Omani Mehri

A New Grammar with Texts


This book contains a comprehensive grammatical description of Mehri, an unwritten Semitic language spoken in the Dhofar region of Oman, along with a corpus of more than one hundred texts. Topics in phonology, all aspects of morphology, and a variety of syntactic features are covered. The texts, presented with extensive commentary, were collected by the late T.M. Johnstone. Some are published here for the first time, while the rest have been newly edited and translated, based on the original manuscripts. Semitists, linguists, and anyone interested in the folklore of southern Arabia will find much valuable data and analysis in this volume, which is the most detailed grammatical study of a Modern South Arabian language yet published.
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Aaron D. Rubin, Ph.D. (2004) Harvard University, is Professor of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Jewish Studies, and Linguistics at Penn State University. He has published widely on the Semitic languages, including numerous books and articles. His grammar of Jibbali appeared in 2014 (Brill).
"To conclude, this book is undoubtedly a very important work for MSAL and Semitic studies as a whole."
- Fabio Gasparini, Orientalische Literaturzeitung, Vol. 114, Iss. 6, 2019, pp. 463-466
List of Texts
Abbreviations and Symbols
Text Citation
A Note on Transcription and Translation


1 Introduction
 1.1 Previous Scholarship on Mehri and MSA
 1.2 Dialects of Mehri
 1.3 The Position of Mehri within MSA
 1.4 The Position of MSA in Semitic
 1.5 Johnstone’s Mehri Texts
 1.6 Johnstone’s Audio Material
 1.7 This Grammar

2 Phonology
 2.1 Mehri Consonants
 2.2 Mehri Vowels
 2.3 Word Stress

3 Pronouns
 3.1 Independent Personal Pronouns
 3.2 Suffixed Pronouns
 3.3 Direct Object Pronouns (t-)
 3.4 Demonstratives
 3.5 Indefinite Pronouns
 3.6 Reflexives
 3.7 Reciprocals
 3.8 Relative Pronouns

4 Nouns
 4.1 Gender
 4.2 Duals
 4.3 Plurals
 4.4 Definite Article
 4.5 Diminutives
 4.6 Construct State

5 Adjectives
 5.1 Agreement
 5.2 Declension
 5.3 Substantivization
 5.4 Comparatives
 5.5 Quantifiers

6 Verbs: Stems
 6.1 G-Stem
 6.2 D/L-Stem
 6.3 H-Stem
 6.4 Š-Stems
 6.5 T-Stems
 6.6 Quadriliterals
 6.7 Quinqueliterals (Qw- and Qy-Stems)

7 Verbs: Tenses and Forms
 7.1 Verbal Tenses and Moods
 7.2 Weak Verbs
 7.3 The Irregular Verb ḥōm ‘want’

8 Prepositions
 8.1 ar ‘except, but’
 8.2 b- ‘in, at; with; for; on’
 8.3 bād ‘after’
 8.4 bǝrk ‘in(to), inside; among’
 8.5 ð̣ār ‘on; about’, mǝn ð̣ār ‘after’
 8.6 fǝnōhǝn ‘before; in front of; ago’
 8.7 ġayr ‘except’, mǝn ġayr ‘without’
 8.8 h- ‘to; for’
 8.9 hāl ‘at, by, beside’
 8.10 (ǝl-)hīs ‘like, as’
 8.11 k- (š-) ‘with’
 8.12 l- ‘to; for’
 8.13 mǝn ‘from’
 8.14 mǝn ḳǝdē ‘about, regarding’
 8.15 ǝm-mǝ́n ‘between’
 8.16 nǝxāli ‘under’
 8.17 sǝbēb ‘because of’
 8.18 sār ‘behind’
 8.19  ‘until, up to’
 8.20 tǝwōli ‘to, towards’
 8.21  ‘like, as … as’
 8.22 Additional Prepositions
 8.23 The Suffixed Forms of Prepositions

9 Numerals
 9.1 Cardinals
 9.2 Special Forms Used With ‘Days’
 9.3 Ordinals
 9.4 Fractions
 9.5 Days of the Week

10 Adverbs
 10.1 Demonstrative Adverbs
 10.2 Adverbs of Place
 10.3 Adverbs of Time
 10.4 Adverbs of Manner
 10.5 Adverbs of Degree

11 Interrogatives
 11.1 mōn ‘who?’
 11.2 hɛ̄śǝn ‘what? why?’
 11.3 hɛ̄śǝn mǝn ‘which? what kind of?’
 11.4 ḥõ ‘where?’
 11.5 wǝ-kōh (kō) ‘why?’
 11.6 hībōh ‘how? what?’
 11.7 mayt ‘when?’
 11.8 kǝm ‘how many? how much?’
 11.9 ǝl hɛ̃ lā ‘isn’t that so?’

12 Particles
 12.1 Coordinating Conjunctions
 12.2 Exclamations
 12.3 Vocatives
 12.4 Genitive Exponent ð- (‘of’)
 12.5 Miscellaneous Particles

13 Some Syntactic Features
 13.1 Copular (Non-Verbal) Sentences
 13.2 Negation
 13.3 Expressing ‘have’
 13.4 Conditionals
 13.5 Subordination
 13.6 Interrogative Clauses


14 Johnstone’s Texts from Ali Musallam

Appendix A: Texts 54 and 65 with Morpheme Glossing
Appendix B: Texts 54 and 65 in Arabic Script
Appendix C: Supplement to Johnstone’s Mehri Lexicon
Appendix D: Additions and Corrections to The Jibbali Language of Oman: Grammar and Texts
Index of Passages
Index of Select Mehri Words
All those interested in the languages and peoples of southern Arabia, those working in comparative Semitics, and even general linguists. The texts should also be of interest to folklorists and anthropologists.
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