The Somali Language and Literacy.

Somalis speak Somali. Many people also speak Arabic, and educated Somalis usually speak either English or Italian as well. Swahili may also be spoken in coastal areas near Kenya. Somali is a member of a group of languages called lowland Eastern Cushitic. Eastern Cushitic, spoken by people living in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan, belongs to the Cushitic language family, which in turn is part of the Afro-Asiatic stock. Somali has two major dialects: the standard dialect, spoken by most Somalis, and the Digil/Raxanweyn dialect, spoken primarily in the interriverine areas of the south.

Although the Digil/Raxanweyn dialect in the south is almost as different from standard Somali as French is from Italian, most Digil/Raxanweyn speakers are familiar with standard Somali. Thus, language provides a channel of communication for people thousands of miles apart. Somali has adopted many Arabic words, both modern phrases to deal with modern institutions, such as government and finance, and older Arabic terms to discuss international trade and religion. Somali also contains old Qahtani words common to Cushitic and Semitic languages.

Somali had no written form until 1972, when a Somali script, based on the Roman alphabet, was adopted. Until that time, English and Italian served as the languages of government and education. This served to create an elite, since only a small proportion of Somali society who knew these colonial languages had access to government positions or the few managerial or technical jobs in private enterprise. The 1972 decision to introduce a Somali script fundamentally changed the situation. Somali officials were required to learn the script, and a countrywide literacy campaign was launched. Great progress was made in the development of national literacy, particularly in the rural areas, where previous literacy campaigns had failed. In 1975, government figures indicated a literacy rate of 55%, in contrast to a 5% rate before the adoption of the national script. Even if the government estimate is exaggerateda 1990 U.N. estimate put the national literacy rate at 24%Somali progress in literacy has clearly been significant.


The role of Somali language in Education
Somali Translator-(Som-Eng & Eng-Som)