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The UNESCO atlas of endangered languages has listed that Shehri Language is at risk of disappearing, based on Johnston (1982). The aim of this paper is to investigate at which level of endangerment the language is. This study has been conducted based on interviews with representatives from each part of the country, and distribution of a questionnaire to females and males Shehri speakers. Basically, the research has discovered that the Shehri language is a very rich language [linguistically] and need to be studied to discover all those issues as a part of the Omani culture diversity. Moreover, the results had shown that the Shehri language face a remarkable threatened starting from the next door culture, and ends with the educational philosophy. Support and encouragement need to be done by the government to support such studies to revive the language. The Shehri speakers are and still proud of their language and next generation should continue with those manners.
Language death, language revive, language revilaitaztion, language change, language and culture.
This dissertation is about the Shehri language in Dhofar. It aims to investigate the language form a sociolinguistics prospectives. As it is considered as severely endangers by the UNESCO we are going to investigate it by looking the language relationship with culture and surrounding variability. Although, the UNESCO records are clear and fact such a topic is changeable and it could be varied if the language is being recorded over a time and updated.
In addition, since this language is not being studied before as endangered, we shall present the history of language and country to make the image clear, because it seems that the name of the language means a lot to the Shehri speakers, and there is a remarkable debate about it. Thus, it might draw the light on what are the reasons for the language death in Southern Oman. Moreover, a short survey on what have been discussed about the language in previous studies before the research body is introduced to address the following questions:
Is the shehri language is going to extinct?
If so, What are the reasons for this reduction in the number of speakers?
What is the best solution to revive the language?
After that, the analysis of data and findings will reveal what the study accomplished. Finally, this paper will discuss what might be done and how the revive the Shehri language.
A Sheharat is a language that is spoken is south of Oman. It is known is the mother-tongue of the people who live in the mountain of Dhofar southern Oman. Moreover, since this language was and still the language of the people in the mountains of Dhofar , people from Salalah "the capital of Dhofar" call it Jabbali or Jabblat which comes from Jabbal in Arabic which means mountain. Moreover, Higgins (2010: 3) stated that "the communist-backed tribal guerrillas controlled the whole of the Jebel Dhofar region ("jebel" [English spellings vary] is the Arabic word for mountain, hill, or slope).
None-Shehri speakers describe the language of its speaker as Jabbalies or Gabbalies. When they say that this language is Jabbali it is due to translating the word Shehar (the origin name of the language which is mountain) into Arabic Jabbal, therefore, they call it Jabbali. According to Hetzron (1997:2) The Jabbali language received many names in the scientific literature, the most common of which being Å xauri, Ehkili, Qarawi, Å heri. In context, if any person is going to the mountain and he would name it he would say I'm going to the mountain " I'm going to Shehar" and in the city language "Arabic" it is going to be something like "I'm going to Jabbal".
A Shehri (2000) has described his tribe to be the ancient tribe in the South the South Arabian Peninsula claiming that the language is named according to his tribal name, but this study revealed that the name Shehri coming from the name of the mountain in the language itself. In addition, Johnstone (1982) in his introduction was clarifying all those issues as a message from him for the important impact on the language. He stated that "Tribal origins mean much less in modern Oman, and the large scale re-settlement has tended to blur these ancient distinctions. The name Jibbali, however, has the advantage that it avoids the mention of the term Shehri, with its tendency to stress old social differences between Dhofar tribes.
In this view, This tells us that the different names that we have for the same language are common, because each person is describing it from his culture and language. But there is no doubt that the ancient's speakers call it Shehrat or Shehri language.
There are some people in Dhofar who do not believe that this is a language. According to them it is an accent or a dialect and the term language is something cannot be describing it. Their assumption comes from the idea that "if the language is not written it is an accent, while if we look at the Shehri it is a language that contains it is own phonetics, vocabulary and grammar. At the same time it is not a part from any other language "until now" so they can call it an accent for X language.
In fact, the Shehri have three different accents in Dhofar. This is due to the geographical variation in South of Oman. The most known part is the central part since it is closer to the city "Salalah" Johnstone (1981). Moreover Peterson (2004:256) and also Johnstone (1981) divided the mountains of Dhofar into three main areas; "Jabal al-Qara overlooks Salalah at the centre, while the remote and largely inaccessible Jabal Samhan dominates the east, and the equally forbidding and barren Jabal Qamar commands the west". This might lead us the Shehri variant is based on those main inhabited places in Dhofar came from.
The number of Shehri speakers is 5,000 according to Johnstone (1975, 94). This is taken during a war in Dhofar which force many people from the mountains to deported to Yemen as the closest country to Dhofar as looking for refuge from the war and a better place to lead their war since the government controlled the whole area in Dhofar. After that, in 1993 according to Omani national census the number of people who are living in the mountain is 25,000. At that time, the Shehri language was the first language in the mountains of Dhofar. On the other hand, Al Aghbari (2011) reported that the number of Shehri speakers are more than 147,000 people. Since the Omani Census are not counting the number of speakers of each language in the country; the number of Shehri speakers are not being officially known yet.
AL-Shehri (2008) claim that the Shehri language consists of 33 letters with 6 extra phonemic sounds which leave the language with 39 phonemes. On the other hand, if we look at the letter and how they sound we might feel that they are similar to Arabic. Because it is not a written language [yet] people from other tribes and places in Dhofar tries to speak Shehri and at the same time they are using the same Arabic letters that they are used to. At this stage, the Shehri language starts to change and nowadays people hardly use the 6 extra sounds and replacing them with the normal Arabic phonemes. This doesn't mean that the Shehri language is a partial form Arabic. The vocabulary and language structures in Shehri are totally different, but the sounds might be the same since they are sharing the same area.
