Somali is one of the Cushitic family of languages spoken in the horn of Africa and the official language of Somalia. This practical grammar, published in 1905, was prepared by J. W. C. Kirk, who first learnt to speak the language during his service with Somali troops during the British Empire's failed attempt in 1902–1904 to wrest control of the region from the Dervish state under Muhammad Abdullah Hassan. His unique knowledge of the interior of the country and the different tribes making up the population meant that Kirk's insights were invaluable in advancing scholarly knowledge in the West. Perhaps as importantly, Kirk also records a number of literary examples with his translations of Somali stories and songs. Another appendix explores the dialects of the Midgan (or Madhiban) and Yibir, both minority tribes who kept their languages secret from mainstream Somali society.