A Collection of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t Proverbs from Ali al-Shahri’s Publication The Language of Aad/لغة عاد

In: Old World: Journal of Ancient Africa and Eurasia
Giuliano Castagna Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

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Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t is a language belonging to the Modern South Arabian (msa) branch of Semitic. It is currently endangered and spoken by an estimate of 50,000 ~ 70,000 people living in the Omani governorate of Dhofar. Similarly to the other msa languages, it is unwritten, and the survival of its speakers’ traditional knowledge rests on their ability to memorise and retain a large amount of information in the form of poetry, songs, folk-tales and proverbs.

In 2000, ʕAli al-Shahri, a Dhofari historian and native speaker of Jibbali/Shahret, published a bilingual English/Arabic monograph named The Language of Aad/لغة عاد which is intended as an introduction to a wide array of aspects of the local culture, ranging from the toponymy of Dhofar, its traditional dances, songs, poetry and proverbs, to more unusual topics such as star-names, children games, traditional land allotment and more. This paper focuses on one of the most prominent topics of the monograph in question, namely a collection of 210 proverbs. Each proverb in this collection is provided with a translation in English and Arabic, and is presented in al-Shahri’s work by means of an idiosyncratic transcription system based on the Arabic script, in which linguistic sounds specific to msa are represented by coloured Arabic characters, to the detriment of comprehension.

This paper aims at providing a linguistically viable description of these proverbs, by presenting them in a standard Semitic transcription. The transcription presented proceeds from the analysis of al-Shahri’s original recording (which features al-Shahri himself uttering these 210 proverbs one by one) stored at the Semitische Tonarchiv (SemArch) at the University of Heidelberg. Additionally, the original English and Arabic translations provided by al-Shahri are reported. These are followed by a brief commentary containing a description of each relevant term, as well as a general account of the meaning of each proverb.

The conclusions pinpoint some phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical characteristics of the material examined, and identify a number of divergences and commonalities with other present-day and ancient Semitic subgroups which bear witness to the long and unwritten history of the Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t language.


Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t is a language belonging to the Modern South Arabian (msa) branch of Semitic. It is currently endangered and spoken by an estimate of 50,000 ~ 70,000 people living in the Omani governorate of Dhofar. Similarly to the other msa languages, it is unwritten, and the survival of its speakers’ traditional knowledge rests on their ability to memorise and retain a large amount of information in the form of poetry, songs, folk-tales and proverbs.

In 2000, ʕAli al-Shahri, a Dhofari historian and native speaker of Jibbali/Shahret, published a bilingual English/Arabic monograph named The Language of Aad/لغة عاد which is intended as an introduction to a wide array of aspects of the local culture, ranging from the toponymy of Dhofar, its traditional dances, songs, poetry and proverbs, to more unusual topics such as star-names, children games, traditional land allotment and more. This paper focuses on one of the most prominent topics of the monograph in question, namely a collection of 210 proverbs. Each proverb in this collection is provided with a translation in English and Arabic, and is presented in al-Shahri’s work by means of an idiosyncratic transcription system based on the Arabic script, in which linguistic sounds specific to msa are represented by coloured Arabic characters, to the detriment of comprehension.

This paper aims at providing a linguistically viable description of these proverbs, by presenting them in a standard Semitic transcription. The transcription presented proceeds from the analysis of al-Shahri’s original recording (which features al-Shahri himself uttering these 210 proverbs one by one) stored at the Semitische Tonarchiv (SemArch) at the University of Heidelberg. Additionally, the original English and Arabic translations provided by al-Shahri are reported. These are followed by a brief commentary containing a description of each relevant term, as well as a general account of the meaning of each proverb.

The conclusions pinpoint some phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical characteristics of the material examined, and identify a number of divergences and commonalities with other present-day and ancient Semitic subgroups which bear witness to the long and unwritten history of the Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t language.

1 Introduction1

The Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t language belongs to the Modern South Arabian (msa) branch of Semitic, together with Mehri, Ḥarsūsi, Hobyōt, Baṭḥari and Soḳoṭri. There seems to be scholarly consensus on the existence of two subgroups within msa: western msa, which includes Mehri, Ḥarsūsi, Hobyōt and Baṭḥari, and eastern msa, which includes Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t and Soḳoṭri. The position of Hobyōt within the western subgroup is not entirely clear, so that some scholars such as Rubin (2015: 313), assign it to a further subdivision within western msa.

Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t is, similarly to the other members of Modern South Arabian, an endangered language with no written tradition,2 although instant messaging in Modern South Arabian languages has become customary in recent years (Watson 2012: 5). Although a number of unofficial attempts have been made to develop orthographies for these languages, these have not yet been implemented.

At present, this language is spoken by an estimate of 50,000 ~ 70,000 people living in the mountainous and coastal districts of the Omani governorate of Dhofar, as well as on the island of al-Ḥallānīya in the Kuria Muria archipelago (Rubin 2014: 3). The double naming of the language is the result of an ongoing debate among speakers and scholars alike: in a nutshell, Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t is spoken as a native language by more than one tribal group: in fact, it is spoken by the Shahrah (Singular Shahri), an Arabic exonym which designates native śḥɛri (Plural śḥɛro) (jl: 250), the members of the great tribal confederation of the Qara, another Arabic exonym rendered natively as Əḥkli (pl Əḥklo),3 as well as some sections of the al-Kathiri tribe. The Shahrah claim to be the original inhabitants of Dhofar and demand, sometimes rather passionately, that the language be called Shahri in Arabic and Śḥərɛ̄́t natively (Morris 2017: 21; al-Shahri 2000 passim), while the speakers of non-Shahri origin normally call the language Jibbali in Arabic and Gəblɛ́t natively, that is “(language) of the mountains”, although the latter are usually not offended by the use of Shahri/Śḥərɛ́t. This matter deserves further investigation, which is likely to shed light on currently unknown social and sociolinguistic patterns. The present author, however, chose to use a double naming, like other msa scholars (al-Kathiri & Dufour 2020), in order not to lean towards either glossonym. This stance (or, some would argue, lack thereof) is the result of two considerations: 1) it is not ethically sound on the part of a foreign scholar to stand on either side of a debate whose ultimate origins lie within the community of speakers, and 2) at present no reliable clues have been found as to the most “original” glossonym for this language: if any, Fresnel’s Əḥkli is the oldest glossonym we know for certain, but it is no longer used by the speakers, not to mention the fact that the history of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t, as well as that of Modern South Arabian in general, is likely to reach much further back than 1838.

