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Sri Lankan English - Updates V

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


VA (= visiting agent)
… coffee planters tended to live on credit from harvest to harvest; it was the VA who determined how good each man’s credit was. Though most early VAs were former coffee planters themselves, they did not offer advice on cultivation or estate management as their successors would do in the tea era. ... The VA’s remit expanded, however, with the arrival on the scene of firms that provided estates with representation and management services as well as operating capital. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 36)
… a few owner-planters – those who had been regarded by their VAs as good managers – were offered the option of continued employment in that capacity. … But not necessarily for long: many a planter found his thottam whisked away from under him after an agency-house VA deemed his performance unsatisfactory. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 37-8)
Beyond the process of production itself, the VA also had advice for the PD on labour management, accounts-keeping, road-building, fence-making and dozens of other activities that form part and parcel of estate management. Planters, who were usually recruited by those same agency houses and whose continued employment depended on the VA’s nod, ignored such ‘advice’ at their peril. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 69)
Waiting 20 minutes he saw the V.A. getting very angry so he started running up the hill. (Sunday Times 02/02/03)
That was the end of the story as far as that VA’s report was concerned. (Island 05/07/09)

vahumpura (= dewa): (also wahumpura) 'jaggery-maker' caste (Sinhala) (> caste)
… it was purchased by some Vahumpura clansfolk of the Fernandos, … (Accha House and Umma House, by Asiff Hussein, page 25)
There were a large concentration of the Vahumpura community in the Ambalangoda and Balapitiya electorates and as in Galle where the deciding factor is the Muslim vote, the Ambalangoda and Balapitiya candidates wooed the Vahumpura vote in Karandeniya. … I must strike a personal note here and state with a deep sense of gratitude that even when my own community hesitated to support me in the only general election I contested, it was the Vahumpura people of Karandeniya who saw me through to Parliament in that riot ridden elections of 1989. (Island 11/06/06)
But he was sure that the UNP would have the support of the Wahumpura bloc vote as well as the other non-Goigama voters. (Island 03/01/10)
In the Galle electorate people were sharply divided when it came to voting as they voted for the caste. Goigamas dominated while the other castes, particularly the Vahumpura caste voted their way. (Island 18/05/13)

valance board: eaves board, fascia board (a board fixed to the end of the rafters, to which the gutter is attached)
> In standard usage, a valance board (also called a pelmet, box valance, or cornice board) is a board fixed to the top of a window to conceal the curtain fittings.

vambatu moju (= batu moju, brinjal moju): a dish made with fried brinjals and (optionally) dried prawns or dry fish (Sinhala)
Fried eggplant and onion in a dish of wambatu moju, … (Mythil’s Secret, by Prashani Rambukwella, page 43)

vambatu pahi (= batu pahi, brinjal pahi): a pickle made with fried brinjals (Sinhala)
“How can it be better than vambotu pahi?” (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 138)

vannam: a type of Kandyan dance (Sinhala)
I had seen these men performing the vannams, the classical dance compositions of the Kandyan period. Each man knew all eighteen of the vannams. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 380)
The word “vannam” comes from the Sinhala word “varnana” (descriptive praise). Ancient Sinhala texts refer to a considerable number of “vannams” that were only sung; later they were adapted to solo dances, each expressing a dominant idea. … It is said that the kavi (poetry sung to music) for the eighteen principal vannams were composed by an old sage named Ganithalankara, with the help of a Buddhist monk from the Kandy temple. (Daily News 17/07/13)

vas: rainy season, traditionally a period of retreat for Buddhist monks (Sinhala)
The Bhikkhus remained indoors in caves and in “Kutties”. As time passed this retreat became an annual feature. Thus was born the “Vas season” or “rains retreat”, which ends with the full moon (Poya) of October – November. (Sunday Times 21/11/10)
The beginning of Vas season is the Esala Poya, but it is continued in the month of Binara when Bhikkhus stay in their temples without going out for Pindapatha and depend on the dhayakes for their needs. ... They stay indoors and perform special monastic rituals; attend to ceremonies, deliver sermons and meditate. The rainy season confined them to the temples as rains cause floods and the roads go under water. The first Vas was observed by the Buddha and his first five disciples at Isipathana, Migadaya. (Daily News 08/09/14)
With the end of ‘vas’ season, the temples plan the ‘katina pinkamas’ between the full moon Poya days in the months of October and November. (Sunday Times 19/10/14)

vastu: a South Asian architectural tradition similar to feng shui (Sanskrit: vastu shastra = science of architecture) (SAE)
Then there was the matter of the front door, a few feet off centre. … He knew why they had done it, of course; according to the ancient laws of vastu, enfilade openings were a strict no-no as they allowed forces of good fortune to enter through the first opening and exit through the last. By having doors out of alignment, you hopefully managed to trap your good luck forever inside. (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 52)
The buildings are so perfectly proportioned that the architect in me longs for a measuring tape, to confirm the application of Vaastu. … In pre-colonial times, even the most humble village home was constructed according to the ancient mathematical formulae of Vaastu. Proportion, light, orientation and building materials applied within these formulae achieved harmony without effort. (The Line of Lanka, by Sunela Jayewardene, page 46)

vata: (in ayurveda) air, one of the three doshas which affect a person’s health (from Sanskrit) (SAE) (> kapha, pitta)
People with Vata dosha tend to be thin, light and quick in their thoughts and actions. Change is an important aspect of their lives. When Vata is balanced they are creative, flexible, enthusiastic and lively. However, if Vata becomes excessive, we may develop anxiety, insomnia, or irregular digestion. (

vatti amma (= basket woman): (coll., derogatory) fishwife, loud-mouthed woman (Sinhala)
Dhanika sounds like a vatti amma selling veges on the street, ... (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 47)

velithalapa: (also welithalapa) a type of sweet made with rice flour, coconut and honey (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)
… or welithalapa dripping with treacle and accompanied by kolikuttu plantains … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 20)
Usually it was kavun or a sweet made with rice flour and coconut treacle like valithalapa. (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 117)

vernacular school: (dated) a school which teaches in the medium of Sinhala or Tamil language (also Malaysia)
> The term is dated in this sense in standard usage, where vernacular normally refers to the everyday speech of a particular group of people (as opposed to more formal written language).

