Apart from the obvious reasons, why else would you need to know the Sinhala words for spoon, fork, and knife?
Well, just think about the number of times you’ve had a meal with a Sri Lankan friend (or if you haven’t, trust me, it’s only a matter of time before you’re invited for a home-cooked Sri Lankan meal. I know how generous my peeps can be).
For such occasions, I’m willing to bet that the topic of cutlery will come up.
Because my friend, we don’t usually eat the way you do.. > > >
For as long as I remember, I’ve always eaten my Sri Lankan meals only by hand.
Even after I moved to Europe, whenever I’d cook a rice & curry at home, I’d never use a fork. Those were exclusively reserved for nights when I’d make my favorite Charolais steaks or my De Cecco rigatoni.
But it’s not just us Sri Lankans.
Since my marriage to my wife who is Indian, I travel to Mumbai very often and I notice that over here people do use their hands to eat their rotis and naans. However, rice is generally eaten with a spoon (or at least, this is true in the circle of Mumbaikars I hang out with).
Unfortunately, I learned this hard way:
You see, a few months before the wedding, my father-in-law hosted a dinner to around 25 of his close friends to introduce this strapping young Sri Lankan man who was about to marry his daughter (at least that’s what I thought. Maybe he just wanted to scare me by showing me how big & burly his friends are).
Anyway… Dinner was served. The hot hot rotis and puris came out. Everyone ate by hand. So far so good. I was having a good time and I managed to even crack a joke or two that had the whole table laughing.
Then the rice dish was brought and merry old Dilshan continued with his hands. It was only when I saw Mrs. Smart’s somewhat alarmed eyes did I realize that I may have made a faux pas. Just a glance around the table was sufficient for me to know that there should have been be a spoon in my hand.
Anyway, no big deal. Only around 23 of those friends noticed. But I still got to marry her.
Sinhala Words For “Spoon”, “Fork”, “Knife”, & Other Cutlery
Spoon In Sinhala
|– a spoon||– hæn∙dhak|
|– spoons||– hæňdhi1|
|tea spoon||thḗ hæn∙dhȧ|
|table spoon||mḗ∙sȧ hæn∙dhȧ1|
|soup spoon||“soup” hæn∙dhȧ|
|rice serving spoon||bath bé∙dhȧ∙nȧ hæn∙dhȧ|
My Random Notes:
1 ‘mḗ∙sȧ∙yȧ’ = “table”; ‘mḗ∙sȧ’ = “of the table” (an an adjective)
- I dropped the spoon = ma∙mȧ hæn∙dhȧ væt∙tu∙wa
- The spoon fell = hæn∙dhȧ va∙tu∙na
- Would (you) give me a spoon? = ma∙tȧ hæn∙dhak dhé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?
- How many spoons do you need/want? = o∙yaa∙tȧ hæňdhi kee∙yak ō∙né∙dhȧ?
- This spoon is dirty = mḗ hæn∙dhȧ ki∙lu∙tuyi
- This spoon is not clean = mḗ hæn∙dhȧ pi∙ri∙si∙dhu nǣ
- This spoon is too small = mḗ hæn∙dhȧ po∙di væ∙diyi
- This spoon is too big = mḗ hæn∙dhȧ lo∙ku væ∙diyi
- This spoon has rusted = mḗ hæn∙dhȧ ma∙lȧ∙kȧ∙dȧ kaa∙la
Fork in Sinhala
|– a fork||– gǣ∙ræp∙pu∙wak|
|– forks||– gǣ∙ræp∙pu|
- You can substitute the above words with any of the Sample Phrases you saw under “Spoons in Sinhala” where appropriate
Knife in Sinhala
|– a knife||– pi∙hi∙yak|
|– knives||– pi∙hi|
|bread knife||paan ka∙pȧ∙nȧ pi∙hi∙yȧ2|
|butter knife||“ba∙tȧr” gaa∙nȧ pi∙hi∙yȧ3|
|cheese knife||“cheese” ka∙pȧ∙nȧ pi∙hi∙yȧ|
|pizza cutter||“pizza” ka∙pȧ∙nȧ é∙kȧ4|
My Random Notes:
2 Literally, “the knife that cuts bread”
3 Literally, “the knife that applies butter”
4 Literally, “the one that cuts pizza”
- This knife is blunt = mḗ pi∙hi∙yȧ mot∙tayi
- This knife is not sharp = mḗ pi∙hi∙yȧ mu∙wȧ∙hath nǣ
- Once again, substitute the above words with the Sample Phrases under “Spoons”
|drinking straw||“straw” é∙kȧ5|
|– a drinking straw||– “straw” é∙kak|
|– drinking straws||– “straw”|
|ice cream scoop||“ice cream” hæn∙dhȧ6|
My Random Notes:
5 You might also hear ‘ba∙tȧ∙yȧ’ or ‘plastic ba∙tȧ∙yȧ’
6 Literally, “ice cream spoon”
- I’m not used to eating with chopsticks = ma∙mȧ “chopsticks” vȧ∙lin kaa∙la pu∙ru∙dhu nǣ
- Even for these words, you substitute them with the Sample Phrases under “Spoons”
Type Of Cutlery Based On Material
|stainless steel||su∙dhu ya∙kȧ∙dȧ7|
My Random Notes:
7 ‘su∙dhu’ = “white” (see Colors in Sinhala); ‘ya∙kȧ∙dȧ’ = “iron”
8 I remember learning at school that an ancient name for Sri Lanka was ‘thambapanni’ which I believe translated into ‘copper colored land’.
- This is a stainless steel spoon = mḗ∙kȧ su∙dhu ya∙kȧ∙dȧ hæn∙dhak
- I want to buy a silver fork = ma∙tȧ ri∙dhee gǣ∙ræp∙pu∙wak gan∙nȧ ō∙né
- I need a plastic knife = ma∙tȧ “plastic” pi∙hi∙yak a∙vash∙yayi
Edit – More sample phrases based on suggestions from comments I got:
- “I don’t mind using my hand” = prash∙nȧ∙yak nǣ, ma∙mȧ a∙thin kan∙nam (lit. “Not a problem, I’ll eat by hand”)
- “No silverware needed” = hæňdhi gǣ∙ræp∙pu ō∙né nǣ (lit. “spoons forks are not necessary”)
- “Should I use my spoon/fork now” = dhæn hæňdhi gǣ∙ræp∙pu vȧ∙lin∙dhȧ kan∙né? (lit. “Now (do we) eat by spoons forks?”)
- “Or just my hand?” = næth∙nam a∙thin∙dhȧ? (lit. “or by hand?”)
- “What are you going to do?” = o∙yaa ko∙ho∙mȧ∙dhȧ kan∙nȧ yan∙né? (lit. “How are you going to eat?”)
That all folks!