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Sri Lankan English - Updates S

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


S (= simple pass): (at Sri Lankan O level exam) ordinary pass (equivalent of C grade) (> C,D)
Sat for his G.C.E. O/L Examination in 1986 and passed obtaining 2 Distinctions (D), 3 Credit passes (C) and 3 Ordinary passes (S). (Sunday Leader 11/05/08)

saffronisation: the increasing influence of Buddhist monks, e.g. in politics (also used in India with reference to Hindu nationalism)
What is both shocking and depressing is how so many people are cheering the saffronisation of our politics, society and culture without realising the dire consequences. (comment on Groundviews website 10/07/09)

Sailors: (in newspaper reports) Navy Sports Club rugby team (> Airmen, Cops, Soldiers)
Sailors sink Soldiers 43-8 (Sunday Times 24/01/15)
Sailors thrash Airmen in League opener (Sunday Times 21/11/15)
Army’s strike leaves Sailors stunned (Daily Mirror 28/11/15)

salmal: the flower of the cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis) (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)

The lay-buddhists respect the “salmal” flower because there is a “Chithya/Stupa” symbol in it. (comment on 16/05/12)
… the pink and yellow flowers and leaves that drifted down from the sal mal trees and settled in the gardens … (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 120)

santhosam (= something): tip, bribe (Tamil)
“You could give her a small santhosam for helping us in this way.” (Rannygazoo, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 162)
The jumbo cabinet and the massive “santhosam” to Cabinet Ministers and MPs (Cars/Petrol/Maintenance, Security details, Rent etc., …) (comment on 24/03/09)

sardine (= salmon, tin fish): any tinned fish (usually tuna or mackerel)
We were given sardines and parippu and bread to eat … (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 183)
Jack Mackerel sardine tins, Sunlight soap, … (Rainbows in Braille, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 26)
Saman curry or Sardine curry as we Sri Lankans call it commonly is a tinned fish curry. Mostly we use canned Mackerel for this curry. ( 20/10/12)

sari pallu (= fall, pallu, sari pota): the decorated part of the sari which is draped over the shoulder (Tamil) (SAE)
... the women pressing their handkerchiefs or sari pallus to their mouths in a pretense of modesty, but really to hide their titters. (Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 139-40)
With them, a woman, face obscured behind her sari pallu. (Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 20-1)
… until finally she pushes me away, wiping her face with her sari pallu. (What Lies Between Us, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 93)
Smoke filled her lungs and she reached for her sari pallu to cover her mouth and nose, … (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 201)
She wiped her face with her sari pallu and spoke again. (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 277)

sari pleats: the folds of material at the front of a sari
Dressed in a mute pink sari, Shirani played over and over again with her sari pleats, … (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 148)
The blouse was too loose and the sari pleats were on the wrong side, but who would notice, … (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 170)

saronged: wearing a sarong
… and bare-chested, saronged, machete-armed men enter the carriage, … (Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 28)
Saronged men with sickles, lances and tar buckets stood outside. (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 269)
In the midst of the virtual free flow of drinks and occasional melee, the white saronged waiters were actually pretty attentive and often knew you by face or name. ( 2013)

satakaya: a long shawl worn with national dress (Sinhala) (> kurakkan satakaya)
But, the real threat – Nayana felt – was the guy who was sitting opposite him in a jathika suit and saatake. (Unplugged Quarter, by Vihanga Perera, page 31)
I remember the red coloured varnish saatakaya very well. (The Fear of Gambling, by Vihanga Perera, page 270)
“On the final day I was invited as the chief guest for the event. One of the items on the programme was a short drama. I saw a student dressed in a national costume with a Satakaya coming up on stage and kissing the floor.” (Sunday Times 22/01/12)
… the only dictatorship in the world wearing sandals and satakayas in lieu of jackboots. ( 23/09/12)

sauce: tomato sauce, tomato ketchup
Imported bottles of expired sauce found in Wattala ( 14/07/14)

scrape: scratch (> scratch)
Don’t let the cat scrape you.

