Ethnologue: Areas: Africa

Somalia

8,505,000 (1995). Somali Democratic Republic. Jamhuriyadda Dimugradiga Somaliya. Formerly British and Italian Somaliland. Literacy rate 24% to 40%; 3% (1977 C. M. Brann). Most of the Arabic and all of the people from India and Italy have left. Information mainly from M. Lamberti 1986; D. Biber 1984; B.W. Andrzejewski 1975, 1978; A.O. Mansur 1986; M.H. Madany 1992. Data accuracy estimate: B. Muslim. Blind population 10,000 (1982 WCE). The number of languages listed for Somalia is 13.

ARABIC, STANDARD [ABV] Middle East, North Africa. Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic. Most Somalis have very limited or no ability in Arabic. Not used as a medium of communication by the government. National language. Braille Scripture in progress. Bible 1984-1991. NT 1980-1982. Bible portions 1984.

BONI (AWEERA, AWEER, WAATA, SANYE) [BOB] 5,000 in all countries (1980); few, if any, in Somalia (1991); 3,500 in Kenya (1994). Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Rendille-Boni. Reported to be linguistically close to Garre of Somalia, but not close in appearance or culture. Hunters. Muslim.

BOON (AF-BOON) [BNL] Speakers are over 60 years old (1986 M. Lamberti). Jilib District, Middle Jubba Region, scattered in the bush and live in settlements of 2 or 3 houses with their closest relatives. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Unclassified. There are similarities to Somali. Not the same as Boni. In recent decades they have shifted to the Maay dialect of Jilib. Hunter-gatherers, leather workers. Nearly extinct.

DABARRE (AF-DABARRE) [DBR] 20,000 to 50,000 (1992). Spoken by the Dabarre clan around Dhiinsoor District, May Region, and the Iroole Clan in nearby Baraawe District, Lower Shabeelle Region, and in Qansax Dheere. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. Dialects: DABARRE, IROOLE (AF-IROOLE). A very distinctive language in the Digil clan family. Muslim. Survey needed.

ENGLISH [ENG] 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Used more in the north. National language. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1985. Bible portions 1530-1987.

GARRE (AF-GARRE) [GEX] 50,000 or more (1992); perhaps several hundred thousand in the ethnic group. Dominate areas of southern Somalia, especially in the Wanle Weyn-Buur Hakaba area; Baydhaba, Dhiinsoor, Buurhakaba, and Qoryooley districts; Middle and Lower Shabeelle and Bay regions. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. Part of the Hawiye clan family. They consider themselves to be one people with the Garreh in Kenya, although they now speak different languages. Some ethnic Garre in Somalia speak Maay as mother tongue. Reported to be linguistically close to Boni. Muslim. Survey needed.

JIIDDU (JIDDU, AF-JIIDDU) [JII] 20,000 to 60,000 (1992). Lower Shabeelle Bay and Middle Jubba regions, Qoryooley, Dhiinsoor, Jilib, and Buurhakaba districts. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. A distinct language from Somali and Tunni, usually grouped under the Digil dialects or languages. Different sentence structure and phonology from Somali. Closer to Somali than to Baiso. Spoken by the Jiiddu clan. Ethnic Jiiddu in Bale Province, Ethiopia speak Oromo as mother tongue. Some similarities to Konsoid languages, and to Gedeo, Alaba, Hadiyya, and Kambaata. Muslim. Survey needed.

MAAY (AF-MAAY TIRI, AF-MAAY, AF-MAY, AF-MAYMAY, RAHANWEEN, RAHANWEYN) [QMA] 500,000 to 1,000,000 (1992); 700,000 to 1,500,000 including the Digil dialects or languages. Southern Somalia, Gedo Region, Middle and Lower Shabeelle, Middle and Lower Jubba, Baay, and Bakool regions. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. Dialect: AF-HELLEDI. It may be more than one language; the dialects form a continuum Standard Somali is difficult or unintelligible to Maay speakers, except for those who have learned it through mass communications, urbanization, and internal movement. They tend to not travel much. Different sentence structure and phonology from Somali. The Rahanwiin (Rahanweyn) clan confederacy speak various Maay dialects or languages. Af-Helledi is a Maay secret language used by hunters. Used by the Tunni, Jiiddu, Garre and Dabarre as second language. Muslim.

