Language Variation and Change in Sultanate of Oman

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  • Topic: Arabic language, Varieties of Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic
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  • Published : March 28, 2013
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Language Variation and Change in Sultanate of Oman
Macro-Sociolinguistics

Parsa Khan
Student ID # 35700-1095

Arabic, the sixth largest spoken language in the world, which consists of 186,000,000 speakers around the globe and being the central language of the Middle East, is one of the most significant languages in this century. Sultanate of Oman which is an Arab nation and its national language is standard Arabic may not make up much of those 186,000,000 speakers but it surely has and maintains an essential part in the Arabic language. In this paper I will be discussing language variation change in Oman, focusing on Gender, Social Class and Religion. I will be especially look at the change in the use of vocabulary, dialects and tone used by the people of Oman. The Sultanate of Oman which is located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula and has borders with UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen is one of the biggest countries in Middle East in terms of its land area. The reason I'm selecting this country as my main focus is because I have lived there for almost 18 years and thus I've had the opportunity to closely interact with its people and language. The Sultanate of Oman has a very rich culture and follows the monarchy ruling approach. The first king was His highness Said Al Said and later on and till date his son, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. In the early days, Oman was ruled by the Portuguese and then later on by the British. These two ruling parties left a huge impact on many aspects of the country, including language. Addition to that during the 19th century Oman took a lot of influence from East Africa, which included Tanzania and Kenya. Poole (2006) said " These links between East Africa and Oman are evident today African features of some Omanis and in the use of Swahili in the Sultanate, particularly among ‘Zanzibari Omanis’, who may have been born in East Africa or else can trace their family history to that region.'' This influence leads to the addition of more languages in Oman and the main one being Swahili. Other languages which are spoken all around Oman are Baluchi and Farsi and English which is also the official second language of the country. "English has official approval as the second language of Oman " Poole (2006). As a result, different varieties of Arabic and different languages are spoken all around the country. Even though Oman has a low population rate compared to other Middle Eastern countries, it has number of regions in the country; Governate of Muscat, Dhakliya, Sharkiya, Wusta, Dhofar (salalah), Batinah (Sohar) and Mussandam. Muscat being the capital of the country has a cosmopolitan society which means that all types of Arabic varieties are spoken there, including Hindi as well. As the Indian Ocean is attached, Oman took a lot of influence from India and many local Omanis understand Hindi.["Indian varieties of English used in Oman often exhibit the lilting intonation patterns sometimes labeled ‘Bombay Welsh''] Poole (2006). The other main region which is the Dhofar region has taken the Yemeni Arabic influence because Yemen's border touches the dhofar region. There is another rare dialect which exist, called the Jabali which is spoken by the people living in the mountains and "speak a variety of unique South Arabian languages that are not mutually intelligible with modern Arabic. Minority groups speak Arabic" (Anonymous). There are number of varieties which exist in the Arabic language especially in Oman but the two chief divisions of Arabic are Classical Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. Classical Arabic is the old Arabic, which originates from the holy book, Quran. While modern standard Arabic on the other hand is used in the current era in various domains such as home and work place and media as well. This paper will be focusing more on Modern Standard Arabic in Oman. Initially when the first king was ruling the country, Oman was not able to mark its existence strongly due to...
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