Saturday, May 25, 2013

Somalia’s officially two spoken languages

There are officially two spoken languages in Somalia, namely Somali and Arabic. There are, however, few other foreign languages that are also in use. 

The Somali is first and foremost the Somalis’ mother-tongue. It belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family and is considered as the best documented one among the Cushitic languages since it has academic studies that date back to even before the 1900.

The Somali language speakers amounted in 2006 to no less than 16.6 million, half of which were from Somalia whereas the other half was mostly composed of a few ethnic minority groups within Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen.
The dialects belong mainly to one of three important groups: Northern (which forms the basis for standard Somali), Benaadir (which is spoken in the coast of which it was given the name, from Cadelay to south of Merca, Mogadish –the capital– included) and Maay (which is spoken by the Digil and the Mirifle clans that mainly occupy the southern of the country).

After Somali, comes Arabic –another Afro-Asiatic language– that is spoken by Somali people mainly because of their centuries-old ties with Arabs. That is not to say that the Arabic media and the religious education don’t have their influence as well; on the contrary, it’s probably what keeps the language alive within their mouths even more. The Yemeni dialect is the one the inhabitants of Somalia prefer. Moreover, it is no mystery that most of Somali’s borrowing come from Arabic and that shows its potency in the area. 

The minority and foreign spoken languages in the country are English (which is widely taught and used), Italian (which, upon independence, lost influence noticeably and is nowadays no longer viewed as the major language), Bravanese (a variant of the Swahili language) and Kibajuni (which is another Swahili dialect).
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