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Language Overview: Somali is a language of Somalia. It has a classification of Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, and Somali.
Regions Spoken: Somali is spoken throughout the country of Somalia, along with other countries like Djibouti, Ethiopia, Finland, Italy, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Yemen.
Population: The population of Somali speakers in Somalia, as of 2000, is 7,784,000. The total population of all Somali speakers is 12,653,000 (which means that about 4,869,000 people speak Somali in other countries).
Alternate Name: Some other names for Somali are Af-Soomaali, Af-Maxaad Tiri, Common Somali, and Standard Somali.
Dialects: Some dialects of Somali are: Northern Somali, Benaadir, and Af-Ashraaf (Ashraaf). Northern Somali is the foundation for Standard Somali. It is understandable to the speakers of Benaadis Somali, but harder to understand by most Maay and Digil speakers.
Brief History: Somali is an official language and most people in the country speak it. They also speak Arabic or Italian. The literacy rate for Somali as a second language is 25% in the cities, 10% in rural areas. Somali is taught in primary schools and was in the bible in 1979. People who speak Somali tend to be of the Christian and/or Muslim faith/religion.
Somali is a member of the East Cushtic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family.
It has 10-16 million native speakers and perhaps half a million second language speakers mainly in Somali, where it is an official language, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.
There are also significant numbers of Somali speakers in Europe, North America and Yemen.
Somali has been written with a number of different scripts, including an Arabic-based abjad known as Wadaad's writing, a Latin-based alphabet and the Borama, Osmanya and Kaddare alphabets.