The oldest reliable attestation of the language is found in a divorce formula uttered, and duly recorded, in the presence of a Qāḍi at Ẓafār (modern-day Ṣalalah) in the 16th century (Serjeant & Wagner 1959). However, before that, travellers to the modern-day Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t-speaking area detected and recorded some anomalies in the local language: for example, Ibn al-Mujawir, a 13th century Arab merchant and traveller, described the inhabitants of the mountains of Dhofar (as well as those of Soqotra and Masira) as “having their own language which none can understand but they” (Smith 2008: 269).

As is the case with all non-written languages, Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t speakers have relied since time immemorial upon their memory to pass on the bulk of their traditional knowledge generation after generation. The nature and extent of the tangible and intangible aspects of this knowledge is summarised in ʕAli al-Shahri’s monograph The Language of Aad/ لغة عاد (al-Shahri 2000), which is the data source for the present study, as well as a few other publications by the same author (al-Shahri 1994), Miranda Morris (Miller & Morris 1988; Morris & al-Shahri 2017; Morris 1997; 2002; 2017), H. J. Carter (1845; 1848), and Marielle Risse (2015).

2 The Study

The present study focuses on a collection of 210 proverbs contained in al-Shahri (2000). The proverbs are presented both in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t with an Arabic translation and description (Ibid.: 242,307), and in an English translation (Ibid.: 74,120). A recording of the author uttering the proverbs is available online.4 Whilst undoubtedly of great value, the presentation of this collection suffers from a number of flaws. Firstly, the transcription based on the Arabic script used by the author to write Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t is not entirely reliable as it employs colours to achieve a one-to-one correspondence with the language’s sounds, which the plain Arabic script cannot represent: for example, the cross-linguistically rare voiceless alveo-palatal labialised sibilant /s͂/ is represented by a blue <ش>, whilst a yellow <ش> represents the voiced lateral fricative [ɮ],5 and a red <غ> stands for the nasalisation of the preceding (untranscribed) vowel. Secondly, the English translations of each proverb often prove misleading, to the point that they often alter completely the meaning of the proverbs.6 Lastly, one of the most interesting features of these proverbs is not dealt with by the author, namely the diverging varieties of the language which are used in some of them.

To date, the only publication which partially dealt with this corpus of proverbs is Rubin’s Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t grammar, in which 18 proverbs from al-Shahri’s collection are transcribed and analysed (Namely, proverbs 8, 16, 54, 57, 87, 96, 101, 102, 114, 157, 160, 161, 171, 185, 187, 188, 193, 207) (Rubin 2014: 642–645).

2.1 Methods

Each item is numbered progressively from 1 to 210. On the same line, the portion of recording containing the item examined is indicated. Each proverb has been analysed and transcribed using the original recording, with the aid of its transcribed version in The Language of Aad/ لغة عاد. The transcription convention used in this study is essentially phonetic, and employs the standard romanisation for Semitic (din 31635), with the following variants:

  1. <~> above a vowel denotes nasalisation and length
  2. <ᵊ> for a ultra-short, non-phonological vowel
  3. <j> denotes palatalisation
  4. <ʕ> for the voiced pharyngeal fricative
  5. <ḳ> for the glottalised velar stop [k’]
  6. <ś> for the voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ]
  7. <ṣ́> for the glottalised lateral affricate [ɬ’]
  8. <ź> for the voiced later fricative [ɮ]
  9. <s͂> for the voiceless alveo-palatal labialised sibilant
  10. <ṣ͂> for the glottalised alveo-palatal labialised affricate
  11. <z͂> for the voiced alveo-palatal labialised sibilant
  12. <ṯ̣> for the glottalised interdental affricate [θ’]

There follow the English and the Arabic translations given by al-Shahri, a general account of the meaning of each proverb, and a grammatical commentary of each relevant term. Terms between parentheses in the Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t transcription refer to alternative versions of a proverb provided by al-Shahri in the audio recording.

2.2 Lexical Sources

This investigation makes use of two sources of lexical data: T.M. Johnstone’s Jibbali Lexicon (jl), published in 1981, and the much more recent muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz), published in 2014. The former has been the only reference work in the field of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t lexicon in existence for over 30 years, and the first one in its kind. As such, it exhibits the flaws typical of a pioneering work, namely it reports an unrealistically limited number of roots and terms, and the transcription it employs often does not reflect accurately the phonetic reality of the language.

Conversely, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār contains a much wider array of roots and terms. Its downsides, however, are to be found, similarly to al-Shahri (2000), in the idiosyncratic Arabic-based transcription employed, which in this case makes use of a disturbing number of diacritics instead of colour. Additionally, because the author has not undergone linguistic training, the representation of root consonants is not etymologically motivated: this has some bearings on the treatment of weak consonants, which are often misarrayed as in, for example, the two roots √ʔḳt (mlz: 102–103) and √wḳt (Ibid.: 979), where the latter is etymologically motivated but lists only a reference to the former. It is nevertheless a valuable lexical source, written by a native speaker. What is more, given the wealth of lexical material it contains, this work succeeds in filling the gaps in the Jibbali Lexicon, and paves the road towards a comprehensive lexicon of the Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t language.

