30 Things In A Classroom In Sinhala – And How I Got My Ass Whooped… Literally

My 12-year school reunion where we decided to dress up in the old uniform. Just FYI, during actual school days, I didn’t look like a hairy overgrown freak.


I consider myself an old school guy. And I mean that kind of literally.

You see, I went to an old and very strict all-boys school in Colombo during an era where teachers were free to give you a beating to remember.

And despite poor little Dilshan being a good student, even he has got his ass whooped. Again, I mean that kind of literally.

So before we get into the Sinhala learning part, I thought I’d do something weirdly cathartic and share my favorite memory of one of those beatings >>>

Choose your destiny:

Since the story is a little long and I don’t know how much time you’ve got, let me give you a choice:

  • To skip the story and get straight to the Sinhala learning part, click here.
  • To hear about the time my bum became numb, continue reading below:



The year was 1989. Little Dilshan was 9 years old…

Folks, the mathematics teacher I’m about to talk about is someone I really am fond of. I’d genuinely be delighted to run into him today.

He was this cool and young guy who had a great sense of humor.

But at the same time, he would slap the crap out of your baby cheeks if you misbehaved.

He was also very adamant that we knew our multiplication tables better than we knew our own names.

So he’d give us a fair warning that he’d be verbally testing each of us the next day (there were 40 in my class) and if we made even the slightest mistake, we’d be punished. Standard punishment at that time was kneeling down in the corridor outside the classroom for the entire world to see.

Here’s the format of the Q&A:

He’ll rapidly shoot out a series of questions like “What’s 2 x 7?” and we needed to respond in lightning-round fashion.

I was not worried at all. We had to know all combos until 12 x 12 and mathematics was my forte.

Fast forward to the next day…

15 of my fellow comrades who had messed up their answers are already kneeling outside. My turn came and so I stood up.

He started off with the 6x and 7x “piece-of-cake” multiplications and I smashed them out of the park.

He then sneakily threw in 12 x 13 despite it being outside our scope. But I matched his sneakiness and added 12 to 144 and smugly gave him the answer.

So far, smooth sailing for little Dilshan

And then it happened.

He asked me, “9 x 11?”

Now, you know that the 11x multiplication table is one of the easiest. They’re all just identical double-digits like 11, 22, 33 etc.

I don’t know what happened at that moment. Maybe it was over-confidence, maybe my brain had an ephemeral diarrhea moment, I really don’t know what happened.

I confused it with “11 x 11” and answered “121”…

Dun dun dunnnnn!

Man, did he smile! He knew he got me. And no matter how much I pleaded and immediately corrected myself, he had that “nope” look on his face.

And so I had to join the 15 other boys outside.

I can’t remember how long we were kneeling for. Could’ve been 20 minutes, I think. We were fine. A little uncomfortable but overall fine.

He then said he was going to call us in. We tried to hide our joy of knowing that we got out of this easily.

But he quickly added “Come in one by one” as he walked towards the teacher’s cupboard.

“One by one”? We looked at each other puzzled. Why “one by one”?

That’s when we saw what he took out from the cupboard.

The cane. The terrifying cane.

Turns out, the kneeling was merely the “entrée” to the main course that we were about to taste.

So the first guy went in, faced the wall, and stood straight.

Whoooooosh! Whoooosh! Whoosh!

3 swift lashings of the cane on the guy’s bum. The dude was grimacing while the rest of the class (including us outside) were in fits of giggles because of the way he squirmed (I swear even now I’m smiling while remembering it).

The class continued to laugh. Our giggles quickly died down when we heard him say “Next!”.

When my turn came I remember mustering up all the courage a 9-year old could and bracing myself for 3 nasty jolts on my backside. And as I turned to face the wall, I may have even closed my eyes.

Whoooooosh! Whoooosh! Whoosh!

I did it! I looked around. I’m still alive. Yay!

But you know the weirdest part? I didn’t feel whoosh #2 and #3 at all!!!


Because my bum went completely numb as soon as I got the first whoosh! I could’ve easily endured a few more after that.

I remember going back to my seat and having to look down and make sure that I am indeed seated since my “bum nerves” were momentarily on a break. The adrenaline that was pumping even made me giggle quietly.

Look folks, as weird as it sounds, the story I just shared with you is obviously something I consider a “fond memory”. It just is.

