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The language of the Maldives is Dhivehi and displays great resemblance to several other languages from Sri Lanka, South East Asia and North India. It also contains many Arabic, Hindi and English words.

Historically speaking, the early people spoke “Elu”, a form of ancient Sinhalese. The language has undergone many transformations, and the present-day Dhivehi is written from left to right, probably to incorporate many of the Arabic words used. Modern ‘Thaana’ script was invented in the 16th century, following the overthrow of the Portuguese. The earliest Dhivehi is inscribed on copper plates known as the “Loamaafaanu”. The script is written with consonants in the middle, and vowels either on top or below the letters, depending on the sound.

Dhivehi is used equivocally in the administration of the country. Until the 1960s, Dhivehi was also the medium of instruction in all schools, but with the need for further education, Dhivehi-medium syllabuses have given way, to a large extent, to English-medium teaching. For this reason, English is widely understood, spoken and written by the locals.

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