Finally, Johnstone’s Mehri Lexicon (ml), and the Comparative Cultural Glossary across the Modern South Arabian Language Family (Morris et al 2019) are used to provide comparisons with other msa languages, as relevant.

Plant-names are gleaned from Plants of Dhofar, the southern region of Oman: traditional, economic and medicinal uses (Miller & Morris 1988).

It is to be noted that another dictionary of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t exists: the Lisān Ẓufār al-Ḥimyarī al-muʕāṣir, by Muḥammad ibn Sālim al-Maʕšanī, edited by the Sultan Qaboos University press (2003). This work is regrettably long gone out of print, and it has not been possible to get hold of it at this time.

3 The Proverbs

(1) 0.00 - 0.08

ɛ́bśər b egēdɛ́m b-egēdɛ́m xarͻ́gj

Gaidam came, Gaidam died

ابشر بيجييدام ولكنه مات

This is said to describe a happy occasion which turned unhappy (al-Shahri 2000: 74,242).

Egēdɛ́m is a masculine personal name with no clear equivalent in Arabic, which can be compared with Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t gͻdəm ‘piece of bread’ (jl: 71), Mehri gōdəm ‘id.’ (ml: 114), and Soḳoṭri gódim ‘morceau’ (ls: 103). As far as onomastics is concerned, we found gdm as a personal name in Safaitic (al-Manaser & MacDonald 2017: 1452,4302), and perhaps in the Sabaic lineage name gdmn (Robin 1981: 326).

The /g/ phoneme in xarͻ́gj ‘to die’ (jl: 304) is realised with palatalisation, as it seems to be in most positions in the variety of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t spoken by al-Shahri, while it is realised without palatalisation in Gēdam.

(2) 0.08 - 0.14

ε̄ bṣír ͻ yͻ̄xͻ́f

He who sees the reality of life, never settles

من عرف وتحقق فانه سيغادر ولن يحل

If this someone has been mistreated (or not treated well enough) by a host, they use this saying upon being asked why they are leaving (al-Shahri 2000: 74,242). The verb transcribed here as bṣír is actually εbṣír, H-stem of √bṣr ‘ابصر. رأى’ (mlz: 130), and is not reported by the jl. Therefore, ε̄ bṣír is to be interpreted as *ε εbṣír = relativiser + third person singular of a perfect H-stem verb.

The verb yͻ̄xͻ́f < √wxf Gb-stem ‘to come to a new place and settle’, (al-Kathiri & Dufour 2020: 208–209). The prefixed negation ͻ without a suffixed is unexpected here (Rubin 2014: 332–334).

(3) 0.14 - 0.24

iblís hɛr ͻ s͂eš ʕiśa lͻ idhͻr śͻ̄ṭ ṯrut

If the devil can’t find dinner, he lights two fires

إبليس اذا لم يجد عشاء يوقد نارين

This proverb is used as a remark about those living beyond their means, and often serves as an encouragement to moderate their excesses (al-Shahri 2000: 74,242).

The cleft structure of this sentence is, as will be seen below, fairly common in this collection of proverbs. The noun śͻ̄ṭ ‘fire’ (jl: 258) is grammatically feminine, despite being morphologically masculine, as shown by the agreement with the feminine numeral ṯrut ‘two’ (cf. its masculine counterpart ṯrͻh).

(4) 0.24 - 0.30

ɛ̄ bedər išͻḳ

Who comes first, his animals drink first

من سبق غيرة على الماء يسقي حيوانه قبل الاخرين اي من سبق لبق

This is said to praise someone’s promptness at carrying out an action and this person’s subsequent gain, in contrast to someone else who did not act as promptly and effectively (al-Shahri 2000: 74,242).

The relativiser appears here as a long vowel ε̄ instead of the expect short vowel ε.

The weak iii-y verb išͻḳ < √šḳy Ga-stem ‘to irrigate, to give a drink’, prf.3 šeḳé (jl: 262) exhibits the loss of the last root consonant in the imperfective typical of this verbal class (Rubin 2014: 202).

(5) 0.30 - 0.36

ͻ ts͂eṭēʕananᵊ ʕar baʕlét ḳerún

Only the one who has horns can butt

لا تناطح إلا صاحبة القرون

This is used to refer to doing something beyond one’s abilities (al-Shahri 2000: 74,243).

The suffix -an in the verb ts͂eṭeʕánan < √ṭʕn Š2-stem ‘to keep stabbing’, prf.3 s͂əṭéʕan (jl: 273) is found in the indicative mood of the imperfective of D/L, Š2 and T2 stems in the singular and plural forms, but not in the dual forms (Rubin 2014: 141–142). Rubin (Ibid.) further states that the vowel in this suffix is [ə]. However, Dufour (2016: 36) posits the tendency to realise a secondary accent on the penultimate cv syllable in yes/no questions, protases and topicalisation, which could result in a [ε] ~ [a]7 instead of the expected [ə], and in actuality, the speaker’s intonation in the recording does argue in favour of topicalisation of the verb.

The feminine noun baʕlət ‘owner’ (jl: 22) is one of the few terms in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t which can be used in a construct state (Rubin 2014: 88).

(6) 0.36 - 0.42

ͻ tḳun ʕar ɛ irͻ̄t

Only the one who delivers the child can bring it up

لا تربي إلا من ولدت

This is a remark about situations where someone who is supposed to take responsibility in something (chiefly parenthood and animal husbandry), but appears not to be up to the task.