… cane plants … are extremely thorny. As a result, villagers must approach the bushes with great care to avoid getting scraped. ( 04/16)

scraper (= coconut scraper)
Carolis was in the backyard scraping half a coconut for breakfast. The pure white grated coconut had fallen in a perfect cone-shaped mound on the plate under the scraper. (Monkfish Moon, by Romesh Gunesekera, page 99)
She served him a big plate of rice and dry fish with a little coconut she scraped sitting astride the dilapidated scraper. (Once, on a Mountainside, by Vijita Fernando, page 31)
When Ravi carried the coconuts to the shade under the mango tree where the women were scraping the nuts, he saw Selvi among the girls struggling with the only scraper Mani had given them. (The Whirlwind, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 99)
The coconut flesh rasping and tearing on the scraper was like a warning from her. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 28)

screw loose: crazy, mad (standard usage: to have a screw loose) (also Australia/Canada?)
The reasons are so well known that they hardly bear repetition – a breakdown of the school system, untrained and semi-qualified teachers, political interference, abandoning English, public indifference and screw-loose Education Authorities. ( 04/06/07)
Screw-loose and tongue-loose politicians, tragically for our blighted nation, are the rule and not the exception in the Sri Lanka of today. (Island 14/10/07)
You think the authors of this Action Plan are comics or screw-loose? ( 05/08/12)

scrub jungle, shrub jungle: scrubland, shrubland (> jungle)
The once-bountiful rice plains were reclaimed by scrub jungle, … (Wild Sri Lanka, by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, page 32)
Bundala National Park is a mix of scrub jungle and sand dunes bordering the sea. (Wild Sri Lanka, by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, page 150)

“He enclosed [the land] with the aim of clearing the scrub jungle and replacing it with trees, especially those native to the area.” (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 147)
Father throws child to shrub jungle (Daily Mirror 10/10/15)

Sebastianite (Seb): a student or former student of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa (> Royalist)
St. Joseph's are riding the crest of a wave defeating the Sebastianites after 34 years. (Sunday Leader 27/02/05)
Petes sink Sebs to mark fourth outright win (Sunday Times 15/01/17)

Secy: (abbr.) Secretary (> Hony)
Ex-Ministry Secy wants barrier removed to return (Daily Mirror 01/05/15)

… to see: (coll.) (with verbs) … and see
* hit to see * show to see * try to see * tell to see * come for a fight to see
“Put a foot near our house to see,” … (The Jam Fruit Tree, by Carl Muller, page 93)
“You get out of the gate after school to see.” (Once Upon a Tender Time, by Carl Muller, page 41)
“Anney sing to see.” (Maudiegirl and the von Bloss Kitchen, by Carl Muller, page 108)

see will you!: (coll.) look! (> will you!)
“See, will you, Menaka, others are dying to marry, no?” (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 136)

“See, will you, even my boots, it takes about fifteen minutes to polish.” (Spit and Polish, by Carl Muller, page 17)
“See will you, I won’t care for her either.” (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 89)
“See will you what has happened?” (Maudiegirl and the von Bloss Kitchen, by Carl Muller, page 78)
“Just come and see will you.” (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 190)

selalihiniya: Sri Lanka hill myna (Gracula ptilogenys), a species of myna bird which is endemic to Sri Lanka and features in classical Sinhala literature (Sinhala)
… seeds which the father feeds the selalihinis with – the caged selalihinis, light black and yellow, that have learned to talk with human voices. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 293)
How golden and ripe the slice of papaw is. So like the beak of a glossy selalihini which feeds in the grass. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 335)
Meanwhile I was just a hill mynah, boringly black-feathered and ugly, but celebrated in classic Sinhala literature because of its intelligence to carry messages far distances – the salalihiniya. (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 64)
The selalihini in the cage could talk, imitating our human language. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 48)

semi-luxury bus: air-conditioned long-distance bus
Semi luxury bus services to be monitored (Daily News 05/03/14)

servants’ toilet: a separate toilet in a private house for the use of servants
… in the sink next to the servant’s toilet at the back of the house … (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 85)

