Soqotri language

Pronunciation [skˤʌtˤri][1]
Native to Yemen
Region Socotra
Ethnicity Mehri
Native speakers
(71,000 cited 1990)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sqt
Glottolog soqo1240[3]

Soqotri, or Socotri (autonym: méthel d-saqátri; Arabic: اللغة السقطرية) is a Semitic language spoken by the native Socotri population of Mehri people in the island of Socotra, and the Abd al Kuri and Samhah islands of the Socotra archipelago off the southern coast of the Republic of Yemen. It is one of the Modern South Arabian languages.

Soqotri speakers live on their islands, but rarely on the Yemeni mainland. The language was, through its history, isolated from the Arabian mainland. Arabic is also spoken in a dialectal form on Socotra.[4]


The isolation of the island of Socotra has led to the Soqotri language independently developing certain phonetic characteristics absent in even the closely related languages of the mainland. In all the known dialects of Soqotri, there is a lack of distinction between the original South Arabic interdentals θ, ð, and θˁ and the stops t, d and : e.g. Soqotri has dərh / do:r / dɔ;r (blood), where Shehri for instance has ðor; Soqotri has ṭarb (a piece of wood), where the other South Arabian languages have forms starting with θˁ; Soqotri trih (two) corresponds to other South Arabian forms beginning with θ.

Soqotri once had ejective consonants. However, ejective fricatives have largely become pharyngeal consonants as in Arabic, and this occasionally affects the stops as well.[5] Apart from that, the phonemic inventory is basically that of Mehri.

Writing system

A writing system for the Soqotri language was developed in 2014 by a Russian team led by Dr. Vitaly Naumkin following five years of work.[6]


  1. Simeone-Senelle, Marie-Claude (2010). MEHRI AND HOBYOT SPOKEN IN OMAN AND YEMEN. 07-02-2010, Symposium Yemen - Oman - Muscat.
  2. Soqotri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Soqotri". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. Gordon, Raymond G., ed. (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  5. Naumkin, Vitaly V.; Porkhomovsky, Viktor Y. (1981). Очерки по этнолингвистике Сокотры (Essays on the Ethnolinguistics of Socotra). Moscow: Nauka.
  6. "The Advance of Russian Orientalists". New Eastern Outlook. January 5, 2015.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.