Crockery In Sinhala: Plate, Bowl, & Dish (Also, How “Ceramic” Made Me Speak Better English)


Photo Credit: The ekama eka, Mrs. Smart


The first part of the above title is self-explanatory:

You’re obviously going to learn the Sinhala names of crockery items like plate, bowl, and dish.

(Spoiler alert: You’ll also learn the typical crockery material such as glass, paper, and ceramic)

But now, how the hell does ceramic, of all things, make one speak better English?

Well, let me tell y’all a story…


(To go straight to to the Sinhala learning part, click here. If not, continue reading to know how ceramic made my English improve tenfold):



Gather around boys & girls, I’ve got another story to tell…


My English was already “pretty good”

Growing up, at home we spoke English, so being fluent in English was not a problem for me.

I also had a healthy vocabulary because I was obsessed with reading English books. What’s more, thanks to my mother being an English teacher, my grammar was also at an above-average level.

So I guess I could say that my English was already “pretty good”.

However, turns out that the English I spoke was not the same as the English you might speak. Unfortunately for me, I learned this the hard way.


The “Ceramic” Incident of 2000

It was the year 2000 and a pimply faced 20-year old Dilshan had just enrolled at the International University of Monaco.

Sometime within the first week, I was in the cafeteria, super-excited to be seated at the same table as the cool kids.

One of them (who later went on to become a good buddy of mine), was asking me about Sri Lanka while the others listened. I was loving the attention.

Then, I have no idea what the question was and how we ended up there but I remember answering one of his questions with the word “ceramic”.

But here’s the thing. I pronounced it like this:



No one said anything. They just looked at each confused.

He asked me again and I replied:



Suddenly, one of them picked it out and said “Oh, you mean CERAMIC?”, pronouncing it differently to my version. This was soon followed by loud and hearty laughter from around the table.

Now, don’t get me wrong. They were not the bullying kind. The whole episode was just hilarious to them and today, I obviously see the funny side of it too.

However, at the time, the embarrassment cut deep and it caused me to rethink my style of speaking.


The changes I made (cue: Rocky Balboa training music)

Remember that scene in Rocky IV when he’s in the USSR and he’s training like a champion in the snowy mountains?

Yes, that was exactly how I was – Except, I was with a pen and pad, in the comfort of my room, next to the heater.

The first change I made was to slow…. it…. down.

I realized that we Sri Lankans spoke English at lightning speed. No wonder a simple family dinner at home sounds like an Eminem rap battle.

So I focused more on articulating each word better.

I then fixed my V’s and W’s (a common issue amongst my peeps) by consciously pausing before these problematic words in order to avoid saying “wery”, “wideo”, and “wending machine”.

And finally, only when was I was fully ready…

…I learned to pronounce my arch nemesis in the English vocabulary like this:



The happy ending (cue: Graduation music)

This work I did on myself paid off handsomely.

You see, 3 years later at our graduation ceremony when I got my MBA, I was asked to give a speech as the Class President to the hundreds of people in attendance.

It went well. It went realllly well and I think it was because:

  • I spoke slowly and articulated well,
  • I got my V’s and W’s right,
  • when writing the speech I made damn sure that the blasted word “ceramic” didn’t show up anywhere.

The end.

Sinhala Words For “Plate”, “Dish”, “Bowl”, & Other Cutlery


Plate In Sinhala

plate piňgaa∙nȧ1       
– a plate – piňgaa∙nak       
– plates – piňgan       

My Random Notes:

1 If you want to say “side plate”, you could either say   ‘side  piňgaa∙nȧ’   or simply   ‘side  plate  é∙kȧ’


Sample Phrases:

I dropped the plate ma∙mȧ   piňgaa∙nȧ   væt∙tu∙wa
The plate fell piňgaa∙nȧ   væ∙tu∙na
This plate is dirty mḗ   piňgaa∙nȧ   ki∙lu∙tuyi
This plate is not clean mḗ   piňgaa∙nȧ   pi∙ri∙si∙dhu   nǣ
This plate is too small mḗ   piňgaa∙nȧ   po∙di   væ∙diyi
This plate is too big mḗ   piňgaa∙nȧ   lo∙ku   væ∙diyi
This plate is cracked/broken mḗ   piňgaa∙nȧ   kæ∙di∙la
Would (you) give me a plate? ma∙tȧ   piňgaa∙nak   dhé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?
How many plates do you need/want? o∙yaa∙tȧ   piňgan   kee∙yak   ō∙né∙dhȧ?



