Our Story

Starting as the publisher for books authored by Emeritus Professor J. B. Disanayaka, Sumitha Publishers has now expanded to publishing a number of selected works of good authors.

We have a keen interest in publishing high-quality children’s books to make children enjoy reading. Many of our publications are used in schools as recommended supplementary readers. Many of our publications have also won state awards for literacy excellence.

We have partnered with Sarasavi Book Shop, the leading bookseller in Sri Lanka to sell and distribute our books.

About Emeritus Professor J. B. Disanayaka

Emeritus Professor of Sinhala, Desamānya J. B. Disanayaka, occupies a prominent place among the Sinhala scholars in contemporary Sri Lanka. Prof. Disanayaka retired from the University of Colombo in 2002 after a long and distinguished career as the Senior Professor of Sinhala. In 2007, he was appointed as the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Thailand and served as a diplomat for four years. Throughout his professional career—first as Professor of Sinhala, and then as an Ambassador — Prof. Disanayaka’s renown in linguistics attracted the attention of the academic and public domains. He has had a major influence on Sinhala language and grammar and a significant effect on a range of other areas from culture to journalism, children’s literature to language technology.

Born on 16th April 1937, in Rambukkana, Kegalle District he had his secondary education at the Dharmaraja College, Kandy and later at the Ananda College Colombo. In 1957, he gained admission to the University of Ceylon, Peradeniaya, where he was tutored by some of the best scholar’s in the country in the field of Sinhala language and literature, such as Prof. D.E. Hettiarachichi, Prof. Ediriweera Sarachachandra, Dr. M.W. Sugathapala De Silva and Dr. Siri Gunasinghe. The academic and cultural atmosphere prevailed in the university and his ardent love for the Sinhala language and culture paved the way for his subsequent academic and professional achievements.

In 1961, Prof. Disanayaka graduated from the University of Ceylon, securing a first-class honors degree and winning many prizes for academic excellence. Soon after his graduation, he began his academic career as a lecturer in the Department of Sinhala. As a young lecturer, he chose the field of Modern Linguistics for his postgraduate studies.He received his MA in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley where he spent two years (1963-65) as a Fulbright Scholar. He spent another year at the University College, London studying Theoretical Linguistics. During his postgraduate life, he was influenced by a number of leading linguists, notably Professors Dell Hymes , John Gumperz and Michalel Halliday.

As a professional linguist, Prof. Disanayaka is a product of both American and British school of linguistic thought. His doctoral dissertation on The Word in Modern Literary Sinhala was submitted to the University of Colombo in 1980.

Professor Disanayaka was instrumental in establishing the Department of Linguistics in the University of Colombo, the first full-fledged department of Linguistics in a Sri Lankan university. It was then that his major contribution to the development of Sinhala linguistics commenced with full vigour. He became the Head of the newly-established Department of Linguistics, until 1973 when it was relocated to another university. He continued to teach the Sinhala language at the University of Colombo and played a leading role in popularizing the new subject — the modern linguistics. After years of dedicated service, he rose to the grade of Senior Professor of Sinhala in the University of Colombo bringing honour and fame to the institution.

As a university academic, Professor Disanayaka has made a lasting contribution to advance the knowledge on Sinhala grammar, language and culture. He has published extensively in these fields of study totalling to more than 100 books in Sinhala and English and several scholarly articles of exceptional academic value. In his own field of expertise, he worked towards bridging the gap between traditional Sinhala grammatical studies and modern linguistics. His first two books written in Sinhala –Bhashāvaka Rata Samudaya (1969) and Bhāshāvaka Bhāvitaya hā Vigrahaya (1970) considered as a pioneering effort to introduce the concepts of modern linguistic analysis to the Sinhala readership. His innovative ideas on Sinhala grammar sparked many controversies in the Sinhala linguistic circles and provided new insights to the study of language. As a modern grammarian, Prof. Disanayaka took the initiative to write a new grammar for contemporary Sinhala and to analyze Sinhala usage in keeping with the different aims of modern linguistics and grammar. His new series of Sinhala grammar titled Basaka Mahima(2001) attempts to analyze the Sinhala written usage from a linguistic perspective and makes a novel approach to study Sinhala grammar. In addition to his vast number of Sinhala publications on Sinhala language and grammar, Prof. Disanayaka’s other publications in English include, Language and Commonsense (1973) Say it in Sinhala (1974) The Structure of Spoken Sinhala: Sounds and their Patterns (1991), A Unique Indo-Aryan Language (1994), Let’s Learn Sinhala (2004). This present volume Sinhala: Saga of an Island Language (2012) gives a comprehensive and an accessible account on the history, structure and development of the Sinhala language.