The history of the country
Dhofar was a very rich country in the trading market with other ancient nations. According to Zarins (1997:51) "Dhofar province is the Atlantis of the Sand and speculated that it might have a trading center in southern of Oman". Moreover, he continues saying that "Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, and other ancient authors, though not specifically mentioning Ubar, gave brief accounts of cities in southern Arabia that market resins of frankincense and myrrh trees. While it is certain that the people of the Dhofar area grew rich trading these commodities, it would appear that the city of Ubar was an Arabian Nights fantasy". Furthermore, Dharmananda, (2003) confirms that "the Myrrh and frankincense trading market reached china before 973 A.D as a medicine and also, in Egypt for embalming the bodies of the Pharaohs". Besides, Dharmananda (2003) believed that "Myrrh and frankincense, traded throughout the Middle East at least since 1500 B.C." Therefore, it might be seen now clearly that the history of the area south of Oman was famous and strong enough to contend the Egyptian and the Chains empires. Such a nation must have a language, power, economic and financial system to compete such nations,otherwise the south Arabian Peninsula is going to be a an Egyptian or Chinese colony.
After those glory days in southern the Arabian Peninsula lots of changes happen to ancient people. In terms of the economy and their statues worldwide as well. Recently, before the 1970, Oman was ruled by Sultan Said Bin Taimor (1932-1970) in which many people do not have the right to be educated, receiving medical care or even travel from Oman without his direct permission. This was the Sultan's policy that results in Rebellion in Dhofar from 1968-1975. Dhofar was the capital of the south and the modern part of it. "The Sultan of Oman, Said bin Tamur, ruled like a feudal lord: No Omani was allowed to leave the country, or even his home village, without the Sultan's explicit permission. He banned all symbols of the decadent twentieth century... From medical drugs and spectacles to book and radios' and he flogged his subjects for adopting Western dress" Ladwig (2008:66).
Moreover, Higgins (2010:3) stated "there were no roads, no schools, no hospitals, and no development of water resources for home or agricultural use". This was the situation all over Oman but with some emphasizes on Dhofar as the special place for the Sultan Said bin Taimor. According to Ladwig (2008:66) "Dhofar was the Sultan's personal domain, where he resided in seclusion year round, despite the fact that the nation's capital was 500 miles north of Muscat. Although he took a Dhofari wife, who was the mother of his son, the Sultan disliked and distrusted his Dhofari subjects, the Jebelis most of all". It is clearly seen that all those issues happened since Sultan Said Bin Taimor taken the rule of the country made the situation in Oman and especially in Dhofar difficult to be controlled. Therefore, the Rebellion movement started from Dhofar (1968) with the help of the Soviets and China.
Until, 1970 when the Sultan Qaboos the Only son of Sultan Said bin Taimor take the rule of the country and start to fight the counterinsurgency in southern of Oman, and make the promises to rebuild the country again. "My people, my brothers, yesterday it was complete darkness and with the help of God, tomorrow will be a new dawn in Muscat, Oman and its people" (Sultan Qaboos first speech 1970). According to Gulvady (2009) "The Sultan Qaboos government has focused on economic development. He first addressed infrastructure needs, such as building roads and highways, as well as education. He is now focusing on sustainable development, diversification, industrialization, and privatization".
The schools were built with a great care; hospitals, Universities and colleges to ensure that each person in Oman get the chance to be learnt and to be educated. Certainly, according the Ministry of Education (2012) the number of schools rose from 3 schools in 1970 teaching the Holy Quran and Arabic language only, to 1053 schools by 2010 teaching modern subjects as Mathematics, Sciences, Arabic, English, History, and Religion. In addition, Universities and colleges were established all over Oman. The main University is the Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat. Also, the biggest cities in Oman were provided with an applied sciences college and a technical college as well. Therefore, the use of Arabic language gets greater; while the Shehri language got a few chances to be practiced without being taught.
To conclude, the past of Oman was dark and full of blood from the Rebellion movement against Sultan Qaboos's father Said bin Taimor. All those promises by the Sultan Qaboos has been achieved in 40 years is something difficult and almost impossible. Thank to God and the hands of the Omani generations who learnt and trained under the government of Oman this path was easier.Now Omani students can be found in the world famous Universities studying and learning to continuing what the Sultan Qaboos has begun. The new regime, though undoubtedly good for the people, did lead to the decline of the Shehri language. Therefore, it might be worth to reorganize the Educational Philosophy in Oman.
During the last decades lots of changes happened to Oman, precisely Dhofari people and their language. The changes appear in the vocabulary choice, pronunciation, structure, words are disappearing and not being used. Marshall (2004:1) claims that "investigators have shown renewed interest in the loss of non-standard varieties and the process of standardization. This has given important insights into the types of geographical area, social network, and social group in which language changes originate and mechanism involves in the process of diffusion". In addition, McMahon (1994:8) assured that "we should never lose sight of the fact that language are spoken by people for purposes of communication; consequently, speakers change languages, although that is not to say that they are necessarily conscious of doing so, or that they intend to make changes". Perhaps speakers of any language hold the responsibility toward the changes happened at their time, but also the political decisions made by the country could play a positive or negative role. Moreover, considering the fact that the Shehri language is not a written language this risk gets greater. McCabe (2011:262) explains that "There is no clear reason why languages change as extensively as they do; there are several explanations which cover various aspects of change, in the case of sound change we have seen that ease of articulation has historically been a motivator. With respect to sound change, it is important to mention the impact that the written language has had on language change".
