Diglossia and Literacy
Relative Stability of Diglossic Situation

In the preceding chapters, I have implied that one reason for the insufficient skill shown by people in their attempts to perform in compliance with specified high variety norms is the distance between the high variety in question and their usual spoken language: this distance is not merely a formal one of synchronic nature; it also reflects several centuries of chronological distance. The major factor that has motivated the recovery of such an obsolete form of language as a model of excellence for prestigious usage is nativism and, its offshoot, purism. I propose to exemplify this in this chapter with some landmarks in the case history of Sinhalese diglossia, drawing parallels from other diglossias, where applicable, in order to establish the general properties of community attitudes which give rise to linguistic cleavages.

All south Asian diglossias are products of a revival of learning under the influence of classical models. In this renaissance, men of letters were required to perform in the linguistic form characteristic of the chose Augustan model. In matters of dispute, the Tamils have learnt to look up to the Tolkappiyam, compiled in the fifth century A.D. The Kannadigas trace their high variety of language to the works of the thirteenth century, via Keshiraja's grammar, Sabdaman?idarpn?a. In Telugu, the best classical tradition was seen in the poetical works of the period eleventh to fourteenth century, and in order to elucidate the grammar of these works, a compendium called the Balavyakaran?amu was written in the nineteenth century. The Sinhalese look up to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as the period of literary excellence and regard such books as the Amavatura, Butsaran?a and Saddharmaratnavaliya to be representative of this excellence; the thirteenth century grammatical work known as the Sidatsan?garava is regarded as the classical exposition of the grammar of those works.

As shown above, each of these communities had, by the advent of the present century, a compendium of grammatical rules, which served as a reference, work and facilitated the renaissance. It is to examine the motivations for this renaissance that I wish to devote this chapter.

Where communities revive older forms of their 'own language' for literary (and other forma) purposes, they do so for reasons that are different from those which motivate the choice of a foreign language as the high variety. Before a community makes efforts to adopt an archaic form of language for literary and / or formal purposes, that archaic language must be available in some describable form; but, not all communities in the world which can lay claims to such a heritage have chosen to revive it for prestigious usage. What, then, is the motivation for this choice? The primary motivation that leads a community to resurrect an older form of language as the model of excellence is contained in the anthropologists' concept, nativism. All diglossic communities in South Asia may be seen as situations characterized by properties of nativistic revivalism, which Kroeber (1948) describes as follows:

After two societies have come into sufficiently close contact for one to feel the other as definitely more populous, stronger, or better equipped, so that its own culture is in a process of being supplanted by the other, a conscious preservation effort or defence is produced. Such reactions have been called nativistic endeavours or revivals. They envelop with a sort of halo the culture that is passing away, and attempt to reaffirm or re-establish it, or parts of it. (p. 437)

Nativism when mobilized attempts to replace foreign elements with native elements; in this act, the nativist is not necessarily governed by the qualitative differences between different layers or varieties of native elements. The choice of 'best of native culture' as opposed to 'native culture' per se is an extension of the process of nativisation and it is motivated by puristic endeavours. Purism is, indeed, an offshoot of nativism and is often associated with it, but while the nativist chooses to replace what might be called a foreign culture with his own, the purist advocates the use of 'nothing but the best' of the native culture as he defines it. Nativistic endeavours are nationally (or communally) unifying. Puristic endeavours may, however, separate the protagonists of general nativistic revival from the puristic revivalists and may, thus, serve, instead, as a divisive force. Nativism operates at the national or communal 'macro-level'; purism is a 'micro-level' activity. While I shall not make an undue effort in this chapter to distinguish between these two closely related forces, I hope it will be clear from my historical narration which events are puristic and which are non-puristic in the nativistic endeavours in question.