MUSHUNGULU (KIMUSHUNGULU, MUSHUNGULI) [XMA] 20,000 to 50,000 (1992). Southern Somalia, Jamaame District of Lower Jubba Region, centered in Jamaame District, and some in urban areas in nearby Kismaayo and in Muqdisho. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Zigula-Zaramo (G.30). They do not mingle with other peoples of Somalia, so the women do not learn Somali. The men learn Maay or Somali as second language. Descended from fugitive slaves who escaped from their Somali masters in the Middle Shabeelle region around 1840. In northeast Tanzania, they were called 'WaZegua' (see Zigula). May be the same as, or intelligible with, Zigula or Shambaa. Agriculturalists. Muslim, traditional religion. Survey needed.

OROMO, BORANA-ARSI-GUJI (SOUTHERN OROMO) [GAX] 3,809,000 or more in all countries; 3,657,000 in Ethiopia; 152,000 in Kenya (1994). Gedo Region. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Oromo. Dialect: BORANA (BOORAN, BORAN). The Oromo variety in Gedo is probably Borana; that in the Lower Jubba Region is probably Orma. Muslim. Bible 1995. NT 1875-1979. Bible portions 1870-1966.

SOMALI (AF-SOOMAALI, AF-MAXAAD TIRI, COMMON SOMALI, STANDARD SOMALI) [SOM] 5,400,000 to 6,700,000 in Somalia (1991); 2,050,000 in Ethiopia (1993); 312,339 in Kenya (1989); 181,420 in Djibouti (1996); 290,000 in Yemen (1993); 100,000 in United Arab Emirates (1993); 1,300 in Finland; 8,335,000 in all countries. Also in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. Dialects: NORTHERN SOMALI, BENAADIR, AF-ASHRAAF (ASHRAAF). The language of most of the people of the country. Northern Somali is the basis for Standard Somali. It is readily intelligible by 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 northest 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 who speak Af-Ashraaf, a distinct variety which may have limited inherent intelligibility with Standard Somali. (Most of these fled to Kenya because of the current fighting.) Standard Somali is used in primary education. The government adopted the Roman script in 1972. The Osmania script is no longer used. 25% literacy in cities, 10% in rural areas. Grammar, dictionary. National language. Pastoralists; agriculturalists: sugar, bananas, sorghum, corn, gum, incense; miners: iron, tin, gypsum, bauxite, uranium. Muslim, Christian. Bible 1979. NT 1972-1976. Bible portions 1915-1935.

SWAHILI [SWA] 40,000 Baraawe in Somalia (1992); 5,000,000 total first language speakers (1989 Holm); 30,000,000 total second language speakers (1989 Holm). The Mwini live in Baraawe (Brava), Lower Shabeelle, and were scattered in cities and towns of southern Somalia. Most have fled to Kenya because of the civil war. The Bajun live in Kismaayo District and the neighboring coast. Also in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mayotte, South Africa, Mozambique, Oman, UAE, and USA. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Swahili (G.40). Dialects: MWINI (MWIINI, CHIMWIINI, AF-CHIMWIINI, BARWAANI, BRAVANESE), BAJUNI (KIBAJUNI, BAJUN, AF-BAJUUN, MBALAZI, CHIMBALAZI). Reported to have come centuries ago from Zanzibar. Mwini: artisans (leather goods); Bajun: fishermen. Bible 1891-1996. NT 1879-1989. Bible portions 1868-1968.

TUNNI (AF-TUNNI) [TQQ] 20,000 to 60,000 (1992). Lower Shabeelle and Middle Jubba regions, Dhiinsoor, Baraawe, and Jilib districts. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. A distinct language from Somali or Jiiddu, usually grouped under the Digil dialects or languages. Different sentence structure and phonology from Somali. Maay language influences. Nomadic. Pastoralists: cattle, sheep, goats. Muslim. Survey needed.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
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