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VOA常速英语2008年-Sri Lanka Launches Bilingual Training to Ease R

时间:2008-03-22 02:25来源:互联网 提供网友:Jane801   字体: [ ]
By Raymond Thibodeaux
18 March 2008

Sri Lanka's Sinhalese-dominated government recently launched a program to spur thousands of its public servants to learn the Tamil language. It is seen as a bold step to ease tension between the country's Sinhala and Tamil ethnic1 groups. Raymond Thibodeaux reports for VOA from Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

It is hard for some to imagine that Sri Lanka's 25-year war between the mostly Sinhala Sri Lankan army and Tamil militants2 - a sporadic3 conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people - is partly rooted in language differences.

But Dew Gunesekera, the director of Sri Lanka's Ministry4 of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration5, says the language divide between the country's majority Sinhala and minority Tamil ethnic groups is one of the causes of the conflict. And, he says, bridging that language gap might be a way out of it.

"Sixty percent of our conflict can be solved through the medium of language," he said. "That is my view."

Under the bilingualization program spearheaded by Gunesekera, Sri Lanka's Sinhala public servants are offered cash bonuses and potential job promotions6 to learn Tamil. Government officials who speak only Tamil are offered the same bonuses for learning Sinhala.

Gunesekera says only about a quarter of the country's 7,000 public servants speak Tamil, even though it was made an official language 20 years ago.

"Now, for instance let us say you have a Tamil person. He sends a letter to the government in Tamil and receives a reply in Sinhala. He feels that he is a second-class citizen," he said. "Then from the point of employment, when Sinhala was the only official language and the number of Tamil public servants was reduced or minimized. We have 65,000 people in the police department and there are only 600 Tamil speakers in the service. That is a problem."

Historians say Sri Lanka's conflict goes back to the 19th century, when Britain colonized7 the island with the help of Tamil-speaking administrators8. English and Tamil were the only official languages in Sri Lanka. That changed dramatically in 1956, just eight years after independence, when Sinhala was made the country's only official language.

Gunesekera said that at that time, Tamils made up only about 15 percent of the population, but they occupied about 40 percent of the government jobs. He said with Sinhala as the only official language, many Tamils were forced out of government jobs and replaced with Sinhala speakers, stoking distrust between the two ethnic groups. Language quickly became a hot political issue.

The distrust eventually led to bloodshed. Tamil militants, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have waged a brutal9 secessionist uprising against the government since the 1980s. This year fighting has intensified10.

Language classes are not going to solve the problem, says Mano Ganesan, a member of Sri Lanka's parliament and leader of the Western People's Front, a mainly Tamil political party.

"Language was where the ethnic issue began. But language is no more an issue now," he said. "Now, the issue for the Tamil community is right to life. Their existence itself is threatened. You have to protect your life. Then you can for language rights, employment rights, or any other rights."

Ganesan's comments reflect a growing unease in the Tamil community, even in Colombo, where government authorities have strengthened security around the capital to root out suspected Tamil militants in the wake of a recent spate11 of deadly suicide bombings.

Ganesan said that many Tamils feel targeted for harassment12 by police and army troops, who have set up dozens of checkpoints in the capital. Human rights groups allege13 that hundreds of Tamil men have been abducted14 by authorities and never heard from again.

Like many ethnic Tamils, Ganesan remains15 skeptical16 about the government's will to follow through with the program.

"I challenge this minister. I challenge this government. What he is telling you is not true," he said. "There are some efforts by this government lately to give a message to the international community to project themselves as doing the right thing. There is no will within the government to solve this issue."

Gunesekera understands the skepticism. He says both Sinhala and Tamil should have been made official languages in the nation's constitution shortly after independence in 1948. If that had been done, he says, Sri Lanka might have avoided the war.

"It was a mistake, no doubt," he said. "What should have been done in 1948 now I am doing it in 2008."

Gunesekera said he envisions a totally bilingual public service within the next five years. But he admits that he does not speak Tamil himself. Not yet, anyway.


