Sri Lankan English
Learning Sinhala
Learning Tamil
Contact Us


























Sri Lankan English - Updates N

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter N. 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.


nadaswaram: a classical South Indian wind instrument played at festivals, weddings, etc. (Tamil) (SAE)
(Click here to see a photograph)
There had been a nadhesweram kacheri in the temple for three nights and one of the virtuoso nadhesweram players had come with the other musicians all the way from Jaffna to play his instrument. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 217)
The nathaswaram player sat with his drummer on the side. (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 27)
Strains of the horn-like nadaswaram swell in the air, aided by the clanging of bells and beating of drums, and the rituals of worship begin. ( 04/11)

nadu: a variety of rice (Tamil/Sinhala)
Traders said that local Nadu rice is not available in the market and the decision to import rice was a timely decision. (Sunday Observer 29/06/14)

For other varieties of rice, the fixed prices per kilo are white nadu Rs 68, and Rs 66, for red nadu, white raw and red raw. (Sunday Times 03/08/14)

naga: cobra; also a mythological tribe said to have lived in Sri Lanka in prehistoric times (from Sanskrit) (SAE) (> rakshasa, yaka)
“He has drawn a large naga around the sleeping children. … He said that the naga is like a god of protection.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 183)
“It is unsure if the Nagas were Aryans or Dravidians. It is believed that they were of different stock to the rest.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 191)
The brother advises the hermit to ask three times for the jewel the Naga king wears on his forehead. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 141)

“But, jokes apart, have you ever thought in what language the Buddha conveyed his dharma to those Nagas and Yakas?” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 365)
It is said that the Naga sailed their fleets of merchantmen in the vast basin of the Indian Ocean, … When they docked at ports, they brought ashore their totem, the naga. … The faiths and superstitions of the travellers also found their way into the island, as did the veneration of the sacred naga. (The Line of Lanka, by Sunela Jayewardene, page 107-8)
Today, remains of an ancient Naga culture are found mainly in the north, north-western, north-central and eastern regions of Sri Lanka. … In the late 1970s, when the Accelerated Mahaweli Irrigation Programme was launched, the powerful state agency in charge of the scheme, the Mahaweli Authority, adopted the seven-hooded naga of Jetavana as its symbol. Thus, the modern nation’s primary water management scheme, awarded guardianship of precious waters to the nagas. (The Line of Lanka, by Sunela Jayewardene, page 119-20)

nai miris: a small, very hot variety of chilli (Sinhala: naya = cobra) (> kochchi miris)
The Nai Miris is a spicy bundle of joy/pain. This squat green or red chili is really, really spicy. … Nai Miris adds a unique taste and spiciness to almost any type of food … ( 2014)

navandanna: artisan caste (Sinhala) (> caste)
Going by their names he surmises that people of his caste (Navandanna - makers of gold jewellery) may have come from South India in the times of the Kotte kings. (Sunday Times 23/12/01)
Here in chapter 3, in allusion to the Navandanno caste, he says that this caste consisted of local artificers and Tamil artificers from South India. His isolation of this caste for a detailed survey can be explained by the fact that this caste had more or less played the role of custodians of the crafts of ancient and medieval Lanka. (Sunday Observer 28/04/02)
The woman who made the regalia blazed a trail for other women of her Navandanno caste who, to this day, practise their profession as jewellery designers, painters, sculptors and workers in precious metals, … (Sunday Observer 25/05/03)
Unfortunately, his birth and his caste followed him to the bitter end. He was born to a very respected and very rich family in Kalutara belonging to the ‘Navandanna Caste’, which means that they were people who excelled in exclusive creations in manufacturing gold designs also known as goldsmiths. (Island 16/12/13)
Gold jewellery for the royal family as well as others, were turned out by a special caste of people referred to as the Lokuru or the Navandanna. (Daily News 13/10/14)

Necto: a popular soft drink (brand name)
Thambili, tea, and Necto which made their mouths and tongues red. (The Flower Boy, by Karen Roberts, page 164)
… eating pineapple chunks sprinkled with chilli and salt and drinking Necto that stained their lips pink. (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 164)
… better than all the Necto and Lemonade … (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 73)
Near a case of Necto bottles on the floor … (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 13)

The choice is between Necto and Lanka Lime. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 313)
… washed down with the furiously coloured carbonated drinks from their childhood – Elephant House Ice Cream Soda, Ginger Beer, Necto, Lanka Lime - … (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 72)
Stop here for your banking and fill up on fuel – and icy cold Necto! (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 173)

nephew; niece: cousin’s son; cousin’s daughter
> In addition to the standard meaning (brother’s/sister’s son and daughter), the words nephew and niece are also used in SLE to refer to one’s first cousin’s son and daughter.

nice: (coll.) great (used ironically) Nice way to talk! (> fine)
“A nice thing has happened, Sivan, … The lavatory is blocked up!” (The Whirlwind, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 130)
“… you’ve chosen a nice time to have a leisurely bath,” … (The Whirlwind, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 132)

nidikumba: sensitive plant, touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica), a thorny weed whose leaves close up when touched (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)

I touched the nidikumba plant, which instantly folded itself up drawing feathery fringes together. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 15)
The leaves of the nidi-kumba drew back like bashful women. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 77)
… picking the nidikumba thorns fom the edge of his sarong, … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 42)

nightingale: nurse (esp. in newspaper headlines) (after Florence Nightingale)
Nightingales from across the seas (Sunday Times 17/06/01)
Recruiting nightingales no easy task (Sunday Times 25/03/07)
Foreign jobs for local nightingales (Daily News 24/12/08)
Where have the nightingales gone? (Daily Mirror 06/05/14)
NHSL short of 700 nightingales (Island 26/04/16)
Two nightingales in fisticuffs (Island 09/05/16)

nil manel: blue water lily (Nymphaea stellata or Nymphaea nouchali), Sri Lankan national flower (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: N is for na tree and nil manel
He walked up to the serene saffron-robed stone Buddha, and bowing in respect, gave an offering of nilmanel flowers. (Fifteen, by Ameena Hussein, page 71)
Damsels wearing cloth and jacket and carrying nil manel flowers enter stage … (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 150)
They made their offerings of swollen purple buds of Nil Manel. (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 159)