There is evidence of a diglossia-like behaviour even as early as the Old India period. Chatterji (1960), Pischel (1965), and others, have conjectured that Classical Sanskrit is the product of a revivalist activity, which arose as a countermeasure against the onslaught of non-Indo-Aryan influences on the Aryan people's linguistic habits, and culminated in the writing of Panini's grammar. The Sanskrit language, which surrounds the AÀadhyayi and the language of the Vedic literature, which was probably akin to a popular usage, show distinct dissimilarities that point to a diglossia-like relationship. Effects of nativism are very clear in the evolution of Sanskrit in this way. Notice also the prestige in which Sanskrit was held in the Prakrit age, even in the further south where the spoken languages were predominantly Dravidian. Regarding the prestigious revival of Sanskrit, in otherwise Prakrit-speaking communities, Burrow (1973) says,

After the Christian era Sanskrit too began to appear in inscriptions, at first in competition with Prakrit, and finally in exclusive use the inscription of Rudradaman (A.D. 150) marks the victory of Sanskrit in one part of India. In the South Prakrit remained in use longer and was not finally ousted by Sanskrit until the fourth or fifth century A.D. Eventually the use of Prakrit was discontinued entirely and from the Gupta period to the Mohammedan invasion Sanskrit -admittedly often-incorrect Sanskrit - remained in exclusive use. (p. 58)

Some reasons for the choice of Sanskrit for prestigious use are given by Burrow:

The growing predominance of Sanskrit as opposed to Prakrit in the period succeeding the Christian era can be attributed to two reasons, one ideological and one practical. In the Maurya period the heterodox religions of Buddhism and Jainism had attained such influence as to threaten the existence of the old Brahmanical order. In the succeeding period, beginning with the usurpation of Pusyamitra (c. 188 B.C.), a reaction set in and there began a gradual decline of these systems in the face of victorious orthodoxy. This change in the religious atmosphere was reflected in language, and Sanskrit, associated with the traditional Vedic religion gained ground at the expense of Prakrit… The practical reason was that Sanskrit offered a united language for the whole of India. In the early Middle Indian period the differences between the various local vernaculars were not so great as to preclude mutual understanding, but even at this period Asoka found it necessary to engrave his edicts in three different dialects. With the progress of time the differences between the local dialects grew greater, so that Sanskrit became a necessary bond for the cultural unity of India. Furthermore the Prakrits were unstable and subject to continual change through the centuries. Any literary language established on the basis of a vernacular rapidly became obsolete. The traditional Prakrits in the latter period were as artificial as Sanskrit, and did not have the advantage of its universal appeal and utility. For such reasons alone Sanskrit was the only form of language which could serve as a national language in Ancient India, whose cultural unity. Far more influential and important than its political disunity, rendered such a language essential. (op. cit. p. 59-60)

I have quoted from Burrow at some length, firstly, to illustrate some of the motivations for choosing a high language, and secondly, to show the antiquity of diglossic behaviour in the subcontinent. India illustrates that, everything else being equal, diglossia once established remains so through the ages distinguishing the prestigious from the ordinary and shifting the linguistic focal points according to how prestige is defined. Despite hybridization, norms keep being specified.

Although, for reasons that Burrow outlines, Sanskrit was revived as the prestigious language of the country, later Sanskrit differs in many ways from earlier Sanskrit at all levels. Notice that in one of the above quotations Burrow himself uses the expression 'incorrect Sanskrit', that is, incorrect in so far as the Paninian norm has not been fully met. These errors are largely a result of the interference of the vernaculars. Referring to Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit which is one such 'incorrect' usage, Edgerton (1953) makes the following comments, focusing on its hybrid character which arises out of vernacular interference:

The most striking peculiarity of this language is that from the very beginning of its tradition as we know it (that is, according to the mss. we have), and increasingly as time went on, it was modified in the direction of standard Sanskrit, while still retaining evidences of its Middle Indic origin. In all its texts, even the oldest .. Sanskritisms are constantly presented cheek by jowl with Middle Indic forms, and often with hybrids, which are neither one nor the other. These Sanskritisms are much too common to be comparable with stray Sanskrit loan words or loan forms which may have been occasionally adopted in many a genuine Middle Indic vernacular. (p. 4)