I’ve been told that today things are different in Colombo schools and such beatings don’t take place. And I’m happy about it. In no way, do I condone it.

However, it does take away an opportunity for a future blogger to share a good “beating” stories with thousands of his followers.

And more importantly, even while I’m sleep if you ask me “9 x 11?”, I will never ever get that wrong again.


… And they lived happy ever after. The end.

Let’s now go to the Sinhala learning part:

Structure Of This Post

  1. The Sinhala word for “classroom”
  2. People in a classroom (4)
  3. Furniture in a classroom (4)
  4. Fixtures in a classroom (5)
  5. Stationery in a classroom (9)
  6. Books in a classroom (3)
  7. Other things in a classroom – which I don’t know where else to put (4)
  8. The SCARIEST damn thing in the classroom (1)


30 Things In A Classroom In Sinhala


1. The Sinhala word for “classroom”:

classroom pan∙thi   kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ∙yȧ1       


1 FYI, “class” = pan∙thi∙yȧ;   “room” = kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ∙yȧ


Sample Phrases:

  • Go into the classroom   =   pan∙thi   kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ∙yȧ   æ∙thu∙lȧ∙tȧ   yan∙nȧ
  • Which is your classroom?   =   o∙yaa∙gé   pan∙thi   kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ∙yȧ   ko∙yi   é∙kȧ∙dhȧ?



2. People in a classroom (4):

teacher (male) gu∙ru∙vȧ∙rȧ∙ya2       
teacher (female) gu∙ru∙vȧ∙ri∙yȧ3       
student (male) shish∙yȧ∙ya4       
student (female) shish∙yaa∙vȧ5       


2 Another word for “teacher (male)”   =   ‘gu∙ru∙thu∙ma’

3 Another word for “teacher (female)”   =   ‘gu∙ru∙thu∙mi∙yȧ’

4 Another word for “student (male)”   =   ‘si∙su∙wa’

5 Another word for “student (female)”   =   ‘si∙su∙vi∙yȧ’


Sample Phrases:

  • The teacher (male) is inside the classroom   =   gu∙ru∙vȧ∙rȧ∙ya   pan∙thi   kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ∙yȧ   æ∙thu∙lé   in∙nȧ∙va
  • The student (male) is not coming today   =   shish∙yȧ∙ya   a∙dhȧ   én∙né   nǣ



3.Furniture in a classroom (4):

chair pu∙tu∙wȧ       
bench ban∙ku∙wȧ
desk/table mḗ∙sȧ∙yȧ6       
cupboard “cupboard”   é∙kȧ7       


6 Another word for “desk”   =   ‘li∙yȧ∙nȧ mḗ∙sȧ∙yȧ’

7 Another word for “cupbaord”   =   al∙maa∙ri∙yȧ


Sample Phrases:

  • The teacher (female) is sitting on the desk   =   gu∙ru∙vȧ∙ri∙yȧ   mḗ∙sȧ∙yȧ   u∙dȧ   iňdhȧ   gan∙nȧ∙va
  • The student (female) is opening the cupboard   =   shish∙yaa∙vȧ   “cupboard”   é∙kȧ   a∙ri∙nȧ∙va



4. Fixtures in a classroom (5):

blackboard ka∙lu   lǣl∙lȧ       
calendar kæ∙læn∙dȧ∙rȧ∙yȧ8       
wall clock bith∙thi   o∙rȧ∙lō∙su∙wȧ       
world map lō∙kȧ   si∙thi∙yȧ∙mȧ       
map of Sri Lanka lan∙kaa∙vé   si∙thi∙yȧ∙mȧ       


8 Another word for “calendar”   =   dhi∙nȧ   dhar∙shȧ∙nȧ∙yȧ


Sample Phrases:

  • The teacher (male) is erasing the blackboard   =   gu∙ru∙vȧ∙rȧ∙ya   ka∙lu   lǣl∙lȧ   ma∙kȧ∙nȧ∙va
  • The student (male) is showing us the world map   =   shish∙yȧ∙ya   lō∙kȧ   si∙thi∙yȧ∙mȧ   a∙pi∙tȧ   pén∙nȧ∙nȧ∙va



