On some poorly known or unrecognized verbal categories in Soqotri: 1905–2015

in Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
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The article deals with two hitherto unexplored—to some extent, even unknown—verbal categories of the Modern South Arabian language Soqotri (Island of Soqotra, Gulf of Aden, Yemen), namely the “old imperative” and the n-conditional. Research material is taken from both the early publications of the Austrian expedition and the authors’ own field materials recently collected on the island. It is demonstrated that both categories have survived up to now and can be found—albeit not very frequently—in the living speech of the islanders. In the concluding segments of the article, a few hypotheses about the functional load of the categories under scrutiny are advanced and discussed.




Simeone-Senelle 1997a:404: “In Soqotri, command is expressed by the indicative imperfect”. Nearly the same statement is found in Simeone-Senelle 2011:1096 and cf. 1997b:810: “The jussive [sic!] is expressed by the imperfect indicative”.


Johnstone 1968:516: “In Soqotri there is no imperative, the imperfect performing this function. One or two forms raise doubts as to whether this was always so, particularly in the poetic passages in MS, II, but the general principle cannot be doubted” (italics added).


Naumkin et al. 2016:37. Note that the Jibbali cognate of ˁod is a Iw verb aġád (JL 288) and, in theory, the imperative aˁád may be a remnant of a similar once existing by-form in Soqotri (suggestion of the anonymous reviewer).


And cf. Wagner 1993:337, in response to Harry Stroomer’s publication of Johnstone’s Mehri texts: “Bisher war der Konditional nur aus poetischen Texten des Soqoṭri bekannt”.


Lonnet 1993:72 (“les langues du Dhofar ont aussi un ‘conditionnel’ ”), Simeone-Senelle 1997a:404 (“the conditional does not occur in the Mehri of Mahra or in Soqotri”, same 2011:1096) and elsewhere.


See Iatridou 2000, where counterfactual wishes are claimed to be the only type of counterfactuality outside the context of a conditional sentence.


In Dendale 2001:13–14 the term “attenuation” is used alongside “politeness” (see also Vincent 2013:129–130).


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