The Maldives is a culturally rich nation that has been shaped by many cultures over the course of its history. As diverse as it is rich, its national language Dhivehei is a great subset of Maldivian culture.
The language of Dhivehei is an Indo-Aryan language that has been branched out from Sinhalese, the national language of Sri Lanka. Although the two languages share similarities, it is not always easy for the citizens of the two countries to understand each other. This is partly due to Dhivehei drawing inspiration from other languages such as Arabic, Persian and Dravidian languages, as well as containing hints of French and English.
Maldivian_style | img via wikipedia commons
The Maldivian script of Thaana has a unique writing structure comprising 24 letters, consists of vowel markers and consonants, and is written from right to left. The language contains melodic undertones, as its vowel harmony ensures vowel sounds in words are influenced by accompanying vowels in the word. It gives a pleasant rhythmic flow when spoken, a very distinctive feature of the language.
Syntax and Grammar
Dhivehei follows a relatively simple Subject-Object-Verb word structure, making use of postpositions over prepositions. Verbs are amalgamated based on the expression that is needed to be conveyed, based on tension and mood. Significantly, there are no gender distinctions in the Maldivian language.
Vocabulary and Forms of Expression
As is the case with most countries, the Maldivian language reflects its unique cultural aspects, which in turn is shaped by its geographical location. As an island in the Indian Ocean, its language contains words related to the marine environment it surrounds. Additionally, owing to a history of Islamic influences, many Arabic loanwords are used in both formal and informal settings. For instance, the Maldivian phrase for greeting, “Assalaamu Alaikum”, is a direct loanword for the Gulf states.
As a nation that greatly emphasises the importance of its culture, language is a primary driver of upholding and promoting Maldivian heritage. Great importance is placed on the works of poetry, song and literature to represent the people, of both the past and present. These expressions form a significant part of their cultural identity. If you’re staying at a resort like Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi, you could ask to be introduced to interesting texts from Maldivian creatives, as an insight into their culture.
As a visitor, it would greatly help if you familiarise yourself with the language, especially when visiting the best island in Maldives for activities, as you can better engage with the locals and learn the best spots to visit.