5. Stationery in a classroom (9):

piece of chalk “chalk”   kǣl∙lȧ9       
duster “duster”   é∙kȧ10       
pen pǣ∙nȧ       
pencil pæn∙sȧ∙lȧ       
eraser ma∙kȧ∙nȧ∙yȧ       
scissor ka∙thu∙rȧ       
ruler (1 foot ruler) a∙di   kō∙dhu∙wȧ11       
coloring pencils paa∙tȧ   pæn∙sal       
paper ka∙dȧ∙dhaa∙si       


9 Proper Sinhala word for “piece of chalk”   =   ‘hu∙nu   koo∙rȧ’

10 Proper Sinhala word for “duster”   =   ‘hu∙nu   kot∙tȧ∙yȧ’

11 Another word for “foot ruler”   =   ‘a∙di   “ruler”


Sample Phrases:

  • Can I borrow your pen for a little?   =   ma∙tȧ   o∙yaa∙gé   pǣ∙nȧ   pod∙dȧ∙kȧ∙tȧ   gan∙nȧ   pu∙lu∙wan∙dhȧ?
  • He stole my eraser!   =   é∙yaa   ma∙gé   ma∙kȧ∙nȧ∙yȧ   ho∙rȧ∙kam   kȧ∙laa!



6. Books in a classroom (3):

book po∙thȧ       
notebook “exercise”   po∙thȧ       
textbook ach∙chu   po∙thȧ       


Sample Phrases:

  • The child didn’t bring the book   =   la∙mȧ∙ya   po∙thȧ   gé∙naa∙vé   nǣ
  • My textbook is very old   =   ma∙gé   ach∙chu   po∙thȧ   ha∙ri   pa∙rȧ∙nayi



7. Other things in a classroom – which I don’t know where else to put (4):

school bag10 poth   mal∙lȧ12       
flower vase/pot mal   pōch∙chi∙yȧ       
bin ku∙nu   baal∙dhi∙yȧ       
broom kos∙sȧ       


12 Another word for “school bag”   =   “bag”   é∙kȧ


Sample Phrases:

  • Her school bag has gone missing   =   é∙yaa∙gé   poth   mal∙lȧ   næ∙thi   vé∙laa
  • He is throwing the pencil in to the bin   =   é∙yaa   pæn∙sȧ∙lȧ   ku∙nu   baal∙dhi∙yȧ   æ∙thu∙lȧ∙tȧ   vi∙si   kȧ∙rȧ∙nȧ∙va


and finally…



8. The SCARIEST damn thing in the classroom (1):



cane vḗ∙væ∙lȧ       


Sample Phrases:

  • Even now Dilshan shivers when he sees the cane   =   vḗ∙væ∙lȧ   dhæk∙ka∙mȧ   Dilshan   dhæn   vu∙nath   véwu∙lȧ∙nȧ∙va



What I want from you!

  1. Serious part: As mentioned in my email, f you’re a teacher who has taught in Sri Lanka and if you’d like to be a part of super-secret project I’m working on, please email directly.
  2. Fun part: In the comments below, tell me all the things in a classroom that I have forgotten and I’ll get you the translation. Oh, I doubt it, but if your school also allowed beatings, tell me more about it.

Ok, go!



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25 Responses to 30 Things In A Classroom In Sinhala – And How I Got My Ass Whooped… Literally

  1. Riccardo May 29, 2016 at 16:24 #

    You forgot the most important word: school :)
    Beyond that, what a wonderful post, so many useful words.
    බොහෝම ස්තුති!

    Oh by the way, do they really use the cane in srilankan schools still today??

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 29, 2016 at 17:27 #

      Ciao Riccardo, glad you found the words useful. Actually I didn’t forget “school”. Was limiting it to things and people you find inside a classroom. But anyway, “school” in Sinhala is iskolaya. It kind of sounds like “school” too. I don’t think they use the cane anymore. I have a nephew who’s still in school. Shall ask him and tell you.

      • Dilshan Jayasinha May 30, 2016 at 10:14 #

        I heard back from my nephew, who also goes to an all boys school like I did. He told me VERY PROUDLY that they still use the cane in there school, haha. Boys take pride in the weirdest things.

  2. Wesley May 29, 2016 at 16:49 #

    oyaa honde guruthuma, bohome stuti!

    i suppose “school” is iskole, but what is “school uniform”?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 29, 2016 at 21:25 #

      Thanks Wesley, yes you’re correct (see my answer to Riccardo above). “Uniform” can be “Uniform eka” or a more proper word would be “ni∙lȧ æňdhu∙mȧ”.