Moreover, a tremendous change took place during the last 40 years in Oman , generally, and Dhofar region result in having a new generation which differs from the elderly people in the way of thinking, learning, speaking and everything. McCabe (2011:263) assured that "often young people use language differently than their parents, in the same way that they dress differently and listen to different music, in order to create an identity which sets them apart from their parents' generation". Taking into account that any changes might be referred back to it after a time if it is written, but if it was only a spoken language in the community this means that there is no source for the language except those young generations. Besides, Beard (2004) believes that studying a language change consists of two parts, internal and external approach. According to him " an internal approach to studying language change looks at such areas as vocabulary, spelling, meaning of words, grammar and compares usage in 'old' text with stage found today...But if we look at the external aspects of this text, viewing it more as a social document, it seems to belong to different age" Bread (2004:4).
The Shehri language has been discussed in some books, Journals, TV interviews, and dissertations. According many people in this study lots of this information was presented wrongly. Many of them might be a personal believe or just a way to relate this language to their own purposes. For example, Ali AL Shehri books where he claims that this language is related to them as a tribe was totally unacceptable for people from other tribes in Dhofar. According to Al Shehri (2000:42) "the Shahara tribes have preserved the most ancient Arab language (the Shehri), the traditions, folklore, proverbs, names of ancient tribes, ancient God names and much other ancient Arab culture". This assumption made by Ali made other people argue with him as relating the language to his tribe. At the same time, as other tribes and the government did not agree with what Ali mention in his books; none of his books were published in Oman to ovoid sedition between the people in Dhofar.
Then, in (2005) Mohammed Al Mashani studied the language comparing it to languages such as the Arabic, the Old Yemeni language (Saba), and the modern dialects in Yemen, claiming that the Shehri language is the language of Hamyer the old kingdom southern the Arab Peninsula. Mohammed also brings a new name for the language and named with "The Modern Hamyer Dhofari Tongue". It is clearly seen that the name of the language became the main issue for scholars and the people in Dhofar.
Other studies such as Hayward et. Al. (1988), Johnstone (1972) - (1980a) - (1980a) - (1981), Al Hakli (2008), Al-Shahri (1994), Hayward, Al-TabÅ«ki (1988), Hofstede (1998) Makhashen (2009) focused their studies on the origin of the language and its people, and the grammatical aspects of the language only. This will provide a foundation for any research in the future to be built and based on them, if they were true and still have the same findings which is a topic need to be investigated again.
However, moving from the battle of the name of the Shehri language and taking the UNESCO's records about languages that are in danger of disappearing; the Shehri language might not transform fully from the elderly generation to the younger ones. According to the UNESCO atlas of the most endangered languages (table 1) this stage is "severely endangered". In other words, it means that "language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves" UNESCO (2010). This leaves the language with only two stages from being extinct.
Degree of endangerment
Intergenerational Language Transmission
The language is spoken by all generations; intergenerational transmission is uninterrupted >> not included in the Atlas
Most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., Home)
Children no longer learn the language as mother tongue in the home
The language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves
The youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently
There are no speakers left >> included in the Atlas if presumably extinct since the 1950s
Table Degree of endangerment Adapted from Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.
Moreover, Al Hakli (2008) made a mini-dictionary for Shehri language joining the Shehri words to their meaning in Arabic. But until now the number of speakers is still declining. Which means writing a dictionary was not the solution to revive the language at this stage.
Therefore, the questions pointed out to look for the solution and to investigate why the number of the speakers is declined. According to Romine and Nettle (2000:7) "language shift and death occur as a response to pressures of various types-social, cultural, economic, and even military-on a community". Furthermore, Harrison (2007: 8) stresses that "language death typically begins with political or social discrimination against a language or its speakers. This may take the form of official state politics to suppress speech, or it may be benign neglect". Therefore, it might be the reason that there are other variables controlling the number of speakers of this language.
Mufwene (2006:2) stated that "language death starts when speakers consulted with each other and decided collectively to shift suddenly to another language". This leads us to the beginning and taking in our consideration that Dhofar region has been benediction with the revolutionary movement by the Sultan Qaboos and many schools, Hospitals, Airports were built in a short time. Therefore, the Arabic language takes place in their houses and daily life. The new generation was introduced to schools that delivers everything to them in Arabic. However, many families had migrated from the mountain to the city to look for a better way of living and a job that helps them to overcome the hardship of life in their villages. People's language might be affected by the surrounding environment. Also, the language that is nearby lots of variables that might influence it such as economy, geography, the power of the next door language are at more risk of being disappeared. Moreover, language shift and death can begin by start learning the next door language. For example: "The Kwegu language in southwest Ethiopia is spoken by 500 people only" Lydall (1982:22). In addition, according to the UNSECO world atlas the number of Kwegu speakers declines in 1998 to reach 103 speaker only. Furthermore, Dimmendaal (1989:17) "mention some of the daily activities practiced by the Kwegu ancient as they exchange honey with the overlord groups in the same area so they will be able to live...Kwegu speak both their own language and the language of the Musri and Bodi while the latter tend not to speak Kwegu". So, learning other group's language was the effect of such discrimination in the society, therefore, their first language [Kwegu] will have less chances to be used.
On this view, the Shehri speakers are shifting from their language to Arabic and this is due to many facts already mentioned above. When the next generation does not believe in their language and start to shift toward a new language which is stronger than their language, obviously, no one will speak with it and it is only a matter of years until the Shehri speakers reduction end with it is extinct. Dimmendaal (1989:18) points out that " it is only when they start interacting with neighbouring groups whose cultures are viewed as more prestigious that their own language became particularly threatened... The Weyto probably gave up their earlier language this way." Darmon (2010:2) argued that the Weyto "Because the Weyto people do not own lands, they are living in extremely precarious conditions. They build their huts wherever the government allows them to, knowing that they can be asked to move at any time... Without professing to be Muslim, they are usually not recognized as "true Muslims" by others, maybe because some of them keep on believing in spirits associated with paganism". Therefore, Darmon thinks that such feelings towards your own language might lead you to give up using it and shift it to a stronger language in the society. Eventually, this language shift will result in language death within years.
