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Languages And Scripts In The Maldive Islands: Coding And Encoding

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Chapter Summary

The Maldivian language, better known as Dhivehi, is an Indo-European language closely related to Singhalese spoken in nearby Sri Lanka and other languages found on the Indian subcontinent. The Maldivians choose a language, Dhivehi or English, and a writing system, Taana or Roman letters, to publish their messages. Taana is characterized by DeSilva as "a mixture of both Indic and Semitic (Perso-Arabic) traditions". By this he means that it has the characteristics of an alpha-syllabary and of the Arabic writing system. The Dhivehi writing system Taana survived the introduction of typewriters and computers. This success of Taana has resulted in a blend of Taana and Roman writing. English words may be given in Taana or Roman script while Dhivehi words may be given in Roman or Taana script. It is not unusual for two scripts to co-exist for the same language. When a language changes orthography, this situation is common.

Keywords: DeSilva; Dhivehi; Maldivian language; Roman script; Roman writing; Taana script; writing system

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