Bowl & Dish In Sinhala

bowl “bowl”   é∙kȧ2       
– a bowl – “bowl”   é∙kak       
– bowls – “bowl”       
dish dhee∙si∙yȧ       
– a dish – dhee∙si∙yak       
– dishes – dhee∙si       

My Random Notes:

2 The proper Sinhala word for “bowl” is   ‘paa∙thrȧ∙yȧ’

Sample Phrases:

  • You can substitute the above words with any of the phrases under “Plate in Sinhala” where appropriate.



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Other stuff I’m not sure would fall under “Crockery in Sinhala” (but I threw in anyway just because it’s my blog and I can…)

tray “tray”   é∙kȧ3       

My Random Notes:

2 The proper Sinhala word for “tray” is   ‘ban∙dhḗ∙si∙yȧ’


Sample Phrases:

  • You can substitute the above words with any of the appropriate sample phrases you saw before



Material Used

glass vee∙dhu∙ru       
ceramic piňgan   mæ∙ti4       
paper / cardboard “cardboard”5       

My Random Notes:

4 ‘mæ∙ti’  =  “clay”;   ‘piňgaa∙nȧ’  =  “plate” (you saw this before);   ‘piňgan’  =  “of the plate” (as an adjective”);   So the Sinhala word for “ceramic” is literally “plate clay”.

5 The correct word for “paper” is   ‘ka∙dȧ∙dhaa∙si’   but in this context when referring to the material paper plates are made of, we’ll use “cardboard” instead

Sample Phrases:

This is a glass plate mḗ∙kȧ   vee∙dhu∙ru   piňgaa∙nak
I want to buy a glass bowl ma∙tȧ   vee∙dhu∙ru   “bowl”   é∙kak   gan∙nȧ   ō∙né
I need a glass bottle ma∙tȧ   vee∙dhu∙ru   bō∙thȧ∙lȧ∙yak   a∙vash∙yayi




Other Sinhala Words That You “Accidentally” Just Learned

væt∙tu∙wa “dropped” (as in, dropping something)
væ∙tu∙na “fell”
dhé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ? “would (you) give?”
kee∙yak “how many”
ki∙lu∙tuyi “is dirty/unclean”
pi∙ri∙si∙dhu   nǣ “is not clean”
po∙di   væ∙diyi “is too small”
lo∙ku   væ∙diyi “is too big”
kæ∙di∙la “is broken/cracked”
gan∙nȧ   ō∙né “want to get/buy”
a∙vash∙yayi “(I) need”


Now, my friend, it’s your turn!

  1. Post related: In the comments below, go ahead and suggest any other related phrases that I’ve left out and I’ll translate it.
  2. Fun-related: Have you also discovered that you’ve been mispronouncing an English word (or words) all along? What are they? Also, what has been your experience when speaking English with us folks in Sri Lanka? Did we speak too quickly? Or quietly? Or did it not even qualify as English? Tell me your stories.


That’s all for now, folks!