The language death is when a language disappears and becomes extinct. In other words, when people stop using their language or forced to do so. There are types for language death cited by Tsitsipis (1989:182) "first, sudden death: the language disappears because almost all of its speakers die or killed (example: Tasmanian). Secondly, Radical Death when language loses is rapid and usually due to severe political repression, often with genocide, to the extent that speakers stop speaking the language out of self defense, a survival strategy for example: Languages of El Salvador. Then, Gradual Death which is due to a gradual shift to the dominant language in language-contact situations. Finally, the Bottom-to-top Death, where that language is lost in small steps first "like homes and families and then moved when the government stop using it, it is the opposite on the Top-Bottom language death". Regardless to the reason for the language shift it is clearly seen that it is only a matter of time until language shift become language extinction.
To conclude, it might be more beneficial for reviving endangered languages that writers and scholars studying the Shehri language should keep their focus first at the language itself rather than fighting against each other in bringing a new name each time. Since the Shehri language is not documented yet, it only exists in the peoples mind, therefore, we are losing a huge amount of the language and country heritage and culture each time a person dies. As what Harrison describes" when we lose a language, we lose a culture, intellectual wealth, a work of art" Harrison (2007:7).
This part of the paper presents the methodology and how it had been designed to accomplish the aims and goals. First, this section will clarify the problem clearly. Then, the types of data, participants, questionnaires and interviews are going to be discussed separately.
Since the Shehri language is being listed officially by the UNESCO as [severely endangered] this research will be conducted to investigate if the Shehri language speakers are really under the risk of abandoning speaking their own language are not. Firstly, by looking at the number of speakers of the language and to see how it varies from the past. Then, through looking at the changes that happened to the language. According to Professor Miyaoka the director of The Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim Project "Particularly in case of moribund and isolated languages with speakers rapidly diminishing in number, of which there are quite a few in the Pacific Rim, we are obliged to emphasize documentation with good and minute analyses which could be achieved only with the help of speakers having deep linguistic insights".
The Shehri is a language that is not written yet or documented officially. Therefore, when each person of the Shehri speakers dies an amount of the language goes with him. Similarly, the Arabic language was not written until people start to write it after the death of Prophet Mohammed in order to preserve the holy Quran from being changed and distorts. Before this stage the Arabic language was only exist in their minds and transformed from a generation to another by communication with each other. In the Shehri context, the Shehri language is not written, not fully transformed from a generation to another, people start to avoid using it and preferred to use English or Arabic to show how they are educated. Nettle and Romaine (2000:5) insist that "language might be regarded as an activity, system of communication between human beings. A language is not a self-sustaining entity. It can only exist where there is a community to speak and transmit it."
In addition, immigration from the mountain to the city provides a space for the two cultures to merge. Thus, some of the young speakers of the language are not able to speak or even understand it. This will result in having a new generation of Shehri speakers that are not able to speak their language. Nettle and Romaine (2000:4) assured that "languages not passed on to the younger generation will eventually die out." Since the Shehri newer generation are not able to speak the language, therefore, the language is not going to transmit and will extinct.
Types of data
The Data collection part was separated into two main parts; the first part was to update the information about the language. Moreover, to explore and discover why this language is not being studied yet. Also, the main part of this section was to see if such a kind of researches is going to be accepted by the Shehri speakers and tribe leader or not.
Since, there has been an assumption that the reduction of speakers outstanding for not having a written form of the language; this assumption is being abandoned with the Halki's basic dictionary were a space is being provided for the Arabic speakers in Dhofar and Oman to learn some vocabulary and sentence in Shehri. Therefore, this result leads us to wonder about this continues reduction in the Sheahri speakers. Through meetings with scholars such as Dr. Ali AL Shehri and Khalid AL Maashani, both are Sahehari native speakers, they ensure that the abstention of the new generation is clearly seen these days in their daily life conversation and usage. This leads us to the second assumption of this study.
Second part, was the main data collection in which the aim was: First, to see the what extend the Shehri speakers use their language?. Then, do they find any difficulty in understanding old peoples' language? Finally, are they aware that their language is at risk of extinction? At the same time to see what they might recommend for their language. To make the aim of this paper more achievable the questions were made easier to the Shehries to answer by shortening the questions and translate them into Arabic. As what Harrison discovers in dealing with endangered languages in Australia "Charlie was not a talkative man, and most of our questions got monosyllabic answers: yeah or no. But once he got to talking, Charlie also shared stories of this place -learned from his father- of the Turkey Dreaming and of the Rainbow Serpent" (Harrison: 2010:98). Therefore, involving their language could provide a better communication environment in this research.
Since they are not used to such studies which was one of the obstacles of gathering the information from them. Moreover, such a research must consider respecting the traditional rules in the Dhofar were females are not allowed to have a face to face conversation with strangers. Therefore, some volunteers from various tribes in Dhofar helped by giving the permission to distribute the questionnaire among their families as a part of their wish to revive the language. This issue but this research at risk of having unreliable data. So, the research methodology needs to look for a strategy to make the data more valid and reliable.
This research conducted using both methods of data quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative data are represented in the questionnaire answers and responds, while the qualitative data is taken from interviewing the participant and the answers from the open-ended questionnaire answers in this study. Such kind of data collection has been described by (Jick 1979) in which he looks at using two or more methods of data collection can be called "triangulation". According to Jick (1979:1) " It is largely a vehicle for cross validation when two or more distinct methods are found to be congruent and yield comparable data". In other words, using such methods might be the reason to accomplish the validity of the research. In addition, the research will get the chance to look at each part of his study from more than one point.
