Dhivehi/Thaana

Updated 20 September, 2021

This page gathers basic information about the Thaana script and its use for the Maldivian language, Dhivehi. It aims (generally) to provide an overview of the orthography and typographic features, and (specifically) to advise how to write Dhivehi using Unicode.

Phonetic transcriptions on this page should be treated as an approximate guide, only. Many are more phonemic than phonetic, and there may be variations depending on the source of the transcription.

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Sample (dhivehi)

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
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1 ވަނަ މާއްދާ ހުރިހާ އިންސާނުންވެސް ދުނިޔެއަށް އުފަންވަނީ، މިނިވަންކަމުގައި، ހަމަހަމަ ޙައްޤުތަކަކާއެކު، ހަމަހަމަ ދަރަޖައެއްގައި ކަމޭހިތެވިގެންވާ ބައެއްގެ ގޮތުގައެވެ. ހެޔޮ ވިސްނުމާއި، ހެޔޮބުއްދީގެ ބާރު އެމީހުންނަށް ލިބިގެންވެއެވެ. އަދި އެކަކު އަނެކަކާމެދު އެމީހުން މުޢާމަލާތް ކުރަންވާނީ، އުޚުއްވަތްތެރިކަމުގެ ރޫޙެއްގައެވެ.

2 ވަނަ މާއްދާ ހަމަ ކޮންމެ މީހަކަށްމެ، މިޤަރާރުގައި ބަޔާންކޮށްފައިވާ ހުރިހާ ޙައްޤުތަކަކާއި މިނިވަންކަމުގެ މިންގަނޑުތަކެއް ހޯދުމާއި، ލިބިގަތުމުގެ ޙައްޤު ލިބިގެންވެއެވެ. އެޙައްޤުތަކާއި އެމިންގަނޑުތައް ލިބިދެނީ، ނަސްލާއި، ކުލައާއި، ޖިންސާއި، ބަހާއި، ދީނާއި، ސިޔާސީގޮތުން ނުވަތަ އެހެންވެސް ކަމަކާ ގުޅޭގޮތުން ވިސްނުން ގެންގުޅޭ ގޮތާއި، ވަކި ޤައުމަކަށް ނުވަތަ މުޖުތަމަޢަކަށް ނިސްބަތްވުމާއި، މުދާ ލިބިހުރުމާއި، އުފަންވީ ޢާއިލާއެއްގެ ސަބަބުން ޤަދަރުވެރިވުމާއި، އެހެންވެސް ސަބަބަކާ ހުރެ ޤަދަރުވެރިވުންފަދަ، އެއްވެސް ބާވަތެއްގެ މިންގަނޑަކުން ތަފާތު ކުރުމެއް ނެތިއެވެ. އަދި މީހަކު ނިސްބަތްވާ ޤައުމަކީ، ނުވަތަ ސަރަޙައްދަކީ ސިޔާސީ ގޮތުން، ނުވަތަ އެޤައުމުގެ ބާރު ހިނގާ ސަރަޙައްދުގެ މިންވަރުގެ ގޮތުން، ނުވަތަ އެޤައުމުގެ ބައިނަލްއަޤްވާމީ ހައިސިއްޔަތުގެ ގޮތުން ނަމަވެސް، އެއްވެސް ތަފާތުކުރުމެއް ގެންގުޅެގެން ނުވާނޭ ގޮތުންނެވެ. އެޤައުމަކީ، ނުވަތަ މީހަކު ނިސްބަތްވާ އެސަރަޙައްދަކީ، މިނިވަން ޤައުމަކަށް ވިޔަސް، ނުވަތަ އެކުވެރި ދައުލަތްތަކުގެ ބެލުމުގެ ދަށުން އެހެން ޤައުމަކުންބަލަހައްޓަމުންދާ ޤައުމެއް ކަމުގައިވިޔަސް، ނުވަތަ އަމިއްލަ ވެރިކަމެއް ނެތް ޤައުމެއް ކަމުގައި ވިޔަސް، ނުވަތަ އެހެންވެސް ގޮތަކުން ސިޔާދަތީ ބާރު މަޙްދޫދު ކުރެވިގެންވާ ޤައުމަކަށް ވީނަމަވެހެވެ.