Burrow and Pischel make similar comments on the hybrid character of the later Sanskrit usage, even within the Brahmanical tradition. All these point to the difficulties in maintaining full normative accuracy in usages which are superposed upon communities, to function, for whatever reason, as varieties of language distinct from the normal vernacular usages that people adhere to in their daily verbal behaviour. Where the specified norms are not followed to their fullest extent, the norms themselves get to be reinterpreted in the course of time. Such changes are, however, not tolerated by the purist. Puristic endeavours are designed to ensure that the venerable classical traditions are maintained despite the users' inability to follow them at all times.

In the diglossias under survey there is an inherent paradox: the variety of language that is believed to be inferior, incorrect and inelegant invariably tends to encroach upon the superior, correct an elegant model prescribed for high usage, while the reverse does not always happen. Any stable separation of the two is only possible where the notion of prestige is differently interpreted so that the usage in the vernacular tradition is not reckoned to be an inferior activity. Swiss diglossia is an instance of this sort. In Switzerland, Swiss German is not regarded as inferior to the so-called Standard German or mainland German: they are treated as two separate usages with parity of status. The most convenient way to illustrate how prestige is defined in Swiss diglossia would be to quote at some length from Moulton (1962). Contrast this account with the attitudes and behaviour obtaining in the diglossias of the subcontinent.

Every adult speaker is fully conscious of the distinction between standard and dialect, even though some do not control the standard very well. Further, the more educated and sophisticated a speaker is, the more he tries to make the distinction between standard and dialect as sharp and clear as possible … This complete awareness of the distinction between dialect and standard is reflected in a number of Phenomena which seem to be unique to Swiss diglossia. Scholarly interest by the Swiss in the analysis and description of their many local dialects extends back over a century and a half beginning with the work of Franz Joseph Stalder. In 1862, motivated partly by a mistaken fear that dialect speech was on its way toward extinction, work was begun on a fare more ambitious national dialect dictionary, the Schweizerisches Idiotikon. Publication began in 1881, and is still continuing; it is carried on by a full-time staff of scholars in Zurich. A landmark in the history of dialectology-whether in Switzerland or elsewhere-was the Publication in 1876 of J. Winterler's Die Kerenzer Mundart des Kantons Glarus (Leipzig & Heidelberg 1876), a work which to a considerable extent anticipated modern phonemics and even the theory of the over-all pattern. The 20th century has seen the publication of large numbers of dialect descriptions, notably the 20 volumes of the Beiträge zur Schweizerdeutschen Grammatik (Frauenfeld, 1910-1941), edited by the late Albert Bachmann; and the 11 volumes-to date-of the Beiträge zur schweizerdeutschen Mundortforschung (Frauenfeld, 1941 ff.) edited by Rudolf Hotzenköcherle, Bachmanns' successor at the University of Zurich. As I was writing the first version of this paper, I received a prospéctus announcing that the first volume of a linguistic atlas of German Switzerland, edited by Hotzenköcherle, would soon be off the press.

Works of this type, written for a scholarly audience, prove only that the distinction between standard and dialect in Swiss diglossia is clearly recognized by Swiss scholars. But there are other signs that this awareness extends throughout the whole population. As early as 1921 there appeared a textbook written specifically to teach the local dialect: Karl Stucki, Schweizerdeutsch: Abriss einer Grammatik mit Laut-und Formenlehre (Zürich, 1921). (There is, of course, no such dialect as "Schweizerdeutsch", what Stucki's book teaches is Zurich German). This was followed in 1948 by Albert Weber. Zürichdeutsche Grammatik (Zurich, 1948), a work which bears the significant subtitle: Ein Wegweiser zur guten Mundart ("A Guide to Good Dialect"). I do not know whether this book found the wide popular audience which its author hoped it would. But I do find it highly significant that the publisher (Schweizer Spiegel Verlag) was sufficiently encouraged by its sales to follow it with several more books of the same sort. A guide to good Lucerne dialect was published in 1960 (Ludwig Fischer, Luzerndeutsche Grammatik); this was followed in 1961 by a "Zurich German Dictionary for School & Home" (Albert Weber and Jacques M Bächtold, Zürichdeutsches Wörterbuch für Schule und Haus); and a combined grammar and dictionary of the dialect of the canton of Zug has been announced for the near future.