“The vernacular school is very good …” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 283)
Senarath Paranavithana started in 1867 as a vernacular school which was headed by Mr. Abraham with six teachers. (Daily Mirror 02/08/14)

ves: the traditional costume of a Kandyan dancer with an elaborate headdress (Sinhala)
... the ankles heavy with silver anklets, their ves head dresses shimmering with the wildly shaken silver bo leaves; the tossed tassels swing like plume-tails about their faces. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 381)

Vesak: to see Vesak: to walk or drive around the streets during Vesak, visiting dansalas and looking at the pandals, lanterns, etc.
“Thathi, (father) when are we going to see Vesak?” (Colombo, by Carl Muller, page 86)
‘Seeing Vesak’ as everyone knows, is to go out and have, according to one’s inclination, ‘a good time’. (Colombo, by Carl Muller, page 88)
The people of the cities thronged the streets in their millions, “going to see Vesak,” as it was called. (A Cause Untrue, by David Blacker, page 85)

vesmuhuna (= devil mask): a traditional mask worn by a devil dancer (Sinhala)
Grotesque faces, masks, the great vesmuhuna, grimace at me. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 357)

vidane (= village headman): (hist.) an administrative officer at village level; now called grama sevaka or grama niladhari (Sinhala)
The paddy renters of the early years of British rule included goyigama government officials such as vidanes (village headmen), police vidanes and school masters with local influence, … (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 28)

“Most honourable vidane, you have seen with your own two eyes there is nothing wrong with the boy.” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 36)

Viharadhipathi (= chief incumbent, chief monk): the head monk at a Buddhist viharaya (monastery) (Sinhala)
President hands over Myanmar crest gem to Mihintale Viharadhipathi today (Daily News 24/05/13)

vinaya: rules of Buddhist conduct (Sinhala)
“You are right, but these are the vinaya rules.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 192)
For then, in the 1930s, though Anagarika had not obeyed the ‘Vinaya’ rules, Ceylon’s population had. (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 377)
Bhikkhus have to observe more than 200 Vinaya rules, but do they do so? (Ceylon Today 20/06/15)

Visakhian: a student or former student of Visakha College, Colombo (> LC-ite)
Colombo resident well connected Govi Buddhist mother seeks suitable partner for pretty fair young looking 36, 5'3" Visakhian M.Sc. IT University Lecturer daughter … (Sunday Observer 26/04/09)
Visakhians do their bit for the school (Sunday Times 24/01/10)
Finally with the game still relatively young, the Visakhians got their decisive breakthrough, …
Once again the Visakhians were the ones to take the game by the scruff of the neck when they seized an easy close range opportunity. … After drawing her team level, Soraya persisted with her probing swims into the Visakhian half. (Sunday Times 28/11/10)

visiting agent (= VA): an agent employed by an agency house to inspect the estates it manages
As a sop to anxious lenders, the creditworthiness of a given estate was annually assessed by the lender’s ‘visiting agent’, who inspected the property shortly after the trees had blossomed, counted the number of green berries on each bush and made an estimate of the expected harvest. The visiting agent, or ‘VA’, thus wielded great power over planter and proprietor alike. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 35)
To maintain cost and quality control on the plantations they managed, agency houses depended primarily on their visiting agents. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 36)
Company visiting agents, experienced tea planters in their own right, always had plenty of advice for the superintendent: what to plant, when, where and how to plant it, how to nurture and tend it … (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 69)
Saving transfers to larger and more important properties, this was where most planters’ careers reached their peak, though a handful might be chosen for the plum job of visiting agent by the agency house that employed them. (Ceylon Tea: The Trade that Made a Nation, by Richard Simon, page 133)
He was a familiar and respected figure as the Visiting Agent to many private sector estates. (Sunday Times 29/11/09)
He worked as a superintendent, manager and visiting agent for 18 years in the tea plantation sector and carries an extensive knowledge of agriculture and agricultural management. (Island 27/10/15)

VSOA: Very Special Old Arrack (> old arrack)
At the Oberoi the soda cost more than twice the VSOA; … (Island 19/07/09)
There were some lively exchanges, sparked by a suggestion that a hamper of six bottles of VSOA be gifted to those shareholders of the company attending its AGM as this is its centenary year. (Island 28/09/13)

VVIP: very very important person (SAE)
No more VIP, VVIP stickers on vehicles (Daily News 07/01/14)

VVT: Valvettithurai (harbour on the north coast of the Jaffna peninsula) (> KKS, PTK )

But the people of V.V.T. were deeply hurt that they were being held responsible for such an inhuman act. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 192)
They visited VVT, the birthplace of Prabhakaran. (Daily Mirror 08/06/06)
Tiger flag hoisted at VVT (Daily Mirror 21/11/12)

From this one family, we can see that the idea of VVT as a staunchly LTTE base is only an illusion created by terror. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 164)


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