The Department of Official Languages was established on 01.10.1956 as the institution which implements the Official Language Act No.33 of 1956. Sinhala and Tamil were recognized as the official languages, and English the link language by the 13th and 16th Amendments to the Constitution, respectively in 1987 and 1988.
This department, with its proud history, is a public institution that functions with responsibility to ascertain the language rights of the general public. For this purpose, the Department of Official Languages performs functions such as providing translation services to meet the requirements of the government, improving language skills of government servants, compiling glossaries, compiling language textbooks and dictionaries, planning language promotion programmes with the aim to create a society with advanced language skills, and providing opportunities to carry out relevant tasks with ease with the use of modern technology. The department is currently governed by the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government, and headed by the Commissioner General of Official Languages.
“A peaceful trilingual society enriched with co-existence”
“To facilitate and coordinate the implementation of the Official Language Policy with the objective of achieving Peace and Harmony.ˮ
Key Functions of the Department
- Conducting the relevant written and oral tests for officers who are required to obtain official language proficiency, and awarding certificates.
- Providing translation services to government and semi-government institutions. (Sinhala, Tamil, English)
- Compiling Sinhala, Tamil, and English glossaries for various subjects.
- Compilation and sale of textbooks, support materials (books) and CDs relevant to acquiring official languages proficiency.
- Compilation of trilingual dictionaries
- Teaching Sinhala, Tamil, English and foreign languages using modern technology, and conducting examinations.
- Conducting language proficiency examinations and selection tests for the staffs of external institutions.
- Providing practical training to students following translation courses at universities and recognized educational institutions.
- Designing curriculums, teaching guides, support materials (books) for the Sinhala and Tamil courses to be held island-wide for public officers who are required to acquire Official Languages Proficiency as per Public Administration Circular No. 18/2020, and educating the resource persons on matters relating to the same.
- Conducting the National Languages Qualifications examination.
- Utilizing modern technology to facilitate the translation process.
- Celebrating days of national significance such as Sinhala Language Day, Tamil Language Day and International Translation Day.