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Title: The puristic movement in Sinhalese (1922-1970)
Author: Gunasena, A. K.
ISNI:       0000 0000 2954 2402
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1976
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The present study is an attempt to examine critically the Sinhalese puristic movement extending from the 1920's to 1970, which was inaugurated by Munidasa Kumaratunga and had as its objective the resuscitation in its wholeness of the framework of classical Sinhalese grammar and style. A brief discussion of the nature of Sinhalese diglossia with occasional relevant reference to other diglossic situations is included in chapter I both to illustrate the general character of Sinhalese and to show how it could be conducive to the rise and continuance of puristic endeavour. The same chapter also presents a thumbnail sketch of the history of Sinhalese in order to establish the historical origins of the dichotomy existing between written and spoken Sinhalese. The second chapter discusses the historical and linguistic background from the end of the fifteenth century which brings to an end the classical period of Sinhalese writing, and which the modern purists regarded as incepting a period of linguistic decadence. The first beginnings of puristic revivalism can be seen in the latter half of the eighteenth century and much of the nineteenth century with their nativistic tendency. These are dealt with in chapter III. Chapter IV is devoted to discussing the emergence of Kumaratunga, his linguistic objectives and the inception of his Hela Havula (Pure Sinhalese Fraternity). The fraternity's conception of language and its proper development together with its definition of grammar and correctness are taken into consideration in chapter V. Chapter VI is an analysis of the grammatical works of the movement which were designed to teach the Helese doctrine of perfection, The activities of the followers of Kumaratunga and their zealous endeavour to propagate his linguistic credo are dealt with in chapter VII. The final chapter discusses, firstly, the recent attempt of the Hela Havula to obtain authoritative recognition of its special linguistic features by using governmental backing to get them introduced into the state-sponsored Standard Sinhalese Grammar and the series of Sinhalese school text books. Secondly, it discusses the causes which led to the decline dying out of the Hela movement. Two appendices are included to illustrate some of the points discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral