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Issue No.01 - January/March (2009 vol.31)
pp: 32-45
S.T. Nandasara , University of Colombo
<p>The Sinhala writing system used in Sri Lanka is syllabic and features as many as 2,300 glyphs. Computer equipment used to represent Sinhala language needs to facilitate this complexity, in both display and printing, without adding extra complexity to the keyboard or the input systems. This article surveys the evolution of Sinhala computing technology over the past 25 years.</p>
Keywords: Software engineering, software architectures, natural language processing, natural language interfaces, languages, standards
S.T. Nandasara, "From the Past to the Present: Evolution of Computing in the Sinhala Language", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.31, no. 1, pp. 32-45, January/March 2009, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.10
1. The 2008 World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, US, 2008.
2. F. Coulman, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems, Blackwell, 1996, p. 469.
3. P.E.E. Fernando, "Paleographical Development of the Brahmi Script in Ceylon from 3rd Century B.C. to 7th Century A.D.," University of Ceylon Rev., vol. 7, no. 4, 1949, pp. 282-301.
4. The term Eḷuis given to the pure dialect of Sinhala unmixed with foreign words, and Sinhala to the mixed dialect, though in point of significance the two terms have not the least difference. Sihaḷain Pali, Siṅnhalain Sanskrit, and heḷain Eḷu.
5. J.B. Disanayaka, The Structure of Spoken Sinhala—Sound and their Patterns, National Inst. of Education, Sri Lanka, 1991.
6. Working Paper, "Order of Alphabet and System of Transliteration," Committee on Adaptation of National Languages in Information Technology (CANLIT) and Natural Resources, Energy, and Science Authority of Sri Lanka (NARESA), 1985.
7. The University of Cambridge, England, has 274 volumes of Epigraphica Zeylanicawith more than 3,000 inscriptions from Sri Lanka (more inscriptions than the whole of mainland China has), including one dating back to the 6th century BC. More than 2,000 have been deciphered, indicating the consistent development of the Sinhalese language.
8. T.G. Piyadasa, Libraries in Sri Lanka, Their Origin and History from Ancient Times to the Present Time, Sri Satguru Publication, India, 1985, pp. 1-18.
9. The Tombō(from the Portuguese word tombo,a register) contained names, detailed descriptions of the location, and the extent of each village as well as of the agricultural produce, including timber and fruit trees, found there.
10. Serampore was then a Danish colony and it was a small town known also as Fredricksnagore, named for King Frederick V of Denmark.
11. K.K. Hof, Alphabet of all races of the world, Royal Print Shop, Vienna, Germany, 1876.
12. Monotype Corp., Book of Information, London &Salfords, 1959.
13. V.K. Samaranayake, J.B. Disanayaka, and S.T. Nandasara, "A Standard Code for Sinhala Characters," presented at the 9th Ann. Sessions of the Nat'l Computer Conf., Soc. of Sri Lanka, Colombo, 1989.
14. In this study, I worked closely with Thaweesak Koanantakool, Information Processing Institute for Education and Development (IPIED), Thammasat Univ., Bangkok, Thailand.
15. S.T. Nandasara et al., Draft Standard for the Use of Sinhala in Computer Technology, approved by the CINTECon the advice of its working committee for recommending Standards for the Use of Sinhala and Tamil Script in Computer Technology, 1990.
16. The Wijesekara typewriter keyboard was approved by the government of Sri Lanka as a National Sinhala Typewriter in 1964.
17. S.T. Nandasara, V.K. Samaranayake, and J.B. Disanayaka, "A Standard Code for Information Interchange in Sinhala," proposal submitted to Sri Lanka Standard Inst. (SLSI), 1991.
18. Wadan Tharuwa, meaning "Word Star" and a name I came up with, is one of the earliest bilingual and menu-driven commercial word processors released in Sri Lanka to run on an IBM PC, and it conformed to SLASCII.
19. S.T. Nandasara, "Sri Lanka Experience of Development of Tamil Input/Output/Display Methods," Proc. Int'l Symp. TAMILNET'97 Nat'l Univ. of Singapore, 1997, pp. 113-121.
20. S.T. Nandasara, "Trilingual Sinhala Tamil English National Web Site of Sri Lanka," INET97; E1_3.HTM, 1997.
21. S.T. Nandasara and V.K. Samaranayake, "Current Development of Sinhala/Tamil/English Trilingual Processing in Sri Lanka," Proc. 2nd Int'l Symp. Standardization of Multilingual Information Technology (MLIT-2), Center of the Int'l Cooperation for Computerization, 1997, pp. 181-192.
22. M. Everson, "Proposal for Encoding the Sinhala Script in ISO/IEC 10646 (revision 1)," 1989; .
23. A.M. Gunasekara, A Comprehensive Grammar of the Sinhalese Language, G.J.A. Skeen, Colombo, Ceylon, 1891; reprinted by J. Jetley for Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1986, pp. 3-30.
24. V.K. Samaranayake and S.T. Nandasara, A Standard Code for Information Interchange in Sinhalese, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N673, Oct. 1990.
25. The Sectoral Committee on Information Technology was established in 1993 by SLSI; Rohan Wijeratne has been the committee chairman since then.
26. SLS 1134:1996, Sri Lanka Standard SLS 1134:1996—Sinhala Character Code for Information Interchange, SLSI publication, 1996.
27. L. Anderson et al., Draft Proposals of the Sinhala Standards, Unicode Technical Report #2, Unicode Inc., 1992.
28. M. Everson, Report of the Sinhala Standards, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2·N1473R, 1996.
29. H.M. Ross, Sinhala Proposal, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N1376, 1996.
30. M. Everson et al., "Minutes of Sinhala Ad-Hoc Committee, Doc. #1613," ISO Meeting No. 33, Iraklion, Crete, Greece, 1997.
31. N. Eisuke, Progress Report of the MLIT Project, AFSIT-12, Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 1998.
32. T.K. Sato, "Status of Cooperative Activities for the Missing Characters," MLIT Secretariat, Center of the Int'l Cooperation for Computerization, Japan, 1998.
33. Unicode Standard 3.0, Addison-Wesley, 1998; http:/
34. SLS 1134:2004, Sri Lanka Standard SLS 1134:2004—Sinhala Character Code for Information Interchange, SLSI publication, 2004.
35. M. Ondaatje, Running in the Family, Norton, 1984, pp. 83-84. Ondaatje is a novelist and poet who was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of The English Patient(Knopf, 1992).
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