International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online)

Zadjali: The Dying Language
Said Al Jahdhami

Spoken by a small tribal community of few hundred members, Zadjali is one of several minority languages spoken in Oman. Academic work concerned with endangered languages in Arabia makes no reference to Zadjali as a language, let alone addressing its endangered status. The minor number of Zadjali speakers with good language proficiency, their age group as well asthe meager inter-generational transmission intrigue a crucial question regarding its vitality in the course of time as they, accompanied with other factors,appear to pose danger to Zadjali. Due to its lexical resemblance to nearby languages spoken in the vicinity, namely Baluchi and Sindhi ,it is often mistakenly considered a dialect of either Baluchi or Sindhi rather than a language of its own.On this ground, the focus of this paper is two-fold. It aims at shedding light on Zadjali's genetic affiliation, its originand future status so that notice is brought to such threatened language. It also argues that Zadjali is a language of its own rather than a dialect of Baluchi or Sindhi, contrary to the widespread misconception concerning its genetic affiliation. Using the Swadesh's 100 word list, findings show that despite the existence of lexical resemblance between Zadjali and both Baluchi and Sindhi, mutual intelligibility to Zadjali is impossible to Baluchi and Sindhi speakers, giving evidence that Zadjali is a dialect of none of these languages but rather a language of its own.

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