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Sri Lankan English - Updates G

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter G. It is divided into 2 parts: New Entries, and Comments and Corrections. Click here to return to the main updates page, or on the links on the left side of the page to go to another letter.

These pages are updated regularly; please contact me if you have any suggestions or feedback which can be included.


gaduguda: langsat (Lansium parasiticum), a small yellowish fruit of South-East Asian origin (Sinhala)
And what of Gaduguda, the olive shaped fruit that contains life’s sweet and sour sunshine. Never did sourness taste so sweet as when one took a bite of the pungent fruit and savoured its fullsome flesh with relish. ( 06/14)
Gaduguda is an interesting fruit indeed, with a funny name to boot. The outside is pale yellow and once carefully opened reveals soft membrane-enclosed segments which look ready to burst and which are juicy, tasty and have a sweet-sour flavour. (Financial Times 01/11/14)

gaja muthu: elephant pearls, valuable pearl-like objects supposed to be found in elephant tusks (Sinhala)
Genuine gajamuthu, or rare pearls found within elephant tusks are among the many treasures at the Hunupitiya Gangarama Temple. (Sunday Times 30/03/08)
4 arrested for trying to sell gaja muthu (Ceylon Today 17/07/12)
A suspect who tried to sell a pair of gaja muthu valued at nearly Rs. 600,000 was arrested by the Saliyawewa Police following a tip-off. Police also seized the pair of gaja muthu. (Daily News 16/07/14)

gala: (adj.) grand, gay, festive
Duruthu poya was on us. The annual Kelaniya perahera was an attraction. Amma who had never set eyes on this gala event wished to take the whole family to Kelaniya. (Eternally Yours, by Sybil Wettasinghe, page 39)
The landladies were having a gala time. (The Professional, by Ashok Ferrey, page 44)

After the gala marriage ceremony, the couple returned to the bridegroom's home, in a decorated horse-drawn cart. (

gal siyambala: velvet tamarind (Dialium indum), a small variety of tamarind popular with children (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)
Lovers sat on rocks behind umbrellas, vendors walked up and down carrying basins of pineapple slices, mango achcharu and gal siyambala in newspaper cones. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 189)
Velvet tamarind or gal siyambala is seasonal and may be found for sale on the side of the road for a few months from September if I am not mistaken. The small, velvety fruits are intriguing: gently crack open the silky dark brown ‘shell’ to reveal an equally velvety light brown layer covering a small shiny seed. The light brown layer is what you eat, and it just the right combination of sweet and sour. Although it is time consuming to open and eat, they are a great snack, and if you have the time and means after peeling you can simmer down the pulp, remove the seeds and make a tasty syrup (add a little sugar and water) which makes a nice compote for yogurt or even a good base for a cocktail. (Financial Times 01/11/14)

gamsabhava: village tribunal (Sinhala)
It is the institution of the Gamsabhava which has been with us for centuries and was able to achieve these ends. (The Island 20/01/12)

ganga: river (in the names of rivers) (Sinhala, from Sanskrit) (SAE)
Mahaweli Ganga, Menik Ganga, Kalu Ganga, Kelani Ganga

The Kalu Ganga, bringing the clear cold water from the Dumbara hills, … (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 168)

garment factory: a factory producing garments for export (SAE)
I think everybody in our house expected my sister to get a job in the garment factory. (Sam’s Story, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 104)

“… the issue of better wages for our girls working in the garment factory.” (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 145)

… on the advice of her friends and colleagues at the garment factory where she worked, … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 101)
She would find herself a job far from all of this; in a garment factory, perhaps, sleeping safe in a dormitory of female workers. (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 286)

Gate Mudaliyar: (dated) honorary title of a senior mudaliyar in colonial times
One of these personalities was an ancestor of his, a Gate Mudaliyar of the Southern Province, … (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 625)

