Heritage Minister: Dialects must be protected to advance Dhivehi language

Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Yumna Maumoon. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

The various dialects in Maldives must be protected and advanced in order to protect and advance the Dhivehi language itself, says the Maldivian minister for arts, culture and heritage Yumna Maumoon.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Yumna said the Dhivehi language comprised of dialects spoken in different parts of the country.

She said the protection and advancement of dialects was therefore necessary for the protection and advancement of the Dhivehi language.

“The different dialects are intricately linked to life and culture of the people from the island or atoll who speak it. Its an important and significant cultural heritage of the island or atoll,” she said.

Yumna’s remarks come after Mohamed Rasheed, an imam from Addu’s Meedhoo district was suspended for delivering the Friday sermon in Addu dialect last week.

Following backlash over the decision, President’s Office spokesperson Miuvaan Mohamed said the imam wasn’t suspended because he delivered the sermon in Addu dialect, but because he violated Islamic Ministry’s policies.

“Its in the policies that the Friday sermon delivered in all islands must be the one pre-approved by Islamic Ministry. That no changes must be made. But with the incident in Addu, some people are telling us the level of speech also changed. That the level of speech with reference to the Holy Prophet became lower,” he said.

The Maldivian language has dialects due to the wide distribution of the islands, with differences in pronunciation and vocabulary developing over the course of centuries. The standard dialect is that of the capital, Male’ City, while the most divergent dialects of the language are found in the southern atolls, in Huvadhu Atoll, Fuvahmulah and Addu. The southern dialects are so distinct that it is hard for those who only speak northern dialects to understand.