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Kumzari language

Native toOman, United Arab Emirates
RegionKumzar, Hajar Mountains
EthnicityKumzar, Shihuh[1]
Native speakers
6,000 (2020)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3zum

Kumzari (Persian: کومزاری, Arabic: اللغة كمزارية) is a Southwestern Iranian language that is similar to the Persian, Achomi and Luri languages.[3] Although vulnerable, it survives today with between 4,000 and 5,000 speakers.[4] It is spoken by Kumzaris on the Kumzar coast of Musandam Peninsula (northern Oman) as well as the Shihuh in the United Arab Emirates.[5] Kumzari speakers can also be found in the towns of Dibba and Khasab as well as various villages, and on Larak Island.

Kumzari is the only Iranian language spoken exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula.


The Kumzari name derives from the historically rich mountainous village of Kumzar. The language has two main groups of speakers, one on each side of the Strait of Hormuz: the Shihuh tribe of the Musandam Peninsula and the Laraki community of Larak Island in Iran. On the Musandam Peninsula, the Kumzar population is concentrated in Oman, in the village of Kumzar and in a quarter of Khasab known as the Harat al-Kumzari. In addition, Kumzari is found at Dibba and the coastal villages of Elphinstone and the Malcolm Inlets. It is the mother tongue of fishermen who are descendants of the Yemeni conqueror of Oman, Malek bin Faham (Arabic: مالك بن فهم). Based on linguistic evidence, Kumzari was present in the Arabia region before the Muslim conquest of the region in the 7th Century A.D.[6]



Kumzari has consonants, and all but three (ʔ, ʁ, ɦ) also exist as geminates[7]

Consonant phonemes
Labial Alveolar Palato-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain velarized
voiceless p t k q ʔ
voiced b d g
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ χ ħ ɦ
voiced ʁ
Nasal m n
Approximant w l ɻ j
  1. ^ van der Wal uses the term alveo-palatal to describe these consonants, using IPA symbols for palato-alveolar consonants rather than alveolo-palatal consonants


Kumzari has a length distinction in its vowels, with five long vowels and three short vowels. Vowels never occur in direct hiatus; rather, they are separated by either a semivowel such as /j/ or /w/, or a glottal stop (/ʔ/).

Front Central Back
Long high
Short near-close ɪ ʊ
Short near-open ɐ
Long low


  1. ^ THOMAS, BERTRAM; Edmonds, BERTRAM THOMAS. The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary.
  2. ^ Kumzari at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023) Closed access icon
  3. ^ Frye, Richard Nelson (1984). The History of Ancient Iran, Part 3, Volume 7. ISBN 9783406093975.
  4. ^ Anonby, Erik J (2013). "Stress-induced Vowel Lengthening and Harmonization in Kumzari". Orientalia Suecana. 61: 54–58. OCLC 1026776205.
  5. ^ THOMAS, BERTRAM; Edmonds, BERTRAM THOMAS. The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary.
  6. ^ Anonby, Erik; Yousefian, Pakzad (2011). Adaptive Multilinguals a Survey of Language on Larak Island. Uppsala University. ISBN 978-91-554-8125-4. OCLC 1027080608.[page needed]
  7. ^ van der Wal, Anonby C. A. (2015-04-22). A grammar of Kumzari: a mixed Perso-Arabian language of Oman. Leiden, Netherlands: Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University.

Further reading

  • AL-SALIMI, ABDULRAHMAN (2011). "The Transformation of Religious Learning in Oman: Tradition and Modernity". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 21 (2): 147–157. JSTOR 23011490.
  • al-Salimi, Abdulrahman (2009). "The Wajīhids of Oman". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 39: 373–381. JSTOR 41223995.
  • Bailey, H. W. (1931). "Kumzari Dimestan". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 63 (1): 138–140. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00066284. JSTOR 25194182.
  • B., H. W. (1931). "Review of The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1): 229–230. JSTOR 25194234.
  • Battenburg, John (13 February 2013). "The status of Kumzari and its speakers: A local language of the Musandam Peninsula of Oman". Language Problems and Language Planning. 37 (1): 18–30. doi:10.1075/lplp.37.1.02bat.
  • O'Reilly, Marc J. (1998). "Omanibalancing: Oman Confronts an Uncertain Future". Middle East Journal. 52 (1): 70–84. JSTOR 4329154.
  • Melamid, Alexander (1986). "Interior Oman". Geographical Review. 76 (3): 317–321. doi:10.2307/214149. JSTOR 214149.
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Kumzari language
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