I mention these various works because I gather they would be inconceivable in the other diglossias which Ferguson describes. But there is more to come During the 1940's there was a successful "Swiss German School" in Zurich, where Auslands-schweizer (native Swiss who have spent more of their lives abroad) and foreigners could learn how to speak the local dialect. This was desirable from a social point of view, since only dialect is spoken at normal social gatherings, whether of humble folk or of the cocktail set. But - a very significant point - it was also necessary for more practical reasons. Any candidate for citizenship in the canton of Zurich - and, thereby, for federal citizenship-is required, as an earnest of his intentions, to demonstrate at least some knowledge of local dialect. Again I gather that such a thing would be inconceivable in other diglossias.

All of the things I have described are clear evidence that the diglossia of German speeking Switzerland is extremely stable. (p. 133-135)

Moulton's paper makes very interesting reading in that it describes the attitudes in a diglossic community which does not categorize the linguistic varieties involved along a scale of prestige. Purism, obviously, is not a feature amongst these attitudes. Contrast this with the puristic attitude embodied in the following statements which I quote in translation form Sinhalese:

Is there a grammar in colloquial usage? The correct answer is that there is not
(D.V.R. de Silva 1661: p. 97)

Every language has two styles. The written style is one; the colloquial style is the other. The gap between the two is different in different languages. In Sinhalese it is fairly wide. However, the written style expresses greater erudition and is more grammatical. (Vitarana, 1969)

Having thus contrasted the nativistically and puristically motivated diglossias of ours with at least one other type of diglossia, and having established that diglossia-like behaviour is as old in South Asia as the Indo-Aryan origins, I now move on to describe the Sinhalese case history. As I have said before, in all diglossias under survey, the high varieties are resurrected classical usages. It is the motivations for such resurrection that I wish to examine here.

Why were nativistic endeavours necessary in these situations? All these communities have suffered foreign domination, one effect of which has been the enthroning of the language of the masters as the vehicle of government and education. In the case of Sinhalese, the effects of colonialism were seen from the early fifteen hundreds for some three and a half centuries. It is significant to note that, barring some war ballads, no serious literature was written in Sinhalese for about two hundred years from the Portuguese invasion in 1505. Although government announcements meant for the general public were written in Sinhalese from time to time, the grammar, vocabulary and the whole style of those documents contained a vernacular flavour, which gave them a different character from the classical literary works. Had the style of these writings been taken as a landmark in the evolution of the literary language in conformity with the spoken language, Sinhalese might have emerged without the cleavage that prevails today. There was, however, the need for restoring the culture of the Sinhalese that had been submerged during these centuries. The activities of the first movement to regain cultural independence might be called the early beginnings of nativism in the Sinhalese community.

What was the state of affairs at the time the revivalist movement began? Buddhism, which had been virtually the symbol of the Sinhalese nation, had been denied its place as the state religion. Customs and manners which had characterized the Sinhalese way of life had been 'corrupted'. The Sinhalese had taken to drinking and gambling, vices which are generally attributed to Portuguese influence. Oriental learning, particularly the learning of Sinhalese and the Sanskrit classic, had declined owing to the loss of prestige that such education had enjoyed before. The Ayurvedic medical system had been replaced by western medical practices so that people of all levels had started developing a preference for the western system. The loss, in this way, of all the salient characteristic of the nation. Needed to be rectified as a prerequisite to establishing national independence. The first independence movements were geared towards these ideals. It is significant that the nationalist groups that hold the destiny of the island's politics even today are the custodians of these symbols of the Sinhalese nationhood: I refer to the Sinhalese school teachers, Buddhist monks and the Ayurvedic physicians who may be regarded as the nationalist triumvirate.