Prof. Disanayaka has spent several years studying languages and cultures of many communities. In 1976, he spent a year in the Umbrian mountains of Perugia, studying Italian languages and culture. In 1985, another year was spent in Scotland as a Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK studying Applied Linguistics. He was one of the two Sri Lankan scholars to be invited in 1981 by the Republic of Maldives to read and translate into English, for the first time, the 12th century Lomafānu copper plates, the oldest historical documents of the Maldives. His interest in modern Maldivian finds expression in Say it in Maldivian (1990) which he co-authored with H.A. Maniku, a Maldivian scholar. In the field of Sinhala language studies, Prof. Disanayaka’s main focus was on the documenting of Sinhala folk usage. As a scholar, he was fascinated by the beauty and romance of Sinhala village and devoted much of his time to collect the Sinhala folk usage. He considered spoken Sinhala as a vital part of the Sinhala language study and developed a new way of looking at Sinhala folk speech. His publication Sinhala Jana Vahara (1976) helped to pioneer the documentation of Sinhala folk usage from a linguistic point of view. Though he has gained a reputation as a linguist by profession, his love for the Sinhala village and its people – the monks, and the peasants – inspired him to write on Sinhala culture. His major works on Sinhala culture and folklore such as Aspects of Sinhala Folklore (1984) Water in Culture: The Sri Lankan Heritage (1992), Mihintale: Cradle of Sinhala Buddhist Civilization (1987) The Monk and the Peasant (1993), Understanding the Sinhalese (1998) provide a large corpus of knowledge about the different aspects of Sinhala culture and arts. In 1996, he also started to write a series of Sinhala booklets titled Rataka Mahima in a simple style, using the spoken idiom, to provide information on Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. In addition to his professional linguistic interests, Prof. Disanayaka’s knowledge of Sinhala culture and arts is deep and varied.

As a linguist Prof. Disanayaka also took a leading role in the empowerment of local languages in the Sri Lankan ICT field, joining hands with his computer science colleagues. He was one of the Sri Lankan scholars participated in a conference held at Crete, Greece in 1998, to standardize the Sinhala alphabet for Unicode. Further, he served as an expert on the Sinhala language for many language technology projects in the ICT field. Further, he served as a member and consultant in many language planning projects conducted by the government. such as Member, Official Language Commission; Member of the Editorial Board – Trilingual Dictionary: Member – School Text Book Committee, Dept of Educational Publications; Member – Glossary Committee for Computer Science. In 2012 he was appointed as a member of the Presidential Task Force for a Trilingual l Sri Lanka. In recent years, moving away from his academic scholarship, Prof. Disanayaka ventured into the field of Sinhala children’s literature. His booklet series titled ‘Once Upon a Time’ narrates some of the more popular folk tales of the Sinhalese for children. The ‘Wisdom of the Folk’ is another series of booklets that explain for children the wisdom of their forefathers as found in their proverbs. Prof. Disanayaka has also written another popular series of books titled ‘Akuru Mihira’ in order to bring the first taste of Sinhala letters (akuru) and patterns of the Sinhala language for children.

With his versatile and numerous interests, Prof. Disanayaka has been a key figure in Sri Lankan media. In 1986, he was given the additional responsibility of coordinating the newly-established Journalism Unit of the University of Colombo. His academic vistas then expanded further in the field of Journalism education. He possessed the richness of vision to commence an undergraduate and diploma course of study of Journalism at the University of Colombo. Further, Prof. Disanayaka’s activities were not confined to university lecture rooms. He took an avid interest in various linguistic and cultural affairs of the country. In many occasions, he shared his vast linguistic knowledge with a wider audience. He has been a consultant, contributor or presenter on several television and radio programmes on language and culture. Prof. Disanayaka’s wit, his love of laughter and his sense of humour often hid his erudite, serious and keen mind. However, most of his students will not forget his lively lectures on language and grammar.

Apart from his university activities, Prof. Disanayaka has played a major role, in the advancement of scholarship, Buddhism and culture by taking an active part in many international conferences, seminars and institutions concerned with such pursuits. He has delivered many guest lectures and endowed orations. As a scholar, Prof. Disanayaka has gained both national and international recognition and prestige too, for his excellent scholarship and academic contributions. The international positions offered to him include: Senior Fellow in the Department of Indology, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), UK (1992-93); Visiting Professor, Wako University, Japan (1998); Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Thailand (2007-2011). He has also won four State Literary Awards for his academic publications by the government of Sri Lanka. In 1996, he received the National Award of Sarvodaya Trust Fund for the advancement of humanity, peace and development. In recognition of the eminence he has attained in the field of linguistics and Sinhala grammar, and his distinguished contributions to the advancement of knowledge, in 2003, the University of Colombo conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt). He received the title of Kirti Sri from the University of Sabragamuwa. In 2005, he was awarded the coveted presidential honorary title Desamānyafrom the Government of Sri Lanka, in recognition of his services to the country.

