Since it is International Mother Language Day, I thought I would make this post so that Dhivehi and English speakers can appreciate just how much their languages have influenced each other. Many people don’t know that most English words have their origins in Dhivehi. Of course, the meanings may have changed, but it is very clear that the words are related from the way they sound. In this post we’ll go through just a few of them.
Without further ado…
Give me a word. Any word. And I’ll show you how the root of that word is Dhivehi.
Fashion comes from the word ފެހުން (fehun) which means “to sew”.
When you sew, you make clothes. You see? Clothes; fashion; there you go.
Cloud is derived from ކަޅު އުޑު (kalhu udu) which means “black sky”.
The sky is dark when something blocks the sun. You see? Dark; blocks the sun; cloud; there you go.
Table comes from ތަ ބަލި (tha bali) which means “you are sick”.
When people are sick, you have to lay them on a flat surface for them to rest. You see? Flat surface; table; there you go.
Moustache comes from މޫނު އިސްތަށި (moonu isthashi) which means “face hair”.
A moustache is hair that grows above the upper lip, which is part of the face. You see? Face; hair; moustache; there you go.
Night comes from ނިދި (nidhi) which means “sleep”.
What do you do at night? Sleep! You see? Sleep; night; there you go.
Bottle comes from ބޯތެލި (boa theli) which means “drinking pot”.
You see? Drinking pot; bottle; there you go.
Full comes from ފުޅި (fulhi) which means “bottle”.
What do you do with a bottle? You fill it! You see? Bottle; fill; full; there you go.
Bear comes from ބޭރު (beyru) which means “outside”.
Where do bears live? Outside! You see? Outside; bear; there you go.
Mattress comes from މަތަ ރަސް (matha ras) which means “am I the king?”
When you lie on a mattress, you feel comfortable; so comfortable that you start to feel like royalty, since only really rich people had mattresses in the past. You see? Royalty; king; mattress; there you go.
Cupboard comes from ކާން ބަންދު (kaan bandhu) which means “to eat, closed”.
When you are not using food, you keep it enclosed in a pantry. You see? Pantry; cupboard; there you go.
Hang comes from ހަން (han) which means “skin”.
When you are old, your skin loses firmness and starts to sag. You see? Sag; hang; there you go.
Finger comes from ފެނުގައި (fenugai) which means “in the water”.
To test how hot water is, you dip your finger into it. You see? Water; finger; there you go.
Curtain comes from ކާތަން (kaathan) which means “eating place”.
In order to separate the cooking area from the dining area, you need something to divide the room. You see? Room divider; curtain; there you go.
Dog comes from ދޫ (dhoo) which means “tongue”.
Dogs always stick their tongues out. You see? Tongue; dog; there you go.
Pneumonia comes from ނޫ މޫނު (noo-moonu) which means “blue face”.
People who suffer from pneumonia have trouble breathing and when you can’t breathe, your face loses its colour. You see? Breathing; blue face; pneumonia; there you go.
Law comes from ލޯ (loa) which means “eye”.
To obey the law, you behave as though someone is watching you. You see? Watching; eye; law; there you go.
Elephant comes from އެލިފައި (elifai) which means “hanging”.
The most prominent feature of an elephant is its trunk which hangs downs from its face. You see? Hanging; trunk; elephant; there you go.
Ghost comes from ގޯސް (goas) which means “bad”.
Ghosts are evil spirits. You see? Evil; bad; ghost; there you go.
Valley comes from ވަޅު (valhu) which means “grave”.
A valley is a low area between hills or mountains. You see? Low area; grave; valley; there you go.
Diarrhoea comes from ދިޔާ ރިހަ (dhiyaa riha) which means “runny curry”.
Do I really need to explain this one?
Hope you enjoyed that. And in case it wasn’t obvious, none of that is true. This whole post is a joke, hence the title.
False etymology (also known as popular etymology and pseudo-etymology) is a popularly held but false belief about the origins of a word.
Some false etymologies in English include:
- Woman being a contraction of womb-man
- Golf being an acronym for Gentleman Only; Ladies Forbidden
- Fuck being an acronym for Fornication Under Consent of the King
- News being an acronym for North-East-West-South
- The US State of Arizona meaning arid zone
- Butterfly being named so because they Flutter by
This post was inspired by a running gag in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the father claims that all words come from Greek. Watch it and all the explanations above will make sense.