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27 Responses to Crockery In Sinhala: Plate, Bowl, & Dish (Also, How “Ceramic” Made Me Speak Better English)

  1. Uma Balu November 27, 2016 at 13:55 #

    Hey Dilshan!
    As always this was another absolutely enjoyable post!
    You can include these words (of course many of them do not come under crockery or cutlery, but are very useful dining accessories)
    1. Crockery
    2. Cutlery
    3. Crockery shelf
    4. Cup
    5. Mug
    6. Glass
    7. Knife
    8. Fork
    9. Jug
    10. Lid
    11. Teaspoon
    12. Tablespoon
    13. Fruit pick
    14. Chopsticks
    15. Salt shaker / Pepper shaker
    16. Toothpick
    17. Paper Napkin
    18. Serviette / towel
    19. Table mat
    20. Table cover

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 28, 2016 at 11:05 #

      Hi Uma, thanks for the suggestions. Here goes:

      1. Crockery: piňgan badu
      2. Cutlery: hæňdhi gǣ∙ræp∙pu
      3. Crockery shelf: piňgan raak∙kȧ∙yȧ
      4. Cup: (coming up in my next post, “Glassware”)
      5. Mug: (ditto)
      6. Glass: (ditto)
      7. Knife: (I covered this already in “Cutlery in Sinhala”:
      8. Fork: (I covered this already in “Cutlery in Sinhala”)
      9. Jug: (coming up in my next post, “Glassware”)
      10. Lid: (coming up in my next post, “Glassware”)
      11. Teaspoon: (I covered this already in “Cutlery in Sinhala”)
      12. Tablespoon: (I covered this already in “Cutlery in Sinhala”)
      13. Fruit pick: I don’t think there’s a sinhala word but you could say ‘pa∙lȧ∙thu∙ru gǣ∙ræp∙pu∙wȧ’ (lit. “fruit fork”)
      14. Chopsticks: (I covered this already in “Cutlery in Sinhala”)
      15. Salt shaker / Pepper shaker: I’ll have to check this
      16. Toothpick: ‘toothpick é∙kȧ’ and sometimes (rarely) you might hear ‘dath ka∙tu∙wȧ’
      17. Paper Napkin: ka∙dȧ∙dhaa∙si “serviette” é∙kȧ
      18. Serviette / towel: “serviette” é∙kȧ
      19. Table mat: You could just say “table mat” é∙kȧ
      20. Table cover: mḗ∙sȧ rédh∙dhȧ (lit, “table cloth”)

      Anything not clear, let me know please.

    • charlie December 1, 2016 at 22:10 #

      very useful lesson well done thanks. please teach the words for to wash (dishes), to clean, to dry, to rinse, to put away

      • Dilshan Jayasinha December 3, 2016 at 13:52 #

        Thanks Charlie, glad you found it useful. Great question too.

        – “to wash/rinse” (in order to keep it simple, you can use the same word) = ‘hō∙dhan∙nȧ’
        – e.g. I’m going to wash/rinse the plates = ‘ma∙mȧ piňgan hō∙dhan∙nȧ ya∙nȧ∙va’

        – “to clean” = ‘sudh∙dhȧ kȧ∙ran∙nȧ’ or ‘pi∙ri∙si∙dhu kȧ∙ran∙nȧ’
        – e.g. I’m going to clean the plates = ‘ma∙mȧ piňgan sudh∙dhȧ kȧ∙ran∙nȧ ya∙nȧ∙va’ or ‘ma∙mȧ piňgan pi∙ri∙si∙dhu kȧ∙ran∙nȧ ya∙nȧ∙va’

        – “to dry” = ‘vḗ∙lan∙nȧ’
        – e.g. I’m going to dry the plates = ‘ma∙mȧ piňgan vḗ∙lan∙nȧ ya∙nȧ∙va’

        Does that make sense? Let me know your questions.

  2. Uma Balu November 27, 2016 at 16:19 #

    Here are a few more:
    1. Handle
    2. Spout
    3. Saucer
    4. Holder
    5. Coasters
    6. Ring (decoration for napkins)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 28, 2016 at 11:16 #

      Yay, more suggestions. This actually makes my next post much easier, thanks Uma. One of them below is not clear to me, let me know what you mean.

      1. Handle: I’ll have to check
      2. Spout: ho∙tȧ
      3. Saucer (coming up in my next post, “Glassware”)
      4. Holder: What did you mean by “holder”?
      5. Coasters: “coaster”
      6. Ring (decoration for napkins): I don’t think there’s a word for it. Will check.