According to the jl, the first verb tḳun is a second person singular masculine of the imperfect of a Ga-stem verb derived from the root √ḳnv,8 meaning ‘to rear, look after, bring up’ (jl: 147). The second verb is the third person singular feminine of the perfect of a Ga-stem verb derived from the root √brw ‘to give birth’ (jl: 28), which would normally surface as birͻ̄t.9 In this case, [b] is elided because of the preceding relativiser ε.10

(7) 0.42 - 0.52

ͻ tekən lhes ͻ̄z ɛ nkś-ͻt lɛ-ɛ-núf e-skinᵊ lͻ

Don’t be like a goat who found the knife

السكنة نفسها على مبشت التي كالغنمة تكن لا

This is used as an advice to someone who is engaging in a dangerous activity which will likely result in trouble (al-Shahri 2000: 75,243).

This proverb employs a rather every-day register of the language, which does not call for a grammatical analysis. The negative command is realized as a negated verbal phrase employing the subjunctive mood, as expected (Rubin 2014: 154).

(8) 0.52 - 1.00

ͻ təġͻrͻb her a-ʕāśər-k ɛdᵊ la-xalf ʕa͂-š

You never know how good your friend is until he leaves you

لن تعرف قيمة صديقك حتى تستبدل به اخر

This proverb stresses the importance of good friends, and the regret of not recognising in time the qualities of someone who has left (al-Shahri 2000: 75,244). This is one of the 18 proverbs from al-Shahri’s collection which was transcribed and partially analysed by Rubin (2014: 642–645).

Rubin translates ”you don’t know (the value of) your friend until you move away from him” (ibid.: 642). However, the presence of her ’if’ (jl: 98) renders this interpretation doubtful. The term ʕāśər ’friend’ is recorded by both the jl and the mlz with a short vowel (jl: 17; mlz: 628). The verb la-xalf < √xlf ’to change, to leave behind’, H-stem (jl: 299), exhibits the expected loss of the t- prefix typical of H-stems and other stems (Rubin 2014: 146; Testen 1992), and the open front vocalisation [a] triggered by the guttural first root consonant, in contrast to open-mid front vowel [ɛ] in H-stems of strong roots (Rubin 2014: 174).

(9) 1.00 - 1.06

ͻ ttek s͂ini͂t ʕar mən a-ʕeṯ̣íl-k

The louse only bites you from your old clothes

لا تاكلك القملة إلا من ثوبك البالي القديم

This is said when trouble is caused by family or close friends (al-Shahri 2000: 75,244).

The imperfective prefix t- and the first root consonant of the verb t-te < √twy ’to eat’ (jl: 273) coalesce, so that they are realised as a geminate [tː].

(10) 1.06 - 1.14

ͻ tštéḳɛ ar e͂ṣtēḥͻ́t

Only those who had breakfast, drink

لا ترغب في الشرب إلا التي اكلت في الصباح

This proverb is used when evidence indicates that someone has eaten, despite that person affirming otherwise. The allusion to a milch animal is probably due to these animals being well fed (al-Shahri 2000: 75,244).

The term e͂ṣtēḥͻ́t < √ṣbḥ, passive participle of a T stem, *e-meṣtēḥͻ́t ‘milch sheep’ (mlz: 534) is not recorded in the jl.

(11) 1.14 - 1.20

e-gizᵊmɛ́t-k ṯ̣er fegjᵊrͻ́

You swore on the Bedu

حنثك على عاتق البدو

When someone wants to convince someone else to break an oath, the former may use this formula jokingly, as it is believed that the Bedouin take oaths lightly (al-Shahri 2000: 76,245).

The gizᵊmɛ́t ‘oath’ is not found under the root √gzm (jl: 81–82). It is, however, found in the mlz (mlz: 189) ‘اليمين. الحلف. القسم’, and in Rubin’s supplement to the jl (2014: 661) as “gəzmɛ́t (def. ɛgzəmɛ́t) ‘swearing’”. The term fegjᵊrͻ́11 ‘bedouin’ is a plural nisbah adjective of fɛ́gər ‘dawn, dawn-prayer, Nejd (in Dhofar)’ (jl: 53). The semantic connection finds an explanation in that the Bedouin whom Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t speakers are in contact most often come from the Nejd, north of the Dhofar mountains.

(12) 1.20 - 1.27

e-gidrét ͻ lhes iyɛ͂nᵊ lͻ

The land has no share

ليس للارض قسمة اي حصة

This expresses idiomatically the concept that earth has no right to claim a share of food or drink, so victuals should not be wasted onto it (al-Shahri 2000: 76,245). The term iyɛ͂n ‘share’ < √ʔmn is a variant of yɛ͂n. (jl: 3). Johnstone records this variant as typical of the eastern dialects of the language (Ibid.).

(13) 1.27 - 1.33

e-gēd yəbiʕan bə ḥanúfəh

The valuable thing shows its own value

الانسان الخلوق يقيّم نفسه

The language of this proverb is admittedly a mixture of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t and Mehri (al-Shahri 2000: 76,245). Its meaning indicates that good things do not need to be advertised, as their worth shows itself (Ibid.). The term gēd is Mehri for ‘good’ (ml: 128). Cf. Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t raḥím (jl: 210). The verb ibiʕan is the Arabic verb ‘to sell’ treated here as a ii-weak D/L-stem, whilst ḥanúf is Mehri for ‘self’ (ml: 283). Cf. Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t nuf (jl: 181). The Mehri term must not be confused with Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t ḥanúf which strictly means ‘to (one)self’ (ibid.). The [ə] vowel following ḥanúf ‘self’ is the third person masculine singular suffix pronoun -əh (Watson 2012: 72-73,77).