In addition, Olsen (2004) assured that "triangulation is defined as the mixing of data or methods so that diverse viewpoints or standpoints cast light upon a topic." Considering the advantages and it is drawbacks combining the two methods might help the researcher as to make his own conclusions about a topic especially if we are talking about sociological issues. In addition, Spicer (2012:484) stated that "it is an approach to combining two or more quantitative and/or qualitative methods in addressing a research question in order to cross-check results for consistency and to offset any bias of single research method". In this context, this research tries to use the triangulation method so it could reach the best, real, and representative data by using both quantitative qualitative data and making use of previous studies about the Shehri language and language revival worldwide.
In the other hand, the triangulation method might be difficult to achieve since it requires a lot of effort and work to combine the three data. Moreover, Olsen (2004:13) argues that "triangulated research may run the risk of taking on too many unfocused questions all at once unless it has sequenced and a sense of which technique is primary." Therefore, a triangulated researcher might achieve his goals and aims by organizing his time and work between the three methods. "It refers to a pluralism of method that enables the researcher to use different techniques to get access to different facets of the same social phenomenon"(Olsen, 2004).
(Quantitative Data) The Research Triangulation (Qualitative Data)
Previous studies and investigations in the same field
Figure The Triangulation Method adapted from Denscombe (2007:137)
According to Denscombe (2007:136) he assured that "These different perspectives can be based on the approaches of different disciplines. So, for example, researchers might choose to contrast a sociological with a psychological approach to the particular topic being investigated...triangulation's potential needs to be seen more cautiously as 'providing more support', 'increasing confidence', and 'reducing the possibility of error'".
A sociolinguistics research might be difficult for the research to control variables and samples. A data collected from people might change during the second day or even after five minutes. People ideas and beliefs may vary according to what they are facing. It is not a scientific process in which everything is clear and obvious. Yates (2004:3) affirms that "social sciences is a very 'reflexive' activity, new findings often lead to new ideas about how to go about researching the social world". Moreover, Williams and May (1996:48) confirm that "human beings have the capacity for autonomous reflection". This leads the research to look for a solution to attempt a frame that will help the study and be achievable.
Choosing the appropriate methods depends on the research goal and assumptions. Therefore, a well designed and organized method might play a vast role in achieving the correct, up-dated, valid, reliable, and representing data for any research. Thus, it might be beneficial for the research to start from a clear achievable method.
From the collection of the first part of this study is being clearly seen that the Shehri language speakers are influenced and affected by the Arabic and modern society. Moreover, Hinton (2001:3) assured that "Immigrant minorities are also very likely to undergo language shift, either voluntarily or involuntarily, as part of their assimilation to their country to their new country". In this view, this research is designed to investigate to what extent the Shehri language is at risk of being extinct. Furthermore, to look for the reasons for the declining of Shehri speakers and why they are not using it accurately as their fathers. At the end, this study will try to provide some solutions for helping the language of it is endangered.
The questionnaire of this study is designed to represent the quantitative data collection. The main issues focused in by this questionnaire is to ask people about what they believe and the facts regarding their language. Denscombe (2007:155) stated that " .... it is vital that at all stages of using questionnaires the researcher is clear about whether the information being sought is to do with facts or to do with opinions". The questions also were written in a sequence that is not leading people to a certain answer. , according to Cohen, Manion, and Morrison (2011:209) " the validity and reliability of the questionnaire comes first, when the respondents complete the questionnaire accurately, honestly, and correctly; to reach this stage a couple stages need to be done. Starting from the features of the questionnaire itself (time needed for answering it, sensitive questions, and length of the questionnaire itself)" . Therefore, in this view, it could be insignificant to ask non-Arabic speakers fill out a three pages of questions that they are not used to answer. Thus, the list of questions has been shortened to be eight direct questions only according to the research purpose.
A face-to-face distribution might be the best technique to use with such participant to explain the importance of this research to them and to be available to explain what is necessary. According Blaxter, Hughes, and Tight, (2010:201) "face-to-face survey may get a better response rate, but are more time consuming for the research". In the Shehri context this issue is something that might need to be considered seriously. At the time the participants were answering the questionnaire it was appropriate to give them as much time as they need to answer and not to force them. Furthermore, making use of that time to interview the elderly people in the tribe.
Moreover, Cohen, Manion, and Morrison (2011:209) point out a great point by stating that "the questionnaire may lack coverage or authenticity; if only open items are used, respondents may be unwilling to write their answers for one reason or another; questionnaires presented problems to people with limited literacy; and interview can conduct at an appropriate speed whereas questionnaires are often filled in hurriedly". But with the use of their educated member of the society it showed a vast impact to them, moreover, it might provide them with an environment they would not feel that it is strange or something new to them.
For each question the participant got the choice to select as much answers provided they want. In addition, they can state why they have chosen their answer or to add any comments such as; if they felt that there is an answer which is not provided. This was clearly explained to them before they go through.
The first question in the survey was asking them about the reasons for the reduction of the Shehri speakers, based on the first part of this study. The participants need to choose whether it is related to the shifting toward the Arabic language, or the immigration to the Salalah (the capital city in Dhofar), or if they feel that it is not welcomed among other people.
Secondly, they have been asked about which language they prefer to use (Arabic or Shehri) and to specify why they favour to use it. The purpose of this question is to assess to what extend the believe in their language. Logically, choosing the Arabic language as their favorite language to communicate with, might lead us to the fact that the next generation is not going to prefer it, so, the language is not going to use.