Usage & history

The Thaana script is used for writing the Maldivian language, also known as Dhivehi, spoken by about 370,000 people in the Maldives and in Maldivian communities in India.

ތާނަ tə̄nə təːnə ThaanaIt is thought that speakers of Dhivehi have written their language for over two thousand years, and that writing was developed by  Maldivian Buddhist monks translating the Buddhist scriptures.

Over time, the script evolved, slanting the letters by 45 degrees and adding spaces between words. The earliest known sample of the Thaana script (rather than the Dhives Akuru alphabet) is inscribed on the main Friday mosque of the island and dates back to AD 1599.

Sources: Scriptsource, Wikipedia.

Basic features

Dhivehi is an alphabetic abjad. All vowels are written, but as diacritics above the consonants. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Dhivehi orthography using the Thaana script.

Thaana text is written horizontally, right to left, but unlike Arabic or N'Ko, the text is not cursive. Multi-digit numbers are displayed left-to-right.

Words are separated by spaces.

The script is monocameral.

Dhivehi has 24 basic consonant letters, but the repertoire also contains 14 extra consonants to represent the sounds of Arabic and English.

There are 10 vowel letters, all of which are combining marks and which must be used. An additional mark is used to indicate consonant clusters, or absence of a vowel after a consonant base.

Numbers use ASCII digits.

The visual forms of letters don't usually interact. Punctuation mixes ASCII and Arabic characters.

Character index

Letters

Show

Basic consonants

ޕ␣ބ␣ތ␣ދ␣ޗ␣ޖ␣ޓ␣ޑ␣ކ␣ގ␣ފ␣ވ␣ސ␣ޒ␣ށ␣ހ␣މ␣ނ␣ޏ␣ރ␣ލ␣ޅ␣ޔ␣އ

Extended consonants

ޠ␣ޟ␣ޤ␣ޘ␣ޛ␣ޞ␣ޡ␣ޝ␣ޜ␣ޚ␣ޣ␣ޙ␣ޢ␣ޥ

Other

ޕ

Not used for modern Dhivehi

ޱ

Combining marks

Show

Vowels

ި␣ީ␣ު␣ޫ␣ެ␣ޭ␣ަ␣ާ␣ޮ␣ޯ

Other

ް

Punctuation

Show
،␣؛␣(␣)␣.␣:␣?␣!
Character lists show:

Phonology

These are sounds for the Dhivehi language.

Click on the sound groups to see where else in the document each of the sounds are referred to.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source wp.

Vowel sounds

i iː u uː e eː o oː ə ə əː

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
retroflex palatal velar uvular pharyngeal glottal
stop p b
ᵐb
t d
ⁿd
    ʈ ɖ
ᶯɖ
c ɟ k ɡ
ᵑɡ
q    
affricate                    
fricative f θ ð s z
ʃ ʒ ʂ ɕ x ɣ   ħ ʕ h
nasal m   n   ɳ ɲ ŋ    
approximant ʋ w l   ɭ j      
trill/flap     r      

Structure

Native Maldivian words do not allow initial consonant clusters. The syllable structure is (C)V(C), ie. one vowel with the option of a consonant in the onset and/or coda. This affects the introduction of loanwords, such as is.kuːl from English school.wp

Vowels

Vowel diacritics

All vowels are always written, but as diacritics above or below the consonant they follow.