  3. Siva November 27, 2016 at 18:34 #

    Very interesting story about pronunciation. I also had similar experiences when I first arrived in the UK. As you mention, we Sri Lankans speak very fast. Now I sometimes have difficulty understanding some English words spoken by native Sri Lankans when I visit after 30 years!!
    Most Sri Lankans have difficulty with Vs & Ws at the beginning. Another stumbling block is “equipment”.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 28, 2016 at 11:20 #

      “Equipment”? Really? I haven’t yet heard the stumbling-block version of it. Now I’m getting paranoid, I wonder if I’m incorrectly pronouncing that one too??? :)

      • Sabine November 28, 2016 at 18:44 #

        Just chipping in with my “5 rupees worth” of experience … I believe a lot of people – and Sri Lankans in particular – have a hard time pronouncing “infrastructure” ! … ;o)

        • Dilshan Jayasinha November 29, 2016 at 10:10 #

          Hi Sabine, thanks for the 5 rupees and change :) That’s an interesting one. How do they pronounce it?

      • Michelle November 30, 2016 at 19:36 #

        Hi Dilshan,

        I suspect it’s a V/W thing with equipment too – eck-Vip-ment…


        • Dilshan Jayasinha December 3, 2016 at 13:41 #

          I see, that’s what you mean. Got it, thanks. I’m trying to pronounce it out loud with a ‘v’ and am not able to (and my wife is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind).

  4. patty November 27, 2016 at 23:04 #

    Thanks for that Dilshan,

    Well, I needed something to make me laugh. That really made me chuckle.
    Years ago I was talking to a gardener about plants and said that I liked ‘ cotton easter plants’. I should have said cotoneaster. I turned a lovely shade of pink.

    Thank you for these words. Very useful.

    I find that most Sri Lankans speak too fast. Sometimes by the time I have processed what’s been said, it’s too late to answer.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 28, 2016 at 11:25 #

      Haha, “cotton easter”. that’s not too bad, you were very cloase. I’m sure if I think hard enough I could come up with an entire list of song lyrics I misheard. For example for many years I thought the line in Abba’s song was “Dancing queen, young and SWEDE…” since the group was Swedish… Still that’s better than one of my aunt’s who thought Stevie Wonder’s “Part-time lover” was “Pakistan lover”…

  5. Anthony November 28, 2016 at 03:19 #

    I enjoyed the plates but the sentences would have been better with your pronounciatiion so I can record the mommy Iplayer for learning in the car and on the bus…pretty please !

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 28, 2016 at 11:30 #

      Hi Anthony, long time no see. Good to hear from you. I understand what you mean (believe me, I too thought about it) but that would mean that the making of every blog post will take much longer than I allocate to it. At least the way I’m currently churning new posts out, good folks like you could at least be introduced to new Sinhala vocabulary (with accompanying pronunciation) at a much quicker pace. Do you know what I mean? Please convey my best wishes to Chaminda too.

  6. Clarissa Fraser November 29, 2016 at 07:21 #

    I think it must just be me… but all the gray boxes where the pronunciation is supposed to be are blank. Any thoughts on why this might be?

    Thank you for the great post! I am loving your new frequency and plan to get down to some serious learning soon. My kids and I will be spending 2 months in Sri Lanka in June and July so we will be doing some family lessons during the next 6 months in order to maybe know just a little when we go. The speed in which people speak Sinhala is one of the greatest challenges for me. I feel that I am getting a handle on some vocabulary, but when 4 or 5 words run together I can’t decipher. Any tips?

    When I started teaching the conversational English classes in Sri Lanka and other places, one of the biggest things I had to learn was to enunciate my words and speak slowly! Now students tell me out of all our team members I am usually one of the few they can actually understand. I have to tell my friends in Sri Lanka all the time to slow down, but when they are excited or telling a story I just miss out! Hopefully with more time it will get easier!

    Thanks for all you do it is truly a huge help and I look forward to every email and post! It is always a good day when I find a new one waiting!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 29, 2016 at 10:03 #

      Uh oh… I was playing around with the website settings last morning. I’ve made an adjustment just now. When you find the time Clarissa, could you please reload the page and tell me if the audio buttons are showing?