After that, the following question targeted the understanding of elderly people's language. They need to choose yes or no if they find any difficulty in understanding their language. In case there is no difficulty they do not have to answer the followed question where they need to choose where this gap appears between their understanding and the language of elderly people. The choices were: first, difficulty in understanding the songs and poetry (which can be performed even by young people not related to a certain age ). Second, difficulty in understanding the elderlies instruction and language in general. Nevertheless, Difficulty in understanding and speaking with the same phonetic sounds used by elderly generation, for that reason, a gap is going to appear between the language of the two generations. Followed by an open-ended question about how they might overcome this gap.
Then, a list of projects is being listed in the sixth question to be chosen according to what is required for this language to revive in the following years if it is possible. Is it building a language centre to teach it, or conducting more researches to cover each element in the language, or trying to document the language and made it written and to specify if they think that there are other needs for the language.
The last two parts of the survey have been answered by both, those who said that they do not face any difficulty in understanding the language and those who do. The question is to see if they think that the Shehri language is at risk of being disappeared or not, by answering yes or no, and why. Which is going to be the last question for those who do not believe that the language is at risk of being. Then, the there is an open-ended question on the questionnaire to ask them about an action to be done in order to shift the level of language endangerment to "critically endangered" which means that "The youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently" according to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2012).
At the end this investigation asked the participants about what they recommend for their language to be revived. This was a chance to get their voices heard and also at the same time to since they are going to play the main part in the language revival action; it might be more beneficial to elicit a solution that they are going to accept and also that can be applied and achievable (more details are in chapter 5).
The questionnaire was the main part of data for this research. As it provide a chance to get various people involved in it, therefore, it might reveal what each different group believes and thoughts to be compared at the end. Also, in designing it it was a must to take in the consideration the attitude of the Shehri speakers; as they are not familiar with such surveys. So, this might result result rejecting and further research in the future. The set of questions had been considered not the lead them to a certain idea so they change their minds and answers.
The interview Questions
The second part of this study is based on collecting data through interviews as it is the second source in this research. The interviewees were selected By virtue of their role in society. The first interview was one of those representatives of the language as what he calls himself and also the person who was selected by many scholars when they have been asked to participate in this study. Since our aim was and still to look for reasons why this language is still undercover; we targeted people such as professors in the universities in Omani but they refuse to do claiming that he is going to be the best one who represent this language taking in our consideration that all of them were native speakers of Shehri language and have written some books about it.
Moreover, the second interview focused on the language itself. In other words, the Shehri language is a spoken language formed as daily life conversation as any language and also in the poetry and songs; it stands to reason to involve one of those poets in this study as well. The aim of this interview is to look for the image of this language in the mind of those poets and what the language means to them. Therefore, we might be able to know the insufficiency among the speakers and if it is due to less use of the language in poetry as one element of the language.
Furthermore, as education played a great part in changing the country in Oman; this study involves teachers in both schools and Universities. The interview was taken place in Salalah Technical College with A Shehri English teacher to see who he is dealing with is students from the same tongue. Hopefully, to look at the reaction of his learners obstacles in learning in the middle of Arabic speakers.
In addition, there is no voice, apart from the government response to Ali's books, to the Shehri language of the government. A member of the Omani Council agreed to take part in this study. Since he is a representative of his village "Sadah" and also a native speaker of Shehri this interview might answer the question why there is no encouragement from the government? And why this silence remains.
The interviewees were asked several questions in these interviews. Initially, it could be a start to ask them about the language itself, and what it means to them. Then, in order not to lead them to the final answer it was more critical to see how much they use the language in their daily life and what is their reaction their language choice if they were in a group of Arabic speakers. As what happened with Kwegu in south western Ethiopia "because the Kwegu eat the meat of various wild animals, they are considered to be unclean by the neighbouring Mursi and Bodi, who have taboos against eating the meat of particular wild animals" Dimmendaal (1989:17). In other words, to see in there is any social division based on cultures and behaves as speakers of different language and living in different environments.
Furthermore, the transforming of the language to the next generation is being discussed as they are fathers and observers of the language at home. Then, the main question is being listed to see if they believe that their language is at risk of being disappeared and why. After that, the interview was finished with what they recommend for the language in the future. Taking into considerations that their answer might not agree with the hypothesis that Shehri language is at risk of disappearing those participant needs to clarify their beliefs.
Since the Shehri language contains three accents which represent the three areas where this language is spoken. The East, west, and middle; this research tried to include the three groups of speakers.
During the collection of data it was difficult to conduct the research without being aware that many of those speakers live on the mountain as herders. So, it was difficult to get the answers at any time. There are 30 speakers from the city centre Shehri speakers to represent the people from the middle areas.
The participant where a variety of people such as scholars, teachers, housewives, teenagers, and fathers to try to conduct all those segments of the society.
At the same time, A poet from Dhofar participate kindly in this study to represent the role of poetry in this language since it is the only eloquent source for the old structure with the stories and old people's language
Another volunteer in this research is a member of the Shura "the Omani Council" as one of the Shehri speakers and a father and a represented of more than 5000 Omani from his tribe and village.
Teachers of languages and other subjects also take a part in this study in order to look at their opinions and decision on what is their reaction toward a Shehri student speaking with his mother tongue.
The participants in the interviews were from various tribes in Dhofar and different social classes as well. Considering the fact that all of them are native speakers of Shehri so they will play both roles: as speakers of the language and as a part from the community aiming to present different sounds in the same issue.
Moreover, this research targets some people who studied the language before. Since there were some books published about the Shehri language it was more significant to ask those people about their ideas. Some of them refuse to take a part in this study claiming that there are other people with more proficiency in the language that might be more advantageous for the study!!. Others were afraid to take a part in this study because they said that there are many issues that had been aggrieved by other authors in terms of the name or the speakers or even the areas where this language is spoken, therefore, they got the feeling that it will be the same in this research.
