A language of Somalia

Alternate Names
Af-Maxaad Tiri, Af-Soomaali, Common Somali, Soomaaliga, Standard Somali

8,340,000 in Somalia (2006). Population total all countries: 16,559,722.


Widespread. Also in Canada, Denmark, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Finland, Italy, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Yemen.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (2004, Transitional Federal Charter, Article 7(1)).


Af-Ashraaf (Ashraaf), Benaadir, Northern Somali. Northern Somali is basis for standard Somali. Readily intelligible to Benaadir Somali speakers, but difficult or unintelligible to most Maay [ymm]. Those in Merka and Muqdisho speak Af-Ashraaf, a distinct variety which may have limited inherent intelligibility of standard Somali.



Language Use

Language of most of the people of the country. Also use Arabic [arb] or Italian [ita].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 25% in cities, 10% rural. Taught in primary schools. Poetry. New media. Radio programs. Films. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1979.
Arabic script, no longer in use. Latin script, used since 1972. Osmanya script, no longer in use.
Other Comments

Muslim, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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