Monday, December 14, 2015

Country Profile: The Languages of Jordan

In recent weeks we've looked at the languages of Paraguay, Togo, and Serbia, but today we're moving on to the Middle Eastern kingdom of Jordan. In addition to being one of the richest and safest countries in the region, it has also become known for welcoming large numbers of refugees from nearby conflicts in recent years.

The Official Language

The sole official language of Jordan is Modern Standard Arabic, the standardized literary variety of Arabic that is used in numerous countries around the world. While this written variety of Arabic is widely used and taught in schools, most Jordanians speak Jordanian Arabic, which is one of several varieties spoken in the region that are also referred to as Levantine Arabic.

Other varieties of Arabic that are used in Jordan include Bedawi Arabic and Najdi Arabic. There are about 700,000 native speakers of Bedawi Arabic in Jordan, primarily members of the seminomadic Bedouin group. Najdi Arabic, on the other hand, is spoken by about 50,000 Jordanians, but is primarily used in the Najd region of Saudi Arabia.

Other Languages

The Monastery, the largest monument within the city of Petra,
which is Jordan's most famous archaeological site.
Jordan is also home to a small number of minority languages, specifically Kabardian, Adyghe, Armenian, Domari, and Chechen. The two most spoken languages in this group are the closely related Kabardian and Adyghe languages, which are both members of the Northwest Caucasian language family. There are over 50,000 native speakers of Kabardian and about 40,000 of Adyghe, both of which are written using Cyrillic script.

There are also about 8,000 Jordanians who speak Armenian, which constitutes its very own branch of the Indo-European language family. It is followed by Domari, the Indo-Aryan language spoken by nearly 5,000 members of the Dom ethnic group in Jordan. The country is also home to about 3,000 native speakers of Chechen, a language that belongs to the Northeast Caucasian language family.

Foreign Languages

Finally, when it comes to foreign languages, English, French, and German are all popular in Jordanian society. Of these three languages, English undoubtedly has the most prestige since it is widely used in areas that include banking, commerce, and education, especially at the university level. French and German are also often taught in Jordanian schools, and are generally considered to be elite languages. English and French are also frequently used for television and radio broadcasts in the country.