The data collection
The data collection part of this study takes 7 weeks of travelling from one mountain to the other. Actually it was like moving from one tribe to another. Data were collected from two schools in the one in the city "Salalah" and another one from the mountain. Also, this study involves ancient from all over Dhofar, the central, the west, and east as well to ensure that everyone got a chance to express himself and at the same time to make sure that the information obtained by this research is valid and reliable.
This research demonstrated the woman's right and gave here the chance to say what she thinks about this language. Besides, as what have been seen above the women played the main part in raising and indoctrinate the children in earlier years. Undoubtedly, this role of the female in the society in Dhofar cannot be ignored as they are observing the changes in terms of the language. This idea was investigated with the help of one of the Omani Women's Association is Dhofar who suggested the appropriate women's that might help the purpose of the study. Then they have been grouped and categorize in a list to chosen randomly.
4. The data analyses
In this section we are going to discover the result of this study and also at the same time compare the findings from the questionnaire and the interview with studies in the same field. Then, we are going to discuss the relevance and significance of the finding to the research aims.
The presenting of the information gathered in this study is going to be obtainable by comparing those three sources; the questionnaire, the interview, and the previous studies about language death and revival. Thus, a clear view of the language is going to be seen from those different parts related to the same theme.
In terms of the first question about the reason standing for reducing the number of Shehri speakers, the questionnaire (Figure 2) showed that 45% of the Shehri speakers believe that the immigration from the mountains to the city "Salalah" is the main reason for this reduction. On this view, Shifting from Shehri to Arabic comes next as a result of moving to the city. While , on the other hand, only 15% of the respondents think that their language is not welcomed by others.
Figure Reasons For the Reduction of Shehri Speakers
Dorian (1998:5) argued that "Ruling powers have not always expected subordinate peoples to give up their ancestral languages or encouraged them to adopt the language of the dominant group". Therefore, it might be clearly seen that due to the willing to get a better medical, lifestyle, Job, and education the Shehri language was the victim. According to Thomason (2001:6) assured that "Asymmetrical bilingualism is especially common when, as in these cases, a subordinate bilingual group is shifting to the language of a monolingual dominant group". Therefore, the dominant group in the society might force other groups to their language and culture indirectly In addition, according to Ali Al Shehri "the language now is for a specific person or tribe but it is seen clearly that those people are moving to the city Salalah. Therefore, they have to change the language into Arabic as it is the only source for working, education, and living in Salalah". So, there is an evidence that the changing and language shift is due to immigration and the difficulty in the living system in the mountains, therefore, the Shehri speakers choose to live in the city Salalah and change their language and replace it with Arabic and at the best prospects keep using their language but with the effect of the Arabic language.
Other reasons might be difficult to determine; as what Cristal (2000:70) believes that "It is not possible to come up with a single explanation for this decline; there are too many factors involved, variously combining in different regional situations". And if we go back to the history of the area; almost no school was built before 1970 in the mountains, (Ministry of Education report, 2011). Logically, since the new schools are going to hire Arabic language teachers to teach all subjects in the classroom; there is a limited space for the Shehri language practice.
Additionally, the fact that it is not a written language expands the degree of danger surrounding the language. According to the questionnaire only 12% of the participants believe that the reduction is due to documenting part of this language. Hinton (2001:10) argued that "it can be very beneficial for a language revitalization program to have the help of linguists to document their language". Also, "the logic of endangerment means that such documentation is likely to be unrepeatable and so should be carried out with sophistication and care" (Dobrin, Austin and Nathan 2007:4). Moreover, from the interview with Ali Al Shehri it seems the main problem blocking the language from being written is which letters they are going to use to describe the non-Arabic phonemes.
To assess the level of the language used and the willing of the Shehri speaker to use their language they have shown that more than 80% prefer to use Shehri to express themselves rather than Arabic (see Figure 3).
Figure Arabic vs Shehri
According to the comments received from east and west Dhofar they think that the Shehri language is their mother tongue, therefore, using it became a must for them. On the other hand, the central samples showed a tendency toward the Arabic language comes from their believe that it is the country language and at the same time the language of our religion. On this view, we could see the different opinions and believe among the Shehri speakers according to their areas. Mufwene (2006:10) assured that "what the real immediate cause for language death is, independent of the fact the socio-economic ecologies of the relevant populations have been changed by contacts with other populations". According to Mufwene socio-economies groups might affect the others language and culture during their contact with them, the thing that might result in language death. Moreover, the tribal groups in the mountains and the city got their influences of the Shehri speakers the thing that Mufwene believe is the real cause for language death. Furthermore, Hinton (2001:5) argued that "the loss of language is part of the oppression and disenfranchisement of indigenous people, who are losing their land and traditional livehood involuntarily as the forces of national or world economy and politics impinge upon them". It is not a necessary to force people by the military or a direct political decision. Keeping the life resource exclusive privilege to certain places is a kind of forcing people to move and leave their homes. Thus, their heritage, culture, language, and tradition is going to be left home and emerge within the city world.
According to what we have discovered so far, the changes in language appear but until now it is still not clear whether those changes and they will use the language will have any effect in the future or not. Mufwene (2004:204) claim that " Language death is a protracted change of state used to describe community-level loss of competence in a language, it denotes a process that does not affect all speakers at the same time nor to the same extent".
Consequently, we shall move to the next question where the questionnaire focused on the difficulty in understanding the elderly people's since they might be considered as the only source of old-non-effected language.
