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Sri Lankan English - Updates O

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


odiyal: the dried root of the young palmyrah tree (Tamil)
(Click here to see a photograph)

We got into the bus after a mini-shopping trip to get odiyal, dry fish, snacks from Paruthithurai, idiappam trays, pickled chillies, palm jaggery, and other assorted snacks. (Time Will Write a Song for You: Contemporary Tamil writing from Sri Lanka, page 243)
We grew panankilungku (young palmyrah tree roots) that we boiled and sold. We also dried the roots to make odiyal to sell in the market. ( 14/03/12)

odiyal flour (= palmyrah flour): flour made from odiyal, used in traditional Jaffna cooking
Palmyrah products range from sugar and toddy related products to odiyal flour, fibre, handicrafts and even building materials. (Sunday Times 01/04/07)
Odiyal flour has a bitter taste to it and older the flour, the more bitter it is. To avoid this unnecessary bitterness, it has to be freshly prepared just before use. (Ceylon Today 28/02/13)

odiyal kool (= kool): a rich seafood soup made with odiyal flour, a Jaffna speciality (Tamil)
Odiyal Kool – an aromatic concoction of seafood, vegetables, carefully measured spices and odiyal flour is the signature dish of the spread. (Island 31/08/08)
Also on offer is idiyappam and sodhi (5 for Rs.40) but its popularity pales in comparison to Odiyal Kool (Rs.200) the restaurant’s most famous offering. (Sunday Times 21/03/10)

ohe: (coll.) casually, carelessly, aimlessly, randomly (Sinhala)
“Everything creative starts ‘just like that’...for fun, for love, for sadness, for friendship or fear...or for no reason at all...just, ‘ohè’- without a thought or an agenda...” (DM 08/08/16)

old crock: vintage car
> In BSE, a crock suggests an old vehicle which is worthless; in SLE it implies something valuable because of its age.
This practicing Buddhist, however, brought at least half a dozen bottles of arrack in his old crock whenever he came to the village to hand over to Loku Maama with the motive of keeping up the spirits of his supporters! ( 13/04/12)
On one corner is a perfectly restored old crock, a collector's delight. (

olinda: jequirity (Abrus precatorius), a plant with small, bright red seeds with a black tip, similar to madati seeds (Sinhala)
> Olinda seeds are used in olinda keliya, a traditional board game known elsewhere as mancala. Variations of mancala are played throughout Africa and Asia, usually with pebbles or cowrie shells.

“Devadasa can you bring me some Olinda?” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 328)
… the spindly tangled creeper is not home to a colony of tiny red and black beetles – they are olinda seeds. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 223)
During trainings for the school's inter-house sports meet, the victim and two of her fellow students had eaten Olinda seeds … ( 04/02/14)
Olinda Keliya is also popular among women who live in rural villages. (Siyapatha website 11/08/12)

olu: a type of water lily (Nymphaea pubescens), usually white (sudu olu) or red (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)

> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: N is for na tree and nil manel
Mangroves apart, the most alluring aquatic plants that greeted us on our river journey were the beautiful manel and olu - of varied hues. The rathu manel, nil manel and sudu olu were in full bloom and carpets of these flowers created an aura of a fairyland as the river wound its way through the mangroves. (Sunday Times 04/06/00)
He is experimenting with several other local grains and seeds including maize, green gram, jak seeds and olu seeds as well in his bakery products. (Daily Mirror 13/11/10)
They say that this waterfall derives its name from the likeness it bears to the white Olu flower because it's multiple falls look like the milk white petals of an Olu flower. (Sunday Observer 05/05/13)
For most of the year, white olu and nelum flowers cover the water. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 161)

Orange Barley: orange-flavoured barley water (brand name)
It’s an odd funeral I think – no one serving Orange Barley, no one playing checkers and cards. (Chucking the Dragon, by Mark Wilde, page 11)

… the maid-servant brought a tray of ginger beer and orange barley out to the lovers seated on the veranda, … (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 601)

orthodox: (of tea) made in the traditional way, as opposed to the CTC process
The demand for the orthodox leaf tea is growing in the world market and thus prices too are going up. … With low growns fetching higher prices, high grown sector factories involved in producing CTC type are now shifting to orthodox leaf tea manufacture and in the case of regional plantation companies, they have their own cluster of estates in geographical locations which are creating capacity to have orthodox or CTC manufacture. (Sunday Times 13/07/08)

oruwa: a dugout canoe with an outrigger (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)

“Outsiders came to us on marakkalams and oruwas and to Dambadiva on horses and camels.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 120)

osari pota (= sari pota): the decorated part of the sari which is draped over the shoulder (Sinhala: osari = Kandyan sari)
When we were young, there were females of a certain class in Kandy covering the upper part of the body with the Osari Pota attending to their day-to-day work which had been the custom coming from the period of Sinhalese Kings. We came across elderly women of all casts return to their homes without a jacket after a bath by covering the upper part with the Osari Pota only. (Daily News 07/11/06)
NCPA launches probe into students carrying Osari Pota:
The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) today launched an investigation into the incident at Gannoruwa in Kandy on Thursday where 250 female students of a primary school were used to carry Osari pota (Saree bridal veil) of a bride. The 3,200 meter-long piece of bridal clothing was created by a beautician, who is hopeful of setting a Guinness World Record for her work as the world’s longest Saree. (Daily Mirror 22/09/17)
The JVP in 1970 got a hold of Sirimavo’s Osari pota, but within 12 months staged an amateurish ‘armed revolution’ only to be crushed by the security forces. (Daily Mirror 06/10/17)

our boys (= the boys): (coll.) the Sri Lankan cricket team; the Sri Lankan army; the LTTE
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: O is for our people

… and there was widespread public sympathy for the militants as “our boys”. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 31)
I don’t know much about cricket, but even I haven’t been deaf to the string of victories our boys have had in the past month. (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 105)
If our boys could defy the odds here, perhaps we have a shot at retaining the World Cup. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 360)

… and in the newspaper, there were more deaths, more of our boys at the front torn in two or three. (Homesick, by Roshi Fernando, page 163-4)
“Since the late seventies they’ve taken our boys to their land and given arms training to them.” (The Whirlwind, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 90)
I want to speak to her, reassure her that despite their hard eyes and their guns, these are our boys. (Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 140)
“Where will they find husbands like our boys?” (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 119)
“Are they arresting our boys a lot, hamu?” … “Why is that? These are our boys, no?” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 462)
A typical example would be how people will rant on and on after a cricket match about how one of “our boys” spoke when interviewed after the match. (Sunday Times 18/11/07)
Proudly protecting our boys as they carry the hope of a nation on to the pitch. (Sunday Times 21/06/15)

our fellows, our ones: (coll.) variation on our boys or our people
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: O is for our people
“It was a bad show killing the Prime Minister like that but you have to hand it to our fellows, they know how to do these things.” (Reef, by Romesh Gunesekera, page 145)

“The Tigers kill anyone they want; the ceasefire applies only to our fellows.” (Arathi, by Nihal de Silva, page 28)
“But our ones don’t you know?” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 228)
“Our fellows got pukey-ed.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 431)
“Because our fellows have no conviction.” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 125)

our one (= our friend): (coll.) an expression used to refer to another person in an indirect way (> that one, this one)
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: T is for this thing
“Our one can go for someone even better.”
“Our one is prettier too.”
“Our one can speak English too.” …
“Our one is a bit backward though.”
(Learning to Fly, by Shehani Gomes, page 12)

the outstations: (n) outstation areas
“… many years ago when he was in one of those distant, remote outstations in Batticaloa, …” (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 195)
Now, every train was bringing students in from the outstations, … (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 210)
He had first-hand experience of life and adventure on the railways and in the outstations where he served. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 322)
… tired people and their sweaty suitcases, travelling to and from the outstations. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 321)
But as the pact was being drafted the outstations burned. (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 257)

“Tell them that there are riots in the outstations …” (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 206)

overlook: oversee
> In
standard usage , to overlook means to fail to see something, or to ignore it; to oversee means to supervise something. In SLE overlook is used with both meanings.
He overlooked the completion of 550 daham pasal which accommodates 250,000 students. (ST 06/07/08)
Suresh worked hard to ensure that everything was prepared appropriately while Pradeep too overlooked the preparations. ( 11/11)
The owner’s representative … overlooked the project in Colombo. (FT 19/11/12)
High Profile Committee Led By Karu To Overlook UNP Election Campaign ( 07/08/14)


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