When it comes to translation, tour operators and luxury resorts need to be careful in the promotion and planning of overseas wedding ceremonies for their customers. Failure to do so can have far-reaching implications. Especially if your resort is in a tourism-dependent economy.
The Maldives Islands Government announced that it will soon regulate tourist weddings in the country, in order to avoid “taunts and insults.” on November 4, 2010.
The announcement on radio and published by the Maldivian President on his website, comes a week after a video released on YouTube shows insults received by a European couple while renewing their wedding vows on the beach at a luxury beach and spa resort. The symbolic ceremony was conducted in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi* and officiated by two of the hotel’s workers. No official interpreter was present, nor was any visible officially translated document. The couple clearly appeared not to understand the Dhivehi language, placing their trust in the hands of the resort workers.
The Maldivian President’s office in a statement said symbolic marriage ceremonies can no longer be conducted without the presence of senior hotel management. The President lamented the “absolutely disgraceful performance” of the hotel workers where the incident occurred after the Government committed itself yesterday to open an investigation.
“Ceremonies must be clearly and fully explained to tourists and conducted in a language chosen by the tourists. If the tourist chooses to hold their ceremony in a language that is unknown to them, the resort must provide the tourist with a translation of the ceremony in a language they understand.”
President Nasheed personally apologised to the couple in a telephone conversation on Saturday afternoon. The Maldivian police have arrested two resort employees who were involved in the ceremony shown on YouTube.
The viral nature of the YouTube video with English subtitles sparked fears for the Maldives’ tourism-dependent economy and led to the arrest of the two hotel workers. The video shows the Maldivian wedding “officiator” conducting the ceremony in the native Dhivehi language, pretending to read the “legal code” but instead delivering one insult after another. Unaware of the insults, the smiling foreign partners exchange rings and bow their heads in prayer through the torrent of accusations, curses and swearing.
The Republic of the Maldives, an archipelago of 1,200 palm-fringed islands in the Indian Ocean, is one of the world’s most exclusive honeymoon destinations whose economy relies heavily on tourism.
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* Dhivehi is an Indo-Aryan language predominantly spoken by 350,000 people in the Republic of Maldives, the national language. It is also the native language of 10,000 people in the island of Maliku, India.
Languages that have influenced the development of Dhivehi through the ages are primarily Sinhala and Arabic. Lesser influences include French, Persian, Portuguese and English.
In modern English, the words atoll (a ring of coral islands or reefs) and doni (a vessel for inter-atoll navigation) are anglicised forms of the Dhivehi words Atoḷu and Dōni.