1 ethnic jiAz3     
  • This music would sound more ethnic if you played it in steel drums.如果你用钢鼓演奏,这首乐曲将更具民族特色。
  • The plan is likely only to aggravate ethnic frictions.这一方案很有可能只会加剧种族冲突。
2 militants 3fa50c1e4338320d8495907fdc5bdbaf     
激进分子,好斗分子( militant的名词复数 )
  • The militants have been sporadically fighting the government for years. 几年来,反叛分子一直对政府实施零星的战斗。
  • Despite the onslaught, Palestinian militants managed to fire off rockets. 尽管如此,巴勒斯坦的激进分子仍然发射导弹。
3 sporadic PT0zT     
adj.偶尔发生的 [反]regular;分散的
  • The sound of sporadic shooting could still be heard.仍能听见零星的枪声。
  • You know this better than I.I received only sporadic news about it.你们比我更清楚,而我听到的只是零星消息。
4 ministry kD5x2     
  • They sent a deputation to the ministry to complain.他们派了一个代表团到部里投诉。
  • We probed the Air Ministry statements.我们调查了空军部的记录。
5 integration G5Pxk     
  • We are working to bring about closer political integration in the EU.我们正在努力实现欧盟內部更加紧密的政治一体化。
  • This was the greatest event in the annals of European integration.这是欧洲统一史上最重大的事件。
6 promotions ea6aeb050f871384f25fba9c869cfe21     
促进( promotion的名词复数 ); 提升; 推广; 宣传
  • All services or promotions must have an appeal and wide application. 所有服务或促销工作都必须具有吸引力和广泛的适用性。
  • He promptly directed the highest promotions and decorations for General MacArthur. 他授予麦克阿瑟将军以最高的官阶和勋奖。
7 colonized b6d32edf2605d89b4eba608acb0d30bf     
开拓殖民地,移民于殖民地( colonize的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The area was colonized by the Vikings. 这一地区曾沦为维京人的殖民地。
  • The British and French colonized the Americas. 英国人和法国人共同在美洲建立殖民地。
8 administrators d04952b3df94d47c04fc2dc28396a62d     
n.管理者( administrator的名词复数 );有管理(或行政)才能的人;(由遗嘱检验法庭指定的)遗产管理人;奉派暂管主教教区的牧师
  • He had administrators under him but took the crucial decisions himself. 他手下有管理人员,但重要的决策仍由他自己来做。 来自辞典例句
  • Administrators have their own methods of social intercourse. 办行政的人有他们的社交方式。 来自汉英文学 - 围城
9 brutal bSFyb     
  • She has to face the brutal reality.她不得不去面对冷酷的现实。
  • They're brutal people behind their civilised veneer.他们表面上温文有礼,骨子里却是野蛮残忍。
10 intensified 4b3b31dab91d010ec3f02bff8b189d1a     
v.(使)增强, (使)加剧( intensify的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Violence intensified during the night. 在夜间暴力活动加剧了。
  • The drought has intensified. 旱情加剧了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
11 spate BF7zJ     
  • Police are investigating a spate of burglaries in the area.警察正在调查这一地区发生的大量盗窃案。
  • Refugees crossed the border in full spate.难民大量地越过了边境。
12 harassment weNxI     
  • She often got telephone harassment at night these days.这些天她经常在夜晚受到电话骚扰。
  • The company prohibits any form of harassment.公司禁止任何形式的骚扰行为。
13 allege PfEyT     
  • The newspaper reporters allege that the man was murdered but they have given no proof.新闻记者们宣称这个男人是被谋杀的,但他们没提出证据。
  • Students occasionally allege illness as the reason for absence.学生时不时会称病缺课。
14 abducted 73ee11a839b49a2cf5305f1c0af4ca6a     
劫持,诱拐( abduct的过去式和过去分词 ); 使(肢体等)外展
  • Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that she was abducted. 侦探尚未排除她被绑架的可能性。
  • The kid was abducted at the gate of kindergarten. 那小孩在幼儿园大门口被绑架走了。
15 remains 1kMzTy     
  • He ate the remains of food hungrily.他狼吞虎咽地吃剩余的食物。
  • The remains of the meal were fed to the dog.残羹剩饭喂狗了。
16 skeptical MxHwn     
  • Others here are more skeptical about the chances for justice being done.这里的其他人更为怀疑正义能否得到伸张。
  • Her look was skeptical and resigned.她的表情是将信将疑而又无可奈何。
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