(14) 1.33 - 1.40

əxérᵊ kͻb sīr ʕar kͻb rīṣ́

The moving dog is better than the dog which is lying down

الكلب السيار خير من الكلب الرابض

This is said to encourage someone to take action on a matter (al-Shahri 2000: 76,246).

The participial form sīr < √syr ‘moving’ must be a Mehrism, as the root is very productive in Mehri, where it includes a verb meaning ‘to go’, as well as an array of additional meanings (ml: 355). Conversely, this root is significantly less productive in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t (jl: 233). According to the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār the above-mentioned root does have a verb meaning to ’to follow’ (mlz: 466). Cf. proverb number 82. Similarly to sīr, the form rīṣ́ is a participle recorded as rēẕ́ ‘lazy’ < √rbẕ́ (jl: 203).

(15) 1.40 - 1.46

ɛ̄ xfét ar ɛ̄ xfét bə šͻ́fͻl

The one who can hide her pregnancy is the best at keeping secrets

لم تخفي الا من اخفت الحمل

This is said of someone who is good at keeping secrets (al-Shahri 2000: 77,246). Similarly to proverb number 2 above, the long vowel in the relativiser ε, must be interpreted as relativiser + third person singular of a perfect H-stem verb: *ε εxfét. This verbal form is recorded in the jl as axfé ‘to keep hidden’ < √xfy (jl : 299).

(16) 1.46 - 1.54

ɛ xarͻ́gj ġasᵊrḗ eḳiͻ́r k-ḥáṣaf

The one who dies at night can be buried in the morning

الذي يموت بالليل يقبر في الصباح

This is the second proverb of this collection analysed by Rubin (2014: 642), and indicates that everything must be done at the right time (al-Shahri 2000: 77,246).

The term ġasᵊrḗ ‘at night’ has a long final vowel here, which is recorded by neither by the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 89), nor by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 667).

(17) 1.54 - 2.02

ɛ dirím gju͂l-š yəs͂ḳͻ́ṣ́a ʕālᵊgján

The one whose camel is killed is only compensated by having a small camel

الذي يعقر جمله الكبر يُعَوّض بجملٍ صغير

This proverb is used as a comment on the fact that a compensation might not be commensurate with the loss (al-Shahri 2000: 77,247).

The semantics of the verbs dirím and yəs͂ḳͻ́ṣ́a is very specific of the local camel raiding culture: the former < √drm ‘to cut (a camel’s) hocks, slaughter livestock (us. in a punitive raid); to hit so. hard’, Ga-stem passive (jl: 41). The latter < √ḳṣ́y ‘to be paid, to receive blood money’, Š1-stem (jl: 158). The expected definite article does not occur in the term gju͂l-š ‘his camel’, as often happens after a sonorant. The term ʕālᵊgján < √ʕlg, recorded as ʿálgέn ‘2–4 year old camel’ in the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 12) is a diminutive form. It is noteworthy that the first vowel is long, contrary to the notation found in the jl. The mlz does not report this term (mlz: 644)

(18) 2.02 - 2.08

e-diní ͻl ʕārṣ́ ḏ a͂ḥsár lͻ

The width of the earth is not like the width of a cloth belt12

الدنيا ليست كعرض الإزار

This expression is used when someone does not know which way to turn, both physically and metaphorically (al-Shahri 2000: 77,247).

The meaning of the term ʕārṣ́, lacking the expected definite article likely due to the presence of the voiced pharyngeal fricative [ʕ],13 means ‘width’, which may lead one to suspect an interference from Arabic, as the term is recorded with the above-mentioned meaning only in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 620), along with other meanings linked to weaning and meeting, which are recorded also in the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 15–16). Likewise, the term a͂ḥsár < *a-maḥsár ‘cloth belt’ is recorded in the muʕǧam (mlz: 236), but not in the Jibbali lexicon.

(19) 2.08 - 2.14

e-défər xaṣᵊm ɛ̄ nuf-š

The bad person is the enemy of himself

لاانسان السئ عدو نفسه

The meaning of this proverb is self-explanatory.

The genitive exponent ɛ and the definiteness marker ɛ preceding nuf ‘self’ coalesce, and are pronounced as a single long vowel ɛ̄.

(20) 2.14 - 2.20

e-défər əxér ʕa͂-š mɛ̄l xͻh

The bad (person), a full mouth is better than him

الفم نلاء منه افضل السئ

This is to remind that it is convenient to accept any payment from a person who is in debt, as doing otherwise might lead to bitter consequences (al-Shahri 2000: 78–248).

It is notewothy that no genitive exponent can be found between the terms mɛ̄l ’fullness’ (jl: 171) and xͻh (jl: 310), which could point to mɛ̄l being one of the few terms which can be used in a construct state, although not listed in Rubin (2014: 88). However, given the rarity of this term in the corpora, it is not possible to the draw any conclusion in this respect. Alternatively, it is possible that the construct state was more widespread at the time in which this proverb was coined, so that it came down the generations as it was, regardless of every-day language evolution. One must note, however, that the definite article, as has been pointed out above, may be omitted when following a sonorant.

(21) 2.20 - 2.29

ɛḏīlín ḥo͂l e͂z͂éd iź ʕiṣ͂yétᵊ

So-and-so has taken the labour pains of the bird

فلان اخد مخاض الحمامة البرية اي اناب عنها

This is a remark about someone who runs into trouble as a result of doing something, possibly unrequested, for someone else (al-Shahri 2000: 78,248).

