The ‘Linguistic Heritage’ project is considered as one of the important projects in the Omani Cultural Heritage Strategic Research Program of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth. The linguistic phenomenon in Oman, with its richness and diversity, is an essential part of the culture and heritage of the country, as seen in its proverbs, poems, coined expressions and other ancient linguistic materials to name a few.
The programme aims to record, preserve and classify as much of the oral linguistic material as possible by scientific methods, as well as collecting archaeological linguistic writings on gravestones, rock walls and ancient inscriptions, and working to show the links between the components of the Omani linguistic heritage.
The ‘Linguistic Heritage’ project has funded three research studies, as listed below:
1Inventorying and documenting inscriptions, drawings and archaeological writings on rock walls, tombstones and building walls in Wilayat Al Amarat
Dr Saif bin Yousef al Aghbari, head of the research project team, stated that the idea of the project started by searching for the beginnings of writing in the Omani civilisation, which began with rock drawings, then evolved into inscriptions and symbols, then into the current Arabic writing, and counting these discoveries, collecting and documenting them in accordance to the scientific classifications used in such studies.
Dr Saif al Aghbari maintained that the project is expected to achieve a set of results, such as providing the geographic and astronomical identification of sites that include archaeological drawings on rock walls in Wilayat Al Amarat as well as providing their descriptive data and documenting them. The descriptive and photographic documentation will facilitate its availability and reference by researchers and those interested in this field.
2Documentary research of the Kumzari language spoken vernacularly in the Sultanate of Oman
For this project, Dr Dola al Gady, head of the research project team, explained that this project is considered the first study that takes a scientific approach to archive and documenting the Kumzari language by a specialised team consisting of academic researchers specialising in linguistic studies, in addition to involving individuals from the same language community and speakers of both Kumzari and Arabic languages. The project idea is to document the Kumzari language spoken in the Sultanate of Oman in the form of an electronic archive that includes various refereed language materials (text, audio and visual) in order to make them available to the community, specialists and researchers for research purposes and to learn about this language and the culture behind it.
The research will reflect the richness of Omani culture and enhance scientific diversity in the fields of Omani language and literature. It will also encourage specialists to document and publish stories and various forms of oral literature and children’s stories, which will ensure the continuity of these languages for future generations and the preservation of the cultural and literary diversity in the Sultanate of Oman.
Dr Dola al Gady added that this research project will produce a specific dictionary that includes at least four thousand terms written in both English and Arabic. The vocabulary will be classified according to topics related to the geographical nature, life and cultural aspects of Kumzari speakers. This work will also complement and catalyse the efforts of some members of the local community who have worked to collect and transcribe the vocabulary, sounds and developments of the language over the past few years.
3Agricultural terms in the dialect of the people of Rustaq: A lexical study
As for the final project, Dr Zahir bin Marhoon al Dawoodi, head of the research project team, stated that the project traces agricultural expressions and studies them as a lexical study in the dialect of the people of Rustaq due to the city’s interest in agriculture, its diversity of agricultural crops, and its diversity of agricultural and animal imports since ancient times. He elaborated that the civilisational, urban and technological developments of recent times have contributed to the disappearance of traditional terms and idioms in agriculture. The project, therefore, seeks to trace these expressions and to frame them in a specific dictionary that deals with agricultural expressions in all their aspects in order to preserve them from being lost.