Jhaya and Bariya: A Case in the Early BrÁhmÍ Inscriptions of Sri Lanka

Raj Somadeva, Laleendra Amarasinghe, Anusha Wanninayake, Dinesh Devage


Jhaya and bariya are two terms in early BrÁhmÍ inscriptions in Sri Lanka that had been used to denote the next of kin of privileged persons. Its prestigious usage suggests that the duality was not a hasty expression. Present variation does not correspond to any geographical or linguistic anomaly notably the differences held in the syntactic morphology of the contemporary language. In the perspective of social semiotics, it could be argued that the regular occurrence of this inconsistency may signify a sensible disparity corresponding to the contemporary social fabric. Theory of social semiotics considered as the ‘codes’ of language and communication are formed by social processes shaped by relations of power. Therefore giving a meaning is a social practice. This essay attempts to investigate the probable social circumstances which resulted in this duality of lexicon in the early BrÁhmÍ inscriptions in Sri Lanka.

Key words: social semiotics, historical linguistics, social archaeology

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