People of Maldives
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Dhivehi is the spoken language throughout the
Maldives. It has its roots in old South Asian languages, intermingling with
Arabic, Hindi and English words. Maldives has a very high literacy rate -
98%, to be precise. English was introduced as the medium of instruction in
most schools in the 1960s, while Dhivehi is still the language used for the
After the Portuguese were vanquished, about 4 centuries ago, the Thaana
script was introduced. It consists of Arabic- style letters written from
right to left and the vowels are indicated below and above the letters in
the form of dashes. There is no precise relation between the Thaana and
Roman script, which leads to the same word or name being spelt in many
Owing to the distance between the islands, differences in pronunciation and
vocabulary have cropped up, especially between the north and south atolls,
so much so that people in Malé cannot understand the dialect used by
the people of Seenu Atoll.
The Three Clases in Dhivehi
A peculiar form of class distinction is inherent in the Dhivehi language
and it is expressed through three levels:
The members of the upper class were and are still addressed with the first
level, the reethi bas or nice language. Nowadays, it has found
wide application on national radio and TV. The second level is used to show
respect for elders, officials and strangers. The more informal last level is
meant to be used by most of the people in every day life.
Peculiarities of Dhivehi
There is an interesting fusion of the English language and Dhivehi. Every
English word is suffixed with an u, for instance, computer
You will be surprised to know that Hello and Good bye
are not used in Dhivehi. Instead you might be greeted with a smile or the
raising of the eyebrow and just ask kihineh? (how are you?). Or
they might just ask you where you are going, kon thaakah dhanee?
Goodbyes are usually expressed by announcing dhanee! (Im
going). Thank you is not really a part of the language, but has
been introduced recently through the Indian word Shukriyya.
Maldivians are hospitable and generous by nature.
A majority of the islanders can converse in English, so tourists do not
encounter any serious communication problem.