Letter Naviyani was abolished from official documents around 1953 by Muhammad Amin, the ruler of Maldives at that time. The reason why amongst all letters representing retroflex sounds, like Lhaviyani (ޅ), Daviyani (ޑ) or Taviyani (ޓ), this particular letter was abolished is not known. Perhaps it was a mere whim of that charismatic Maldivian leader.
The corresponding sound (phoneme [ɳ]) is still pronounced in the Maldivian language. Nouns like "onu" (bamboo) or verbs like "bunung" (to say) have this phoneme. It sounds especially clearly in the speech of southern Maldivians.
This letter is still seen in writing in reprints of traditional old books, written before the 1950s, like the Bodu Tartheebu, an ancient religious book. It is also used by Addu people when writing songs or poetry in their language variant.
In 2000, when the Tāna script was put into Unicode, certain Maldivian government officials didn't see the need to include this letter. Now, however, there is a minor movement for the reinstating of this letter, especially among Addu intellectuals, whose goal is to bring letter Naviyani (ޱ) back into currency.
This letter does not appear on Thaana tables printed after the 1950s and should not be confused with letter Gnaviyani or Nyaviyani, the 16th consonant of the present-day Maldivian alphabet, after which an administrative atoll was named.
- Bodufenvahuge Sidi. Divehi Akuru; Evvana Bai. Malé 1958. Pages 4–13.
- Geiger, Wilhelm. Maldivian Linguistic Studies. Reprint 1919 edn. Novelty Press. Male’ 1986.
- Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom. ISBN 84-7254-801-5
- H. C. P. Bell Excerpta Maldiviana. Reprint 1922-1935 edn. New Delhi 1998.
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