Prof. Disanayaka now lives in Kohuwela, Nugegoda a suburb in Colombo district, where he continues to work as writer and consultant on language, grammar and culture. He is married to Kusum Disanayaka, writer and translator. He is a father of two children – son and daughter. 

Prof. Sandagomi Coperahewa, PhD (Cambridge).
University of Colombo.


Frequently Asked Questions

- Can I publish my book with you?

We are happy to help authors to publish their work. However, we will only publish books that are selected and recommended by our publishing team.

- I have written a book. How can I send it to you?

You can send an electronic copy of a manuscript of your book for us to review, using the contact details given in the ‘Contact us’ section. However, we will only publish books found suitable for printing.

- Where is your book shop?

We do not have our own book shop. We have partnered with Sarasavi Book Shop and our publications can be purchased from any Sarasavi Book Shop or through the Sarasavi On-line book shop.  Below is the list of Sarasavi Book Shops and the contact numbers.

  • Nugegoda Branch, 2B Samudradevi Mawatha,Nugegoda :
  •  Phone :- (+94) 11 2820820
  • Colombo Fort Branch, 44/9 Y.M.B.A. Building, Colombo Fort :    
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2326831
  • Kollupitiya Branch, 147, St. Michael’s Road , Kollupitiya : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2424587
  • Narahenpita Branch, Block 47, Narahenpita Economic Center, Kirimandala Mw, Narahenpita : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2369589
  • Borella Branch, 1/50 Y.M.B.A Building, Borella : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2698886
  • Dehiwala Branch, 24 Hill Street, Dehiwala : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2722349
  • Maharagama Branch, 74 High Level Road, Maharagama :
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2850340, (+94) 11 2838848
  • Piliyandala Branch, 82, Moratuwa Road, Piliyandala : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2609321
  • Horana Branch, 41, Anguruwathota Road, Horana : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 34 2262202
  • Kandy Branch, 86, D.S. Senanayake Veediya, Kandy : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 81 2223396
  • Kandy City Center Branch, Block 21, Level 2, Kandy City Center :
  •  Phone :- (+94) 81 2205344
  • Kurunegala Branch, 56, Colombo Road, Kurunegala :
  • Phone :- (+94) 37 2221397
  • Rathnapura Branch, No 23/1, Seneviratna Building, 1st floor, Colombo Road, Ratnapura.: 
  • Phone :- (+94) 45 2230501 / (+94) 45 2230502
  • Gampaha Branch, 87 Minuwangoda Road, Gampaha : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 33 2233444
  • Wattala Branch, 134A Sunil's Building, Old Negombo Road, Wattala.
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2933343 / (+94) 11 2933345
  • Kiribathgoda Branch, 151/1, Kandy Road, Kiribathgoda : 
  • Phone:- (+94) 11 2914255
  • Matara Branch, 04,Station Road, Matara : 
  • Phone:- (+94)41 2234494  /  (+94) 41 3492770
  • Galle Branch, 1st Floor, Central Bus Stand, Galle :
  • Phone :- (+94) 91 2225221-
  • Padukka Branch, 16,Horana Road,Padukka. :  
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2188388
  • Kottawa Branch, 175,Horana Road,Kottawa. : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2172462
  • Pelawatte Branch, 83,Parliment Road,Pelawatta, Battaramulla. : 
  • Phone :- (+94) 11 2787715

To connect to Sarasavi Online Book shop, please using the link below. You which will redirect to the Sarasavi Online Store.

Our books are also available at Vijitha Yapa Book shop located in the Unity Plaza Building, Bambalapitiya, Sri Lanka.

- How can I pay for my order?

At checkout, we do not collect payment for the orders. Your order details are sent to our distributors ( Sarasavi Book Shop) and they will contact you for payment and delivery. A copy of your order is sent to you via email.

At check out,  you are also given the option of buying our books directly from Sarasavi Online Book Shop. The Sarasavi Online Book store has a dedicated area for our publications.

You can contact the Sarasavi Book Shop Online Orders Administrator by calling : (+94) 711 30 40 50  or emailing : webadmin@sarasavi.lk

Have another questions?  Please don’t hesitate to ask us.

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