The plural form e͂z͂éd < *e-mez͂éd ’labour pains’ is not recorded, and must correspond to a singular *megdét, on the basis of similar CvCv́C forms. For example, mɛrṯ̣ét/mirɛ́ṯ̣ ’instruction, message, parcel’ (jl: 173). Its being grammatically plural is shown by the subsequent use of the rather uncommon plural relativiser iź (Rubin 2014: 68) as a genitive exponent. The term ʕiṣ͂yétᵊ <ʕḳb ’pigeon’ (jl: 11), with pre-pausal paragoge (Castagna 2018: 137).

(22) 2.29 - 2.36

ɛḏīlín e-nfáʕ-š b-eš i-míh

So-and-so’s helpfulness14 is wet

بالماء مبلول عمله فلان

This saying underlines that some people’s help is harmful. The semantic connection is explained by the fact that dry things are preserved, whereas wet things tend to decay (al-Shahri 2000: 78,248). The segment e-nfáʕ-š ’his help’, contains the term nfaʕ which is not recorded by the Jibbali Lexicon under the root √nfʕ (jl: 181). The muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār, on the other hand, records it as نْفَعْ \ انْفَعْ meaning ‘النفع. المساعدة. العون’ (mlz: 929).

The concept of ’wet’ is expressed here by means of periphrasis: b-eš i-míh ’there is (the) water in it’ or ’it has water’. Interestingly, the same periphrastic expression was used by a speaker of the insular (al-Ḥallānīya) dialect to express the same concept (Castagna 2018: 446). See also below, proverb number 33.

(23) 2.36 - 2.43

ɛḏīlín ed-ešeḳέ ṯ̣er erᵊkíb

So-and-so has been given a drink whilst riding a beast of burden

فلان يسقي على ظهر الدابة

This refers to someone being helped unwillingly, so that the help this person is offered is of little use. The situation depicted by the proverb can be elucidated by the fact that drinking whilst riding a beast of burden is difficult, and most of the water will be spilt (al-Shahri 2000: 78,249).

The verb ešeḳέ < √šḳy ’to water, to give a drink’, passive imperfective indicative Ga-stem (jl: 262), is preceded by the prefix (v)d- which, in combination with an imperfective indicative verb, marks a circumstantial clause or indicates a progressive action (Rubin 2014: 158–161).

(24) 2.43 - 2.52

ɛḏīlín ͻl ḳeləʕ bē ʕin̥ dimʕͻ́tᵊ lͻ

So-and-so didn’t leave any tears in the eyes

فلان لم يُبقِ في العين دمعة

This expression is used to describe someone who has done something perfectly (al-Shahri 2000: 79,249).

The third root consonant of the verb ḳeləʕ ‘to let, allow’ (jl: 144) is a /ʕ/ which is desonorised to [ħ], as there is a long pause after it. The segment bē is to be analysed as the preposition bə + the definite article preceding ʕin̥ ’eye’. /n/ is desonorised in the latter term, as expected (rubin 2014: 37).

(25) 2.52 - 3.00

ɛḏīlín ͻ kedaʕ b ͻ fedaʕ

He doesn’t harm and he doesn’t help

فلان لا فائدة ولا ضرر

This is used to describe someone who is completely neutral, or a good-for-nothing (al-Shahri 2000: 79,249).

The two terms kedáʕ, reported by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār as كَدَعْ meaning ‘إظهار الجفوة للاخرين. الصَد. سوء المعاملة’ (mlz: 790), and fedaʕ as فَدَعْ meaning ‘الفرج بعد الشدة’ (mlz: 691), are not recorded in the Jibbali lexicon. The mlz reports this proverb under the latter entry as أذيلن أفدع بو كَدَع (mlz: 691).

(26) 3.00 - 3.08

ɛḏīlín yəs͂xarͻ́ṭ ɛ̄ṣfͻ́r

So-and-so will argue even with the birds

فلان يشاتم الطيور

This expression describes a short-tempered person (al-Shahri 2000: 79,249). The segment ɛ̄ṣfͻ́r ‘the birds’ has an initial long vowel as a result of the coalescence of the definite article and the first vowel of the term, which, at variance with the jl, does not exhibit an initial /ʕ/ (jl: 16) < √ʕṣfr. Conversely, the mlz lists the term under the root √ṣfr, and reports the term as أصّفَرُت (mlz: 546).

(27) 3.08 - 3.15

ɛḏīlín axnīṭ m-eš s͂əʕil

So-and-so has taken all somebody else’s energy

فلان أنهك او أُنهِكت قواه وصبره

This expression, whose meaning is self-explanatory, may either be used by the victim of such action or by an observer (al-Shahri 2000: 79,250). The verb axnīṭ is listed in the Jibbali Lexicon as axníṭ, with a short vowel (jl: 303). al-Shahri’s Arabic translation of this saying points out that the verb can be understood as an active as well as a passive: أنهك او أُنهِكت. The nasal consonant [n] here neutralises the opposition between the active and passive vocalisation of the H-stem verb in question (Rubin 2014: 42).

The term s͂əʕil ‘strength’, is not recorded. However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār reports the verb kaʕal ’to hit something solid with strength’ under the root √kʕl (mlz: 803). The semantic connection is rather unproblematic, and given the high vocalic environment, a palatalisation /k/ > [s͂] seems likely, as is well documented (Bellem & Watson 2017: 627).

(28) 3.15 - 3.24

ɛḏīlín eʕilīḳᵊ l-eš ͻ͂rrͻ́t

So-and-so has hung up the gall bladder against him

فلان علّقت ضده المرارة

This saying describes a forgetful person, on the basis of the folk belief that one can cause a person to forget something by hanging a gall bladder and speaking that person’s name (al-Shahri 2000: 79,250).

