Friday, November 25, 2011

South Arabian languages on YouTube

In eastern Yemen and western Oman, there are spoken several South Arabian languages - Semitic, but more distantly related to Arabic than Arabic is to Aramaic or Hebrew. The largest of these is Mehri. If you speak Arabic and want to learn how to form questions in Mehri (or just want to hear what this language sounds like), there's a recording on YouTube for you: اللغة المهرية - محب اللغة المهرية وليد التميمي. For its rather smaller relative Jibbali, there's some poetry. Someone has even attempted to put up recordings of all the major dialects of Yemen (mainly Arabic.)

A longstanding rumour claims that these languages are mutually comprehensible with Berber. As some listeners will be able to see, this is not correct.


Linguistics Oman said...

That's true, several Semitic languages are spoken in Oman like Mehri, Jabbali, Hobyot and Bathaari; but sadly they're on the verge of extinction. According to the UNESCO's website only about 5000 fluent speakers of Jabbali remain in Oman and it's classified as 'severely endangered'. Mehri's situation is better though.

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