A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Sunday, November 27, 2011

South Arabian Languages and Mehri: Lameen Souag Posts YouTube Videos

Lameen Souag, the Algerian linguist at the Jabal al-Lughat blog, posts fairly rarely these days since he finished his doctorate at SOAS, got married, etc. And when he does, he often posts on African languages of the Sahara and Sahel. But when he posts on Arabic or Berber, he's usually worth referencing or outright pirating. His latest deals with the little-known but fascinating surviving languages of South Arabia. In Yemen (and Oman, where Jon Peterson did a piece on these minority languages for MEJ some years back [link coming soon]), several remnant languages descended from Old South Arabian and (if my understanding is correct) more closely related to Amharic and other Ethiopian languages than Arabic, still linger, though of course much influenced by Arabic. He cites two interesting YouTube videos, though these will only be useful if you already know Arabic. He notes both an attempt on YouTube to record all the dialects of Arabic and separate languages of Yemen:

and another which introduces some basics of the most widely spoken of the surviving South Arabian languages, Mehri, to Arabic speakers.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I did not that the South Arabian languages still existed. I thought they were all extinct. But in order to make them viable, they cannot be just using them in the media. There must be commercial value to them, because when a language loses its currency in the market place, then it becomes endangered and eventually extinct. So Mehri has to be used in something more than just buying frankincense and myrrh.