On speaking in Sinhala, and things going wrong..

Most of us are bilingual and some of us are tri-lingual. I find it extremely satisfying that i am trilingual.But being multi lingual has its disadvantages too, like speaking one language in another language’s context. One little boy i met once at a childrens camp, on seeing that i was playing around with my camera kept telling me “touch my photo, touch my photo”, obviously i was confused, until his English teacher told me that the boy had translated the sinhala “magey photo ekak allanna” as “touch my photo in English. Not many multi-linguals are exempt of this natural slight mix up.


I remembered an incident when i saw this post.One of my Sinhalese friends was once copped for speeding and his licence was confiscated by the traffic police. So, as is the norm he had to go to the police station in Colombo fort, collect a dhada kolaya (err crudely translated – fine sheet) go to the nearest Bank of Ceylon to pay the fine and come back to the police station to get another document, producing which he can retrieve his licence.

When he got his fine sheet there was a male police officer, and my friend had addressed him as Raala Hami as policemen are called and had done the needful.

But when he came to the police station for the second time, there happened to be a female police office at the counter. And my friend who being sinhalese and someone who is very good in his colloquial sinhalese walked to the counter with his usual unconsciously confident aura around him.

On seeing a female there he was a bit disturbed as he didnt know what she should be called, not knowing the feminine of Raala-Haami and clearly desperate, he had addressed her as Raala-Haamine (Haminey means wife..usually) and the police office obviously amused had said “malli danne neththang mukuth nokiya inna” 🙂



Filed under women

7 responses to “On speaking in Sinhala, and things going wrong..

  1. Ha Ha Ha … dude thats so awesomely funny xD it can be such a drag when the social interaction protocols arent obvious. @ least she was amused.

  2. Your friend seems to be a fine idiot:a complete crap living in out of world

  3. Dili : yes, there still are some very grey areas, things which need immediate attention :)Pina : Do you know the feminine of “Raala Haami” ? interesting to see how “in the world” you are.. I dont knw the word myself, will be good to know if you do.

  4. I think Mas-Weddi is the word… 😛

  5. Sam

    “Raala-Haamine” is not wrong at all. “Haamine” (හාමිනේ) is something similar to ma’am. “Weda-Haamine” (වෙද හාමිනේ), means female doctor. “Iskole-Haamine” means female teacher. It does not means “wife” every time, just like the word “nonaa” (නෝනා). Now I agree “Raala-Haamine” sound funny to some people, because the term is not familiar to them. But I have come across this term few times in down south village side. Urban people generally use the term “Police Nonaa” (පොලිස් නෝනා)”magey photo ekak allanna” – first time i heard that.. It have to be baby talk.

  6. Sam : Thanks for your detailed description. I agree with your elaborations on haminey,, but i have never come across raala haminey, if you say that is used down south then so be it. But the way the policewoman reacted to being called raala haminey seems to disprove what you said, i wasnt exaggerating by the way. That incident is described as it took place, i showed this to my friend too :)yes the child was in grade 2 or 3.It was at some English camp down south, but the schools that participated from all parts of the island.

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