The BBC has published a report on the Omani village of Kamzar, whose modern inhabitants are known in a special language unparalleled in the world.
The Omani village of Kamzar
The “BBC” said that a rocky desert extends for a distance of up to a hundred kilometers, separating the Omani village from the rest of the Sultanate.
This village enjoys wonderful isolation, which has led to it becoming its own language and culture.
The British report says that the small Omani village, which bears the name Kamzar, is located between straits of steep terrain in the north of the Sultanate, and this village appears to be hiding in a wadi bay, which separates the mountains from the ocean waters.
Wonderful isolation and private language
The strange thing, according to a BBC report, is that the vicinity, which is located at the far northern border of the Sultanate, not outside it, has a distinct character from the rest of Oman.
The wonderful isolation that this village enjoys led to it becoming its own language and culture.
How to reach the unique village
The BBC said that the only way to reach it (get to the village) is by boarding the sea; Either via a speedboat trip that lasts about an hour, or on a traditional sailing ship known as “The Dow”, which departs from “Khasab”, which is the nearest city. The journey in this case would take two and a half hours.
She owes geography as a shrine for many of the features that make up her unique personality, according to the report.
It is located in the Musandam peninsula, which forms a small coastal enclave, separating it from the rest of Oman, a rocky desert extending for about a hundred kilometers, and it is located in the United Arab Emirates.
Musandam is called “the Norway of the Arabian Peninsula”, in light of its dramatic coastal features, which are interspersed with lagoons similar to the fjords.
But the difference is that these small rocky bays were not formed by the continuous slides of glaciers, as happened to their Scandinavian counterparts, but by the collision of tectonic plates, which lead to the cracking of the Earth’s crust from below, as if they were the movements of terrifying creatures, struggling to emerge from the heart of an egg.
The Strait of Hormuz, and then Iran, lies behind Kamzar Bay. For about 700 years, the villagers absorbed a mixture of influences coming from this strait, which has long been a melting pot of extremely dramatic events related to foreign trade, as well as cultural aspects, and geopolitical issues as well.
This is remarkably evident in the language prevailing in the village, which differs from any other language, according to the British report.
Arabic and Persian antique vocabulary
Makiya Al-Kamzari, a resident of the village, said that this language represents a mixture of ancient Arabic and Persian vocabulary, along with words from other languages, such as Akkadian, Syriac, Turkish, English and Hindi.
This lady, who studies the language and culture of the city, indicated that the language used in the village does not exist anywhere else in the world.
The Kumzari language is a strong source of pride in this region.
“Kumzari is our mother tongue,” Moaz Al-Kumzari, the captain of one of the Dow ships that cruises in the area around Musandam, told me. And when we are together, we do not talk about anything else, although we are all proficient in Arabic as well. ”
Much of the vocabulary of the Kumzari language may sound familiar to English speakers. At the same time, much of the vocabulary that Kumzari took from Arabic and Persian is pronounced closer to what the words of these two languages were in the Middle Ages, not the modern era.
The village language aroused the interest of linguists
For a long time, the mixture of different influences that the Kumzari language carries in its folds, as well as its ability to survive and withstand in an environment dominated by the Arabic language tremendously, has aroused the interest of linguists such as Kristina van der Waal Anunbe and Erik Anunbe, who lived and worked in it for a year. .
Eric said that this Omani village has for centuries been at the heart of a vibrant, historically and socially vibrant regional system, which makes it a mistake to think of it as an isolated place, even if it can only be reached by sea.
He added, “As a shrine, it was very important from the historical point of view, as it formed one of the few spots, between which there is a well containing fresh water in large quantities, in the area between commercial centers such as Basra, Muscat, Zanzibar, India and beyond.”
Eric Annenby and Christina Annenby were welcomed by the townspeople, who made them feel that they were part of the local community there.
The residents of Kamzar depend on the fishing of fish that live in the lagoons surrounding them, to earn a living for their day during the nine months of the year.
