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Sri Lankan English - Updates Q-R

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letters Q and R. 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.


rack (= bookrack): bookshelf, bookcase; also clothes horse
> In standard usage, a rack normally refers to a plate rack, luggage rack, etc.
I try to focus on the book I had picked up from the rack in the hall, … (Arathi, by Nihal de Silva, page 179)
Delphin shut her English book and put it back on her rack. (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 488)
She went up to the rack where a small beautiful picture of the goddess Amman was kept, … (Rails Run Parallel, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 12-13)

railway warrant (= warrant): a permit for free rail travel by government servants (SAE)
An MP’s family is entitled to three sets of first class railway warrants per year. (Colombo, by Carl Muller, page 377)
My father was entitled to first-class railway warrants and so we travelled in comfort, … (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 299)
The three sets of free railway warrants to which he was entitled had never been enough for him those days. (Rails Run Parallel, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 133-4)

rainda rala (= renter): (hist.) a person who pays a fixed sum to the government for the right to sell certain goods (e.g. arrack), or to collect tolls or taxes; a franchisee (Sinhala, from Portuguese renda = rent)
The most important source of such revenue, however, was the arrack rents (franchises) known in Sinhala as rainda, auctioned to the highest bidder, known as the renter (rainda rala) who obtained the exclusive right to retail arrack in a specified area. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 26)
From all accounts, they were a group of sturdy individuals – the famous ‘rainda ralas’ (renters) – willing to leave their hometowns and venture into remote areas, … (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 173)
Mid-nineteenth-century Sinhalese and Tamil magnates might have declined to give the time of day to the rainda ralas and low-country plantation-owners whom British rule, coffee and free trade had elevated into society beside them, … (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 99)

rajakariya: (hist.) compulsory service to the king or the state (Sinhala)
Paralleling the restrictive commercial practices was the use by the Dutch, and initially by the British, of rajakariya, a system of compulsory labour provided annually to the state, which had prevailed in Kandyan times. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 5)

… among the Sinhalese, labour services or rajakariya were provided, by ancient tradition, not in return for money but in discharge of ancient tenurial and customary obligations … (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 30)
It [coffee] provided a route into the money economy for villagers and townsfolk alike, making barter and rajakariya obsolete. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 98)

Rajarata: the ancient kingdom in the north-central part of Sri Lanka, with its capital in Anuradhapura and later Polonnaruwa; the term is still used to refer to the North-Central Province (Sinhala) (> Ruhunu)
Large tracts of unspoilt wilderness are required to make civilization sustainable: the fate of the hydraulic kingdoms of the Raja Rata reminds us of this. (Sri Lanka: The Island from Above, by Richard Simon, page 29)
… projects of benefit to the common folk of the island, such as the rehabilitation of tanks and canals in the Raja Rata and the revival of paddy-farming in parts of the country long abandoned to encroaching jungle. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 98)

rakshasa: (also raksha, rakshaya) a spirit or demon; also a mythological tribe said to have lived in Sri Lanka in prehistoric times; female: rakshasi (from Sanskrit) (SAE) (> naga, yaka)
There are rakshasas in the trees, hiding there to catch you and carry you away. … You will have to follow the rakshasi and be killed, eaten up, your bones cracked and split for the marrow. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 299)
The rakshasi could entice you with those delicious honey-seeping kewun, the cakes which she hung on a tree so that you would be tempted to pluck them and then become captive through her ruses. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 43)
The exorcist worked on with marvellous professional skill. I stood by intrigued watching the Rakshaya come to life. The hideous mouth broad red lipped with the two fearsome fangs on either side of the mouth. (Eternally Yours, by Sybil Wettasinghe, page 42)
The semi-divine lovers Rama and Sita, the heroic monkey-god Hanuman and the villainous rakshasa king Ravana are characters beloved by adults and children … (Sri Lanka: The Island from Above, by Richard Simon, page 16)