      Thanks for the compliment too. Slight correction: o∙yaa hoňdhȧ gu∙ru∙thu∙ma ké∙nék (“gu∙ru∙thu∙ma ké∙nék” = “a teacher”). Is that clear?

  3. Sabine May 29, 2016 at 18:08 #

    Dear Dilshan,

    in connection with your super-secret project … I think you have to make a distinguish.

    Words and sentences we use in pre-schools, colleges or universities are different.

    In pre-school we use words like: draw, paint, cut, glu, …

    Warm regards,

    Ps: we never use the Sinhale word for teacher. The children use ‘teacher’ or ‘loku teacher’.

    • Natasha May 29, 2016 at 19:00 #

      My (white and American) teachers wouldn’t public shame me for not knowing my times tables, but my parents sure did! Great post Dilshan! Question: I’m assuming the word for a professor or other post-secondary instructor wouldn’t be the same as “teacher”? Actually I’d be really grateful for a post on professions/careers.

      • Dilshan Jayasinha May 30, 2016 at 10:12 #

        Hi Natasha, the proper word for “professor” is (take a deep breath now…) = ma∙haa∙chaar∙yȧ∙vȧ∙rȧ∙ya.


        However, you could also just say “professor” since most people understand it.

        Is that you want to say “I’m a professor”? (in which case, you’d say it as “ma∙mȧ professor ké∙nék”).

        Professions post! A-ha, good you reminded me. I know I have an unfinished draft version of it somewhere. I should dig it out.

        Does the explanation above make sense?

        • Natasha September 22, 2016 at 09:46 #

          It does, thank you! Would you use it the same way as a title, like “Dr. so-and-so”?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 29, 2016 at 21:27 #

      Couldn’t agree with your more. This is why I need feedback from people like you. Thanks for the suggestions, Sabine!

  4. Clarissa May 29, 2016 at 21:50 #

    I had a kindergarten teacher who loved to use a wooden paddle. As a 4 year old in her class I could not stop talking.. it didn’t matter who she sat me next too they just became my new best friend and I talked non stop. Which meant that wooden paddle and my bottom also became reluctant best friends! I vividly remember it sitting on thr edge of her desk and she did not even have to say anything just pick up the piece of wood point at me and I knew…. Mrs. Pogue was this older women who had the mosg stern look, unfortunately for me the stern look and sore bottom were still no match for my uncontrollable tongue and desire to be friends with the entire classroom…

    So as for words not mentioned
    1. Paddle
    2. Folder
    3. Paper clips… i use these a lot
    4. Glue
    5. Tape
    6. Stapler

    Just a few.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 30, 2016 at 10:08 #

      Clarissa, thanks for sharing the story of “Mrs. Pogue and her wooden paddle”. Loved it.

      Now, regarding your words, let me take a shot at it:

      1. Paddle = a paddle used in a boat is called ‘ha∙bȧ∙lȧ’ but I don’t know if it can be used in this context. I would probably cheat and use the “Singlicized” word of “paddle eka”.

      2. Folder = believe it or not, this is called “file é∙kȧ” (as in “the file”)

      3. Paper clips = I even asked this from 4 ex-classmates of mine and I didn’t get an anwser. You could say “ko∙lȧ a∙mu∙nȧ∙nȧ é∙kȧ” (the thing that joins paper together”) or just paper clip. most people will understand.

      4. Glue = “gum” or if it’s that home made flour-based paste that we make in Sri Lanka, “paap∙pȧ”

      5.Tape = ‘sé∙lō∙tḗp’

      6. Stapler = “stapler” é∙kȧ

      How’s that, “Chatter-Box Clarissa”?

      • Clarissa May 30, 2016 at 17:35 #

        Great! Thanks!

  5. Patty May 29, 2016 at 23:06 #

    Thanks for that Dilshan.

    Very useful. You do a brilliant job. classroom language is really good for me.
    I teach mainly podi lamayi from 3 years but also have some adults. I often hear myself saying ‘ kargahuna eppa, uhunda and copy karaneppa.’ Sorry if the spelling isn’t right.

    I would like to know how to say ‘Don’t forget to use finger spaces’ and remember capital letters.’

