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Invitation to prospective writers: A Sri Lankan Anthology of Hint Fiction

Photo courtesy The Blue Bookcase Around two months ago, I picked up on a whim Hint Fiction edited by Robert Swartwood. Swartwood’s definition of hint fiction is ‘a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story’. As the book’s blurb on Amazon notes, “The stories in this collection run the gamut […]

A-Z of Sri Lankan English: S is for Singlish

Singlish is the term used to describe the mixture of Sinhala and English which is frequently used by bilingual speakers. But Singapore got there first: Singlish is generally accepted as referring to colloquial Singaporean English. In a Sri Lankan context, the word tends to be used humorously or derogatorily to refer to colloquial usage which […]

Review of ‘Kandy at War’ by Channa Wickremesekera

Image courtesy Sri Lanka Travel Guide “When we think of it, we see at once what the confusion of thought was to which the Western poet [i.e. Rudyard Kipling], dwelling upon the difference between East and West, referred when he said, ‘Never the twain shall meet.’ It is true that they are not yet showing […]

A-Z of Sri Lankan English: R is for rubber slippers

Image courtesy Odel They’re called thongs in Australia, jandals in New Zealand, Hawaii chappals in India and Pakistan. According to Wikipedia, they’re known as slip-slops in South Africa, go-aheads in the South Pacific, japonkis in Poland, and vietnamkis in Russia. The standard term in the UK and the US is flip-flops. Here in Sri Lanka […]

Arthur C Clarke’s World of 2012: Insights from his Titanic Novel

The year was 1989. Margaret Thatcher and George Bush, Snr., were in office. Mikhail Gorbachev was slowly but surely dismantling the Soviet Union. The infamous Iron Curtain was crumbling under pressure from ‘people power’ across Eastern Europe. On the technology front, Personal Computers (PCs) had entered the market only a few years earlier: they were […]

A-Z of Sri Lankan English: Q is for quazi

Equality before the law? I’m no lawyer, but I have always wondered how this fundamental principle is possible in a country with several different legal systems operating alongside one another. The main systems are Roman-Dutch law and the British legal system, bequeathed by the colonial administrators. But three other systems also survive – Kandyan law, […]

Some Comments of Udayasiri Wickramaratne’s ‘Suddek Oba Amathai’

Photo courtesy Suddek Oba Amatai Facebook page It is Lakshman Piyasena, introduced to me by my friend Jayantha Dhanapala, who first told me of Udayasiri Wickramaratne’s play. Piyasena urged Dhanapala and me to see a performance of Suddek Oba Amatai and kept us informed of dates when the play was due to go on the boards […]

Five Precepts of Identifying a Sri Lankan Traitor

Image courtesy Transparency International Recently an air of nervousness has insinuated itself in to the Sri Lankan psyche. Doubt and uneasiness seem to be seeping like moisture through invisible social capillaries, carrying a message of treachery.  Evident is an alien concern; being branded foully on this island, which suddenly seems to have become a wellspring […]

In conversation with Shashi Tharoor at Galle Literary Festival

As part of the Galle Literary Festival, I had the opportunity to speak with Shashi Tharoor, whose writing I’ve immensely enjoyed read since my University days in India. As the festival’s website notes, Shashi Tharoor is the prize-winning author of twelve books, both fiction and non-fiction, including the classic The Great Indian Novel (1989), India: […]

A-Z of Sri Lankan English: O is for our people

Boys will not always be boys! Photo credit: National Geographic The possessive pronoun “our” is deceptively simple. But who are the “we” that it refers to? The expression our people is a remarkably high-frequency term in Sri Lankan English. On a search of the Groundviews website, the phrase gets around 400 hits, compared to just […]

Good English skills over a University education?

Image courtesy Seven myths about English Education in Sri Lanka, by Ajith P. Perera It was not so long ago that the post-nominals B.A. (Calcutta) Failed was a sure route to employment in the administrative cadre of the  Government of India, in addition to being a matter of distinction in their own right. Even a decade ago, the university degree […]