It was at a time when the nation's survival was in such jeopardy that the pioneer of the national revivalism started his campaign for the liberation of the Buddhist Sinhalese culture. He was none other than Valivia Pin?·apatika Asaran?asaran?a Sran?ankara Sangharaja (1698-1778). Saran?ankara's aims were simple nativistic ones. He wanted Buddhism to be granted its rightful place; manners and customs which symbolized the nation to be re-established; and the Sinhalese language to be used for literary activity and learning once again. The important point is that Saran?ankara never specified the brand of Buddhism, culture or language that he wanted revived. He was a nativist, but he certainly was not a purist. Saran?ankara encouraged the learning of the Buddhist scriptures and classical Sinhalese texts; in order to facilitate the learning of the classics, he wrote commentaries. The language he used in his own writings was, however, different from the classical language and, like the language of the government documents, bore a great deal of resemblance to the colloquial language as far as we may reconstruct it from our knowledge of the history of Sinhalese.

Saran?ankara, however, produced a very powerful band of scholars, with a mastery of Sinhalese, Pali and Sanskrit, to take his lead to campaign for national liberation. With the discovery that the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries constituted the Augustan age of ornate Sinhalese literature, these scholars aspired that, in order to make the renaissance effective, all literary activity should follow that model in every conceivable way. In terms of this aspiration, they campaigned, not merely for the use of Sinhalese as did their Guru, but for the use of classical grammar and idiom. Thus, the first stage of purism was born, as a development of Saran?ankara's nativistic movement.

In order to elucidate the grammar of classical language, these scholars resorted to the sidatsangarava, the thirteenth century handbook for the versifier, in the belief that it was a general grammar of the Sinhalese language. What is important for our purposes of the Sinhalese language. What is important for our purposes is not that the Sidatsangarava is a compendium for the poet rather than the prose writer, but that there was some grammatical work in which the revivalists could take refuge. Notice, as I have already said, that all South Asian diglossias have evolved within the availability of a reference grammar, even though there may not be a causal connection. (The status of the Sidatsañgarava has been dealt with in De Silva (1970b) and will not concern it is significant or not, that all these reference grammars dealt largely with the language of poetry, as did the Sidatsañgarava, although the rules were interpreted by the purists as suitable for wider use, including prose work, by the addition of a few features, particularly in morphology, to make them more general.

Notice that, so far as I have narrated it, the Sinhalese situation follows the pattern of other diglossias in the subcontinent, particularly the Telugu situation eminently described by Krishnamurti (1976). Krishnamurti assumes that the spoken and literary Telugu had already diverged by the eleventh century. In Sinhalese, one can see an early divergence between the languages of prose and poetry, but there is little evidence to assume any diglossia-like diversification. This is, however, unimportant for the present purpose. The important point is that, comparable with the Sinhalese situation, there was in Telugu an acceptance of the language of the early poets as the model for all later writings. I have mentioned above that both the official records and the writings of Saran?ankara conformed to what might have been the spoken language of the day. A similar situation obtained in Telugu, too, during the early period of revivalism. Referring to the books written in Telugu at that time (which was latter than Sinhalese revivalism), Krishnamurti points out that they were written in the same style as the nineteenth century local records, which showed some classical features, but was predominantly an educated colloquial variety. Just as it was left to Saran?ankara's pupils to stage the campaign for pure classical usage, even so it was left, in Telugu, to Chinnayasuri and several of his followers to codify the classical rules and make an impact on the language attitudes of scholars in order to defend the classical usage. I draw these comparisons form Krishnamurti's description of the Telugu situation. Similar comparisons may be drawn elsewhere as well.

