Sri Lankan Malay is a creole language of Sri Lanka. It originated approximately 300 years ago when Malay-speaking people from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) were brought to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) as laborers. Their Malay dialect evolved with influence from the majority languages of Sri Lanka – Sinhala and Tamil. There are approximately 45,000 speakers.

How endangered is Sri Lankan Malay? Today, few children speak Sri Lankan Malay in the home as their native language. The vast majority of speakers of all ages primarily use English or Sinhala in their daily interactions. The language does not have official status in Sri Lanka and is not supported in the educational system. For these reasons, there is concern that the language will last only a few more generations.

Toronto is home to approximately 200 Sri Lankan Malay speakers. In the following video, Toronto residents Zeena and Meluri discuss their lives as Sri Lankan Malay speakers in the city.

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