sesatha: a traditional decorative sunshade (Sinhala, pl. sesath)
With the annual Esala Perahera now wending its way through the streets of Kandy, Sesath bearers are a prominent sight. Adding a regal air to this much looked forward to event in the cultural corpus of the country, sesaths have a colourful history. ‘Sesatha’ deriving its name from the Sanskrit term shveta-chatra or ‘white umbrella’ is believed to have served both a functional and ritual purpose of a sunshade for the aristocracy and as a symbol of grandeur and reverence at religious and other cultural observances. (Sunday Times 06/08/17)

seth pirith: a type of pirith (Buddhist verses) chanted for protection (Sinhala)
I would meditate and chant seth pirith in low tones. (A Long Watch, by Ajith Boyagoda and Sunila Galappatti, page 144)
Members of the Maha Sangha performed religious rites and chanted Seth Pirith, invoked blessings on the Army and praised their contribution and dedication towards the motherland. (Daily News 02/10/15)

shape!: (coll.) great!, perfect!, sorted!
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: D is for deffa

Shepherdian: a student or former student of Good Shepherd Convent, Colombo (> Bishopian, Bridgeteen, Familian, LC-ite, Musaeite, Visakhian)
Don’t miss Shepherdian fun and entertainment (Sunday Times 06/07/08)
Shepherdians made a fine start leading 15-13 in the first quarter. (Daily News 04/05/13)
Shepherdians flock together (Sunday Times 03/01/16)

short of hearing: hard of hearing (SAE)
“If people find us short of hearing they shout at us rather than try to say things in a clear normal voice.” (Sunday Times 23/08/98)
“I can talk with you for some more time but I'm short of hearing and need someone to din into my ears what you are saying to me.” (Daily News 29/09/01)
She said her second child, 10-year-old son Damitra was short of hearing and they realised it when the boy was six years. As the child was short of hearing the parents were not interested to send him to school. (Sunday Observer 15/04/12)

short whistle (= lemons, breather): (in newspaper reports) half-time in a rugby or football match (> long whistle)
At the short whistle Royal led 1-0. (Sunday Times 16/11/14)
However Trinity hung on to the lead 10-6 before increasing it through another penalty booted over by Tharinda five minutes from the short whistle ... (Daily Mirror 08/07/14)

shot (of arrack): a glass (of arrack)
“Went for a shot.” – “All this time? With whom?” (A Cause Untrue, by David Blacker, page 41)
The old toper knocked the shot back with one huge swallow … (The Far Spent Day, by Nihal de Silva, page 242)
Papa poured himself another shot of arrack. (Homesick, by Roshi Fernando, page 45)

Those days I could sleep anywhere after putting a shot. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 323)
“Just one shot now and again.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 385)

shotty: (of tea) with curly or rolled leaves
The feature of the sale this week was the demand for Shotty Pekoes. (Daily Mirror 11/03/05)

show: to show something: to show somebody something, to show something to somebody
Show the pictures.
I think we’ll have to show Sanjeev. (= show him to the doctor)
> In standard usage, the person being shown normally needs to be mentioned: Show me the pictures, I think we’ll have to show Sanjeev to the doctor.
“Then show. Tell what you owe and leave it with me and he will get it.” (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 237)
… Lewis contemplated visiting Lydia to show the article, … (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 92)

show cause: to prove or justify something in court (SAE)
FCID noticed to show cause
Colombo Additional Magistrate Nishantha Pieris yesterday noticed the FCID to show cause as to why it had violated the court procedure … (Daily Mirror 09/10/15)

SI: Sub-Inspector (of Police) (> IP)
He needed substantial income to support this habit, said SI Sugathapala, … (Sunday Times 05/09/10)
The girl was taken into custody by a police team which included women police officers led by Kuruwita OIC IP R.P. Siriwardena and crimes OIC SI C.M.G. Chandrasekera. (Daily Mirror 05/10/12)

sick note campaign: a form of protest in which workers report sick and do not go to work
School teachers yesterday decided to go ahead with their sick note campaign. (Daily Mirror 01/03/08, under the headline “Teachers falling sick on Tuesday”)