Nittaewo: a legendary bear-like race with hairy bodies and long nails (Sinhala)
> There is a detailed account of the Nittaewo (“Dagger-Clawed Little People”) in Richard Boyle’s book Sindbad in Serendib (pages 143-151).
Did Neanderthal man survive in the plains of Lenama in the Kumana National Park till recent times? Legend, myth and folk tales, all lend a trace of belief to their mysterious presence. Nittewo was the name given to these bear like men covered in fur, that were supposed to have inhabited the Lenama Plains. ... Discussing wildlife, his grace referred to the Nittewo, as “Nitt-atto” – the people with long nails, which they used like bears, to kill and feed. They were said to be bearlike themselves, with long hair covering their bodies and walking upright on two legs with a stoop. They communicated in grunts and are supposed to have been at war with the Veddahs. (Shirley Perera, in The Nature of Sri Lanka by Luxshmanan Nadaraja, page 98)

This is the landscape of Leanama, in the territory known as Panama Pattuwa. It is identified as the last refuge of a probable race of hominids, the Nittaewo or the little people. … The most detailed accounts of this curious pygmy race were in the collective memory of Veddah clans. … From their vast store of oral traditions, they recalled a fierce tribe of tiny hunters who they referred to as the Nittaewo. … The Veddah claimed that the Nittaewo stole the meat they laid out to dry in the sun or sealed in crevasses and hollows to cure in honey. They even claimed that, sometimes the Nittaewo hunted Veddah children and ate them. … From generation to generation, their hatred and fear of the Nittaewo ran undiluted. (The Line of Lanka, by Sunela Jayewardene, page 189-90)

niyara: a raised ridge between paddy fields, functioning as pathway, boundary and embankment (Sinhala)
The fields are bare and the rigid geometry of the niyara seems alien in the wilderness. (The Line of Lanka, by Sunela Jayewardene, page 139)
Today I find it a tragi-comic sight to see field officers trudging along ‘niyaras’ and jungle foot-paths togged up in ties like sales reps. ( 30/03/11)
… a weather beaten farmer in his ‘amuday’, standing in the mud of his paddy field conversing with a bhikku standing on a ‘niyara’. (Island 10/10/14)

no any: (coll.) no, not any, without any (SAE)
There is no any other way to solve the problem.
… then it starts one shot any time no any delay … (comment on 10/10/12)
There is no any shadow of doubt whatsoever ... (comment on 22/11/12)

non-a/c: non-air-conditioned (SAE)
Bumping our way back in the non-ac van our budget has allowed for, … (Fifteen, by Ameena Hussein, page 138)

“AC or non-AC?” – “I think non-AC, dear,” said Mrs. Sarath. (Colpetty People, by Ashok Ferrey, page 97)

non-vellala: not belonging to the vellala caste (Tamil) (> caste)
Caste became a source of conflict, especially when non-vellalas ignored the old caste restrictions, not only on eating and seating, but also on forms of dress, temple entry and political participation. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 165-6)
The LTTE leadership itself came from a non-Vellala caste base that had secured its status through economic advancement, … (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 172)
Alfred Duraiappah, whom the LTTE killed, commanded a voter base largely of non-Vellalas and Muslims. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 174)
The LTTE did this by abusing the ceasfire in order to force many auto rickshaw drivers, fishermen and persons belonging to trades, mostly non-vellalas, to undergo some form of military training in the Vanni … (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 419)

notice: (vt) summon, serve notice
Former DIG’s wife noticed by court
The Colombo Additional Magistrate yesterday noticed former DIG Vaas Gunewardene’s wife Shyamalie Priyadarshanie Perera to appear in court on July 9…  (Daily Mirror 26/06/13)

now itself: now (for emphasis) (> itself, today itself)
“Let’s think about it now itself.” (The Whirlwind, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 39)
“You have to pay the advance now itself, …” (Rails Run Parallel, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 84)
“I can book it now itself, if you like.” (What Lies Between Us, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 123)

nuga tree: banyan (Ficus benghalensis) (Sinhala)
The Nuga tree is one of the few trees in the country that propagates using an extended branch from the mother tree. It is this method of propagation that ensures the tree's survival. (Ceylon Today 04/07/13)
There are three huge hundred year old ancient nuga trees growing in a sandy patch by the Wesley School in Kalmunai. (Sunday Leader 04/07/13)
A 200 year old Nuga Tree which was a landmark near the Dickwella police station uprooted and fell on the Matara-Kataragama main road in a gale which accompanied heavy rains ... (Daily News 03/11/12)

nut loose (= screw loose): (coll.) crazy, mad (standard usage: to have a screw loose)
This is where the public of a war-torn country like Sri Lanka should take a cue too, instead of running after some nut-loose politicos and NGO henchmen … ( 22/06/07)
Today the country like a ship floating in the ocean without direction navigated by a nut loose captain! (comment on 03/05/16)


nelum: lotus flower (not a type of water lily) (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: N is for na tree and nil manel

not to: The example given (from July page 181) is inappropriate because “not to worry” is standard BSE usage, while “not to” with other verbs is SLE.

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.



Copyright © Mirisgala