In the summer months, during which the fish abandon the water due to the intense heat, the residents move to Khasab, to participate in the date palm harvesting operations.
And since the waters that the village overlooks are what gives it its life, it is also the language that the residents speak, Eric told me.
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He noted that “200 different names of fish were found in the city. Many of these names differ from those given to fish species in other world languages.
Unique geographical location
The unique geographical location of Kamzar, which lies between towering mountain walls on three sides and ocean waters on the fourth, has not only affected the linguistic vocabulary of the population, but also extended to the way these Prime Time Zone perceive the world around them.
Instead of using the four original directions: north, south, east and west (as we do in English and Arabic, for example), the world of these Prime Time Zone revolves around two directions, higher towards the mountains, and ‘down’ towards the ocean.
In addition, the affairs and details related to marine navigation cast a shadow all the time on the social interactions between the city’s residents. Understand – for example – they greet each other, with a phrase that translates as “How is the wind?”
It is also said that the passion for fish extends even to the goats in the village, the ones that devour sardines, when they do not find anything else to eat on the land.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the sea and the ocean dominate greatly the folk traditions prevalent in Kamzar.
Kumzari culture includes other vibrant aspects as well. According to Eric: “All over the Arabian Peninsula, the residents of Kumzar are known for their lively weddings.
He added, “Each one lasts for a week, and is full of all the time with dances, folk songs and extravagant feasts, in which the entire village is reunited.”
Although Kumzar may be far from anywhere, it cannot be considered an isolated spot. The village is enjoying self-sufficiency, as it has a school, a hospital, and a desalination plant.
It seemed to feel proud of belonging to this place, burning fiercely in the hearts of its residents. Perhaps there is no better example of this than the case of the Al Madina football team, which remarkably beat rival teams in terms of human and material resources, to be crowned champion of a local competition in the Sultanate in 2016.
Moaz comments, “This was a great achievement for our club, and all Kumzars feel proud of this moment. This certainly encouraged our sense of local identity. ”
Despite all of this, the future of Kamzar appears to be deeply shrouded in mystery. The village – as Moaz says – is changing, and the new generation of its residents devotes “a great deal of time and effort to education, and they often move to Muscat, to study there.”
Gone are the days when previous generations of village residents spoke in “Kumzari” alone and did not encourage learning Arabic.
The youth of the city, after graduating, often seek job opportunities in the rest of Oman, or even in the Emirates.
Eric says that commercial fishing operations have depleted fish stocks, which has led to disruption of the livelihoods of the Kamzar residents.
He added: “The education system with unified curricula (existing in various parts of Oman) and the widespread use of television, and now the Internet, led to the Arabic language finding its way into daily life, throughout the hours of the day and night.
The past ten years have witnessed a great change, as most families are teaching their children Arabic as a first language. Although children are still able to understand Kumzari, they do not speak it well, and the transmission of the language between generations is rapidly disappearing.
Reasons for optimism
However, there are still reasons for optimism. Experts from the village and Prime Time Zone passionate about its language are collaborating with researchers such as Eric and Christina, to create a writing system in the Kumzari language, and to help the Prime Time Zone of this region preserve their language and culture.
“Fortunately, there is a group of dedicated Kumzars, who do not want to lose all of their history, cultural knowledge, and their ability to survive and succeed despite all environmental difficulties,” said Eric.
“They also do not wish to lose their unique Kumzari identity, which the language keeps alive,” he added.
He continued: “Preserving Kumzari will enrich them with the cultural heritage of the entire world, given that there is no other language on earth similar to Kumzari.”
Although the city’s youth leave it to enroll in the various universities in the Sultanate, the high birth rate in the village means that it is unlikely that this spot will suffer from a shortage of sufficient number of young Prime Time Zone to protect its language from disappearing.
According to Moaz, “the population of the village is now increasing, and new homes are being built in the mountains that overlook them.”
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