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Sri Lankan English - Updates G

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter G. It is divided into 2 parts: New Entries, and Comments and Corrections. Click here to return to the main updates page, or on the links on the left side of the page to go to another letter.

These pages are updated regularly; please contact me if you have any suggestions or feedback which can be included.

Latest update: December 2014. New additions are in red.


gaja muthu: elephant pearls, valuable pearl-like objects supposed to be found in elephant tusks (Sinhala)
Genuine gajamuthu, or rare pearls found within elephant tusks are among the many treasures at the Hunupitiya Gangarama Temple. (Sunday Times 30/03/08)
4 arrested for trying to sell gaja muthu (Ceylon Today 17/07/12)
A suspect who tried to sell a pair of gaja muthu valued at nearly Rs. 600,000 was arrested by the Saliyawewa Police following a tip-off. Police also seized the pair of gaja muthu. (Daily News 16/07/14)

gala: (adj.) grand, gay, festive (less common in BSE)
Duruthu poya was on us. The annual Kelaniya perahera was an attraction. Amma who had never set eyes on this gala event wished to take the whole family to Kelaniya. (Eternally Yours, by Sybil Wettasinghe, page 39)
The landladies were having a gala time. (The Professional, by Ashok Ferrey, page 44)

gal siyambala: velvet tamarind (Dialium indum), a small variety of tamarind popular with children (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)
Lovers sat on rocks behind umbrellas, vendors walked up and down carrying basins of pineapple slices, mango achcharu and gal siyambala in newspaper cones. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 189)

gamsabhava: village tribunal (Sinhala)
It is the institution of the Gamsabhava which has been with us for centuries and was able to achieve these ends. (The Island 20/01/12)

garment factory: (less common in BSE)
I think everybody in our house expected my sister to get a job in the garment factory. (Sam’s Story, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 104)

“… the issue of better wages for our girls working in the garment factory.” (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 145)

… on the advice of her friends and colleagues at the garment factory where she worked, … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 101)

Gate Mudaliyar: (dated) honorary title of a senior mudaliyar in colonial times
One of these personalities was an ancestor of his, a Gate Mudaliyar of the Southern Province, … (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 625)

However, acts of charity have their rewards and in 1853, Jeronis Soysa became the first capitalist to receive the title of ‘Gate Mudaliyar’ from the government. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 177)

gem pit: gem mine
One dead in gem pit collapse (The Nation 13/08/13)

give: to give somebody to do something: to allow somebody to do something, to give somebody the chance to do something
Shall I give you to drive?

He had not been given to bowl. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 199)
“He was even given to captain the side.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 269)

give to see: (coll.) show somebody something, give somebody something to look at
Give me to see!

go down: go downhill, get worse, deteriorate
The food in this place has really gone down.
It was a pity ... that King’s had gone down so much since their time at College, ... (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 505)

go from here!
: (coll.) go away!

good self: (dated) And what about your good self? (> good name)
“… I thought I should consult your good self before I turn the piece in to my editor for review.” (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 588)

GOSL: Government of Sri Lanka

Can GOSL implement LLRC recommendations? ( 02/06/12)

graduate teacher: a teacher with a degree, but who has not necessarily gone through teacher training (> trained teacher)
She was proud of the fact that she was a graduate teacher. She felt above the class of trained English teachers. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 123)

gravet: the official precincts just outside a major town; originally a border post, watch station, or thorn gate
> This word does not appear in the OED despite being used during colonial times. And it is still in use, as in the administrative divisions “Trincomalee Town and Gravets” and “Galle Four Gravets”; there is also a place near Galle called Gravet Point.
The Gravets, or Four Gravets, of a town are the official precincts that lie just outside it; but each colonial power that ruled Sri Lanka added a characteristic corruption to the origin of the name. The Portuguese, weak in their pronunciation of dentals, called a kadavata a caravata. The Dutch, with their penchant for gutturals, said garavata. And the British with their clipt disdain for open vowels and foreign polysyllables made the word gravet.
Beyond the eastern gravet of Colombo one moves into pineapple country. …
(Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller, page 23)

… H. Bastian Pinto had the arrack rents of the whole of the Central province in 1837 and the valuable rents of the Four Gravets of Colombo in 1838. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 55)

grease yaka, grease devil: a man who covers his body with grease and commits offences such as robbery, assault of women, etc. (Sinhala yaka = devil)
> The term predates the recent (August 2011) spate of sightings and news reports about grease yakas or grease devils. Petty criminals are known to grease their bodies when committing robberies etc.; but there is also a mythical element to the term, akin to the gonibilla or bogeyman.
In the arrack taverns of the area, the mystery of the Grease Yaka had ousted fishes and politicians as the main topic of conversation. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 51)
A man identified by police as ‘grease yaka’ has been arrested in Mahiyanganaya after he attacked several women in the area over the past few days. ( 17/07/11)
Fear of the “grease devil” is spreading like wildfire across the island. (Sunday Times 21/08/11)

green chillies: raw green chillies (SAE)
She grew tomatoes, brinjals, green chillies, … (Playing Pillow Politics at MGK, by Lal Medawattegedara, page 77)

grey langur: a large grey species of monkey (Semnopithecus priam) found in Sri Lanka and India (Sinhala vandura; OED wanderoo)
A trio of grey langur monkeys relax in a tree. (

grinding stone (= mirisgala): a flat stone used for grinding chillies, spices, etc.
“Didn’t you see Heen Menike carrying away the grinding stone?” (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 82)

… and Ayeshamma’s stomach, despite three years of marriage, clung to her hip bones and stretched flat as a grinding stone. (Fifteen, by Ameena Hussein, page 48)
She started her chores and gave Banda a shelling because he had not washed the grinding stone the previous night. (July, by Karen Roberts, page 334)

… the stone slab next to the grinding stone … (Their Autopsy, by Vihanga Perera, page 130)
After the recitations were over, the five people followed the kapurala outside, squatted next to a grinding stone, and arranged their spices upon it. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 314)
… several small bowls … used to crush and grind herbs, a large grinding stone and a cylindrical stone roller. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 71)

... engraved pots and pirith strings and grinding stones and winnowing fans and washing bowls and betel-chewing sets, ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 307)


gejji: bells, for example around a cow’s neck, or around a dancer’s ankles, but the word does not mean ‘anklets’ as in the definition given.

glass pieces: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

green thumb:
DELETE (also found in other varieties of English)

: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

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