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Tea Leaves

When music breaks language barriers

Neglected South Asian tongues can take heart in massive reach of Sinhala popular song

Yohani Diloka De Silva's song's success offered millions a chance to hear the Sinhala language for the first time. (Photo courtesy of Pettah Effect)

When I first heard the strains of "Manike Mage Hithe" (baby in my heart) shortly after it was uploaded on YouTube in May, I had little idea this song in Sinhala -- a language only spoken in Sri Lanka, where I come from -- was going to become a phenomenon across South Asia. Its lyrics speak of youth and romance and the melodic tune begins with touches of a ballad and is fused with rap.

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