Creole based on Sinhalese: Classification of Vedda Language
The language contact that might have occurred between the Aryan immigrants and the aboriginal inhabitants could have led either to a language shift or to the crystallization of a new language through the creation of a pidgin.
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The first instance could have been in effect in relation to the members of the Vedda community who were absorbed into the new settlements, while in the second instance the occasional contact of the Veddas with the new settlers would have resulted in the crystallization of a new language instead of the original Vedda language.
The term 'creole' refers to a linguistic medium which has crystallized in a situation of language contact and the process of this crystallization begins as a ‘pidgin’. A pidgin is spoken natively by an entire speech community, whose ancestors have been geographically displaced through which a rupture is created in their relationship with their original language.
Such situations were often the consequences of slavery and trade that occurred from the 17th to the 19th centuries owing to the process of colonization.
As far as the Vedda community is concerned, although the features of a creole are visible in terms of phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon, a number of distinctions have been identified between the Vedda language and the classic creolization which occurred during the colonial period.
Here it is also important to acknowledge the existence of many issues in relation to the process of creolization that remains unresolved in the domain of linguistics.
Therefore the classification of the Vedda language either as a dialect or as a creole becomes a difficult task, although it is clear that in the current context the Vedda language is not an independent language of its own.
However, based on recent studies conducted on the Vedda community, it has been revealed that the Vedda language is on the verge of facing extinction since the younger generation is keen on using Sinhala or Tamil as their first language, being influenced by the dominant language of the region of residence due to an array of reasons including fragmentation of settlements, economic policies, national education structure and political factors of the country.