Kumzari language

Kumzari (Persian: کومزاری‎, Arabic: لغة كمزارية‎) is a Southwestern Iranian language that is similar to the Persian, Achomi and Luri languages.[2] Although vulnerable, it survives today with between 4,000 and 5,000 speakers.[3] It is spoken by Kumzaris in the Kumzar coast of Musandam Peninsula, northern Oman. This is the only Iranian language spoken exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula. Kumzaris can also be found in the towns of Dibba and Khasab as well as various villages, and on Larak Island. The speakers are descendants of fishermen who inhabited the coast of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.[citation needed]

Native toOman
Native speakers
(2,300 cited 1993–2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3zum


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: by the Shihuh tribe of the Musandam Peninsula and by 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.[citation needed] Based on linguistic evidence, the presence of Kumzari in the Arabia region exists prior to the Muslim conquest of the region in the 7th Century A.D.[4]



Kumzari has consonants, and all but three (ʔ, ʁ, ɦ) also exist as geminates[5]

Consonant phonemes
Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Velarized alveolar Palato-alveolar1 Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Stop/Affricate p b t d tˠ dˠ tʃ dʒ k g q ʔ
Fricative f s z sˠ zˠ ʃ χ ʁ ħ ɦ
Nasal m n
Approximant w l ɻ j

1van 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. ^ Kumzari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Frye, Richard Nelson (1984). The History of Ancient Iran, Part 3, Volume 7. ISBN 9783406093975.
  3. ^ Anonby, Erik John. 2013. “Stress-induced Vowel Lengthening and Harmonization in Kumzari.” Uppsala Universitet 61:4. um:nbn:se:uu:diva-203439
  4. ^ "Anonby & Yousefian 2011">Anonby, Erik & Pakzad Yousefian. 2011. “Adaptive Multilinguals: A Survey of Language on Larak Island.” Studia Iranica Upsaliensia 16: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:458175/FULLTEXT01.pdf
  5. ^ 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.

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Al-Salimi, Abdulrahman. 2011. “The Transformation of Religious Learning in Oman: Tradition and Modernity.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series 21.2:10. http://jstor.org/stable/23011490
  • Al-Salimi, Abdulrahman. 2008. “The Wajihids of Oman.” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 39:8. http://jstor.org/stable/41223995
  • Bailey, H.W. 1931. “Kumzari Dimestan.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 1:139. http://jstor.org/stable/25194182.
  • Bailey, H. W. 1931. “The Kumzari Dialect of the Shihuh Tribe, Arabia, and a Vocabulary, Review by H. W. B.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 1:1. http://jstor.org/stable/25194234.
  • Battenburg, John. 2013. “The Status of Kumzari and its Speakers: A Local Language of the Musandam Peninsula of Oman.” Language Problems & Language Planning 37.1:12. 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. http://jstor.org/stable/4329154.
  • Melamid, Alexander. 1986. “Interior Oman.” Geographical Review 76.3:5. https://www.jstor.org/stable/214149.

External linksEdit