Form this point on, however, the Telugu attitudes began to differ from the Sinhalese attitudes. In Sir Lanka, the campaign for the classical usage was contributed to unanimously by all men of Oriental learning in the country. The teaching of Sinhalese, Pali and Sanskrit was first in the hands of Buddhist clergy and the small number of vernacular teachers. They had a say in the preparation of syllabuses and teaching material. The school inspectorate in charge of vernacular education was drawn from amongst the laymen who had monastic learning backgrounds. There was, therefore, no occasion to have a dialogue on the suitability or other wise of the classical format, and the prestige with which it was held was never questioned. The situation in Telugu is different from this. With the leadership given particularly by G.V. Apparao, P.T. Sreenivasa Iyengar and G.V. Ramamurti, the Telugu literati began to question the usefulness of the purists' position on language, especially in the face of the writers' inability to perform in the classical idiom in full conformity with the norm. This departure is a very significant one in that the origins of the present linguistic situation in the two communities may be traced back to it.

It is not surprising that the vernacular schoolmasters were fully dedicated to the classical tradition. I have already said that the national liberation movement was, and still is, manned by the vernacular school teachers, whose subject, namely the Sinhalese language, had been pushed aside by the more prestigious language of the foreign power of the day; the practitioners of indigenous medicine, whose efforts had not been recognized amidst the advent of western medicine; and the Buddhist clergy who have always been regarded as the custodians of Sinhalese culture. Of these three groups, most good indigenous physicians have always been required to learn Sanskrit through which alone were the treatises on Ayurveda available to them; all Buddhist monks must learn Pali which is the language of the Buddhist canon; the linguistic backgrounds of these two groups, therefore, went beyond the limits of the Sinhalese language. However, the only equipment that the vernacular school teacher had to possess was a knowledge of the Sinhalese language. The status of the vernacular language teacher has been inferior to the status of the 'subject' teachers and English language teachers. It is natural, therefore, that the vernacular teacher should defend his expertise, by maintaining it in its difficult form, making it a hard skill to achieve: the more difficult it is to learn, the more specialists the teacher would be. The role of these incentives and motivations to compel the vernacular teacher to support the classical tradition would be considerable.

During the early times, literary activity was in the custody of a small number of elites. With the advent of the novel and the daily press the reading public increased in number very rapidly. With this popularization of the written word, the literary idiom slackened somewhat in the direction of the spoken language and consequently the writers began to experiment with the spoken idiom in appropriate contexts. The present situation is that all sentences within quotation marks in novels are generally written in spoken idiom while the rest of the narrative is predominantly cast in the classical format. The religious and literary controversies too, contributed, during the second half of the nineteenth century, to the development of the language of Sinhalese literature by allowing for the unchecked interference of the spoken grammar and idiom. Sarathchandra (1950) refers to this period as:

a period of controversy which lasted for about half a century, the most important out come of which was it rendered the language a more plastic instrument for the use of the writers of pure fiction, who appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century. (p. 41-42)

He also observes that:

between the time of the last works of the classical period and the controversies, the language had undergone many changes, both grammatical and otherwise and some of the older controversies provide us with example of the earliest attempts to write in the unsettled idiom of the day (p. 45)

Although this period contributed to the breaking down of the rigid difference between the spoken and literary languages, the trend was reversed by the rise of a second stage of purism as a counteraction against the endency towards hybridisms in the literary usage. Purists once again began to strengthen their stronghold on schools and reinforced the teaching of classical grammar in the classroom. The movement was headed by a popular teacher, referred to by his adherents as guru devi 'god among teachers', namely, Kumaratunga Munidasa. Munidasa was a man of great learning in Sinhalese, Pali and Sanskrit, and was a popular writer, teacher, teacher trainer and school inspector during different periods of his life. He is most remembered as the founder of the Hela Havula 'the Pure Sinhalese Movement': Munidasa and his followers were obsessed with the antiquity of the Sinhalese race and, therefore, the Sinhalese language, and were opposed to the belief that Sinhalese was a derivative of Sanskrit. Munidasa's followers have, from time to time, attempted to show that Sinhalese was of even greater antiquity than Sanskrit or Greek. In this linguistic fanaticism, the meaning of the term 'Pure Sinhalese' was shifted somewhat, and the elite were split into two camps. There continued to be an orthodox purist tradition which we may call the 'Orthodox Classicist' who believed that the grammar of the classical works should be employed in all writings and, in order to create ornateness, Sanskrit lexis should be allowed unrestricted, written in an alphabet adequate for that purpose. There was a rich Sinhalese alphabet with which the Sanskritic lexis could be written; this was known as the misra sinhala ho·iya (see De Silva 1970b). The Hela Havula purists differed on the use of the Sanskritic lexis. They opposed the use of any loanwords, and advocated the use of phonology akin to the pre-thirteenth century poetic phonology. A corresponding alphabet, which was stripped of the Sanskritic letters like the aspirates, palatal and retroflex sibilants, etc., was always available as a poetic alphabet; this was known as the Sudha sinhala ho·iya (see De Silva 1970b).