sil maeni: a woman preparing to be ordained as a Buddhist nun (Sinhala)
... Maddhu’s wife, a staunch temple sil maaniya. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 353)
The advancing forces broke out on the 24th April 2001 at the auspicious time of 1.48 hrs selected in Colombo by a ‘Sil Meniyo’ who is also said to advice on strategies! (Island 12/06/01)
Dude, you go to a Night Club what you expect to see? Sil Maniyo? (comment on 11/20/08)
Sicille should become a 'Sil Mani' (Buddhist Nun) & then apply for bail. (comment on 06/04/16)

sil redi: white cloth worn by Buddhists when observing sil (Sinhala)
The distribution of sil redi (material worn by Buddhists when observing sil) to mark full moon poya day which fell on December 4, 2014 marked yet another leap in the misuse of public resources in electioneering in Sri Lanka. It was revealed by PPPR that the UPFA candidate had ordered sil redi or five metre long white material from three private companies to be distributed via Buddhist temples to Buddhist devotees on full moon poya day. … The distribution of sil redi was made more problematic due to the propaganda material that was inserted into the sil redi package. This included a booklet in some cases and a note about the UPFA candidate in others. … Certain Buddhist temples refused the sil redi altogether while others inquired as to why such materials were distributed during an election period. (Sunday Times 24/09/17)

silver tip: a speciality white tea
Silver Tipwhite well twisted whole buds of pleasing appearance with a very mellow light cup. ( 11/13)

Sinhala Buddhist: belonging to the Sinhala Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka
Many are spritual descendants of Sinhala Buddhist leader Anagarika Dharmapala, ... (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 302)

Sinhala-Buddhist merchants, plantation owners, renters and professionals were among the main financial backers of the Buddhist movement. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 265)
“I am proud to say that I am a Sinhala Buddhist.” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 126)
At the time we thought it a superb coincidence that we were all Sinhala Buddhists. (A Long Watch, by Ajith Boyagoda and Sunila Galappatti, page 5)

Sinhalafy: (coll.) make something more Sinhalese in identity (noun: Sinhalafication = Sinhalisation) (> -fy)
“That’s how you deal with Tamil talent. You Sinhala-fy it.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 270)
Place names are already undergoing a sinhalafication. (comment on 22/10/08)
In an attempt to ‘Sinhalafy’ English, we Sri Lankans have managed to pepper Sri Lankan English with Sinhala and Tamil phrases and idioms. (Sunday Observer 05/07/09)
I can assure you that Jaffna is seriously Sinhalafied these days. (comment on 18/02/11)
… the government-sponsored building of several Buddhist monuments along the A9 and other Tamil areas and the Sinhalafying of Tamil place-names. (comment on 11/06/12)
We didn’t Sinhala-fy the names of our Tamil friends. ( 2014)

Sinhala hound: a Sri Lankan breed of dog; now used to refer to any pariah dog (> Sri Lankan hound)
May I digress for a moment to put in a word for another purely indigenous animal. The Sinhala hound. It is not yet too late to isolate the one and only indigenous hound of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala hound existed from pre-Vijayan times. After all, one must not forget that it was a Sinhala hound that led prince Vijaya to his Queni. (Island 27/05/95)
Balangoda Man kept domestic dogs. The indigenous ‘Sinhala hound’ resembles other early dogs such as the dingo of Australia. (Island 13/11/10)
How many of our dog-owners know that Sri Lanka has its own native dog breed, the yellow-brown Sinhala Hound, which used to be ubiquitous a few decades back but is now almost extinct? (Daily News 12/01/12)

Sinhalaness: Sinhala identity (> Tamilness)
What is Nationalism – and what is Sinhalaness or Tamilness, and how can one ascribe a racial identity to oneself and through what means? (Daily News 21/10/13)

Sinhala only: the language policy introduced by SWRD Bandaranaike in 1956

... SWRD ... adopted national dress and won an election based on “Sinhala only” and “No Federalism”. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 305)
In April 1956, when the harbour and the city suddenly turned all patriotic saffron and Sinhala only, ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 246)
The Sinhala Only policy of the Fifties followed by successive race riots had, however, driven a wedge deep between the two. (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 14)
These changes were more marked after the 1956 elections won by SWRD Bandaranaike and his Sinhala Only policy attracted the village youth. (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 30)
“Since the dawn of Sinhala Only, I have difficulty understanding my mother tongue.” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 445)

