Saturday, 20 April 2019

Maldives Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest the Maldives settlements.

When it comes to the place names, many are named after the island or atoll on which they stand. 'Atoll', now used as a term throughout the world to refer to a ring-shaped coral reef that encircles a lagoon, sometimes completely. The word is from the Dhivehi of Maldive word atholhu and has the same meaning. Traditionally Maldivians do not add 'atoll' to the end of the names.

Kulhudhuffushi is named after its most famous feature, the kulhi or 'mangroves'.

Fuvahmulah is from the Dhivehi tongue and means 'island of the Areca nut palm'. The palm nut has a number of uses and is used across Asia.

Gan comes from a Sanskrit word Grama meaning simply 'village'.

Hilhumeedhoo is an amalgamation of Meedhoo and Hulhudhoo.

Male is named after the island and has also given its name to the nation, for dives means 'islands'. Its name is said to come from the time of early settlement where freshly caught tuna were cleaned after being landed. The large amount of offal and blood stained the sandbank and waters and resembled a large pool of blood or maa ley gandeh 'big blood'.

Fasdhuthere Atoll describes itself as 'what lies between five islands' and refers to its location.

Huvadhu Atoll has a name referring to 'the forbidden place'.

A few British names can also be found, Malcolm Atoll, Horsburg Atoll, Ross Atoll, all named around 1835 by Robert Moresby to honour famous commanders of the British Empire.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.


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