Laraki, a Southwestern Iranian language variety heavily influenced by Arabic, is spoken on Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz. This study is a survey of language use by the Larakispeaking community and is based on a field trip conducted in January 2009. In our research, we provide an overview of the language community, define the language and its varieties, and examine patterns of language use, attitudes and vitality. Responses from speakers of Laraki provide a fascinating window into the ethnic identity of the Laraki community, most of whose ancestors come not from Iran, but from Arabia. While a lexicostatistical comparison of Laraki with Musandam Kumzari show a high degree of lexical similarity, recorded text tests (RTTs) reveal that intelligibility of Musandam Kumzari to speakers of Laraki is marginal. Taking linguistic considerations and speakers’ perceptions into account, we conclude nonetheless that Laraki and Musandam Kumzari should be considered dialects of a single language, Kumzari. In our investigation of language use, a striking pattern of adaptive multilingualism emerges in which speakers of Laraki normatively select one of several languages (Laraki, Farsi, Arabic and at least one regional variety such as Qeshmi, Hormuzi or Bandari) according to domains of use and limitations in the proficiency of their audiences. Although use of the mother tongue is vigorous in domestic and traditional work-related domains, and speakers’ attitudes toward their language are overwhelmingly positive, the small size of the language community and the history of social upheaval in the region place the community at risk.

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Keywords Laraki, Kumzari, Larak Island, Iranian languages, Arabic, Strait of Hormuz, endangered languages, sociolinguistic survey, language use, multilingualism, language attitudes, lexicostatistic analysis, intelligibility testing, language vitality.
Publisher Uppsala University
ISBN 978-91-554-8125-4
Series Studia Iranica Upsaliensia
Anonby, E, & Yousefian, Pakzad. (2011). Adaptive Multilinguals: A Survey of Language on Larak Island. Studia Iranica Upsaliensia. Uppsala University.