Sinhalaya: (coll., often derog.) a Sinhalese person (Sinhala) (> Demalaya)
“But the Sinhalayas were jealous. Satha could out-bat them and out-screw them!” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 270)
The original Sinhalayaas are muts… (comment on 08/08/13)

Sinhalisation: the process of making a place (e.g. an area or an organisation) more Sinhalese in identity (verb: Sinhalise = Sinhalafy) (> Tamilisation)
> Sinhalisation could be the result of natural processes such as migration and cultural integration, but more often the term refers to deliberate actions such as resettlement programmes and education, language and employment policies.

One however notices a process of Sinhalization taking place among the Ahikuntaka of the present day. (Zeylanica, by Asiff Hussein, page 455)
A means used to advance Sinhalisation was for the Military to take control of local water sources and land in strategic locations. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 350)
Even more ominous is the hidden defence spending, tied up with Sinhalising stolen lands in the North. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 482)
The agenda of the present regime is to buy time to complete its agenda of Sinhalisation in the North and East and thus destroy the existence of the Tamil people in this island country as a collectivity and their political status as a nation. ( 14/03/13)
Systematic Sinhalisation in the North?
A systematic attempt to ‘Sinhalise’ areas in the North, especially in Vavuniya is underway, opposition parties charge. … TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said he had discovered evidence of Sinhalisation based on information collected from officials and residents during his visits to the Northern Province. (Sunday Leader 28/04/13)

slice: (v) play carrom (verb used by sports journalists)
Indian men and women players sliced their way scintillatingly to take the major honours, making a clean sweep in the team events and the individual events at the five-day 4th World Carrom Championships hosted by the Carrom Federation of Sri Lanka and concluded at the Lotus Room at Grand Oriental Hotel yesterday. … Indeed a creditable performance for the Indian slicing squad. (Sunday Observer 10/10/04)
… and in the second and third games Anas sliced his way skillfully to overcome the opponent … (Sunday Times 23/11/14)

slipper cut: a cut on the foot caused by a slipper (> shoe cut)
Stay away from tough rubber pairs – slipper cuts on getaways are no fun at all. ( 25/05/16)

sloth bear: the black species of bear (Melursus ursinus) found in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in South Asia
Termites are an important source of food for sloth bears, and special adaptations make sloth bears especially adept at foraging for termites. The forelimbs of sloth bears are stout and armed with long claws that aid in tearing open logs, digging, and breaking through hard termite mounds. (Shyamala Ratnayeke, in The Nature of Sri Lanka by Luxshmanan Nadaraja, page 202-3)

small days: childhood
“Even from my small days I don't eat fish or beef.” (Gossip Lanka News website 31/05/14)
During our small days we used toys such as dolls, vehicles, balloons, elephants, deer, peacocks, birds and similar items. (Daily News 13/08/14)

smore, smoore: a spicy beef stew, a Burgher speciality
On our dining table there was often served the famous beef ‘smoore’ set on a big china platter for my father to carve. … For the ‘ismore’, the indigenized meat stew, a special hunk of beef was bought, about four or five pounds in weight. It was lightly washed and pricked all over with a fork to tenderize it and allow the ground spices to impregnate it. Roasted dry chillies were ground into a rounded ball, a ‘guliya’, while the condiments, the coriander and cumin were roasted separately and ground into a fine paste. The dark sienna brown, the gamboges, the ochre turmeric and dark red chillies were set on a plate, resembling an artist’s palette. The sliced red onions, rampe-karapincha, ground garlic and ginger, cardamom, lemon grass were sautéed, flavours amalgamated in the temperadu which added to the fragrance that emanated from the pot, as the beef cooked for hours on end on a slow fire. Thick coconut milk was spooned over as it simmered. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 245-7)
“Dulcie will be making her beef smore and yellow rice.” (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 64)
For lunch there was beef smore, the classic Portuguese pot roast – thick slices of Portuguese shoe leather arranged prettily on a china platter, smothered in fried onions. (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 216)
Specialty curries associated with the Burghers is carmenache, smore and kofta curry. Carmanache is undoubtedly Portuguese. … Smore is a Colonial Dutch dish, very similar but where chillie powder is introduced which makes the dish spicy and hot to taste. (Island 30/03/03)