However, acts of charity have their rewards and in 1853, Jeronis Soysa became the first capitalist to receive the title of ‘Gate Mudaliyar’ from the government. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 177)

gazetted: published in the gazette (weekly government publication)
Almost the entire Vanni is gazetted as ‘Area of Authority of the Mahaveli Authority’. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 285)
… draconian powers to acquire land in any area gazetted by the Minister as a Special Area … (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 336)
Price reductions to be gazetted (Nation 19/02/15)
19th Amendment: Full Text of Gazetted Bill (Sunday Times 17/03/15)

gazette notification: a notice published in the gazette

… the salaries stipulated by the government in a gazette notification. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 87)
The very next month, the President by Gazette Notification … made the entire area a High Security Zone for unspecified “development plans”. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 244)
Govt. publishes Gazette notification on constitutional reforms (Financial Times 18/03/15)

gem pit: gem mine
One dead in gem pit collapse (Nation 13/08/13)

gini sapu: a cheap variety of timber (Magnolia/Michelia champaca) (Sinhala)
Despite the cheap variety of timber ‘gini sapu,’ which is generally used for valance boards, it is an expense to replace them using scaffolding. (Financial Times 23/06/16)

give: to give somebody to do something: to allow somebody to do something, to give somebody the chance to do something
Shall I give you to drive?

He had not been given to bowl. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 199)
“He was even given to captain the side.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 269)

I appeal to those responsible to give some good announcers to do the job, … (Daily Mirror 19/03/15)

give to see: (coll.) show somebody something, give somebody something to look at
Give me to see!

go down: go downhill, get worse, deteriorate
The food in this place has really gone down.
It was a pity ... that King’s had gone down so much since their time at College, ... (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 505)

goda: raw ingredients used in the production of kasippu (Sinhala)
Man arrested for possession of goda
A man has been arrested with 21,600 drams of goda at Wennappuwa police division yesterday (25), Police Media Unit said. (Ceylon Today 26/06/15)
… a large stock of distilled spirit and 15 barrels of Goda is ferried daily to the shrub jungle nearby … (Daily Mirror 09/10/15)

gon part, gon parts: stupidity, nonsense (Sinhala)
And UNPers need not complain about MR’s favoritism based on paternal love and resulting gon parts, … (Sunday Leader 03/01/10)
How many millions from our tax money they spent for these GON parts.. poor Sri Lankans!! (comment on 19/11/10)
Decades ago, the irrepressible W. Dahanayaka had come to parliament in a bullock cart clad in a loin cloth to highlight the prices of fuel and clothing. The whole of last week, we saw various adaptations of the same ‘gon part’ being enacted all over the country with UNP elected representatives at all levels shown riding either bullock carts or bicycles to work. One gets the impression that too many ‘gon parts’ has detracted from the seriousness of the issue at hand. (Island 03/03/12)
Shiny body paint (No gon part stickers) ( 03/10/12)
MR has not ended his “Gon Parts” yet. (comment on 16/12/12)

gopuram: Hindu temple tower (SAE, from Tamil koburam)
The roofs of their houses cluster closely together, old-fashioned red tile for the most part, with the candy-coloured gopurams or towers of Hindu temples and the occasional church steeple rising above them. (Sri Lanka: The Island from Above, by Richard Simon, page 17)

GOSL: Government of Sri Lanka
Can GOSL implement LLRC recommendations? ( 02/06/12)

graduate teacher: a teacher with a degree, but who has not necessarily gone through teacher training (> trained teacher)
She was proud of the fact that she was a graduate teacher. She felt above the class of trained English teachers. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 123)

gram cart: a cart selling peanuts, different types of gram, etc.
Kirillapone was not the easiest of places to run a gram cart. … His gram cart soon became a regular feature in the bus stand near the market. (Playing Pillow Politics at MGK, by Lal Medawattegedara, page 431)
“He only had a kerosene lamp in his green gram cart but he worked tirelessly to bring up his business,” … (Sunday Leader 17/08/03)

gravets: the official precincts just outside a major town; originally a border post, watch station, or thorn gate

