Wadi Darbat, Dhofar

Introduction to the grammar of Dhofari Mehri

Modul: Freies Sprachmodul I (Aram F1)
Wadi Darbat, Dhofar
Foto: https://www.flickr.com/photos/130649623@N05/, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Mehri is the most widely spoken of the Modern South Arabian languages. It is spoken by populations in eastern Yemen (c. 92,000 speakers) and western Oman (c. 90,000 speakers). Today, all the speakers speak Arabic as well, and many of them another Modern South Arabian language. Although there is a rich oral tradition in Mehri culture, the language has not been written by native speakers.

Stamp of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra (Mahra State, former Protectorate of Aden)
Stamp of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra (Mahra State, former Protectorate of Aden)
Foto: Postal administration of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra

Modern South Arabian languages are an endangered branch of the Semitic languages, characterized by many special features. Among them are:

  1. In the realm of phonology and phonetics: the ejectivity of the emphatic consonants, the lateral fricatives [ɬ] (also <ś>) and [ɬʼ] (also ṣ́ or ź), the interdental consonants [θ], [ð] and [θʼ], and the emphatic post-alveolar [∫ʼ]. In addition, consonant clusters are quite common. Omani Mehri is quite special among Modern South Arabian in usually not having a [ʕ] consonant.
  2. In the realm of morphology, Modern South Arabian languages are characterized by a tripartite verbal conjugation, including a perfect (suffix conjugation), a subjunctive (short prefix conjugation) and an imperfect (long prefix conjugation). The latter is absent from Central Semitic languages such as Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew. They are also characterized by a rich dual morphology for all three persons and a prefixed (usually ħ-) definite article, which is mandatory before nouns with possessive suffixes.

Omani Mehri (or Dhofari Mehri) is the best described Mehri dialect. In the course, the students will be exposed to a preliminary grammatical survey of the language, and practice reading, glossing, analyzing and translating texts.

Did you know that there was a Meri state?Externer Link


  • Winter term 2023/24, Wednesdays 4–6 pm, 2 hours/week, 5 ECTS
  • First session 18.10.2023, last session 07.02.2024
  • To enroll in the course, please contact the instructor.
  • The course is taught in a hybrid format. The course is taught in English.

A written exam can be done after the course. If you are not a student at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, and wish to do an exam, we will contact your home institution and find someone who will proctor the exam there. We will send them the exam by mail. It is the participant’s responsibility, however, to check if the course can be accredited for his / her study program.

Zoom link

Moodle page


  • Course book

    Watson, J. C. E. et al. 2020. Teghamk Åfyet: A course in Mehri of Dhofar. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

  • Introductory literature

    Rubin, A. D. 2010. A Brief Introduction to the Semitic Languages. Piscataway: Gorgias.

    Johnstone, T. M. 1975. The Modern South Arabian Languages. Malibu: Undena.

    Höfinger, S. 2018. Einige Beobachtungen zur Forschungsgeschichte der MSA-Sprachen. Wien: Studienarbeit.

  • Dictionaries

    Johnstone, T. M. 1987. Mehri Lexicon. London: Routledge.

  • Grammars and Texts

    Rubin, A. D. 2018. Omani Mehri: New Grammar and Texts. Leiden: Brill.

    Watson, J. C. E. 2011. The Structure of Mehri. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

    Jahn, A. 1905. Grammatik der Mehri-Sprache in Südarabien. Wien: Hölder.

    Bittner, M. 1909–1915 (2 vols.). Studien zur Laut- und Formenlehre der Mehri-Sprache in Südarabien. Wien: Hölder.

    Wagner. E. 1953. Syntax der Mehri-Sprache unter Berücksichtigung auch der anderen neusüdarabischen Sprachen. Berlin: Akademie.

    Stroomer, H. 1999. Mehri Texts from Oman. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

  • Yemeni Mehri texts

    Müller, D. H. 1902. Mehri- und Soqotri-Texte. Wien: Hölder.

    Jahn, A. 1902. Mehri-Texte und Wörterbuch. Wien: Hölder.

    Hein, W. 1909. Mehri- und Hadrami-Texte. Wien: Hölder.

    Sima, 2009. Mehri-Texte aus der jemenitischen Šarqīyah. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

  • Mehri culture and language

    Watson, J. C. E. und A. M. Al-Mahri. In Quaderni di RiCOGNIZIONI 7 (2017), 87–103.

  • Sonstige Materialien

    Sound files for the textbookExterner Link

    You can download all the files after registering to the archive. Every file must be downloaded separately.

    A glimpse into Yemeni Mehri culture (in Arabic)Externer Link


Roey Schneider
Seminar für Orientalistik
Roey Schneider
Zwätzengasse 4
07743 Jena