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Somali language

Number of Speakers: According to Gordon (2005), approximately 13 million people speak Somali, but upwards of 25 million individuals are commonly estimated to speak the language. The exact number of speakers is unknown because of the recent civil wars and the resultant waves of migration.

Key Dialects: There are three main dialects of Somali: Northern Somali, Benaadir (coastal Somali), and Af-Ashraaf (Ashraaf). Northern Somali is the primary dialect and is the basis for standard Somali.

Geographical Center: Somalia and independent Somaliland (northern Somalia)

Somali is perhaps the best documented and most thoroughly studied Cushitic language. It is spoken by roughly eight million people in Somalia and independent Somaliland (northern Somalia), where it is the official language. Outside Somalia, it is spoken by approximately five million people in a number of countries, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Italy, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Speakers of Somali are typically multilingual in Arabic and Italian. Alternate names of the language are Af-Soomaali and Af-Maxaad Tiri.

Somali is an Eastern Cushitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Related languages include Afar and Oromo.

There are three primary regional dialects of Somali: Northern Somali, Benaadir Somali, and Af-Ashraaf Somali. Northern Somali is the main dialect and is highly intelligible to speakers of Benaadir Somali, but is considerably less intelligible to speakers of the Af-Ashraaf dialect.

A roman orthography was officially adopted in 1972 and remains the writing system of Somali today. Prior to this script, an Arabic-based alphabet known as Osmania was the primary writing system of Somali. Designed by Cismaan…...

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