The language of the Maldivians is Dhivehi, a language which is placed in the Indro-Indian group of languages. Dhivehi with its roots in Sanskrit and according to some researchers Elu, an ancient form of Sinhala, (spoken in Sri Lanka), is strongly influenced by the major lanuguages of the region. The language has been influenced heavily from Arabic since the advent of the Islam in 1153 and English in more recent times, especially since the introduction of English as a medium of education in the early 1960s.

Given the wide dispersion of islands it is not surprising that the vocabulary and pronunciation vary from atoll to atoll, with the difference being more significant in the dialects spoken in the southernmost atolls. The Maldivian script known as thaana was invented during the 16th century soon after the country was liberated from Portuguese rule. Unlike former scripts thaana is written from right to left. This was devised to accommodate Arabic words that are frequently used in Dhivehi. There are 24 letters in the thaana alphabet.


Hello (formal) Assalaamu Alaikum
Hello (informal) Kihineh?
How are you? Haalu kihineh?
Yes Aan
No Noon
Where? Kobaa?
Why? Keevve?
Who? Kaaku?
There Ethaa
Here Mithaa
What? Koacheh?
This Mi
That E
What is (your)name? Kon nameh kiyanee?
My name is Aharenge namakee
Good Ran'galhu
Goodbye (informal) Dhanee
Where are you from? Kon rasheh?
Thank you Shukuriyaa
I am sorry Ma-aafu kurey
How old are you? Umurun kihaa vareh?
My age is Aharenge umurakee
Where are (you) going? Or What place are we going? Kon thanakah dhanee?
What time are (we) going? Kon irakun dhanee?
What is the price? Agu kihaavareh?
How long will it take? Kihaa ireh nagaanee?
What time is it? Gadin kihaa ireh?
What island is that? E-ee kon rasheh?

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  Information provided by Maldives Tourism Promotion Board, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Maldives.


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