Somali is a Cushitic language spoken in Somalia where it holds an official status alongside Arabic. It is also spoken in areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries in close proximity to Somalia.
Somalia was colonised by Italy and Italian was taught in Somali schools. Only in 1972 was Somali declared the national language; this triggered a swift overhaul of the language. A Latin script was adopted and the Somalian Italian-language newspaper “Stella d’Ottobre” was taken under state control – its title was translated to Somali (Xiddiigta Oktoobar) and it promptly started publishing in Somali. The paper continued to print in Somali until its closure in 2013.
It is not unusual to hear the occasional “ciao” or other Italian phrase, but Somali’s main lexical borrowings now come from Arabic, and are estimated to constitute about 20% of the language’s vocabulary.