sodi (= gravy, hodi): the spiced sauce in which a curry is cooked (Tamil; Sinhala hodi)
… string hoppers and a milk sothy for breakfast; … (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 234)
Also on offer is idiyappam and sodhi (5 for Rs.40) ... (Sunday Times 21/03/10)

so how?: (coll.) so, how are you? (> so so)
“So, how men? Feeling good?” (Reef, by Romesh Gunesekera, page 154)
“So how? Just dropped in, men.” (Yakada Yaka, by Carl Muller, page 135)
“So, how?” (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 35)
“So how, Savi.” (A Little Dust on the Eyes, by Minoli Salgado, page 200)

Soldiers: (in newspaper reports) Army Sports Club rugby team (> Airmen, Cops, Sailors)
Soldiers fight back to drub Airmen 24-13 (Sunday Times 31/01/15)
Gritty Soldiers set for Red test at Longden place (Daily Mirror 21/11/15)
The Soldiers then extended that lead four minutes later … (Daily Mirror 28/11/15)

something (= santhosam): (coll.) tip, bribe
Clerk caught prioritising heart surgeries for ‘something’ (Sunday Times 23/10/16)

son of the soil: patriot, exemplary citizen, esp. a person from a rural background (translation of Sanskrit bhumiputra) (SAE)
> In Malaysia, the term bumiputra refers to the indigenous Malay population. In SLE, it is often used to refer to Sinhala patriots such as members of the armed forces.
“These sons of the soil have won peace and security for ourselves and our future generations.” (Daily News 03/07/09)
Batapola MMV Ambalangoda produces sons of the soil (Sunday Times 16/12/12)
The security forces, the true sons of the soil, sacrificed their future to usher in a peaceful environment for us. (Sunday Observer 30/11/14)
Sirisena is a son of the soil reputed for his simplicity. ( 25/04/15)
As true sons of the soil they had composed songs for tourist promotion, such as ‘Welcome to sunny Lanka’, ‘Ayubowan’, ‘Wake up in Sri Lanka to a nice hot cup of tea’ … (Sunday Times 10/07/16)
‘A Truly Sri Lankan Bank for Sons of the Soil’ (Financial Times 25/03/17)
… the patriotism of this Eastern son of the soil whose family was steeped in Tamil nationalist politics. (

sort: sort something out, solve (a problem)
“He came to sort a dispute between the two brothers Chulodara and Mahodara.” (Monsoons and Potholes, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 282)
… but she was troubled about the recent events and hoped that it would be sorted soon. (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 99)
“After we sort this mess, you’ll be the boss,” … (Arathi, by Nihal de Silva, page 230)

South: the South
: commonly refers to all parts of Sri Lanka apart from the North and East. The Southern Province is referred to as down South or the deep South.
As a Sinhalese, my only regret is that we in the South have not been able to come up with a group who are prepared to write a similar account of what is going on in the rest of the country. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page vii)
In their minds at least those in the South had begun to think of the North and East as an alien land. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 392)
The chauvinism of the South ensures the dominance of its mirror image in the North, … (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 171)
If the temple was attacked it would stoke fires in the South. (A Long Watch, by Ajith Boyagoda and Sunila Galappatti, page 30)
Southern newspapers were still available. (A Long Watch, by Ajith Boyagoda and Sunila Galappatti, page 100)
Terror is spreading in the South ( 23/06/08)

spare wheel: (dated) mistress; person (male or female) with whom someone is having an extra-marital affair
Some say Ms Pillay is a sidekick of Mr Moon. However, from the manner in which he is attempting to please Ms Pillay, some suspect she could be even be his spare wheel! (comment on 17/04/10)

sports meet: school sports day
> In standard usage, meet is only used as a noun in certain phrases such as athletics meet.
The annual sports meet of Wadduwa Central will be held today at 1.30 p.m. at the school grounds under the patronage of Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray. (Daily News 28/01/09)
Inter International Schools sports meet from 20th onwards (Lankapuvath 12/02/09)
As if they are prefects leading me to a sports meet. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 247)

squirrel: palm squirrel (Funambulus palmarum) (Sinhala lena)
Ever since the sparrows vanished from de Saram Road, squirrels have been scurrying into our homes and helping themselves to fruit. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 300)