The verb eʕilíḳ ’to hang (transitive)’, D/L-stem, is passive (jl: 12), and is attested here with a long vowel. The term ͻ͂rrͻ́t < e-mͻrrͻ́t ’gall bladder’ is reported as mɛrrͻ́t under the root √mrr (jl 173).

(29) 3.24 -3.31

ɛḏīlín yərəġúm ε̄ʕlͻ́ḳ

So-and-so finds fault with gold

فلان يعيب دنانير الدهب

This describes a fussy person who finds a fault with everything and everyone (al-Shahri 2000: 80,250).

The term ʕͻlͻ́ḳ ’fine gold’ (mlz: 645) is not reported by the Jibbali Lexicon. This is most certainly a plural form of a singular عولق = /ʕɔ́lḳ/ ~ /ʕúlḳ/ provided by al-Shahri in his commentary of this saying (al-Shahri 2000: 250).

(30) 3.31 - 3.38

ɛḏīlín ͻ fek īd-š berəkͻ́tᵊ lͻ

He didn’t rub the talisman

فلان لم يفرك يده بالبركة

This is said when bad people eventually get what they deserve (al-Shahri 2000: 80,250).

Al-Shahri translates “he didn’t rub the talisman” (ibid.: 80) in English, and in Arabic (ibid.: 250), and the verb fek is listed with the meaning of ‘to rub’ in Morris et al (2019: 79). However, the verb fek is reported to have the meaning of ‘to release’ both in the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 55), and the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 714).

(31) 3.38 - 3.45

ɛḏīlín ḏaʕarͻ́t īyɛ͂n-š

His share has been spilt

فلان انسكبت وفقد حصته

This expression is used to describe the circumstances of someone who came to be deprived of a source of wealth, affection or security, i.e. an orphan (al-Shahri 2000: 80,251). For the term iyɛ͂n ‘share’, which appears here with an initial long vowel due to the presence of the definite article, see proverb number 12 above.

(32) 3.46 - 3.50

ɛḏīlín ḥa-yɔ́ḳrəm be-diní

So-and-so will swallow the earth

فلان سيبتلع الدنيا

This is used to describe greedy people (al-Shahri 2000: 80,251).

The future marker ḥa-, which is currently less common than a- (Rubin 2012: 195), can be found in the proverb.

(33) 3.51 - 4.00

ɛḏīlín ͻl ḳeləʕ l ɛḏīlín ͻl ṯiri b-ͻ15 ḳaśʕun

He abused everything of mine (or his or hers), wet and dry

فلان لم يترك لفلان لا رطب ولا يأبس

This metaphor describes a terrible insult. The one who is not left either the wet or the dry is the insulted person. According to al-Shahri, living people are believed to be wet, whilst the dead are believed to be dry (2000: 80,251).

The actual term for ‘wet’ ṯiri is used here, in the place of the periphrastic expression b-eš i-míh. See also above, proverb number 22.

(34) 4.01 - 4.07

ɛḏīlín əġasᵊré ṯ̣er e-gēdál

So-and-so spent the night on (his) foot

فلان ظل سهراناً على الموقد طوال الليل

This is a remark about someone who spends sleepless nights thinking about his troubles (al-Shahri 2000: 81,251).

The term gēdál is, etymologically speaking, a diminutive of gέdəl ‘foot’ on the pattern CēCɛ́C (jl: 71; mlz: 180–181). Its translation as موقد ‘stove’ in Arabic, raises doubt on its meaning.

(35) 4.08 - 4.13

ɛḏīlín əl-fɛ́nɛ

This is the man of a face

فلان على نيّاته

This is said of a gullible person, as mentally sound people are believed to see both sides of a given situation, whilst a gullible person is believed to see only the face, i.e. one side (al-Shahri 2000: 81,252).

(36) 4.13 - 4.21

ɛḏīlín xiṭíṭᵊ l-eš bə ḥum̥ bə-śɛnḏér

He was given his share on a splinter of wood or (and)16 or a seashell

فلان أُعطي بالمحّارة وشرخ الخشب

This means that when something was shared, the person to whom this proverb refers has been given so small a share that it could fit on a seashell or on a splinter (al-Shahri 2000: 81,252).

The verb xiṭíṭ is a passive G-stem whose active counterpart is xeṭ (xeṭṭ in the jl transcription) ‘to write; to make signs on the ground to point out a route’ (jl: 308). The term ḥum̥ is translated as ‘charcoal’ in the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 111), and, similarly, as الفحم in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 269). In the case of this proverb, however, we must assume it has the meaning of ’splinter of wood’ by virtue of al-Shahri’s English and Arabic (شرخ الخشب) translations. The overall meaning of this proverb is doubtful, as the English and Arabic translations are at variance with each other: whilst the Arabic translation would imply that both the ‘splinter of wood’ and the ‘seashell’ are at play, the English translation makes it clear that it is either the ‘splinter’ of wood’ or the ‘seashell’. The recording offers little help, as the second might be either a preposition or a coordinating conjunction.

(37) 4.21 - 4.26

ɛḏīlín bə šͻ́fͻl ṯrͻh

So-and-so has two stomachs

فلان بمعدتين

This expression is used to describe a person who is always worried about property or about people who are not within this person’s sight (al-Shahri 2000: 81,252).

(38) 4.27 - 4.33

ɛḏīlín ͻ yəṭəféf b-ͻ yənuḏḳ

He doesn’t float, he doesn’t sink

فلان لا يطفو ولا يرسب

Similarly to proverb number 25, this proverb describes a good-for-nothing (al-Shahri 2000: 82,253).

(39) 4.35 - 4.41

ɛḏīlín ͻl gi͂lt h-eš b-ͻ̄l ṯͻ̄b

He has false generosity and offends God

فلان لا كرامة له ولا ثواب

This proverb describes a person whose bad behaviour averts generosity in the world and a reward in the afterlife (al-Shahri 2000: 82,253).

