Vedda is an endangered language, used by the indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. Additionally, communities such as Coast Veddas and Anuradhapura Veddas who do not identify as Veddas use words from the Vedda language in part for communication during hunting and/or for religious chants, throughout the island; when a systematic field study was conducted in 1959, the language was confined to the older generation of Veddas from Dambana. In 1990s self-identifying Veddas knew few words and phrases in Vedda, but there were individuals who knew the language comprehensively. There was considerable debate amongst linguists as to whether Vedda is a dialect of Sinhalese or an independent language. Studies indicate that the language spoken by today’s Veddas is a creole which evolved from ancient times, when the Veddas came into contact with the early Sinhalese, from whom they borrowed words and synthetic features, yielding the cumulative effect that Vedda resembles Sinhalese in many particulars, but its grammatical core remains intact.
The parent Vedda language is of unknown linguistic origins, while Sinhalese is part of the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European language family. Phonologically, Vedda is distinguished from Sinhalese by the higher frequency of palatal sounds and; the effect is heightened by the addition of inanimate suffixes. Morphologically, the Vedda word classes are nouns and invariables, with unique gender distinctions in animate nouns, it has reduced and simplified many forms of Sinhalese such as second person pronouns and denotations of negative meanings. Instead of borrowing new words from Sinhalese or other languages, Vedda creates combinations of words from a limited lexical stock. Vedda maintains many archaic Sinhalese terms from the 10th to 12th centuries, as a relict of its close contact with Sinhalese, while retaining a number of unique words that cannot be derived from Sinhalese. Vedda has exerted a substratum influence in the formation of Sinhalese; this is evident by the presence of both lexical and structural elements in Sinhalese which cannot be traced to either Indo-Aryan or neighboring Dravidian languages.
It is unknown which languages were spoken in Sri Lanka before it was settled by Prakrit-speaking immigrants in the 5th century BCE. The term "Vedda" stems from Tamil word Vēdu meaning hunting. Cognate terms are used throughout South India to describe hunter-gatherers. Sri Lanka has had other hunter-gatherering peoples such as the Kinnaraya; the earliest account of Vedda was written by Ryklof Van Goens, who served as a Director General of the Dutch East India Company in Sri Lanka. He wrote. Robert Knox, an Englishman held captive by a Kandyan king, wrote in 1681 that the wild and settled Veddas spoke the language of the Sinhalese people; the Portuguese friar Fernão de Queiroz, who wrote a nuanced description of Vedda in 1686, reported that the language was not mutually intelligible with other native languages. Robert Percival wrote in 1803 that the Veddas, although speaking a broken dialect of Sinhalese, amongst themselves spoke a language, known only to them, but John Davies in 1831 wrote that the Veddas spoke a language, understood by the Sinhalese except for a few words.
These discrepancies in observations were clarified by Charles Pridham, who wrote in 1848 that the Veddas knew a form of Sinhalese that they were able to use in talking to outsiders, but to themselves they spoke in a language that, although influenced by Sinhalese and Tamil, was understood only by them. The first systematic attempt at studying the Vedda language was undertaken by Hugh Neville, an English civil servant in British Ceylon, he founded a quarterly journal devoted to the study of everything Ceylonese. He speculated, based on etymological studies, that Vedda is based on an Old Sinhalese form called Hela, his views were followed by Henry Parker, another English civil servant and the author of Ancient Ceylon, who wrote that most Vedda words were borrowed from Sinhalese, but he noted words of unique origin, which he assigned to the original language of the Veddas. The second most important study was made in 1935 by Wilhem Geiger, who sounded the alarm that Vedda would be soon be extinct and needed to be studied in detail.
One of the linguists to heed that call was Manniku W. Sugathapala De Silva who did a comprehensive study of the language in 1959 as a PhD thesis, which he published as a book: according to him, the language was restricted to the older generation of people from the Dambana region, with the younger generation shifting to Sinhalese, whereas Coast Veddas were speaking a dialect of Sri Lankan Tamil, used in the region. During religious festivals, people who enter a trance or spirit possession sometimes use a mixed language that contains words from Vedda. Veddas of the Anuradhapura region speak in Sinhalese, but use Vedda words to denote animals during hunting trips; the Vedda community or the indigenous population of Sri Lanka is said to have inhabited the island prior to the arrival of the Aryans in the 5th century B. C. and after the collapse of the dry zone civilization in the 15th century, they have extended their settlements once more in the North Central and Eastern regions. However, with the entering of the colonization schemes to the island after the 19th century the Vedda population has shrunk to the Vedi rata or Maha vedi rata.
Subsequently the Vedda language was subjected to hybridisation depending on the geographical locality of the community. For instance, the language of the Veddas living in the North Central and Uva regions was affected by Sinhala, while the language of the coastal Vedda
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