ralahamy: (coll.) police constable; (dated) a traditional village headman (Sinhala)
Ralahamy, you get out of here.” (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 22)
“Yes ralahamy.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 231)
Me: Ralahamy, can you analyse the writing on this? (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 149)
“Arrest this fellow, Ralahami,” he cried. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 114)
A rich fisherman from down south came to buy the family lands, and the servants said the Ralahami had him chased off only because the figure was too low. (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 6)

rasa kevili (= kevili, sweetmeats): traditional sweets made for New Year and other festive occasions (Sinhala)
At the New Year festival, Dhobi-ammé brings me the special rasa kavili that I like – … (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 274)
… and the ladies put together the left over rasa kevili from the New Year goodies … (Eternally Yours, by Sybil Wettasinghe, page 54)

rasavalli pudding: a popular Tamil dessert made with rasavalli (purple yam or king yam) (Tamil)
… and desserts such as rasa valli pudding, payasam and laddu are but a sneak peak at the extravagant buffet from the North … (Daily News 21/09/12)

rathu sahodaraya (= JVPer): (coll.) a member of the JVP party (Sinhala: red comrade)
“Why, thaaththa, even the rathu sahodarayas say they too do not wish to join this committee…” Bindu recalled. (Sunday Times 03/07/11)
But ironically enough the very same Lakshman who left Sri Lanka due to the JVP found himself on the best of terms with the “rathu sahodarayas” 33 years later. ( 17/08/12)

raw curry powder (= unroasted curry powder): curry powder normally used in vegetable dishes, dhal, etc. (> roasted curry powder)
Curry powders are a very personal signature of the curry maker. Some add only the basic ingredients such as coriander seeds, cumin and sweet cumin and their raw curry powder is this combination lightly toasted – just enough to release its fragrance, while their roasted curry powder is this same combination, but the condiments are roasted until it is dark in color and very strong in aroma. (Island 07/12/08)

raw filth (= filth): bad language, foul language
The guards try to help and receive an earful of raw filth as thanks. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 188)
… Amalean received a call blasting him in raw filth. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 265)
“I caught and blackguarded the bugger in raw filth …” (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 84)

Harin apologises for using raw filth in Parliament (Island 26/05/16)

refuse tea (= sweepings): low-grade tea which has been rejected for sale but which is sometimes sold illegally
Mafia behind refuse tea exports (SO 12/05/13)
162 tons of refuse tea seized (DM 25/05/15)
STF arrest seven persons with refused tea in raids (Daily Mirror 24/06/15)

The ignoble saga of “Refuse Tea”
… Refuse tea is that portion of black tea that remains after processed bulk tea is separated into grades … Pioneering planters treated Refuse Tea like kitchen refuse; stuff to be thrown away. There was good reason for this. Refuse Tea per se represents non-gradable bulk comprising tea flakes, stalk, fibre and dust – a mix unsuitable to be brewed and drunk. But the reality is that Refuse Tea collected from factory floors as ‘sweepings’ and stuffed into sacks for disposal includes dust from factory driers, factory ceilings and claddings, bits of paper, cobwebs, dead insects and plain dirt. (Daily Mirror 12/10/15)

rehabilitee: a person (usually a former member of the LTTE) who has been rehabilitated (> surrendee)
> Normally restricted to medical contexts in standard usage.
The smiling rehabilitee, Nallathambi Niroshan, succeeded in the A/L Examination with two Bs and a C and is now eligible to receive university education in Tamil to become a fully-fledged citizen of this country after receiving graduation. ( 12/30/10)

reload: credit added to a mobile phone account

Anticipating the reload for which he had paid Rs. 150 two hours earlier. (Unplugged Quarter, by Vihanga Perera, page 53)