    Thanks again.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 30, 2016 at 17:22 #

      Hi Patty, I guess these are the phrases what you mentioned above:

      – “Don’t shout/yell!” = kǣ ga∙han∙nȧ é∙paa!

      – “Listen!” = a∙han∙nȧ!

      – “Don’t copy!” = copy kȧ∙ran∙nȧ é∙paa!

      Are my guesses correct?

      About your question, here’s the simplest versions I came up with:

      – “Don’t forget to use finger spaces” = va∙chȧ∙nȧ a∙thȧ∙rȧ æňgil∙lȧ∙kȧ i∙dȧ thi∙yan∙nȧ (lit: keep the space of a finger between words)

      – “Remember capital letters” = capital a∙ku∙ru (or lo∙ku a∙ku∙ru) a∙mȧ∙thȧ∙kȧ kȧ∙ran∙nȧ é∙paa (lit. Don’t forget the capital/big letters)

      How’s that?

  6. Elizabeth May 30, 2016 at 20:08 #

    Hello Dilshan

    I sent you a message yesterday relating to the above. I see you have not received it. Now I don’t remember what I wrote. Anyway will talk to you sometime later.
    Bye for now

    Elizabeth T

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 30, 2016 at 20:19 #

      Hi Elizabeth, unfortunately I didn’t get it. That’s a shame. Do let me when you email me one of these days. Hope all is well.

  7. Jose Mammen May 31, 2016 at 20:28 #

    Dear Disahan:
    In the lesson about Class room, for the sentence “the teacher(M) is erasing the blackboard”,
    you have mentioned “guruvariya”. Is it not guruvaraya?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 2, 2016 at 10:11 #

      You’re absolutely right Jose, that was my mistake. I’ve corrected it now. Thanks so much for pointing it out.

  8. Elizabeth May 31, 2016 at 21:18 #

    Hello Dilshan

    Yes it is unfortunate you did not receive my previous message. Now I remember something I had written. Did you ever get a whacking with that silly cane to leave poor Dil with memorable scar? sorry..

    Take care. Bye

    Elizabeth T

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 2, 2016 at 10:14 #

      An actual physical scar? No, never. But when I was around 12 I got slapped by a teacher (very unjustly if I may add) and for the rest of the year I was extremely nervous whenever he taught us, so it was kind of a psychological scar.

  9. Jose Mammen June 2, 2016 at 08:30 #

    Dilshan, I had a narrow escape from cane lashing in my school. Now I am 68 years, my teachers are no more, but I still vividly remember the scene. We were expected to show the solved geometry question. The teacher was examining each answer and when he was not satisfied, the victim was asked to join the lash row! You know how everyone’s heart pounded! He came to me, hesitated to comment for a while, because my figure was not perfect. Suddenly , he hummed and threw the book on the desk and went to the next student, indicating that he was skipping me! What a relief that was!!

    One doubt. At the end of lesson 5 (stationery in a class room), you have given sample sentence as “Can I borrow your pen for a little blackboard?} How you match a pen and a blackboard? Please reply.

    Thanks for taking the pain to teach us.

    Dr. Jose Mammen. Trivandrum.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 2, 2016 at 11:09 #

      Hi Jose, thanks for sharing that story. Haha, yes I’m very familair with that feeling of relief when a teacher walks past you and goes to the next student. Reminds me of a science teacher I used to have.

      Regarding the “blackboard” question, that was a typo, sorry about that. I have corrected it now. Thaanks for your question.

  10. Jessy June 4, 2016 at 22:44 #

    So I have a 10 hour shift at work today and reading this has made it worth it! (I’m currently a receptionist and been taking the time to learn Sinhala since I don’t do anything else during work lol). Anyways, back when I went to school in Puerto Rico, teachers made us kneel on rice or hit us with two rulers ducked taped together. Believe me, I also never forget my times tables…. lol Thank you for sharing! you always make me laugh :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 8, 2016 at 09:52 #

      First of all, I hope your boss is not one of my subscribers or else he/she will know that you’re slacking at work :)

      Kneeling on rice? Ooooh, that does sound painful. my friends and I have also knelt down on sand in the hot sun on a parent-teacher day where all the other parents could see. Luckily for me, my mother couldn’t come that day. Victory!

      Thanks for sharing, Jessy. Speak to you again when you’re bored at work.

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