Sri Lankan hound (= pariah dog, rice hound): a street dog (> Sinhala hound)
My owner is migrating and has to find a new home for me. I am just another Sri Lankan hound aged 7 years … (Daily News 27/04/12)
President of the KASL Nela De Zoysa put forward the idea of the “Sri Lankan Hound” being recognised as a breed. (Sunday Times 13/10/13)
… ‘Ginger’ the Sri Lankan hound which loves everybody and everything; … (Sunday Times 23/08/15)

Sri Lankanised (= localised): adapted to Sri Lanka; (of a business) owned by Sri Lankans, employing Sri Lankans, using Sri Lankan products, etc. (also Sri Lankanisation)
The sheer craftsmanship and ingenuity of our in-flight crew has ‘Sri-Lankanised’ the cocktail experience with the now acclaimed ‘Coconut Passion Cocktail’ – a shot of fresh coconut arrack plunged into passion juice and shaken with coconut water. (Island 18/02/10)
He said that it would also ensure the Sri Lankanisation of UN agencies here. (Sunday Times 13/07/08)
He wanted an indigenization, a Sri Lankanisation of English. (Island 11/03/10)
There is a need for Colombo Art Biennale to be more Sri Lankanised. ( 26/02/12)
The ceremony ended with a Sri Lankanized cocktail night which featured some unique local finger food such as "prawn achcharu" and "jambu achcharu". (Daily News 17/05/13)
Finding authentic versions of our favourite cuisines that haven’t been ‘Sri Lankanised’ can be frustrating … (Sunday Times 02/03/14)
… With the local palate getting more accustomed to authentic Chinese cuisine, Sri Lankanized Chinese is beginning to fade out. That being said, it's called "Sri Lankanized" for a reason, so there will always be those who prefer it over authentic Chinese, and that's where Peking Palace fits in. ( 13/11/14)

Sri Lankanism: (also Lankanism) a feature of Sri Lankan English (> Ceylonism)
All the Sri Lankan-isms made her think of her father. (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 84)
A few weeks ago, I read Ameena Hussein’s wholly entrancing novel, “The Moon in the Water” and recognized how skillfully she has introduced some “Sri Lankanisms” into her story. (Island 22/04/09)

Sri Lankan Tamil (= Ceylon Tamil): a member of the Tamil community originally from the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, as opposed to the upcountry Tamil community (> Jaffna Tamil, upcountry Tamil)
Despite these limited avenues for accumulation, however, there were areas where specific developments in the colonial period opened up opportunities for some Sri Lankan Tamils, particularly those from the Jaffna peninsula. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 203)

star tortoise: a species of tortoise (Geochelone elegans) found in India and Sri Lanka
My father sent me a star tortoise all the way from Anuradhapura. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 209)

stepmotherly treatment: bad treatment, neglect, disregard, lack of attention (SAE)
The state’s own stepmotherly treatment of old IDPs is reinforcing the sentiment on the ground. (Groundviews 09/11/10)
Vegetable cultivators protest against stepmotherly treatment (Daily Mirror 24/05/14)
Stepmotherly treatment meted out to doctors in north east (Nation 24/08/08)
Ministry of Sport, why this stepmotherly treatment to carrom? (Nation 28/10/12)
“The people of the Ruhuna had always been given stepmotherly treatment.” (Sunday Observer 09/06/13)
JVP laments stepmotherly treatment for some ministries (Island 03/11/13)
H'tota received stepmotherly treatment in past (Daily News 24/11/14)

still for all: nevertheless, for all that, in spite of that
Still for all, if the two sides can swing this deal, it will be a huge positive example for the world, … (Sunday Times 29/03/15)

stringhopper mould: a mould used for making stringhoppers
With it, she bought string-hopper moulds, cane watti, and hopper pans … (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 156)

