From a language spoken by only 20 people in the far north of Iraq to the Mahari language that is dominant in the history of Yemen, the map of the Arab region includes dozens of local languages ​​that are threatened with extinction due to historical, political and economic considerations.

Of the 22 Arab countries, there are 13 countries where there are 78 languages ​​threatened with extinction, more than half of them are in one country, Sudan, where there are 38 languages ​​at risk.

It is noted that the common element among many of the endangered languages ​​in the world in general - and not only in the Arab region - is that these local languages ​​do not have a written alphabet, that is, they are only spoken languages.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one of the main factors in the disappearance of endangered languages ​​is the disappearance of small and isolated communities due to the accelerating wave of urbanization, the concentration of economic activity in certain regions, and the dissolution of many local cultures into dominant cultures.

While waiting for the new version of the Atlas of World Languages ​​issued by UNESCO, and the lack of the latest version of it, the monitoring of these threatened languages ​​in the Arab region was based on an interactive map published by the organizers of the Endangered Languages ​​Project, which it developed and launched Google Inc. in 2012, and it is currently supervised by the First Peoples Cultural Council, the Institute of Language Technology and Media of Eastern Michigan University in the United States, and also a team from the University of Hawaii.


All endangered languages ​​are concentrated in the states of South Kordofan in the south (particularly the Nuba Mountains) and the Blue Nile state bordering Ethiopia, in the far southeast of Sudan.

There are 4 Sudanese languages ​​that are at risk of severe disappearance, each of which has less than a thousand speakers: Hujairat (50 people), Molo (about 100), Aka (a few hundred), and Lvofu (600).

The vast majority of the Sudanese languages ​​at risk are found in the Nuba Mountains (Al Jazeera) region.

While the rest of the threatened Sudanese languages ​​fall into the category of fragility, which is below the degree of extinction, and includes 34 languages, the number of speakers of which is about a thousand, such as the languages ​​of Der and Warnang, or it may exceed that, such as: Kamda (3 thousand), and Tema (5 thousand). ), Otoro (10 thousand), and La Rua (40 thousand).

Many of the threatened Sudanese languages ​​have their origins in African languages ​​from the Niger-Congo regions.

The head of the Sudanese and African Languages ​​Department at the University of Khartoum, Al-Amin Abu Manga Muhammad - told Al Jazeera Net - that one of the most important factors that made many languages ​​spoken in Sudan at risk is the lack of speakers, and also the need for communities of these threatened languages ​​to communicate through a common language understood with the rest of the groups. The other ethnicity and with the whole Sudanese society, and thus was the recourse to the Arabic language.

Abu Manqa adds that the ruling class since the independence of Sudan has been following a linguistic policy that focuses on establishing the foundations of Arabic in various fields, and not paying attention to the protection and development of local languages, on the basis that the country’s unity lies in linguistic homogeneity and not in linguistic diversity.

The Sudanese academic believes that the option of unity in homogeneity has proven its failure in all Sudanese experiences, adding that among the reasons for the civil war over five decades in Sudan is the neglect of local languages ​​and cultures by the authorities.

Why the Nuba Mountains?

On the reasons for the concentration of the majority of threatened Sudanese languages ​​in the Nuba Mountains region, the head of the Sudanese and African Languages ​​Department at the University of Khartoum says that the Nuba Mountains are located in the heart of a belt described by a linguist in the last century as the savannah belt of linguistic density, extending from west to east, and passing through Nigeria, Chad and Sudan. to the Ethiopian highlands.

Al-Amin Abu Manga Muhammad: One of the reasons why Sudanese languages ​​are at risk of extinction is the language policy of successive governments (Al-Jazeera)

The Nuba Mountains are also located near the original homeland of the Nubian languages, which is located in a central region between North Kordofan and South Darfur. The Nuba Mountains area is not far from the original homeland of the Bento languages ​​in the Lake Chad region.

Among the original areas of these languages, groups migrated towards the Nuba Mountains because they are a fertile and mountainous area, which provides the means for living and protection from attacks, and Arab groups entered the Nuba Mountains at a later period, and also came to the same area as speakers of some West African languages ​​such as Hausa, Fulani and others. .


Most of the endangered languages ​​in the country are branches of the Berber language, except for one, which is as follows:

  • Tahsanit (Berber in the East): It is spoken by about 3 thousand people.

  • Ouargali (Amazigh in the East): 5,000 people.

  • Tideklet (Amazigh in the south): 9 thousand people.

  • Tazantit (Amazigh in the center): 40,000 people.

