An Afro-Asiatic language and a member of the Cushitic group, spoken by c. 8 million people chiefly in the Republic of Somalia, where it is the official language, as well as in neighbouring parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.
Standard Somali is based on a group of dialects often called Common Somali, spoken in eastern and central areas, Djibouti, the Ogaden, and parts of Northern Kenya. But there is also a variety of dialects spread over, to the point of mutual unintelligibility. The language is spelt in the Roman alphabet. A standardized national orthography was introduced in 1972 by the Somali Language Committee.
The question of tone in Somali is controversial. Pitch differences are not used to distinguish different lexical items, as in many other African tonal languages, but to mark grammatical differences (e.g. case, number, etc.).
CLASSIFICATION = Afro-Asiatic family, SCRIPT = Roman