What Languages Are Spoken In Maldives?

The Maldives are known for their amazing tropical beaches.
The Maldives are known for their amazing tropical beaches.

Located in the southwest parts of Sri Lanka and India, in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives Republic uses Dhivehi or Maldivian as the official language. Although the country has several other dialects, which include Mulaku, Huvadhu, Maliku, and Addu, Dhivehi remains the dominant language in the Maldives. During ancient times, Dhivehi was in the form of Elu but become Maldivian after several influences from languages like English, German, and Arabic. Due to the transformation, Dhivehi language contains some English words that include Atoll and Dhoni. The presence of some English words is an indication that indeed the language is an outcome of influenced Elu. Presently, over 350,000 people speak the Maldivian language. Moreover, the language is native to about 10,000 individuals who live in the Minicoy Island. Another factor that cannot be underscored is the rising use of English, which threatens to take the lead and challenge the use of Dhivehi.

The Popularity Of English Language In The Maldives

Although English was once part of the minority languages in the country, its popularity rose when the country decided to use it in schools. The replacement of Dhivehi language with English was a momentous move in increasing the scope and scale of English among the people in the Maldives. Currently, several people, especially in regions like Male, speak the English language. Moreover, resorts and other places, which attract people of different dialects, use English as a medium of communication. The change of language also compelled teachers and stakeholders in the education system to convert syllabi from Maldivian to English. Currently, Maldivian schools use English in all lessons except those that studying the Dhivehi language. One of the factors that stakeholders in the education sector plan to implement in the quest to improve the use of English are a strategy known as ‘immersion education,' which dictates that students speak English and only use Dhivehi at certain times. Another strategy that focuses on improving the use of English includes the introduction of Dhivehi-English dictionaries that will help trainers in the country to teach English effectively.

The National Language Of Maldives

Maldivian language also known as Dhivehi is a national language used in the Maldives. The language follows writings drafted using Thaana style written from right to left. The Thaana system of writing was introduced at a time when Mohamed Thakurufaanu reigned. Before introduction of English, the language was used as a medium of instruction in schools and was spoken by over 350,000 individuals in the country. In as much as the Maldivian language is diminishing in official places and schools, it is still in use in homesteads where people use it as they engage in their day-to-day activities.

Minority And Foreign Languages Spoken In Maldives

Besides Maldivian and English languages, there are minor languages used in some parts of the country. Resorts and social places frequented by tourists are slowly adopting the use of German, French, and Arabic. The increasing numbers of visitors from regions that speak these languages drive the emergence of these new languages. Nonetheless, whether the languages will one day take the position of the dominant Dhivehi and English language is one of the questions that scholars are still researching.


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