Figure Understanding Elderly People's language
Looking at (Figure 4) 58% of the answers showed that people mainly in the ages 20-30 years old got a difficulty in understanding the language of elderly. More than 80% of those were females. Which might be another evidence of the result of being separated from the males in the local community and daily life activities. Those difficulties vary from the vocabulary they are using to the grammatical structure according to the comments on the questionnaire. Some of them commented that "the most challenging part in understanding their language comes from the gap between the two generations". A 60 years old poet from Dhofar stated that "this new generation are mixing the Arabic language with Shehri. They think that they could speak the language by using the same Arabic phonetics, and, in many cases, they even use Arabic vocabulary unconsciously. We as an elderly generation feel that they are not respecting our language and laugh at them sometimes". In addition, Ali Al Shehri argued that the reason for not being able to understand the elderly people's language is due to the gap between the two generations in which the life system old Shehri old people used and the new generation interest are not the same. Therefore, the chance to interact with each other is getting shorter.
Understanding the language occurs in the Shehri was the most difficult part for many participants in the questionnaire. A teacher in Salalah Technical College mentioned that "If all those changes made us unable to understand the Nana lyrics what about the next generation?". "The Nana (a traditional song) is a type of poetry that they describe a story or an event using as little words as possible, and at the same time contains a vast amount of meanings that cannot be created by others. There is no drums or any musical equipment is used behind it and this what make it difficult especially, and enjoyable art to us" the council member commented. Others stated in the questionnaire that "the Nana is something we enjoy listening to it, but sometimes we find difficulty understanding some vocabulary and grammar structure". Ali believes that "the Nana comes from the god of love in Sumerians and Akkadians empires".
In addition, the poet of Dhofar stated that "we are trying our best these days to bring the language back by using the old terms and language vocabulary that have been vanished nowadays, therefore, the next generation we look for the meaning". This points out the "the Hawaiian language revival movement started from a cultural aspect were suddenly more Hawaiian people become interested in Hawaiian songs and, therefore, after ten years a number of 101 classes each semester were introduced by the University of Hawaii to the population". After that, schools were offering to teach the language and also a funding of it is people have been gathered in order to revive their own language" Warner (2001:135). But if we came to apply the Hawaiian experience it might not work because the Islamic religion of the people in Dhofar were singing songs especially the using musician tools are not permitted but they can use the poetry and write them.
One of the strongest reactions to this study was answering the seventh question of the questionnaire; where the Shehri people have been asking about if they believe that their language is at risk of disappearing. Through observing that, it was clearly seen that many of them got no idea about language death, precisely, that their language is dying. The seventh question asked by the questionnaire was about to what extend they believe that the Shehri language is at risk of becoming extinct. In answering this question 60 % of the majority believe that Shehri language is not going to die. Commenting that the number of speakers today is too huge and this is something impossible to be believed. Moreover, Ali's interview showed that he believed that within 30 years from now; 70% of the Shehri language is going to disappear.
Figure number of respondants who believed that the language is going to die
Indeed, people are not happy if they felt that they are unwelcome in the society. Therefore, this might affect their personality, attitudes, and feelings against other people. So, the survey elicited this point in the questionnaire choices to see whether it the ancient Dhofarian people felt it or not. The answers were surprising comparing to what the interviews show. 79% of the Shehri speakers did not feel shamed or odious toward their language (see Figure 5). On the other hand, looking at the report of pre-school classes in the mouninaes of Dhofar, 99% of the students consider Shehri as their first language, the report mentioned that "the aim of this program is to improve the learners Arabic language and trying to make them used to it, so, they will not use it in the school next year". The importance of this point is, the child might grow up with the same idea he got and received in his first week. Consequently, the image he/she will get in his mind that his language is preventing his learning, and being an Arabic speaker is how an educated image is. Such mini things in the community could be the reason for the death of languages around the world. According to Nettle and Romaine (2000:90) "dominant groups do force minorities into shift by other means, either by enslaving, by forcing them into a subordinate role, or seizing the land and resources on which their communities are based". Moreover, the linguistic relativity which is known as Sapir-Whorf hypothesis argues that the language as it is an image we hold in our minds and as soon a person hears a certain sentence or a vocabulary it will open the same images he hold toward the language. For example: Hebrew as being the God's language" Nida (2001:13), or Arabic as the language of Islam. Such examples can show and evidence of what a language could create in our minds if we grow with them from early ages. Thus, it might be difficult to observe the result of those pre-school classes, but during the time this might be the issue for not believing in it.
Furthermore, as we are getting closer to the bottom of this investigation; it has been seen clearly that the gap between the two generations and all the above issues had an effect on the language practice comparing it to the elderly ancient of Shehri language. This quotient was explored among the speakers in both questionnaire and interviews and it seems that the most valid solution obtained is to increase the chances of sitting with elderly people and be close from them since there is no form of this language could be used as the standard or the model to learn it correctly and accurately. Mufwene (200:2) stated that "Not being able to speak the language has to do with a form of "atrophy," i.e., the loss of competence in the language due to lack of practice". The 58% people mentioned that they could not understand the elderly people's language claim that sitting with old people would give us the chance to learn who this language is functioning properly without any other influences from outsiders. In addition, a lecture in the technical college in Dhofar said that "the problem between the two generations is that they have different interest, therefore, it is obviously they are not going to share them we each other. In other words, we need to look for ways to combine layers in order to provide the foundation for them. This solution might prevent some psychological problems could be happening if the seniors continue with that feeling.
Figure Shehri speakers who believe the language is going to die
The key question in this study was about the Shehri language death. As what we have said earlier, this question is being listed in the last part of this survey. This is because it might be leading the participants to the fact that it is dying and their answers get influenced by our assumption. In the questionnaire part it showed that 74 % of the people in central Dhofar believe the language is at risk while it was totally the opposite in east and west samples (see Figure 6). It might be due to the fact that central of Dhofar mountains is clos