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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 25, 2020
Headline for Basic Dhivehi Phrases to Help You Through Your Maldives Trip – The Language of the Islands
Joanna James Joanna James
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Basic Dhivehi Phrases to Help You Through Your Maldives Trip – The Language of the Islands

The Maldives has become one of the most popular beach destinations to travel to in the world. Each year, thousands of tourists flock to these islands on vacation. So, chances are, you might be one of them. If that's the case here are a few phrases and etiquette guidelines that'll help with your trip.


Introducing Yourself

Most idyllic Maldives vacations are spent sunning at the beach, wiling away your time at one of the many Maldives Island beach resorts such as the Finolhu Baa Atoll Maldives. But it would be a missed opportunity to not venture out into town and immerse yourself in the local culture while you're there. In cities like Male, there's plenty of cafés and bars for you to visit and get chatty with the locals. When doing that of course, you'll first want to introduce yourself. While most Maldivians do have at least a passing grasp of English, you can give them a pleasant surprise by introducing yourself in Dhivehi – the islands' native language. "Assalaamu Alaikum", is how you say hello here. You can follow this up by giving your name – "aharenge namakee ____". You can keep the conversation going by asking for their name – "kon nameh tha kiyanee?" and stating that it's nice to meet them by saying, "baddhalu vee thi varah ufavejje".


Basic Phrases

Now that basic introductions are out of the way, you might also want to learn a few simple phrases to deepen your understanding of Dhivehi. These can also be quite useful to navigate the islands, bargain with vendors. For starters, it's always good to say please and thank you when dealing with people. The local phrases for these are "adhes kohfa" and "shukuriyaa" respectively. Knowing how to say "yes" and "no" can obviously be extremely useful – the words are "aan" and "noon". Mistakes can happen – whether it's bumping into someone or mishearing them – in which case it's best to offer a polite apology. "Ma-aafu kurey" is the phrase you want to use at this time.


Useful Questions

As you traverse through the Maldives, you're sure to encounter situations where you'll have to seek locals for help. Whether it's asking directions to a place or asking a shop owner a question. Knowing how to ask a few basic questions in Dhiveli can be quite useful in this regard. You can ask whether someone speaks English by saying, "ingireysin vaahaka dhakkan ingeytha?". If you need to make a quick phone call and don't have your mobile with for some reason, you can ask to use someone's with the phrase, "ahannah thi phoanu beynun kollevi dhaane tha?". Now, if you're planning to do a bit of shopping, you'll more than likely want to check the prices of items with vendors, the phrase to use here is "meege agakee kobaa?".



With the basic phrases and sentences nailed down, it might also be helpful to learn a bit of Maldivian etiquette. For starters, when meeting with a local a handshake is the most appropriate greeting, followed up by the phrase for 'hello' mentioned earlier. Since the Maldives is primarily an Islamic country, when a man and woman meet, it is customary to wait until the woman offers her hand before shaking it.


Gestures and Manners

There are a few gestures and manners to be mindful of when interacting with Maldivians. Firstly, when entering a local's home, you are expected to remove your shoes or slippers at the doorstep. At the dinner table, it is expected that visitors should wait until all guests are seated before commencing eating. To not do so is considered to be rude and a mark against your character.

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