How widely is Arabic used in Somalia?

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by James Bates, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. James Bates Banned

    I've heard Somalians describe themselves as Arab and know Somalia is part of the Arab League. However, I never hear Somalians speak Arabic. Is Somalia really an Arabic-speaking country? I'm guessing the position of Arabic in Somalia is like that of Urdu in West Punjab: it is not the vernacular but is the language used in all formal communication and on all formal occasions. Punjabi, by contrast, is rarely written in West Punjab and not used as a medium of instruction at any level.
  2. tounsi51 Senior Member

    French, Tunisian Arabic
    Somalia do has Arabic as one of the official languages and the country is part of te Arab League like Djibouti, Comoros...

    [Somalians] have their own native language, somali. I doubt that they are Somalians having Arabic as mother tongue.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2015
  3. James Bates Banned

    I see. And is Arabic widely understood in Somalia?
  4. tounsi51 Senior Member

    French, Tunisian Arabic
    I am not sure about that. They may learn it at school (MSA) but there is no Somali Arabic, I mean there is no Arabic accent spoken there, or maybe there is one close to Yemeni Arabic.
  5. student_of_arabic New Member

    Montana, USA
    English - USA
    I would be interested to know as well how extensively Arabic is used within the Somali diaspora. With so many refugees having fled the country, education in Somali has been rather limited in countries like the U.S. leading to a situation where there are Somalis here who barely speak Somali but still somehow consider it their L1. Among this diaspora group, however, Arabic is extremely important in the context of Islam and there are now significant efforts underway in language education in both Arabic and Somali. I wonder if the same is true within Somalia as well.
  6. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Najdi Arabic
    From my experience with diaspora Somalis in Washington and Oregon, most of those born in Somalia only speak Somali (in addition to English). I did note a tendency among some to want to learn Arabic, and many do in university, but the language does not seem to be extensively used in the community. I'd imagine the situation in Somalia would be more or less the same unless the continued presence of the Kuttab there has kept some sort of local Arabic presence.
  7. Qalawri New Member

    Most Somalis do not speak Arabic fluently but will have a good command of reading and writing in the Arabic alphabet due to studying the Qur'an which is done almost universally in Somalia and Somali communities. Those who are fluent in Arabic have usually lived abroad (eg. in Yemen or Sudan) or have studied Arabic for religious learning.

    Arabic is not spoken by any native groups in Somalia, not even the groups with Arabic heritage (such as the Reer Xamar of Mogadishu). Since Somalia was never conquered/colonised by any Arabs the language has never been well established as a primary language, even in religious circles among Somalis. Those who do speak Arabic will always have it as a second language. Speaking Arabic is seen as a sign of prestige and education, however it is not not as often studied as English is nowadays.
  8. tounsi51 Senior Member

    French, Tunisian Arabic
    In the UAE, Somali who speak Arabic use Gulf Arabic, sometimes Levbanese or Egyptian Arabic, as there is no "Somali Arabic"
  9. falak

    falak New Member

    English - United States
    Most of the Somalis that I have met who speak excellent Arabic were people who studied abroad in the Middle East in academics or religion, or were either born or lived in the Gulf states.

    I'm more curious about if there were/are any Yemeni communities in Somalia, specifically in the northern region of the country, in places like Bosaso. It seems like a possibility since Somalia always has trade relations with Yemen.
  10. nimcaan

    nimcaan New Member

    Arabic is the second language is Somalia, most of schools in Somalia teach Arabic. They are Yemeni communities in northern Somalia (also known as SOMALILAND)

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