Yemen

Yemen is a nation located in the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula. With a population size of 25.408 million, the primary ethnic demographic is comprised of the Arab people, while other sub-populations include European, South Asian, and Afro-Arab. This diversity in the ethnic makeup is reflected in the languages spoken in Yemen, with many indigenous and several foreign languages being spoken in the country.

Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Yemen, as established by the country’s constitution. Modern Standard Arabic is spoken by about 17.7 million people, and serves as the language of government services, public education, and media broadcasts. In addition to the Modern Standard variant, there are at least 5 other spoken dialects of Arabic which are used in Yemen, namely: Sanaani, Ta’Izzi-Adeni, Hadrami, Gulf, and Judeo-Yemeni. The Sanaani variety is spoken by about 7.6 million people mainly in the eastern, western, and central regions. The Ta’Izzi-Adeni variety is spoken by about 6.76 million speakers in Yemen, primarily in the southern region, where it is considered as the primary language. At around 300,000 speakers, next is the Hadrami language. The Hadrami language can be heard in the governorates of Shabwah and Hadramawt, while Gulf Arabic and Judeo-Yemeni are only spoken by around 10,000 and 1,000 individuals, respectively. Sanaani, Ta’Izzi-Adeni, and Hadrami are considered as Muslim languages, and Judeo-Yemeni is spoken by Jews in Sanaa, Adan, Al Bayda, and Shabwah governorates.

There are several non-Arabic languages of Yemen, and they include: Razihi, Soqotri, Mehri, Bathari, and Hobyot. Razihi has the highest number of speakers, around 62,900. The Soqotri language is the second most widely spoken non-Arabic language with a population of around 57,000 speakers in Yemen. Around 50,000 speakers use the Mehri language, while Bathari is considered to be endangered due to an extremely low number of speakers. Speakers of the Hobyot language can be found in a small area near the Yemen-Oman border.

Yemen is home to many immigrants and international businesses, and because of this diversity, several foreign languages can currently be encountered in Yemen. The most widely spoken foreign language in Yemen is English, which has become essential in the business and tourism sectors. Also, English is the most common foreign language taught in schools in Yemen today. English in Yemen is primarily concentrated in the southern parts of the country, although it can be heard anywhere in the country. This uneven geographical distribution is a result of the British colonial powers’ past influence in the area. Along with English, the second most common foreign language in Yemen is Russian. This is a result of a high number of Russian-Yemeni marriages that took place in the late 20th century.

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