Kumzari language

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Kumzari
Native to Oman
Region Kumzar
Native speakers
2,300  (1993–2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 zum
Glottolog kumz1235[2]

Kumzari (Persian: کمزاری‎) is a Southwestern Iranian language,[3] which is similar to the Luri and Larestani languages. Although vulnerable, it survives today with between 4,000 and 5,000 speakers.[4] It is spoken by Kumzaris (who are closely related to Lurs and Larestanis) in the Kumzar coast of Musandam Peninsula, northern Oman. This is the only Iranian language spoken exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula. Kumzaris can also be found in the towns of Dibba and Khasab as well as various villages, and on Larak Island. The speakers are descendants of fishermen who inhabited the coast of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

General information[edit]

Location[edit]

The Kumzari name derives from the historically rich mountainous village of Kumzar. The language has two main groups of speakers, one on each side of the Strait of Hormuz: by the Shihuh tribe of the Musandam Peninsula and by the Laraki community of Larak Island in Iran. On the Musandam Peninsula, the Kumzar population is concentrated in Oman, in the village of Kumzar and in a quarter of Khasab known as the Harat al-Kumzari. In addition, Kumzari is found at Dibba and the coastal villages of Elphinstone and the Malcolm Inlets. It is the mother tongue of fisherman who are descendants of the Yemeni conqueror of Oman, Malek bin Faham. Based on linguistic evidence, the presence of Kumzari in the Arabia region exists prior to the Muslim conquest of the region in the 7th Century A.D.[5]

Affilation[edit]

Kumzari is not a written language and is largely a compound of Arabic and Persian, while it seems to be more of a dialect of Arabic. Structurally non-Semitic, much of its vocabulary, grammatical structure and roots are similar to that of Persian. Some of its Persian words, derive from Farsi of Persia rather than the more familiar Ajmi or Persian of the Persian Gulf.[6] While nearly one-third of Kumzari's words and roots are more similar to that of Persian, its pronunciations are in fact akin to Arabic. For example, the pronunciation of the oft-recurring long alif " \ " is a flat a sound, that accords with the Arabic value of that character and not its Persian value. An Arabic dialect which in this connection is anomalous, for their " alif " has a Persian value (as aw) often becomes v, and there are other sound values foreign to local or Badawin standards.[7]

Morevoer, the word 'Shihuh', which refers to the Shihuh tribe who speak Kumzari, has an Arabic root. Because Kumzari speakers live in a mountainous region, it is a term used to describe the way of life of this mountain population. The name of the tribe stems from the 'Azd of Oman,' where people of this region gave him the nickname "Shahh" because of his avarice in relation to Abu Bakr al-Sadiqi. Therefore, the Arabic root of this word 'Shhh' means 'to be avaricious and highlights its relation to Arabic.[8]

Vitality[edit]

For the Laraki community, multilingualism is the norm where most members are proficient to some degree in Arabic, Farsi, Qeshmi, and Bandari. For Kumzari speakers of the Musandam, bilingualism is the norm where most speak and understand Arabic at least to some degree. On the Musandam peninsula, Kumzari is vigorously used in domestic and traditional work-related domains. However, for the average Kumzari speaker, life increasingly revolves around Arabic.[9] Arabic continues to dominate interactions with outsiders and foreigners. Additionally, a majority of children are now taught to speak Arabic in school rather than Kumzari.

While there are many speakers who are proud of the Kumzari language and encourage people to read and write the language, many have also been questioning the usefulness of it. The reasons Arabic is given more importance is because it is the dominant language in the region, the language of the Qur'an, and the language of Kumzari oral literature.[10] For these reasons, several factors threaten Kumzari's viability. Political influence in the region has lessened the influence of Kumzari. Governments and institutions are continuing to emphasize the importance of Arabic rather than the regions many other languages. Furthermore, Arabic continues to dominate in religion, media, government work, and shopping.[11] Another factor is the negative attitude of outsiders' towards Kumzari, where outside influence has forced families to speak Arabic. This has led to some Kumzari families speaking to their children in Arabic instead of Kumzari at home.

External references[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kumzari at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kumzari". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue report for Kumzari
  4. ^ "Anonby 2013">Anonby, Erik John. 2013. “Stress-induced Vowel Lengthening and Harmonization in Kumzari.” Uppsala Universitet 61:4. um:nbn:se:uu:diva-203439
  5. ^ "Anonby & Yousefian 2011">Anonby, Erik & Pakzad Yousefian. 2011. “Adaptive Multilinguals: A Survey of Language on Larak Island.” Studia Iranica Upsaliensia 16: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:458175/FULLTEXT01.pdf
  6. ^ "Thomas 1930">Betram, Thomas. 1930. “The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland 62:785-854. doi: 10.1017/S0035869X00071860
  7. ^ "Thomas 1930">Betram, Thomas. 1930. “The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland 62:785-854. doi: 10.1017/S0035869X00071860
  8. ^ "Dostal 1972">Dostal, Walter. 1972. “The Shihuh of Northern Oman: A Contribution to Cultural Ecology.” The Geographic Journal 138.1:1-7. http://jstor.org/stable/1797435.
  9. ^ "Anonby 2003">Anonby, Erik John. 2003. “Update on Luri: How Many Languages?” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland 13.2:171-197. doi: 10.1017/S1356186303003067
  10. ^ "Anonby, Erik & Pakzad Yousefian 2011">Anonby, Erik & Pakzad Yousefian. 2011. “Adaptive Multilinguals: A Survey of Language on Larak Island.” Studia Iranica Upsaliensia 16: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:458175/FULLTEXT01.pdf
  11. ^ "Anonby 2013">Anonby, Erik John. 2013. “Stress-induced Vowel Lengthening and Harmonization in Kumzari.” Uppsala Universitet 61:4. um:nbn:se:uu:diva-203439

Further reading[edit]

  • Al-Salimi, Abdulrahman. 2011. “The Transformation of Religious Learning in Oman: Tradition and Modernity.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series 21.2:10. http://jstor.org/stable/23011490
  • Bailey, H. W. 1931. “The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary, Review by H. W. B.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 1:1. http://jstor.org/stable/25194234.
  • Battenburg, John. 2013. “The Status of Kumzari and its Speakers: A Local Language of the Musandam Peninsula of Oman.” Language Problems & Language Planning 37.1:12. doi: 10.1075/lplp.37.1.02bat.

External links[edit]