Thaana script summary

Updated 29 April, 2019 • tags scriptnotes, thaana

This page provides basic information about the Thaana script, and its use for the Maldivian language, Dhivehi. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as i learned. For character-specific details follow the links to the Thaana character notes.

For similar information related to other scripts, see the Script comparison table.

Clicking on red text examples, or highlighting part of the sample text shows a list of characters, with links to more details. Click on the vertical blue bar (bottom right) to change font settings for the sample text. Colours and annotations on panels listing characters are relevant to their use for the Template language.

Sample (dhivehi)

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

From Scriptsource:

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. The script is unique to this language. The language is also called Mahl, particularly on the island of Minicoy in the Indian territory of Lakshadweep. The Maldivian language has been written in its own script, it is thought, for over two millennia, when it was developed by Maldivian Buddhist monks translating the Buddhist scriptures.

From Wikipedia:

Thaana, Taana or Tāna ( ތާނަ‎ in Tāna script) is the present writing system of the Maldivian language spoken in the Maldives. ...

The Thaana script first appeared in a Maldivian document towards the beginning of the 18th century in a crude initial form known as Gabulhi Thaana which was written scripta continua. This early script slowly developed, its characters slanting 45 degrees, becoming more graceful and spaces were added between words. As time went by it gradually replaced the older Dhives Akuru alphabet. The oldest written sample of the Thaana script is found in the island of Kanditheemu in Northern Miladhunmadulu Atoll. It is inscribed on the door posts of the main Hukuru Miskiy (Friday mosque) of the island and dates back to 1008 AH (AD 1599) and 1020 AH (AD 1611) when the roof of the building were built and the renewed during the reigns of Ibrahim Kalaafaan (Sultan Ibrahim III) and Hussain Faamuladeyri Kilege (Sultan Hussain II) respectively.

Distinctive 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, taken from the Script Comparison Table.

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.

A number of characters in the Thaana block are for writing sounds of Arabic or other languages, rather than to represent sounds native to Maldivian languages. Western numeric digits are used, and a mixture of Western and Arabic punctuation.

Words are separated by spaces.

Character lists

The Thaana script characters in Unicode 10.0 is in a single block:

The following links give information about characters used for languages associated with this script. The numbers in parentheses are for non-ASCII characters.

For character-specific details see Thaana character notes.

In yellow boxes, show:

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.

Vowels

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 kaⁿɖu sea. It is the only case where a letter can appear without a diacritic.

Standalone vowels

Standalone vowels are not preceded by a consonant, and may appear at the beginning or in the middle of a word.

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.

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

Repertoire extension

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

ޘ␣ޙ␣ޚ␣ޛ␣ޜ␣ޝ␣ޞ␣ޟ␣ޠ␣ޡ␣ޢ␣ޣ␣ޤ␣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 baʈʈeʔ eggplant, and އެންމެ emme only.

Combining characters

All the combining characters in the Unicode Thaana block are listed in the section vowels.

Punctuation

Dhivehi punctuation uses a mixture of western and Arabic punctuation, the latter including these two in particular.

،␣؛

There are no punctuation characters (nor symbols) in the Unicode Thaana block.

Numbers, dates, currency, etc.

Either european digits or arabic-indic digits are used.

Structural boundaries & markers

Word boundaries

The concept of 'word' is difficult to define in any language (see What is a word?). Here, a word is a vaguely-defined, but recognisable semantic unit that is typically smaller than a phrase and may comprise one or more syllables.

Words are separated by spaces.

Phrase boundaries

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.

Line & paragraph layout

Text alignment & justification

I'm not sure how justification works, but assume it is like in English.

Use the control below to see how your browser justifies the text sample here.

ހުރިހާ އިންސާނުންވެސް ދުނިޔެއަށް އުފަންވަނީ، މިނިވަންކަމުގައި، ހަމަހަމަ ޙައްޤުތަކަކާއެކު، ހަމަހަމަ ދަރަޖައެއްގައި ކަމޭހިތެވިގެންވާ ބައެއްގެ ގޮތުގައެވެ. ހެޔޮ ވިސްނުމާއި، ހެޔޮބުއްދީގެ ބާރު އެމީހުންނަށް ލިބިގެންވެއެވެ.

TBD

Further information needed for this section includes:

Glyph shaping & positioning
    Cursive text
    Context-based shaping
    Multiple combining characters
    Context-based positioning
    Transforming characters

Structural boundaries & markers
    Grapheme, word & phrase boundaries
    Hyphens & dashes
    Bracketing information
    Quotations
    Abbreviations, ellipsis, & repetition
    Emphasis & highlights
    Inline notes & annotations

Inline layout
    Inline text spacing
    Bidirectional text

Line & paragraph layout
    Text direction
    Line breaking
    Hyphenation
    Text alignment & justification
    Counters, lists, etc.
    Styling initials
    Baselines & inline alignment

Page & book layout
    General page layout & progression
    Directional layout features
	Grids & tables
    Notes, footnotes, etc.
    Forms & user interaction
    Page numbering, running headers, etc.

References

  1. [ d ] Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, The World's Writing Systems, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  2. [ w ] Wikipedia, Thaana
  3. [ u ] The Unicode Standard v10.0, pp511-512
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