[lg policy] Chinese enters Lankan market as a language of communication

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Sep 10 08:57:48 EDT 2018

Chinese enters Lankan market as a language of communication
Posted on September 8th, 2018
*Courtesy NewsIn.Asia*

Colombo, September 8 (newsin.asia): Is Chinese beginning to replace Tamil
in promoting products or serving customers in the Sri Lankan market?
Looking at the Anchor butter packet being sold in the Sri Lankan market one
might begin to think so.

Packets of Anchor butter, imported from Fonterra Brands in New Zealand, now
carry  information in English, Sinhala and Chinese but not Tamil, though
the latter is one of the official languages of Sri Lanka. And Chinese is
given precedence over Sinhala which is the language of more than 75% of Sri
Lanka’ population.

This is leading people using the social media to ask if Chinese is in the
process of replacing the local languages.

Given the increasing number of Chinese in the urban areas,  thanks to the
many high-end infrastructure projects being implemented by Chinese
companies with loans given to the Sri Lankan government by China, this
could very well be so in the not too distant future people say, though only

[image: Chinese enters Lankan market as a language of communication]

However what is bothering the Minister of National Integration,
Reconciliation, and Official Languages, Mano Ganeshan, is not the inclusion
of Chinese on the packet but the absence of Tamil.

He has told the media that he has instructed the Commissioner of Official
Languages to look into the lapse, though Anchor is a private enterprise and
not a public sector company.

Ganeshan said that having information on a product in English and Sinhalese
and not Tamil is a violation of the National Language Policy.

But he was quick to clarify that he has no issue with information being
printed in Chinese (given the expanding Chinese population with no
knowledge of English or any other Lankan language). But it should not
replace local languages he added.

Ganeshan said that if the company importing and selling Anchor in Sri Lanka
does not rectify the flaw he will personally take action. He refrained from
specifying the nature of the action.

New Zealand’s Anchor and Ratthi brands control 60 per cent of Sri Lanka’s
milk powder consumption market which is estimated at 85,000 metric tonnes
(MT) annually, industry sources said.

The balance comes from Lakspray (12 per cent) and Nespray (8 per cent)
which is also sourced from New Zealand, the sources said.

The Fonterra group which sends the milk to Sri Lanka was in deep trouble in
Sri Lanka in 2013 when it was rumored that its milk was contaminated. The
New Zealand government had to intervene to settle the issue.

Sri Lanka is heavily dependent on imported milk and milk products. The
island produces just 10,000 MT of the country’s total milk powder
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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