Sinhala alphabet

U 0 D80 - U 0 DFF

The Sinhala font ( සිංහල හෝඩිය, Simhala hōḍiya ) belongs to the Indian scriptures. As this is an intermediate form of alphabet and syllabary, called Abugida. It is used in Sri Lanka to write the Sinhala language.


Like many other Indian scriptures also has the Sinhala script originated in the Brahmi script.

With Buddhism came in the 3rd century BC, the font from India to Sri Lanka. Later, the Sinhala script was strongly influenced by the South Indian Grantha script. The round shape of the letters developed as in the other South Indian writings in that was mainly written on palm leaves, which would have been split in straight lines.

Principle of operation

The Sinhala writing is like the other Indian scriptures an intermediate form of alphabet and syllabary, called Abugida. In a Abugida, each consonant has no vowel signs, the inherent vowel a vowel inherent This can be changed by adding vowels, the bond firmly with the consonants. The consonant ක is thus a ka, කි contrast, a ki.

Vowels are shown only with its own, independent characters, if they occur without accompanying consonant, such as word-initially. A consonant without an associated vowel is marked as in many other Indic scripts by adding a Virama, which can have two forms in Sinhala font: mostly it looks like a small, superscript p ( as in ක් k ), in character, with forming an arch above, the Virama takes the form of a loop at (as in බ් b).


The Sinhala alphabet is summarized in two inventories: the first inventory, called ශුද්ධ හෝඩිය hōḍiya suddha ( pure alphabet), contains all the characters that are needed to write modern Sinhala. The second asset is called මිශ්ර හෝඩිය hōḍiya Misra ( mixed alphabet ) and extends the former to characters that are required only in loanwords from Sanskrit and Pali.

Vowel signs

The Sinhala script has 18 vowels, 6 of which occur only in the mixed alphabet. The left-wing independent vowel signs are used only for vowels without an associated consonant, such as word-initially. If a vowel, however, before together with a consonants, the rightmost combining vowel signs are used which combine with the consonants and form a solid unit. The combining vowel characters are shown here for the consonant ක k.


The Sinhala script has 40 consonants, 13 of which occur only in the mixed alphabet. The transliteration is represented in this table without the inherent vowel a, which is normally always present when the consonant has no vowel signs or Virama.

One characteristic that distinguishes the Sinhala writing from Indian scriptures, is the existence of so-called " Halbnasalen ". These represent pränasalierte sounds and are represented with their own characters, because they are meaningful in the distinctively modern Sinhala.

Although there is no retro flexes / ɭ / or / ɳ / more in modern Sinhala language, these sounds are still displayed with separate characters. Likewise, there is a Halbnasal ඦ NJ, although the corresponding sound in Sinhala does not occur and the character is never used.

The list of consonants also contains a ෆ f This character was introduced only in recent times, to represent the sound / f / in English loanwords. But the ප p is often used instead.

Special character

The Sinhala font knows a number of special characters that can only occur in combination with a consonant or an independent vowel signs:

  • The Anusvara has the shape of a small circle and is used in the Sinhala font to represent the consonants / ŋ /. It is found among others in the proper name සිංහල Simhala.
  • The visarga, which looks like a colon in about exists in the literature only for the case of loanwords from Sanskrit, in modern Sinhala language it is not needed.

Punctuation mark

The Sinhala font uses the Western punctuation. There used to own punctuation as the ෴, which was used similar to the western point, but these are now completely fallen out of use.


In today's modern Sinhala Arabic numerals are used exclusively.

The original Sinhala numerals are no longer used since the conquest of the Kingdom of Kandy by the British in 1815. Modern studies show that it previously did not exist a single digit system, but at least five different number systems were used in parallel.

Sinhala Unicode

Unicode encodes the Sinhala font in Unicode Sinhala block in the code area U 0 D80 - U 0 DFF.

References and sources