercial purposes.[5] It is the native language of approximately 5400 people.

The British colonial presence in South Asia led to the introduction of English to Sri Lanka. Since 1681, some words have been borrowed from the Sinhala and Tamil language by English.[6] In 1948, Sri Lanka gained independence from the United Kingdom and English was no longer the only official language. In subsequent years, inequality in access to education, and national conflict have confounded the development and use of SLE, particularly in Sri Lankan literature.[7][8] SLE may vary from British or American English in elements such as colloquialisms, vocabulary, syntax, pronunciation and emphasis of syllables.


Sri Lankan words that were borrowed by the English and are used in the language are recorded in A Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies. Such words often relate to flora and fauna: