Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Soqotri Lexicon online

The project aims at creating a comprehensive lexicon of the Modern South Arabian Semitic language Soqotri, the mother tongue of more than 100.000 inhabitants of the island of Soqotra and the two nearby small islands of Abd al-Kuri and Samhah in the Arabian Sea. In spite of Soqotri’s deeply archaic linguistic profile and the exceedingly rich oral tradition of the islanders, the linguistic and cultural heritage of Soqotra is still poorly understood and described. Soqotri Lexicon Online, intended to be a living, continuously expanding online lexicon, which can be used also as a basic reference tool for Soqotra studies should make a significant contribution to the preservation and continuation of the unique cultural tradition under threat of erosion.
The current dictionary initiative has been launched in Spring 2022 with the financial help of the Russian Science Foundation (project 16-18-10343 “Dictionary of Soqotri”) and the administrative support of two scholarly institutions to which most of the Russian participants belong: the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of the HSE University and the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The dictionary contains to date ca. 220 complete entries, with ca. 1800 other entries in preparation (available to the collaborators only). 
The project is rooted in a long-time intensive occupation with linguistic and philological topics related to Soqotra, the solid ground for which was laid by Vitaly Naumkin in 1970s and 1980s. In 2010, Leonid Kogan and Dmitri Cherkashin started, under Vitaly Naumkin’s guidance, a still broader enterprise of documenting, analyzing and explaining to the public the traditional lore of Soqotra and the deeply original portrait of its unique tongue, in permanent collaboration with the native speakers ‘Isa Gum‘an ad-Da‘rhi, Aḥmad ‘Isa ad-Da‘rhi and Maysun Muḥammad ad-Da‘rhi. The field team was soon joined by Ekaterina Vizirova and Maria Bulakh.


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