Post-colonial identity of Sri Lankan English
by Ranga Chandrarathne
The Book titled "The Post-colonial Identity of Sri Lankan English" by Dr. Manique Gunesekara was launched recently at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Colombo. The book fulfils the longstanding gap in language studies for the subject area of Identity of Sri Lankan English.
Dr. Manique Gunesekera presenting a copy of her book ‘The Post-colonial Identity of Sri Lankan English’ to Prof. Chandrasiri Palliyaguru
Pic. by Priyantha Hettige
For the first time, it recognises the existence of a distinct dialect. "Sri Lankan English" which the political elite of the day are reluctant to accept. The author traces the brief history of the English language in Sri Lanka since the days of British rule. It was they who made English the language of governance.
The country enjoyed the fruit of independence in English. Since then, it has been a linking language between diverse ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. Until the introduction of the Official Language Act, the English language remained the medium of instructions. The author also dispels popular beliefs of native speakers and elitist pronunciation that most Sri Lankans adapted and the perception even among the westernised elite that they speak the Queen's English. Like Indian English, Sri Lankan English has evolved into a language with distinctive characteristics.
It has become a language of power where Dr. Gunasekara cites examples of the respect commanded by political leaders like S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Lalith Athulathmudali for their Oxford dialect and how Premadasa and Margaret Thatcher polished up their English to be eligible for the seat of governance.
The book will be of lasting value to academics as well as ordinary readers.
The book is hailed by academics as a comprehensive and insightful scholarly monograph of the English language. The book is an innovative approach to facilitate defective communication. She has observed the growing tendency of borrowing adjectives from Sinhala and other languages and inserting them into English sentences.
Though the monograph is about Sri Lankan English, the author has used a simple diction in Standard International English. She also elaborates on the attitudes and certain class identities of the language. In the final analysis, the author states that the English language used by Sri Lankans has evolved into a well recognisable shape outside the country of its origin.
Dr. Manique Gunesekara is the Head of Department of English, University of Kalaniya.