Hari hari

We are all familiar with the Sri Lankan head wiggle of assent; a far more sophisticated affair than the Indian wobble, the Sri Lankan version is more of a subtle figure of eight motion.  It of course means yes!, but to the Western newcomer it can very much look like a head-shaking “no!”  and can take some getting used to.

The wiggle is often offered silently but may be accompanied by the word “hari” or “hari, hari”, a word you will hear a million times a day and which indicates “OK yes, I understand, of course”. Hari can also be used a question inviting a confirmation “hari’ in response. If you only learn a handful of Sinhala words, “hari” is a useful one to have on the list.