This is where the Telugu situation differs from the Sinhalese situation. In the Telugu community, the trend set by Apparao, Sreenivasa Iyengar, Ramamurti, and others went on uninterrupted, gaining currency as a worthwhile movement against classicism. In the Sinhalese community, on the other hand, even the obvious benefits in the use of the colloquial idiom were lost sight of with the strengthening of the neo-purism. This neopurism split the elites into two camps, but only to the extent that they differed in the relative antiquity of the desired norm; they were both classicist otherwise. There have been in Sri Lanka, from time to time, various individuals who felt that the classical requirement was a handicap and an embarrassment, but there has never been an organized movement against classicism. In the Sinhalese community, on the other hand, even the obvious benefits in the use of the colloquial idiom were lost sight of with the strengthening of the neo-purism. This neo-purism split the elites into two camps, but only to the extent that they differed in the relative antiquity of the desired norm; they were both classicist otherwise. There have been in Sri Lanka, from time to time, various individuals who felt that the classical requirement was a handicap and an embarrassment, but there has never been an organized movement against classicism.

Kumaratunga Munidasa's linguistic philosophy, which is no different from any other purist's is given below in translation. Notice the metaphor of law and society in defining the relationship of grammar and language; notice also how similar this notion is to the notion of group standards that Sprott describes in the paragraph I have already quoted from him. Kumaratunga (1492 B.E.) says:

Nowadays some people seem to think that grammar is irrelevant, To him who suffers from indigestion, food is indeed a nuisance. From the primitive hunter's point of view cothes are only things to laugh at. When one looks at things this way, one is not amazed that there are men who hate grammar. In civilized society, however, language needs grammar. If there is permission to violate the law, it will be two the mirth of the criminal. If, for the happiness and comfort of the criminal, social laws were allowed to be violated, civilization would begin to disappear straight away. If there were permission to violate language rules, the ignorant ones would certainly be happy…

It would provide a way to conceal their ignorance… In this country, alas, ignorance is erudition; knowledge is a thing to ridicule. An attempt must urgently be made to remedy this situation.
(Intro p. 1)

The fact that, during the period of the controversies, the classical format lost the prestige it has enjoyed previously is an important event: for, where there is no definable prestige associated with the literary form, individuals are not compelled by any sense of allegiance to campaign for the retention of the disparity. Notice that, although there is no organized movement against the disparity, people, when questioned individually, have shown comparatively little enthusiasm for the continuance of diglossia in the Sinhalese community. The collective allegiance and individual dissent are obviously in conflict. It is the absence of such a conflict in an appreciable scale that has enabled the Telugu speakers to be persuaded against the continued retention of the linguistic duality at the secondary and tertiary levels of education, as seen in the Telugu Language Committee Report (1973). The maintenance of stability in Swiss diglossia may also be attributed to this absence of a conflict. It is, on the other hand, the presence of such a conflict that has motivated the Sinhalese society to use the written language in a fluctuating manner and to be undecided in their general attitude to the diglossia at the school level. The results I have obtained in my survey suggest that points of tension are characteristic in the Kannada and Tamil society also, and it is my belief that a detailed historical study would support this observation.