strings (= string hoppers)
He saw my small pagoda of wicker steamers on the side counter ready for the strings. (Reef, by Romesh Gunesekera, page 60)

suddhi: (coll.) a white woman (Sinhala)
He liked this suddi it is true and would even have liked to marry her ... (Zillij, by Ameena Hussein, page 55)
“Those suddhis gave the boats on that rule, isn’t it?” (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 190)
By choosing to marry a suddhi you were essentially depriving your family of all those simple pre-nuptial pleasures: … (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 67)
“Why you’re giving to a suddhi?” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 226)
“Is this suddhi your wife?” (The Professional, by Ashok Ferrey, page 211)

suduru samba: a small-grain variety of samba rice (Sinhala)
The rice is always suduru samba, the elongated thin and white grain she says … (Island 24/12/11)

sugar bun: a sweet bun with sugar on top
That is why having a sugar bun for breakfast is almost as bad as having no breakfast at all. (Island 04/03/05)

supdt.: superintendent (e.g. of an estate) (> asst. supdt.)
Estate Supdt. fined for obstructing water supply to paddy fields (Island 17/10/05)
SC orders IGP to reinstate Police Supdt. (Sunday Times 13/02/11)

surrendee: a person who has surrendered (usually refers to a member of the LTTE who has surrendered to the Sri Lankan army or government authorities) (> rehabilitee)
> This is an interesting coinage, since the verb it derives from is surrender, not surrend. According to standard dictionaries, a person who surrenders is a surrenderer, and the person to whom he/she surrenders is a surrenderee.

No jail for Tiger surrendees
Tiger guerrillas who surrender to the authorities will no longer be confined to prison custody under a new rehabilitation programme for surrendees.
The Army has launched a propaganda campaign through leaflets and its radio network, the Wanni Sevaya, to attract surrendees with the new programme coming into operation. (Sunday Times 10/11/96)
The Commissioner then sends the surrendee to a rehabilitation camp for the time period recommended by the committee or without such recommendation he can even direct the surrendee to a camp. (Island 07/05/01)
All 11,800 surrendees integrated into society (Daily News 25/01/13)

sutra: discourse of the Buddha (Sanskrit)
He heard the dharma recitations of the monks over and over again and one day he realised that he knew the sutras by heart. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 86)

And so they began to recite the sutra that spoke the Buddha’s words on the matter of loving-kindness, a sutra that they had only ever recited within the meditative quiet of temples, … (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 299)

suwandel: (1) a fragrant variety of rice (Sinhala)
Suwandel rice (Oryza sativa) is an indigenous white rice variety with an exquisite aroma. Its special milky taste makes it an ideal choice for festive occasions and ceremonies. ( 2015)

suwandel: (2) a variety of banana (Sinhala)
Older readers may recall how local varieties like “Suwandel” have all but disappeared.
(Island 16/09/11)

sweepings (= refuse tea): low-grade tea which has been rejected for sale but which is sometimes sold illegally
Fined for transporting tea sweepings (Island 09/05/12)
40,000 kg tea sweepings bound to ME seized (Ceylon Today 20/01/14)

Use of tea sweepings is damaging the image of ‘Pure Ceylon Tea’
… Planters of yesteryear would remember the era when tea sweepings were allowed to decompose in the open air or denatured and used as compost in tea fields. That was the practice then; not any more. Today, tea refuse is reprocessed to produce ‘drinkable’ tea. … Three-hundred odd centres are reportedly in operation to extract black tea from tea sweepings. (Daily Mirror 12/10/15)


saiva kade (not saivar): a South Indian-style vegetarian restaurant (Tamil)

Sangha: the community of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka (divided into 3 orders or nikayas) (Sinhala)

sari, saree: Both spellings are given in the dictionary, but sari is more common in contemporary usage, and more logical since the second vowel is short, not long.

> Pronunciation note: the vowel is pronounced short in BSE (to rhyme with put and foot), but often pronounced long in SLE (to rhyme with boot – making it a homophone of suit).

sottiya (not sottaya): not the same as penda. A penda is a wimp; a sottiya is someone who is lazy, wastes time, can’t be bothered to do anything.

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