> This word does not appear in the OED despite being used during colonial times. And it is still in use, as in the administrative divisions “Trincomalee Town and Gravets” and “Galle Four Gravets”; there is also a place near Galle called Gravet Point. According to this extract from the Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller (Studio Times 1974), the word is derived from Sinhala kadavata via Portuguese and Dutch:
Two miles farther on lies Kadawata. In ancient days, kadavata signified a great screen of woven thorn which could be raised and lowered like a stage act-drop and was hung across the roadway at each entrance to a Sinhalese city’s environs. There were generally four such stations. Whence a peculiarly Ceylonese hobson-jobson word in use to this day.
The Gravets, or Four Gravets, of a town are the official precincts that lie just outside it; but each colonial power that ruled Sri Lanka added a characteristic corruption to the origin of the name. The Portuguese, weak in their pronunciation of dentals, called a kadavata a caravata. The Dutch, with their penchant for gutturals, said garavata. And the British with their clipt disdain for open vowels and foreign polysyllables made the word gravet.
Beyond the eastern gravet of Colombo one moves into pineapple country. …
(Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller, page 23)

… H. Bastian Pinto had the arrack rents of the whole of the Central province in 1837 and the valuable rents of the Four Gravets of Colombo in 1838. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 55)

grease yaka, grease devil: a man who covers his body with grease and commits offences such as robbery, assault of women, etc. (Sinhala: yaka = devil)
> In 2011 there was a spate of sightings and news reports about attacks by grease yakas or grease devils which were rumoured to be politically motivated. Petty criminals are known to grease their bodies when committing robberies etc.; but there is also a mythical element to the term, akin to the gonibilla or bogeyman.
In the arrack taverns of the area, the mystery of the Grease Yaka had ousted fishes and politicians as the main topic of conversation. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 51)

Evidence points to grease devils being government paramilitaries used as poltergeists to create panic in the civilian population. In Kasangeni, near Oluvil, the grease devil scare was used to chase away Muslim villagers from an area the Army wanted to acquire. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 198)
A man identified by police as ‘grease yaka’ has been arrested in Mahiyanganaya after he attacked several women in the area over the past few days. ( 17/07/11)
Fear of the “grease devil” is spreading like wildfire across the island. (Sunday Times 21/08/11)

Greens (= UNPers): members of the UNP (United National Party) (> Blues)
> In the UK and other European countries, the Greens are environmentalist parties.
… the SLMC’s decision to forward a candidate under the UNP was opposed by senior greens … (Island 25/10/01)
When Greens feel blue about budget 2006 (Daily News 29/10/05)

grinding stone (= mirisgala): a flat stone used for grinding chillies, spices, etc.
“Didn’t you see Heen Menike carrying away the grinding stone?” (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 82)

… and Ayeshamma’s stomach, despite three years of marriage, clung to her hip bones and stretched flat as a grinding stone. (Fifteen, by Ameena Hussein, page 48)
I would watch the rhythmic movements of those women’s hands crushing the dried chillies, the coriander and cumin, the tumeric, on the grinding stone, until everything became a smooth paste in varying shades of yellow, red and brown. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 245)
After the recitations were over, the five people followed the kapurala outside, squatted next to a grinding stone, and arranged their spices upon it. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 314)
… several small bowls … used to crush and grind herbs, a large grinding stone and a cylindrical stone roller. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 71)

... engraved pots and pirith strings and grinding stones and winnowing fans and washing bowls and betel-chewing sets, ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 307)

Guru: (coll.) S. Thomas’ College, Gurutalawa
This is sent to recall to memory the wonderful times at Guru, … ( 11/10/07)

gurunnanse: master, teacher, master of ceremonies (Sinhala)

The bridegroom yawns, the bride wilts while little girls dressed in ‘half’ sarees, reciting the jayamangala gathas, try their darndest to be heard over the chanting of the “gurunnaanse”, … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 82)
A Gurunnanse (master of ceremonies) holding out a pouch of flammable powder for the dancers to light their torches. And finally a dancer dressed up as a Yakka (devil) performing a scene complete with witty, humorous dialogue. (Sunday Times 16/02/03)
For, 24-year-old Amila who is studying to be an ayurvedic physician, the search for the authentic angan pora took a long time, before he came under the guidance and tutelage of the Gurunnanse. (Sunday Times 12/09/10)


gejji: bells, for example around a cow’s neck, or around a dancer’s ankles, but the word does not mean ‘anklets’ as in the definition given.

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