Kumzari: The Forgotten Language

Said Al Jahdhami


Arabic is the first widely used language in Oman. It is not uncommon, however, to come across Omanis who converse in minority languages other than Arabic. Remarkably, these languages are of three different families: Indo-Iranian languages such as Kumzari, Lawati, Zadjali, Baluchi; Modern South Arabian languages such as Harsusi, Bathari, Hobyot, Mehri, and Jabbali /Shehri; and Bantu language family which includes Swahili. Named after the ethnic groups speaking them as mother tongues side by side with Arabic, the number of speakers of these languages varies as some are spoken by thousands of speakers while other languages may claim only a few hundred speakers. Academic work geared towards exploring these languages is scarce indeed, especially languages such as Kumzari, Harsusi, Zadjali, Bathari and Hobyot, a fact that makes them lesser-known and uninvestigated as opposed to their counterparts. In view of this, the focus of this paper lies on one of the lesser-known and unexplored minority languages spoken in Oman, namely Kumzari. In line with this, the study highlights the genetic affiliation of Kumzari, its speakers and their location, views on the origin of its name and its future status.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v8i4.9898

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email: ijl@macrothink.org

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