In the 90s it was common to see young office girls reading Binma Waheed and Nahla's stories. Not any longer. A few weeks back I went searching the leading bookshops of Male for a good Dhivehi novel. I was surprised to learn that there are hardly any Dhivehi novels on display. The only ones I found were copies of the recent series of books written by Mustafa Lutfi. The shopkeeper told me they don't sell either. I discussed this with a friend who informed me that recently he was told by an official of Novelty, the leading publisher in the Maldives, that they are no longer publishing Dhivehi books as there is no market for them.
I had a similar experience looking for Dhivehi songs. Nearly 90% of songs stocked by music shops are English and Hindi CDs. The classical Dhivehi songs of the 70s and 80s have all but disappeared except in the series of 'E-Handhaan' CDs produced by Voice of Maldives.
The disdain shown by the current generation of Maldivians to Dhivehi literature is also reflected in student attitudes towards teaching Dhivehi at school. For nearly all students their most hated subject is the compulsorily taught Dhivehi language.
We know at least one reason why youngsters are moving away from Dhivehi. The youth spend most of their leisure time chatting on mobile phones or PCs and usually Dhivehi fonts are not available on these programs. So if one wants to use Dhivehi one has to write in Latin script. Many youngsters find it more convenient therefore to write in English itself.
If this trend continues how long will Dhivehi language survive?