Minority Languages in Oman

Said Al Jahdhami


Located in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is the homeland of several minority languages that belong to three language families. These are Indo-Iranian languages (Kumzari, Lawati, Zadjali, Balochi); Modern South Arabian languages (Harsusi, Bathari, Hobyot, Mehri, and Jabbali), and Bantu languages (Swahili). Though some are spoken in other countries, most of these languages are peculiar to Omani ethnic groups speaking them as mother tongues side by side withArabic. They differ in the number of their speakers ranging from thousands of speakers to a few hundred only in cases like Zadjali, Bathari, and Hobyot, which plays a chief role in the degree of their endangerment. While some of such languages have been given some linguistic attention, others have not been given their due linguistic exploration yet. Chief among the latter is Kumzari, Harsusi, Zadjali, Bathari, and Hobyot. On these grounds, the key concern of this paper is to provide an overall survey of minority languages spoken in Oman showing their geographical distribution in Oman, speakers of this language, estimated numbers of speakers and their level of endangerment with a view to considering this language and to spur further research on them.

Keywords: Oman, Minority languages, Endangered languages, Indo-Iranian languages, Modern South Arabian languages.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.0001/(aj).v4i10.1189

DOI (PDF): http://dx.doi.org/10.0001/(aj).v4i10.1189.g1578

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