Somali is one of the most widely spoken Cushitic languages. The exact number of speakers is unknown because Somali has been spread worldwide. However, there are about 8 million speakers in Somalia and another 13 million in other countries.
Because the language was heavily influenced by Arabic, English and Italian, it has been written with four different scripts: an Arabic-based, Latin-based, and two native alphabets, the Osmanaya script and the Borama script.
The Latin alphabet is used today. Somali can be divided into three main dialects: Northern Somali, Benaadir Somali, and Af-Ashraaf Somali. The standard Somali is based on the Northern dialect.