Dialect, creole or independent language: Classification of Vedda Language
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, Uva and Eastern regions.
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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 Veddas in the East was influenced by Tamil language.
However, there are still many arguments regarding the origin of the Vedda language.
Ariesen Ahubudu calls the Vedda language a “Dialect of Sinhala”, saying that it is a creole language variety derived from Sinhala. According to him, “Veddas belong to the post-Vijayan period and they use a language which has its origins in the Sinhala language.”
He further explains this with an etymological explanation of the term ‘Vadi’, which evolved from ‘Dava’ meaning forest, and/or timber. This became ‘Davi’, meaning ‘those who live in the forest’, which later transformed into ‘Vadi’.
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