  • Tamhaq (Berber, the language of the Tuareg in the far south): 62,000 people.

  • Shenoieh (Amazigh in the north): 76,300 people.

  • Tabbalbala/ Koranji (Arabic in the West): 3,000 people.

The threatened languages ​​in Algeria are all branches of Tamazight except for one (Al-Jazeera)

Al-Hashimi Asad, Secretary-General of the High Prefecture of Amazigh (a governmental institution) in Algeria, says that Algerian researchers have conducted surveys on Algeria's languages, including those at risk, in order to provide data on the country in the next edition of the UNESCO Atlas of World Languages.

The Algerian official adds - according to what was reported by the official Algerian news agency in September 2022 - that "Amazigh is well taken care of and is not threatened with extinction like some of the world's languages," referring to the efforts made in the field of education, research, literary and scientific production, publishing and distribution.

Sultanate of Oman

It is noted that the languages ​​threatened in the Arabian Peninsula are found in Yemen and the Sultanate of Oman (south), while there is no other language threatened with extinction in the rest of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula.

Some of the threatened languages ​​in Oman are spoken by only a few hundred people such as the Hobbits (Al Jazeera)

  • Hobbits (Semitic/Arab in the border with Yemen): 400 people in the Sultanate and Yemen.

  • Al-Shahriya or Al-Jabali (Semitic with an influence of the Arabic language and located in the south): 5,000 people.

  • Kumzari (a mixture of several languages, including Hindi, Persian and Arabic, located on the Musandam Peninsula on the Arabian Gulf): 4,000 people.

  • Al-Lawati (a mixture of Indian and Iranian in northern Yemen): 30-50 thousand people.

  • Harsusi (Semitic from the modern South Arabic languages ​​in the center of the Sultanate): about 700 people.

The Harousi language - a Semitic language spoken by some residents of Jeddah Al Harasis in the Wilayat of Haima in central Oman - the Harsusiah belongs to the group of modern South Arabic languages, which is a branch of the South Semitic languages.

— Ghada AlMuhanna (@GAbalkhail) August 31, 2021

  • Bathriya (Semitic from the modern Arabic languages ​​located in the south): 100 people.

To whom

  • Mahari (Semitic, derived from the Himyarite language, located on the border with the Sultanate of Oman): 100,000 people.

  • Socotra (Arabic on the island of Socotra): 50 thousand people.

  • Hobiot: Its details have already been mentioned in the section on the Sultanate of Oman.

  • Yemeni Hebrew (a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic located in the north): 51 thousand people.

  • Al-Razihiya (Semitic from the ancient South Arabic languages, located in the north near the border with Saudi Arabia): 24,000 people.

  • Al-Shahriya/Jabali: The details of which were previously mentioned in the section on the Sultanate of Oman.

There are ancient endangered Yemeni languages ​​such as Mahari (Al Jazeera)


  • Mchengulu (south): 23 thousand people.

  • Lun/Bunni (South): 59 people.

  • Burmes (south): 50-250 thousand people.

  • Tony (South): 23 thousand people.

  • Gary (South): 57 thousand and 500 people.


  • Hebrew Neo-Aramaic (Aramaic and Hebrew in the north): between one thousand and ten thousand people.

  • Shana Dni (Northern Aramaic): 7,500 people.

  • Middle Hebrew Aramaic (Aramaic in the far north near the border with Turkey): less than 20 people.

  • Northeastern Neo-Aramaic (Northern Aramaic): No figures available.


  • Ghamra (Amazigh in the north): about 10 thousand people.

  • Sanhaja al-Sarayer (Amazigh in the north): 50 thousand people.

  • Beni Yazansen (Amazigh in the east, near the border with Algeria): No figures are available.

  • Figuig (Berber in the far east, near the border with Algeria): 14 thousand and 280 people.


  • Soukna (Amazigh in the West): 4 thousand people.

  • Awjila (Amazigh in the East): two thousand people.


  • Siwa (Amazigh in the far west): 10 thousand people.

  • Knouzi (Nubian in the southeast): 50 thousand people.

Nubian language 🔥❤️

— Nubian Lyrics (@NubianLyrics) July 16, 2022


  • Western Neo-Aramaic (Semitic in the southeast in the Christian town of Maaloula): 15,000 people.


  • Zangha (Berber on the West Coast): less than 200 people.


  • Tunisian Jewish Arabic (a mixture of the two languages ​​found in the center of the country): 352 thousand and 500 people.


  • Maor Comoros (from Niger-Congo languages, with an influence of Swahili): about 98,000 people.