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.
The current Russian research group in charge of SLOnline is headed and directed by Vitaly Naumkin (IOS RAS) and comprises four other senior researchers:
Leonid Kogan (HSE University/IOS RAS) is the general coordinator of the project. His primary task is to collect, verify and integrate lexical materials from sources other than those stemming from our team’s fieldwork, such as the “Vienna corpus” and Miranda Morris’ publications. He is also responsible for Semitic, MSA and dialectal Arabic etymological glosses for the Soqotri lexemes.
Ilya Arkhipov (HSE University) has led the development of the dictionary’s database and is responsible for its functioning and technical support. Together with Kogan, he is also involved in creating SLonline’s etymological sections and solving a number of technical and administrative issues.
Maria Bulakh (HSE University/IOS RAS) directs the integration of the existing lexical materials into the database’s framework. She will also provide previously unknown verbal and nominal lexemes she was able to gather and analyse during her current fieldwork with Soqotri lexical consultants.
Ekaterina Vizirova (HSE University), the long-time curator of the photographic archive, collected during the trips of Russian research group to the island, supplies the database with photo and video documentation.
The team also includes staff members, graduate and doctoral students of HSE, who are responsible for multiple technical and creative tasks in all domains:
Anastasia Belozerova (lecturer and tutor of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic information into the database;
Violetta Kondratyeva (student of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic, audio and visual information into the database;
Sergei Koval (assistent, postgraduate student of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic, audio and visual information into the database;
Filipp Lekontsev (student of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic, audio and visual information into the database;
Nika Umnyagina (student of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic, audio and visual information into the database;
Arseny Uspensky (student of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic, audio and visual information information into the database;
Tamara Volkova (student of HSE University), responsible for the integration of the linguistic, audio and visual information into the database;
On the Soqotri side, the SLOnline team comprises:
‘Isa Gum‘an ad-Da‘rhi, a primary school teacher in his native tribal area Da‘rho;
Aḥmad ‘Isa ad-Da‘rhi, M.A. (Russian State University for the Humanities, Faculty of Literature and History), a teacher of English language at the Community College, Soqotra;
Maysun Muḥammad ad-Da‘rhi, a graduate student of Islamic sciences at the Soqotra branch of the University of Hadramawt.
‘Isa Gum‘an ad-Da‘rhi, Aḥmad ‘Isa ad-Da‘rhi and Maysun Muḥammad ad-Da‘rhi are the members of the Da‘rho tribe of Central-Eastern inland part of the island, whose speech is a fair representative of the Central-Eastern variety of Soqotri, a grammatically and lexically “neutral” lect spoken by the majority of the islanders. They are co-authors of the series of Corpus of Soqotri Oral Literature and of a considerable number of other publications on the language and folklore of Soqotra, keenly interested in preservation of the unique language and oral lore of the island.
More about the project
● Goals and scope
● History of research
● Lexical sources currently processed
● Sources to be processed in 2023–2024
● Principles of transcription
● Structure of the lexical entry
- General information
- Audio materials
- Visual materials
● User's information