      Regarding the speaking speed problem, I’ll tell you what worked for me when I moved to the south of France and the locals were speaking very fast: I put aside my ego (momentarily, obviously…) and built up the courage to tell someone, even a stranger, “I’m really sorry but could you say that again?”. Not one person refused me and I i kept doing this until I no longer had to. In my experience, most people appreciate the effort a foreigner makes to learn their language. Does that make sense?

      “It is always a good day when I find a new one waiting!”… Thanks Clarissa, too too kind. Very encouraging.

      • Clarissa Fraser December 1, 2016 at 23:44 #

        It appears to be showing up now. However, definitely looks ‘off’ from what it did before. However, it does work! So thanks for getting to that. Sorry for my delay in checking again.

        Looking forward to the next post!

        • Dilshan Jayasinha December 3, 2016 at 13:13 #

          No problem, Clarissa. I appreciate the feedback. As I said to you in the email, when you find the time (not urgent) tell me what you meant by it looking definitely “off”. Thanks again.

  7. Martin November 29, 2016 at 16:10 #

    1) I am a Scot born in the UK so obviously have no issues with speaking English. Just have trouble getting people to understand my perfect English… :-P
    2) The trouble I have with speaking with Sri Lankans are that as you say, they ‘machine gun speak’ – whoa guys Sloooow down! I still struggle occasionally with the consonants v/w, etc., but other than that, I’m finding it a lot easier, especially after watching Jehan on You Tube – the guy really cracks me up.
    The other trouble I have is that being married to a lady from Colombo, she often uses Tamil words for produce we buy in the shops here in England that sell the all the lovely food stuffs I crave since being with her. So, when I go into a supermarket and I can’t find something, I get very confused looks from the assistants when I use the Tamil terms for vegetables…

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 3, 2016 at 13:39 #

      “Just have trouble getting people to understand my perfect English”… Ha! Look at how smug this guy is. I love it.

      My friend, I think your Tamil vocabulary is already way better than mine. I’ve always regretted not learning Tamil as a kid. Would’ve been very useful even in Colombo. For the Sinhala terms for vegetables, you can knock yourself out with this post. Enjoy:

  8. Sanjee December 12, 2016 at 04:47 #

    Hi Dilshan, I am a Sri Lankan who has lived outside Sri Lanka since 1994 and I am married to a Belgian. Since we lived in various countries in Africa during the last 11 years I chose to speak English to my children and my husband speaks Dutch. Now that I am back in Belgium, I am thinking of organising a free twice a monthly workshop for children of Sri Lankan origin to speak Sinhala including my children who only have a passive understanding from having gone only on holiday to Sri Lanka. I was looking on you tube and came across your tutorials and frankly, I am so relieved and impressed to find that you can dissect a language like that. Its really fun. And it makes me look at my mother tongue in a totally new way. And I had such a good laugh with your humour. Thank you for all your work and can you please guide me in choosing the best links to teach children who cannot read yet. I am planning to start a workshop for children ranging from the ages of 3-10 years.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 27, 2016 at 10:46 #

      Hi Sanjee, thanks for your kind message. Made me smile. I don’t know of any links for kids but instead I usually recommend the basic Sinhala alphabet books one would find in any Sri Lankan book store. I’ll keep my eyes open nevertheless and let you know if I come across something. Or maybe I’ll just create my own? :)

      • Dorothea August 30, 2021 at 16:48 #

        Macht Spass mit Dilshan!

  9. Janaka March 15, 2017 at 06:07 #

    I grew up in the UK from a very young age. When I read the word ‘advertisement’ out loud in class, the whole place fell about laughing. I had used the Sri Lankan pronunciation I had learnt from my parents – advertISEment – instead of the English pronunciation.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 29, 2017 at 11:04 #

      Haha, oh man, I still say it like your parents do and I have to consciously change it if I’m speaking to a non-Sri Lankan. Thanks for sharing, Janaka.

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