renter (= rainda rala): (hist.) a person who pays a fixed sum to the government for the right to sell certain goods (e.g. arrack), or to collect tolls or taxes; a franchisee; also rent, renting (> arrack farming)
> The word renter (in this sense) is described as ‘obsolete and rare’ in the OED. In 19th-century Ceylon, the wealthiest and most prominent renters were the arrack renters. In her book Nobodies to Somebodies, Kumari Jayawardena also discusses other examples of colonial-era ‘tax farming’ such as paddy rents, fish rents, toll rents, ferry rents, gaming rents, etc.
The government obtained a significant proportion of its revenue from these various rents. The whole system of tax gathering through renting was oppressive. It meant that once the original amount was paid in rent to the government, the renter was left to his own devices to enrich himself at the expense of the people. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 26)

reputed: famous, popular, well-known, reputable (SAE)
> In standard English, reputed means generally reckoned or supposed to be the case (reputed to be worth over a million dollars). It is much less common in the sense of reputable, and it is much less commonly used together with a noun as in the examples below.
The narrator Michael Ondaatje the Sri Lanka born reputed author now domiciled in Canada. ( 23/03/06)
My aim is to hold an Executive Post and ultimately become a CEO of a reputed company. (Sunday Times 03/01/10)
A Bodhi Pooja will be held at the Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo today at 5.00 p.m. to invoke blessings on former South African born England Cricket Captain, internationally reputed cricket commentator par-excellence, a true Ambassador of Sri Lanka - Tony Greig, whom all Sri Lankan cricket fans love. (Daily News 22/11/12)

Directed by reputed French film maker Jacques Audiard, … (Sunday Times 08/05/16)
… transported by the LTTE in a vehicle belonging to the reputed international humanitarian organization CARE … (Daily Mirror 14/05/16)

residencies: residences (esp. in the names of modern apartment blocks)
Iceland Residencies, Trillium Residencies
> In standard English, a residency normally refers to a period of being resident in a place, or the tenure of a medical student. It is less common as an alternative to residence.

RH; RHK (= rest house; resthouse keeper) * Ratnapura RH
The Welimada RH was popular for RHK Richard’s ‘buth-curry’ which I once had the honour of sharing with SWRD on his way back to Colombo after the Aluthnuwara debacle. … Within ‘hoo-kiyana dura’ of the Mahiyangana Chaitya hallowed by the Buddha’s visit, is the RH where the best bar-patron was Thomson, the RHK himself, never in a state of sobriety and ever ready with his spicy anecdotes. … You had to watch your string hoppers as you breakfast on the picturesque RH verandah, lest the monkeys grabbed them. … In April 1971, JVP insurgents swooped down on the RH from their hillside hideouts and, at revolver-point, raided the pantry. ( 02/07/05)

rice hound (= pariah dog): a street dog
... a chicken bone ... which would be eaten instantly by the rice hounds that hovered about, ... (The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje, page 60)

He had been hovering in the corner petting his pure bred rice hound which some call a common or garden pariah dog. (Sunday Leader 29/04/07)
A passenger originating from Colombo had rescued three 'Rice Hound' pups in Sri Lanka and was taking them to London. (Sunday Island 10/02/14)
A safe guess would be that our “rice hound” of indeterminate parentage but unusual intelligence had found this somewhere in the neighbourhood and brought it home for display as some kind of a prize as she is often wont to do. ( 06/04/14)

rice pounder: a large pestle (molgaha) and mortar (vangediya) used for pounding rice to make rice flour
Village women in the East went out with rice pounders to stop the internecine fighting … (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 92)
… the dull rhythm of a rice-pounder as the domestics of the Soysa family next door prepared breakfast for the household. (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 508)

rilawa: toque macaque (Macaca sinica), a small brown species of monkey which is endemic to Sri Lanka (Sinhala; OED rillow) (> wandura)
The grass crackled underfoot as we trod quietly trying not to disturb the rilawas, the wanduras and the softly singing shamas. (Island 28/03/10)

ring cut: (on a mobile phone) dialling someone’s number and immediately cutting off so they can see the missed call
u give me a ring cut and i will come out and wait (SMS message)
Mother and son are part of the new "ring cut" generation that has spread across Sri Lanka and other Asian countries … "I would often hear someone say, ‘I’ll give you a ring cut when I get there’," says undergraduate Roshan de Silva, who uses missed calls for pre-arranged messages among his friends. (Sunday Island 04/03/07)

roasted curry powder: dark curry powder normally used in meat and fish dishes (> raw/unroasted curry powder)
She plunges all the bits of the chicken into the pot, cooks it with dark roasted curry powder and red chili powder in coconut milk … (Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 114)
It is mostly the roasted curry powder that is used as part of the marinade ... (Island 07/12/08)

roll (= Chinese roll): a savoury roll fried in breadcrumbs (similar a spring roll)
> In standard usage, a roll is a plain bread roll, unless specified in phrases such as spring roll or sausage roll.
… one carrying cakes, patties and rolls from Green Cabin, … (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 187)
… clutching plastic bags full of fish cutlets and vegetable patties, mutton rolls and crispy vades … (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 72)
… mutton rolls and salmon cutlets from the bar, … (Rannygazoo, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 99)

roofing sheets: corrugated metal or asbestos sheets used for roofing (also Africa)
But white asbestos (chrysotile asbestos) made by mixing asbestos fibre with cement, continues to be used mainly as roofing sheets. (Sunday Times 10/07/11)
They had gone up in an explosion of concrete and dust, the metal roofing sheets falling like scythes onto the bodies of the sleeping men below. (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 15)

rowdies: disreputable people, thugs (SAE)
It left behind in army-controlled Jaffna hired local rowdies and intelligence cadres ... (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 419)
The young generally respected the LTTE for their discipline, even that of erstwhile notable rowdies. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 473)

Ruhuna: the ancient kingdom in the south of Sri Lanka, with its capital in Tissamaharama; the term is still used to refer to the Southern Province; adj. Ruhunu (Sinhala) (> Rajarata)
Ruhunu University, Ruhunu National Park (Yala)
“You are not from Ruhuna, are you, son?” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 39)
… part of the old Ruhuna country, long regarded as the bastion of Sinhalese Buddhism. (Accha House and Umma House, by Asiff Hussein, page 11)

run and catchers: tag (children’s game) (see citations for variations)
“We went through the jungle, and into the paddy fields and played catchers …” (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 73)
Run-and-catchers and hide-and-seek are technically not sports but they’re still super fun if you have a garden. (Ceylon Today 13/05/12)
The afternoons spent playing ball or run and catchers, and flying colourful tailed kites... ( 13/03/13)
They were running around the house. It was as if they were playing 'run and catchers'. (Sunday Observer 25/05/14)
His idea of a great day includes a perfect game of run and catcher, food with meat and big bear hugs! ( 19/06/15)
Kumari and those of her tender age around 10 years went along to play run-and-catch, … (Ceylon Today 20/06/15)

rustify (= rasthiyadufy): (coll.) waste time, go to a lot of trouble for nothing (> -fy)
> In standard usage, rustification means making something seem rustic.
"Our lorries have to rustify for two to three days to obtain the flour stocks and priority is given to the private sector," … (Island 06/08/02)
I rustified with a niece of mine for a week to get at the Grama Niladhari. (Daily News 01/08/07)
GOSL will not allow a situation where Airforce Officers and Fighter Pilots have to rustify in Court rooms..... (comment on 17/07/08)
We decentralised the work so that people can sort their problems in their own locality instead of having to 'rustify' in Colombo. (Sunday Leader 18/01/09)
There’s rustifying…. That’s one word which should be in the Oxford Dictionary if it isn’t already, it means waiting hanging about wasting time. You stand in one long, thought provoking queue get a chit, stand in another, find out it’s the wrong one, go back to another, get your blood drawn, another to get your results, and another to channel a doctor .... (Daily Mirror 28/05/12)
I was ready to testify but sadly mobilising four more witnesses in the area was not practical because nobody wants to rustify in the courts wasting many days during a possible hearing. (Island 22/10/13)


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