If you are a seasoned traveller, then you will know quite well the excitement of speaking to the locals of your host country in their own language! In the Maldives, all locals speak in English, so not knowing the local language isn't particularly a problem. However, if you'd like to learn a few phrases anyway read on for some help.
The unofficial second language
You will find it interesting to know that English is the unofficial second language in the Maldives. There is no local that can't speak in English as this is the main language used in schools here.
The local language is called Dhivehi and derives from the Indo-Aryan languages in the east. The language is quite similar to Hindi spoken in India and Sinhala spoken in Sri Lanka. Learning Dhivehi will certainly have some plus points. The locals will feel appreciated and you are bound to get even more help from them when you really need it. Here are a few easy phrases to keep in mind when you visit the Maldives.
• Hello – Assalaamu Alaikum. (from Arabic)
• Good morning – Baajjaveri hendhuneh
• How are you? (informal) – Kihineh?
• How are you? (formal) – Haalu kihineh?
• Fine, thank you – Ran'galhu, shukuriyaa
• Nice to meet you – Baddhalu vee thi varah ufavejje
• What is your name? – Kon nameh tha kiyanee?
• My name is ______ – Aharenge namakee ______
• I don't understand – Ahannakah neyngunu
• Thank you – Shukuriyaa (from Hindi)
• Excuse me (begging pardon) – Ma-aaf kurey
• Please – Adhes kohfa (I beg you- not commonly used)
• You're welcome – Maruhabaa
• No – Noon
• Yes – Aan
• Goodbye – vakivelan / Dhanee
• I'm sorry – Ma-aafu kurey
• Do you speak English? – Ingireysin vaahaka dhakkan ingeytha?
• I can't speak (name of language) [well] – ahannakha "____" eh negey maa rangalhakah
• Is there someone here who speaks English? – Mithaa ingireysin vahaka dhakan ingey mehaku eba huri tha?
• Look out! – Balaa balashey!
• Help! – Salaamai kurey!
• Good evening – Baajjaveri haveereh
• Where is the toilet? – Faahanaa kobaitha?
• Good night – Baajjaveri reygande
• Good night (to sleep) – Ufaaveri nidhumeh
Manners and Gestures
The locals don't usually interact with tourists unless they work in hotels like Naladhu Private Island Maldives. They are people who will greet you with a smile anywhere they see you and provide the best hospitality services in the world. If you are planning on mingling with the locals, then treat them as equals and with respect. The practices here aren't that different from those elsewhere in the world.
Greetings require a handshake, but since this is a Muslim country when it comes to ladies, men do not extend their hands first. Just a polite nod should do unless a lady chooses to extend her hand first, then you are free to shake hands.
If you have been invited to a Maldivian friend's home, make sure to enter after you've removed your shoes and left them where the owners have left theirs.
If you will be dining at a local's residence, then it is customary that you wait till all guests have arrived at the table to begin the meal. Doing otherwise is considered rude. Also, trying a little bit of every dish the host has put on the table is necessary. The host may feel offended if you don't do so as they've put in a lot of time and energy preparing the food. Also, avoid leaving your plate empty when the meal is over. This might give out the message that your host hasn't served you enough and will be taken as an insult. So, keeping a few remainders on your plate would be a better idea.
If you've invited some friends over for dinner at one of the best resorts in Maldives, then you will be expected to foot the bill. The locals do not eat pork or drink alcohol so it's best not to offer them these items.