ި␣ީ␣ު␣ޫ␣ެ␣ޭ␣ަ␣ާ␣ޮ␣ޯ

Vowel absence

ް

The diacritic ◌ް [U+07B0 THAANA SUKUN​] indicates that there is no vowel following the consonant it sits on. This is always used, with one exception: when ށ [U+0781 THAANA LETTER SHAVIYANI] is written with no diacritic, this indicates prenasalization of a following stop, eg. ކަނޑު It is the only case where a letter can appear without a diacritic.

Standalone vowels

Thaana represents standalone vowels using އ [U+0787 THAANA LETTER ALIFU] as a base, to which vowel diacritics are attached.

Consonants

Basic consonants

For writing the languages of the Maldives there are 24 consonants in this block.

Stops

ޕ␣ބ␣ތ␣ދ␣ޗ␣ޖ␣ޓ␣ޑ␣ކ␣ގ

Fricatives

ފ␣ވ␣ސ␣ޒ␣ށ␣ހ

Nasals

މ␣ނ␣ޏ

Liquids

ރ␣ލ␣ޅ␣ޔ␣އ

Repertoire extension

A further 14 dotted versions of the normal consonants are available for transcribing Arabic sounds and the English sound ʒ (ޜ).

ޠ␣ޟ␣ޤ␣ޘ␣ޛ␣ޞ␣ޡ␣ޝ␣ޜ␣ޚ␣ޣ␣ޙ␣ޢ␣ޥ

Obsolete consonant

There is also one character, ޱ [U+07B1 THAANA LETTER NAA], that was abolished from Maldivian official documents around 1953, but it is still seen in reprints of old books like the Bodu Tartheebu, and is used by the people of Addu Atoll and Fuvahmulah.

ޱ

Consonant clusters

The diacritic ◌ް [U+07B0 THAANA SUKUN] attached to a consonant signifies that it is not followed by a vowel.

The sukun is also used over a few other characters to indicate gemination of the following consonant, eg. ބައްޓެއް އެންމެ.

Numbers, dates, currency, etc.

Either european digits or arabic-indic digits are used.

Text direction

Thaana script is written horizontally and right-to-left in the main, but as with most RTL scripts, numbers and embedded LTR script text are written left-to-right (producing 'bidirectional' text).

7.2.2 ބައްތެލި

The section number in this example is read LTR, ie 7.2.2, but the Thaana word following is RTL.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Dhivehi orthography described here.

Glyph shaping & positioning

This section brings together information about the following topics: writing styles; cursive text; context-based shaping; context-based positioning; baselines, line height, etc.; font styles; case & other character transforms.

You can experiment with examples using the Thaana character app.

The Thaana script is not cursive, and involves no significant context-based shaping or positioning.

The script is unicameral and needs no transforms to convert between code points.

Font styles

tbd

Punctuation & inline features

Grapheme boundaries

tbd

Word boundaries

Words are separated by spaces.

Phrase & section boundaries

phrase

، [U+060C ARABIC COMMA]

؛ [U+061B ARABIC SEMICOLON]

: [U+003A COLON]

sentence

. [U+002E FULL STOP]

? [U+003F QUESTION MARK]

! [U+0021 EXCLAMATION MARK]

Dhivehi punctuation uses a mixture of western and Arabic punctuation. The latter includes, in particular, ، [U+060C ARABIC COMMA] and ؛ [U+061B ARABIC SEMICOLON].

In the sample text at the top of the page Arabic commas and ASCII full stops are mixed together.

އުފަންވަނީ،

An excerpt from the sample text above showing the use of an arabic comma.

Parentheses & brackets

  start end
standard

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

Quotations

tbd

Emphasis

tbd

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

tbd

Inline notes & annotations

tbd

Other inline ranges

tbd

Other punctuation

tbd

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

tbd

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern Dhivehi orthography.

Text alignment & justification

tbd

Letter spacing

tbd

Counters, lists, etc.

tbd

Styling initials

tbd

Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to Thaana and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.

Languages using the Thaana script

According to ScriptSource, the Thaana script is used for the following languages:

References