Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Wimal Gunasekara Balagalle

Professor Emeritus Wimal Gunasekara Balagalle, known as Wimal G. Balagalle (1924-2021) was a Sri Lankan academic. He is considered a well-known linguist as well as an expert in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, and Bengali languages (RASSL, 2017).

Life events
Balagalle was born on 24 November 1924 in the village of Balagalla in Gampaha District (RASSL, 2017). He completed his primary and secondary education at Ullalapola Vidyatilaka Boys' Buddhist School and entered the Pallevela Vikramasila Pirivena in 1938 to follow his post-secondary education (RASSL, 2017). During this period, he visited the Balagalla Sarasvathi Pirivena where he could associate himself with Hisselle Gnanodaya Thera who introduced Balagalle to classical languages in the Pirivena education (RASSL, 2017).

In 1945, he entered the Vidyodaya Pirivena at Maligakanda for higher education and completed studies there with achieving the "Syamaraja Award", a special prize awarded by the King of Thailand (RASSL, 2017). In 1950, he obtained his Pandit Diploma (O.S.S.) and in 1952 he entered the University of Ceylon where he completed his BA Honours Degree in Sinhala by 1956 (RASSL, 2017).

Balagalle started his career life as a member of the academic staff of the Vidyodaya Pirivena (RASSL, 2017). When that Pirivena was granted the university state in 1959, he was appointed as a lecturer in Sinhala and was promoted to the post of Professor in the same year (RASSL, 2017). During his life in the university, he was awarded a number of international fellowships by foreign universities including the University of London (1961-1963), the University of Washington, Seattle, USA [(1963) RASSL, 2017].

The University of Sri Jayawardanapura and the Buddhist and Pali University conferred on Ballagalle two Honorary Doctorates in 1984 and in 2008 (RASSL, 2017). In 1990, the University of Sri Jayawardanapura conferred the title Professor Emeritus upon him (RASSL, 2017).

Balagalle passed away on 16 July 2021.

Publications
# Pancatantra (1950)
# The life of Saranankara Sangharaja (1951)
# Record of the Buddhist Kingdom by Fa Xian (1958)
# A critical edition of Sinhala Thupavamsaya (1964)
# The Origin and the Evolution of Sinhala Language (1992)
# Language Studies and Sinhala Usage (1995)
# The Foundation and the Development of Sinhala Language (1996)
# The History of the Studies on Sinhala Language (1998)
# Sinhala translation of the Linguistic Characteristics of the Sinhalese by Wilhelm Geiger (2001)
# Essays on Sinhala Linguistic Studies I (2004)
# Linguistic Communication and Semantics and Pragmatics (2014)

References
1) Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (RASSL), 2017. The Royal Asiatic Society Medal in memory of Sir. SC Obeyesekere for 2016 is awarded to Emeritus Professor Wimal Gunesekera Balagalle. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, pp.137-141.


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