in Omani Mehri

Antoine Lonnet introduced me to Mehri in the summer of 2006, during a conference held in the beautiful Catalonian town of Sitges. I have been working on Mehri ever since, and this book is a culmination of those studies. Since our first meeting, Antoine has remained a great source of encouragement, and his many comments on a late draft of this book were of enormous benefit. I thank him sincerely once again.

I met Sabrina Bendjaballah only in 2013, but her influence has been no less important on this book. It was the many new ideas that she shared, and the stimulating workshops that she organized, which motivated me to completely revise my 2010 grammar and re-edit all of Johnstone’s Mehri texts. Our discussions on numerous points of Mehri phonology and morphology, in person and by e-mail, have been instrumental in improving the contents of this book, and she has my profound thanks.

I am also very grateful to the other members of the OmanSAM research project, especially Julien Dufour and Philippe Ségéral, who have each done groundbreaking work on Mehri. The collegiality and warmth of my abovementioned colleagues, as well as of Radwa Fathi and the other members of the OmanSAM team, has made it a pleasure to continue working in the field.

Another of the great pleasures of working on Mehri (and Jibbali) has been reading and listening to the stories of the late Ali Musallam. I was lucky enough to be in contact with Ali from 2010 until his death in 2013, thanks to the kind help of Janet Watson and Saeed al-Mahri. Ali was very happy to be reminded of his old stories, and he encouraged me greatly in my Mehri studies. I think that he would be very pleased with this book. My thanks to his son Faisal for providing the photograph of him included herein.

The texts published in this book nearly all came from Ali Musallam, but these were collected and recorded by the late Thomas Muir Johnstone, a pioneer in the field of Modern South Arabian Studies, whose work I gratefully acknowledge. I would like to thank the late Mrs. Bernice Johnstone, as well as her daughter Caroline and her other children, for allowing me to receive and use copies of her husband’s Mehri manuscripts and audio recordings, which were invaluable to my work.

My sincere thanks go to the staff of Durham University Library, in particular Jane Hogan, Mike Harkness, and Danielle McAloon, who assisted me with the Johnstone collection. The recordings of Johnstone’s texts were obtained though the Sound Archive of the British Library, which was very efficient and helpful, thanks especially to Tom Ruane.

I am also very indebted to Harry Stroomer, who first made Johnstone’s Mehri texts available in published form. Without his indispensable work, my work on Mehri would never have gotten started.

I would also like to thank Miranda Morris for her many valuable comments on a draft of this book, and for sharing her vast knowledge of Modern South Arabian culture. And I thank Saeed al-Qumairi, a native speaker of Mehri who was able to provide answers to some lingering questions.

Completion of this book during the academic year 2016–2017 was greatly assisted by the fellowship granted by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

As usual, the staff at Brill were a pleasure to work with, and the very talented folks at TAT Zetwerk did an excellent job in preparing the volume for publication.

And finally, to Kim, my wife and still most trusted editor, thank you for everything.

Omani Mehri

A New Grammar with Texts