Four years have elapsed since the publication of CSOL I. Today we are happy to present to readers the second of this multi-volume set.
The bulk of the fieldwork for CSOL II was carried out during expeditions to Soqotra in the autumns of 2013 and 2014 and, with more intensity, during the informants’ extended visits to Moscow in the summers of 2013 and 2014. By the end of 2014, the text corpus of the volume was complete, and we were able to start working on the philological annotations and the Soqotri-English-Arabic Glossary.
The regular working schedule of the Soqotri-Russian research team was brutally disrupted by political events in and around Yemen in the spring of 2015: as with mainland Yemen, the island of Soqotra became a no-fly zone, which effectively precluded any substantial working communication between the two parts of the team for almost two years.
In November 2016, through the kind agency of the Russian Embassy in Oman and substantial support from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a part of the Russian team was fortunate enough to be able to meet our Soqotri friends in Muscat for two weeks. By that time, a draft of the Glossary for CSOL II had been completed, so that we could jointly focus on polishing it, as well as on updating the philological annotations to individual texts.
Thanks to generous assistance from the UAE Government, in October 2017 a new trip to Soqotra suddenly became a reality. We used this opportunity to add the last touches to the CSOL II manuscript, while simultaneously delving further into studies of the grammar and lexicon of Soqotri.
Apart from supervising the Soqotri-Russian research project in its entirety, Vitaly Naumkin collected, deciphered and analyzed several texts included in this volume (Nos. 5, 16–19, 21–23, 26–27). Naumkin has also continued to collect new texts for both the present and upcoming volumes of CSOL. He accomplished the brunt of organizational work for our research trips to the island in 2013, 2014 and 2017.
Leonid Kogan deciphered and analyzed the majority of the remaining texts (Nos. 1–4, 6–15, 24–25, 28–30), wrote the philological annotations throughout the volume, and compiled the basic draft of the Glossary. As volume editor, he oversaw most of the practical aspects of the editorial process.
ʿIsa Gumʿan al-Daʿrhi and Ahmed ʿIsa al-Daʿrhi shared with us numerous new texts (2–3, 6–12) and again proved invaluable collaborators in putting together the philological annotations throughout this volume. The importance of their contributions to the Glossary would be likewise hard to overestimate. Finally, most of the sound files attached to the book (freely available online at
Our sincere gratitude goes to ʿIsa ʿAmer al-Daʿrhi, the sheikh of the Daʿrho tribe, who contributed to the volume with several valuable texts (Nos. 1, 14, 28–29) and helped us elucidate a slew of demanding grammatical and lexical issues. His truly Bedouin hospitality, both in his tribal area and at his home in Hadibo, will not be forgotten. Special thanks are due to Tanuf Salem Nuh, who shared with us the astonishing Eter legend (No. 30) and spent many hours painstakingly explaining various nuances of this archaic and, at times, exceedingly difficult composition.
Maria Bulakh wrote the lexicographic descriptions of Soqotri prepositions, conjunctions and other grammatically complex elements in the Glossary (verbal government and morphosyntactic features of nouns and verbs, among many others). She has been a prominent participant in every aspect of the final editing of the volume, spotting and correcting mistakes and inconsistencies that inevitably accumulated during the early stages of preparation.
Dmitry Cherkashin performed the bulk of editorial work on the Arabic section, particularly regarding consistent and systematic implementation of the established rules of Arabic-based Soqotri writing. He also did preliminary editing on the Arabic translations of Soqotri texts. To him we owe a preparatory list of Arabic loanwords in the Glossary and a bibliographic survey of them. At the final stage of manuscript preparation, Cherkashin took on the painstaking task of checking the text references in the Glossary and performed it with exemplary patience and precision. Finally, we are indebted to him for the decipherment and draft annotations of the splendid Cinderella story (No. 20).
Ekaterina Vizirova was responsible for preparing the book’s visual materials, to which she devoted two busy weeks on the island in November 2014 and many months after and before. The photographic section of CSOL II has grown considerably in both size and importance as compared to its predecessor. This is due to the fact that several texts included in the present volume are descriptions of the traditional economy of the islanders (milk and meat conservation, palm cultivation, and building techniques). Such compositions are replete with specialized terminology for which pictorial illustrations are not only desirable but essential. During the Muscat session of 2016, Vizirova was able to discuss with ʿIsa and Ahmed nearly every detail of the illustrations, including the Soqotri-English-Arabic captions. The outcome of this challenging joint enterprise, performed with utmost care and precision, can now be appreciated by the readers both as part of the volume and gratis on Brill’s website at
The impact of Kevin McNeer’s editorial work on the English section of CSOL II is hard to overestimate. Without his professional philological skills, his keen interest in Soqotra and soqotrana, and the Arab and Islamic world in general—let alone his patience and devotion—the present book would never have become what it is now. Kevin’s participation in the Russian expedition to the island in 2013 and 2014 will always be remembered with pleasure and gratitude (and we all hope that more such opportunities will emerge in the nearest future).
The Arabic translations of the Soqotri texts were carried out by Assia Ait-Aissa of Algeria, formerly Kogan’s and Cherkashin’s graduate student at RSUH and now a teacher of classical and colloquial Arabic at the same institution. The whole team is very much in indebted to Assia for her excellent knowledge of Arabic, Russian and English, which she combines with a creative and precise literary style and an outstanding work ethic.
Our project has been fortunate to receive generous funding from a variety of Russian state institutions, notably the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research (RFBR/РФФИ), grants 15-06-07613, 17-04-00410 and 17-04-00510. Naumkin and Kogan’s work on the philological annotations to the texts has been supported by the Russian Science Foundation (RSCF/РНФ), grant 16-18-10343. Bulakh’s and Kogan’s work on the Glossary has been carried out in the framework of Project 34.5109.217 supported by the Ministry of Science and Education of Russia.
A debt of gratitude goes to Aaron Rubin, editor of the series Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics, for his interest in our research and its promotion. We would also like to use this occasion to thank Maarten Frieswijk and Pieter te Velde of Brill for their patient and efficient collaboration on this difficult editorial project.
The authors are grateful to their hosting institutions, the Institute for the Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (V. Naumkin, L. Kogan, M. Bulakh), National Research University–Higher School of Economics (L. Kogan, M. Bulakh, D. Cherkashin, E. Vizirova), and Russian State University for the Humanities (L. Kogan, M. Bulakh) for ensuring that our work took place in the most favorable conditions possible.
Our warmest thanks go to the former Russian Ambassador in Oman, Mr. Envarbik Fazelyanov, for his keen interest in our project and his generous help before and during our stay in Muscat in 2016. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman is to be thanked for greatly facilitating the visa procedure for Amhed and Isa. We would also like to thank the former staff of the Russian Embassy in Sanaʿa, particularly Mr. Timofey Bokov, for their friendly support on a range of issues (particularly, visa formalities for our Soqotri colleagues) in the difficult months of 2013–2014.
Last but certainly not least, it is a pleasant duty to gratefully acknowledge the company of Ekaterina Shirokova and Maxim Shirokov during the 2017 fieldwork trip to Soqotra.
Vitaly Naumkin (series editor)
Leonid Kogan (volume editor)