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Release: Immediate

English as official U.S. language is subject of foreign scholar's talk

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Karuna Dharmadasa, a Sri Lankan scholar long involved with debates over establishing a national language in his country, will give a public lecture at the University of Iowa on current efforts to make English the official language in the United States.

Dharmadasa will speak on the subject, "Language Planning in Sri Lanka and the U.S.: A Comparative Perspective," at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in the Iowa Memorial Union, Ohio State Room. Refreshments will be served beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Dharmadasa's talk is part of the ongoing "International Forum for U.S. Studies" at the UI Center for International and Comparative Studies (CICS). Made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the forum is a three-year program designed to promote scholarship about the United States in other countries.

Each spring through 1999, the forum hosts five distinguished foreign scholars for three-month residency programs, during which they pursue research and give public lectures on American issues and culture. This year's other fellows are Sylvia Hilton of Spain, Yu Jianhua of China, Hazel Rowley of Australia and Moshe Shokeid of Israel.

Dharmadasa is Cadre Chair Professor of Sinhalese at the University of Peradeniya and editor-in-chief of the Sinhala Encyclopedia, and has served on the Official Language Commission of the Republic of Sri Lanka. His research interests range from the sociology of language to religious and cultural history, to tribal culture and even to writing song lyrics.

Dharmadasa's lecture also is sponsored by the UI department of linguistics. For further information, contact CICS at (319)335-0368.