Bruce D. Cain and James W. Gair
Dhivehi (Maldivian) is the national language of the Republic of Maldives, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean south of India and to the west of Sri Lanka. Dhivehi is an Indo-Aryan language closely related to Sinhala, and with it forms the southernmost branch. Dhivehi has more than 240,000 speakers in the Maldives, and an additional 5,000 in Minicoy of India where the language is known as Mahal. As the national language of the Maldives, Dhivehi is fully developed and thriving. It has a literary history that spans at least nine centuries, and employs its own unique right-to-left script called Thaana. Dhivehi printed materials are abundant, and it is the language of radio and television. Dhivehi is the medium of education, and literacy in the Maldives exceeds 95%.
While enjoying a privileged status within the Maldives, very little is known about Dhivehi in the outside world. The inventory of published works on Dhivehi is sparse. In more recent years, the Maldives has become more accessible to researchers, and interest in Dhivehi has grown. This sketch describes standard Dhivehi, the dialect spoken in the capital Male' and surrounding atolls, and is based on a corpus of published materials and elicited information gathered on site. Some of the more notable phonological features of Dhivehi include development of prenasalized stops, compensatory lengthening of consonants from vowel loss, and alternations of several consonants with the glottal stop. Morphologically, Dhivehi has a system of volitivity marking for verbal forms. Dhivehi syntax features a cleft-like construction in which the focused item is generally post-verbal, and a predicate nominal construction with an equative marker on the subject.
ISBN 9783929075168. Languages of the World/Materials 63. 60 pp. 2000.