Two Thousand Isles © 2021 Design by Naj

Mistaking English

Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj

If you have to tell someone why your joke is supposed to be funny, that means it probably isn’t. But we thought we’d try and explain this post anyway – line by line.

Ingireysi meeha dhivehi dhas kurairu, gina kuhthaa hadhaa. Aharumenge bahuruvaige hunarutha rhaalugandeh noon….varah Shakiraa

Intended meaning: ‘English people make many mistakes when learning Dhivehi. Our language skills are not good…are very bad.’

Literal meanings: While ‘kuh’ means mistake, and ‘tha’ is often added to make a plural, ‘kuhthaa’ means dog, hence this passage says English people make many dogs when learning Dhivehi.

Also, ‘rangalhu’ means ‘good’, while ‘rhaalhugandu’ is the name of a rough area of surf on the south-east of Male. ‘Sakaraaiyh’ means ‘awful/very bad, while ‘Shakira’ is a popular singer everywhere!!

Ehenve, aa bahuruva dhas kuran beeru meehun ah varah unagandu. Aharen aanmu koh bastha olhuvaalan.

Intended meaning: ‘Subsequently, learning a new language is very difficult for outsiders.  I often get words confused.’

Literal meanings: ‘Beyru meeha’ means outsiders/foreigners, while ‘beeru meehun’ means deaf people. ‘Undhagoo’ means ‘difficult’, while ‘unagandu’ means hip (as in the body part). So the literal meaning (if there still is one), is that learning a new language is very hip for deaf people.

‘Bas’ means ‘word/language’, while the addition of the usual ‘tha’ to make a plural actually turns this word into ‘sack of rice’.

Aanmu meehunaai beys-fuluhun meehaa vaahaka dhahkkaa goiyh varah thafaathu. Eiee, emyhun vaahaka  dhakkany maa aluvi koh veema.

Intended meaning: ‘Common people and aristocratic people use very different methods of speech. Also, these people speak too fast’.

Literal meanings: ‘Beyru meeha’ means ‘foreigner/outsider’, but ‘beys’ means medicine and ‘fuluhun’ means ‘police’ – so, common people and medicine police speak differently.

‘Haluvi’ means ‘fast/quick’ while ‘aluvi’ means potato.

Baeh faharu ekamaa  hedhi aharen bolugai riha!! Baeh dhuvahu aharen hatharu dhan faritha kuranee kotharu ga. 

Intended meaning: ‘Sometimes it causes me to have a headache. Some days I spend the whole day in my room practicing.’

Literal meanings: ‘Bolugai rissa’ is the Dhivehi term for headache, but ‘riha’ means ‘curry’…so, ‘some days it makes head curry’.

The words ‘kotharu’ and ‘kotari’ are easy to confuse, with the latter meaning ‘room’, the former meaning ‘pigeon’ (‘Some days I practice all day in a pigeon’).

Beyrah hingumun aharen varah hiyhamajehey. Aharen baeh faharu athiri ah dhanee beyrah hingan.

Intended meaning: ‘I find going for a walk outside very satisfying. Sometimes I go to the beach.’

Literal meanings: With beaches traditionally used for alternative purposes in the Maldives, going outside – or to the beach – more often relates to bowel movements in Dhivehi.

‘Beyrah’ is ‘go out’ and ‘hingun’ is the verb ‘to walk’, but ‘beyra hingun’ means ‘diarrhoea’ (‘I find diarrhoea very satisfying’). ‘Athiri’ means beach, but the the phrase ‘Athiri ah’ traditionally means to go to the toilet.


Hope that was interesting (if not funny)…but I suppose losing something in translation is the main point of this post.