Dhivehi – a language as colourful as the Maldives
Nowadays Dhivehi, the official language of the Maldives, literally translated as “the language of the islanders“, is spoken by around 350,000 people. Besides being spoken on the Maldives Dhivehi is also the main language on the Indian island of Minicoy. Dhivehi is a descendent of the ancient Indian language Maharashtri Prakrit and is closely related to the Indian languages Marathi, Konkani and to Sinhalese. According to historians, Prince Vijaya brought the language from India to the Maldives in around 543 to 483 B.C. Since then the languages spoken on the islands have continued to change, for over the centuries, owing to the Maldives’ strategic location, the country was visited and occupied by many European and Arab nations. Naturally, this also affected the language. Arabic was the biggest influence. However, French, Persian, Portuguese, Hindustani and English also left their mark on Dhivehi. In some cases it has influenced other languages too: the words atoll and dhoni come from Maldivian (atolu and dōni), for example. A host of dialects can be heard on the many beautiful islands of the Maldives. They have wonderful names such as Malé, Huvadhu, Mulaku, Addu, Haddhunmathee and Maliku. In its written form the language is called Thaana which has been in existence for over 800 years. On the Maldives inscriptions have even been found on corals dating back to the eighth century.
Holidaymakers can test their own skills at this interesting language as many travel guides also include small dictionaries. “ Assalaamu alaikum“ is used upon greeting someone, for example, and “Dhanee“ means goodbye. More information can be found here: Dhivehi.
Photo: © Sakis Papadopoulos
About the Maldives:
- An area measuring 800 by 130 km, comprising 26 atolls and 1,190 islands, of which over 100 are open to tourism
- A year-round holiday destination where daytime temperatures average around 30° C
- Direct flights from Frankfurt/Main and Vienna
- Holidays in the Maldives means: only one resort per island - complete privacy and calm and no cars. Wherever there is a resort the island’s facilities can be reached on foot
- Tourism highlights: island hopping, marine wildlife, beaches, outstanding wellness facilities, sunset cruises