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Languages of Maldives: A Complete Guide

Maldivian culture has been influenced by different visitors who have arrived on its shores over the centuries. The language of Maldives is an example of that influence, which lets one understand the culture and feel less of an outsider. Being familiar with the basic words and phrases of the local languages of the country you're visiting has many benefits. Not only does it help you start a conversation with the locals, but also proves helpful in the times when you need help.

So, here is a list of languages of Maldives, followed by a translation guide to help you out on your tour:

1. Dhivehi

The official and the most common language of Maldives, Dhivehi, or the Maldivian language has been influenced by various languages like Arabic, French, Persian, Portuguese, Hindustani, and English through the ages. The language is derived from Elu Prakrit and is quite closely related to the Sinhalese language of Sri Lanka. English words like atoll and Dhoni are anglicised versions of Dhivehi words- atolu and doni. This language is written in Thaana script, which is written from right to left like Arabic.

Dhivehi outside a home in Maldives, Languages of Maldives
Dhivehi scribbled outside a home in Maldives (Source)

2. English

English is the second most popular language of Maldives, widely used in education, commerce and tourism sector. Although the Maldives had been a British protectorate in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, the popularity of English rose only when it was introduced in the schools in 1960 and replaced Dhivehi as the medium of education. Consequently, it has become the second language of a large chunk of the population. Measures like the introduction of the English - Dhivehi - English dictionary have been taken to promote greater understanding of the English language among Dhivehi speakers and vice versa. Since English is widely spoken by the locals and those in the tourism sector, language won't be a major problem here.

A signboard in English at Maldivian beach, Language of the Maldives
A signboard in English at a beach in Maldives (Source)

3. Arabic

Since Islam is the official and the most widespread religion of Maldives, with over 100 per cent Muslim population, the religious language of Maldives Muslims - Arabic is quite widespread in the Maldives. It is taught in schools and mosques, and thus, most of the population is familiar with the language to a great extent.  

A signboard in Arabic, Languages of Maldives
A signboard in Arabic (Source)

Traveller's Translation Guide

Dhivehi

Hello. - Assalaamu alaikum
Yes. - Aan
No. - Noon
Please. - Adhes kohfa 
Thank you. - Shukuriyaa 
You're welcome. - Maruhabaa 
Excuse me. - Ma-aaf kurey
I'm sorry. - Ma-aafu kurey 
Goodbye - Dhanee
Good morning. - Baajjaveri hendhuneh
Good night. - Baajjaveri reygande
How are you? - Haalu kihineh?
Fine, thank you. - Ran'galhu, shukuriyaa ( )
What is your name? - Kon nameh tha kiyanee?
My name is ______. - Aharenge namakee ______ ( _____ .)
Nice to meet you. - Baddhalu vee thi varah ufavejje. ( )
I can't speak *name of language*. - ahannakha "____" eh negey maa rangalhakah.
Do you speak English? - Ingireysin vaahaka dhakkan ingeytha?
Is there someone here who speaks English? - Mithaa ingireysin vahaka dhakan ingey mehaku eba huri tha?
Help! - Salaamai kurey!
I only eat vegetarian food. - Ahannakee evves kahala janavaaru maheh nukaa meeheh.
Can I use your phone? - ahannah thi phoanu beynun kollevi dhaane tha?
How much does it cost? - Meege agakee kobaa?
I'll call the police. - aharen fuluhun nah gulhaanan.

Arabic

Hello - marhaban
Please. - min fadlak (male); min fadlik (female)
Thank you. - shukran
Yes. - na`am; away
No. - la
Fine, thank you. - bi-khair shukran
You're welcome. - `afwan
Excuse me. - law samaht
I'm sorry. - ana ?sif (male); anasifa (female)
Help! -  an-najda!
What is your name? - ismak (male); ismik (female)
Goodbye - b?y b?y
I can't speak Arabic. -  Laatakallam `arabi
Do you speak English? - hal tatakallam el-ingliziyya?
Is there someone here who speaks English? - had beyetkallem ingelizi?
I'll call the police. - sa attasil bil-shurta
Can I use your phone? - hal mumkin astakhdim at-telefon?
How do I get to _____ ? - kayf bawsal la __
I'm a vegetarian. -  Ana nabati
How much does this cost? - bikam hatha
I'll call the police. ?- sa attasil bil-shurta

Although English is very popular language in Maldives and resorts and tourist places are gradually adopting various others like German and French because of the increasing number of these foreign visitors, keep this translation guide handy as it will help you communicate and mix up with the local population on your Maldives trip. There are other plenty of handbooks, mobile applications and online guides available these days that will help you further if you wish to learn more!

This post was published by Pranjali Kureel