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Somali Language Facts and Information

Information About Somali Language

Somali language topics and discussion
Somali speakers in the Phrasebase community
Extinct: no
Family: Afro-Asiatic
Branch: Cushitic
Continent: Africa
Country: Somalia
Region: Throughout the country. Also spoken in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Finland, Italy, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, UAE, United Kingdom, Yemen.
Countries Where Spoken: 7,784,434 in Somalia (2000 WCD). Population total all countries: 12,653,480. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya.
Countries Where Official: Somalia
Native Speakers: 7,784,434
Speakers Total: 12,653,480
Phrasebase members who speak Somali at a native level: 0
Phrasebase members who speak Somali at a conversational level: 0
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Somali: 0
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Somali: 0
Three Letter Code: SOM
Summary: Northern Somali is the basis for Standard Somali. It is readily intelligible to speakers of Benaadir Somali, but difficult or unintelligible to Maay and Digil speakers, except for those who have learned it through mass communications, urbanization, and internal movement. The Rahanwiin (Rahanweyn) are a large clan confederacy in southern Somalia, speaking various Maay dialects or languages (Central Somali). The Digil are a clan confederacy speaking Central Somali varieties. Daarood is a large clan family in northeast Somalia and the Ogaadeen region of Ethiopia, extreme southern Somalia and northeast Kenya which speaks several different dialects. Dir is a clan family with various clans in Djibouti, Ethiopia, throughout Somalia and northeast Kenya. The Gadabuursi are a section of the Dir living in northwest Somalia and adjoining parts of Djibouti and Ethiopia, and speaking Northern Common Somali. The Isxaaq are a major clan grouping in northeast Somalia, some in Djibouti and Ethiopia, speaking Northern Common Somali. The Hawiye are a major clan family living in central southern Somalia, parts of Ethiopia, and extreme northeast Kenya. Hawiye northern clans (Habar Gidir) speak a dialect of Common Somali similar to the adjacent Daarood clans, while Hawiye southern clans (especially Abgaal and Gaaljaal) speak the Benaadir dialect of Common Somali. Ogaadeen is the largest clan within the Daarood clan family, living in eastern Ethiopia, extreme southern Somalia and northeast Kenya, speaking various forms of Northern Common Somali. "Sab" is an ambiguous term used by some scholars to refer to various lower caste clans. "Medibaan" is a low caste clan within the Hawiye. "Benaadir" as an ethnic group refers to the residents of the coastal cities. Those in Merka and Muqdisho speak Af-Ashraaf, a distinct variety which may have limited inherent intelligibility to speakers of Standard Somali. Most of these fled to Kenya during the recent fighting. Bilingualism in Arabic, Italian. The language of most of the people of the country. Investigation needed: intelligibility with Af-Ashraaf. National language. Dictionary. Grammar. Literacy rate in second language: 25% in cities, 10% rural. The government adopted the Roman script in 1972. The Osmania script no longer used. Standard Somali used. Pastoralists; agriculturalists: sugar, bananas, sorghum, corn, gum, incense; miners: iron, tin, gypsum, bauxite, uranium. Muslim, Christian. Bible 1979.

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