Muscat: Three research studies to highlight Omani cultural heritage are being funded by the Linguistic Heritage Project, one of the more important projects under the Omani Cultural Heritage Strategic Research Programme of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
Conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth, the ‘Linguistic Heritage’ project aims to record, transcribe and preserve the oral linguistic texts before they disappear. It also seeks to support and encourage researchers interested such studies and provide them with appropriate directions, in addition to enriching and revitalising language studies in Oman.The research studies funded by the project are:
1) Inventorying and documenting inscriptions, drawings and archaeological writings on rock walls, tombstones and building walls in Wilayat Al Amerat
Dr. Saif bin Yousef Al Aghbari, head of the research team, stated that the idea of the project started with the search 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. The study aims to count these discoveries, collect and document them in accordance with the scientific classifications used in such studies. Its importance is evident in its historical value in terms of identifying the historical depth and the civilisational and cultural connotations of this region of Oman, as it reflects many aspects of the political, religious, economic, social and environmental life that the region lived through the different time periods. 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 Amerat as well as providing their descriptive data and documenting them. The descriptive and photographic documentation will facilitate its availability for and reference by researchers and others interested in this field.
2) Documentary research of the Kumzari language spoken vernacularly in the Sultanate of Oman
Dr. Dola Al Gady, head of the research team, explained that this project is considered the first study that takes a scientific approach to archiving and documenting the Kumzari language by a 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 of Oman in the form of an electronic archive that includes various refereed language materials (text, audio and visual) 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 importance of this research project also stems from the fact that it contributes to preserving knowledge related to spoken languages that are fast becoming extinct 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 catalyze 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.
3) Agricultural terms in the dialect of the people of Rustaq: A lexical study
Dr. Zahir bin Marhoon Al Dawoodi, head of the research 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, diversity of its agricultural crops, and agricultural and animal imports since ancient times. The civilisational, urban and technological developments of recent times have contributed to the disappearance of traditional terms and idioms in agriculture. The project, seeks to trace these and frame them in a dictionary of agricultural expressions in order to preserve them from being lost.
The Linguistic Heritage Project is important to preserve the Omani heritage of dialects, colloquial languages and ancient writings and provide classified linguistic material on them to preserve the archaeological linguistic writings from extinction, to promote linguistic and dialectal studies in general, and to open the horizons for investing in the linguistic heritage of Oman for sustainable development and strengthening of the economy.