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  • Sebastian Nordhoff

Language Contact in Sri Lanka

This project investigated the interaction between the languages of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has, among all linguistic areas, the decisive advantage of being rather small with regard to the languages concerned (half a dozen or less) and  being geographically clearly defined, viz.. by the Indian Ocean. It is clear which languages are part of the geographical area, and which ones are not. In this project, we investigated  Sinhala (Indo-Aryan), Tamil (Dravidian), Sri Lanka Malay (Austronesian) and Sri Lanka Portuguese (Romance-based Creole). For the purpose of this project, these languages were considered genetically unrelated. All four languages have relatives outside of Sri Lanka, distant by several thousand kilometres (except for Tamil, which is found at the tip of neighbouring India). These relatives could be used as a baseline to compare the Lankan structures against.