(40) 4.43 - 4.48

ɛḏīlín gerᵊ b-eš e-núśub ɛ ṯṯͻ́dɔ

He has been affected by his mother’s milk

فلان أثر عليه حليب الثدي

This is used to describe a person who is (over)zealous at his mother’s requests. However, this is not necessarily a criticism, as the duty of a son towards his mother and her family is an important tenet of the Dhofar mountains society (al-Shahri 2000: 82,253). The verb ger < √grr G-stem is reported with the meaning ‘to drag’ by the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 77) and a similarly meaning in the mlz (mlz: 184). The term ṯͻ́dɔ is an unattested rendition of the term recorded as ṯͻ́dεʾ ‘bosom, breast; nipple and breast’ (jl: 283), and ثدي \ ثدأ (mlz: 164). Semantically, this saying may be interpreted actively as ‘so-and-so, his mother’s breast milk dragged him’.

(41) 4.48 - 4.54

ɛḏīlín éḳaʕ l-eš šu͂-š

His name found him

فلان طابق عليه اسمه او وافقه اسمه

This expression describes a person whose name and personality match each other, based on the folk belief that names become attached to people whose personality suits them (al-Shahri 2000: 82,254).

The verbal class to which verbs like éḳaʕ < √wḳʕ ’to find’ (jl: 290) belongs is discussed in Rubin (2014: 109–110): he examines the cases of édaʕ ’to know’ (jl: 286), and égaḥ ’to enter’ (jl: 288), and affirms that their having a *w as a first root consonant, and a pharyngeal as a third root consonant obscures the differences between the Ga and Gb types. He further adds that édaʕ can be regarded as a Gb in Mehri, whereas égaḥ has no Mehri cognate. The Mehri cognate of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t is wīḳa (ml: 426), which can be regarded as a Gb (Watson 2012: 83). Therefore, it is likely that éḳaʕ is a Gb in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t too. This is confirmed by al-Kathiri & Dufour (2020: 210).

(42) 4.54 - 5.01

ɛḏīlín ͻl dini h-eš b-ͻ̄l axárt

He has nothing in this life and will have nothing in the hereafter

فلان ليس له دنيا ولا اَخرة

This saying is similar in meaning to number 39, and describes a bad person who cannot expect any happiness or joy either in this world or in the hereafter (al-Shahri 2000: 83,254).

The Jibbali lexicon reports āxərt, with a long vowel (jl: 5), but this is not confirmed by the present analysis. This is due, in all likelihood, to this term being used with a definite article in the vast majority of cases, so that the jl data might reflect this: āxərt < a-axərt. The muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār does not report this term, despite reporting the root √ʔxr (mlz: 93).

(43) 5.01 - 5.07

ɛḏīlín bédər-š šͻ́ʕͻt

The one who runs fastest arrives first

فلان سبقه العداؤون

Similarly to proverb number 4, this expression underlines that fact that those who waste time are certainly going to be outdone by more zealous people (al-Shahri 2000: 83,254).

The verb bedər ’to outrun’ (jl: 23) agrees with šͻ́ʕͻt ’runner’, which is not reported by the Jibbali lexicon, and only reported in its singular form by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 478). Despite its being mophologically a feminine singular noun, it is treated as a plural. Furthermore, the Arabic translation of the proverb employs the masculine plural noun العداؤون (al-Shahri 2000: 254).

(44) 5.07 - 5.13

ɛḏīlín məḳᵊré ʕar i͂t

That person should be hidden from death

فلان يستحق بان يُخفي عن الموت

This expression may be used both to describe a very good person who is universally respected and cherished, and when someone is recovers from an illless, or emerges unscathed from a dangerous situation (al-Shahri 2000: 83,254).

The passive participle məḳᵊré ’hidden’ (mlz: 744), is not recorded in the Jibbali lexicon, although it does report the verbs and other terms connected to the root ḳry (jl: 150). The term i͂t < *e-mit ’death’ (jl: 176).

(45) 5.13 - 5.20

ɛḏīlín ͻl ṭḳīʕ mən s͂ūm ɛd gjͻ́fɔ lͻ

No-one cares about him the smallest bit, not even the distance between the shadow and the sun

فلان لا احد يهتم به بقدر المسافة بين الشمس والظل

This describes an unimportant and neglected person. The semantic connection finds an explanation in the folk belief that there is a small distance between the sunlight and the shadow. Therefore, this small distance is treated here as a metaphor of belittlement (al-Shahri 2000: 83,255).

The verb ṭḳīʕ17 must be the passive counterpart of the H-stem eṭḳáʿ ’to look’ (jl: 276). It is noteworthy that here, as well as in other cases which will be discussed in the conclusions below (4.6), a long vowel appears in the vocalism of passive verbs. The term gjͻ́fɔ stands for gɔ́fεʾ ’shadow’ (jl: 72), and, similarly to the term ṯͻ́dɔ ‘breast’ in proverb 40 above, exhibits an unexpected final [ɔ]. Moreover, it must be pointed out that al-Shahri transcribes a ا in both cases.

(46) 5.20 - 5.27

ɛḏīlín ͻl nuź b-ͻl rɛḳʕát

The dye and the quality of the cloth are both bad

فلان ليس كالثوب ذو نيل كافٍ أو متانة

This proverb applies to someone who is both of displeasing appearance and of bad manners (al-Shahri 2000: 84,255).

(47) 5.27 - 5.34

ɛḏīlín késε ṣ́ɛ̄d məs͂xērṭ-ͻ́t

He has found an easy way to strip the leaves from the Christ’s-thorn tree

فلان وجد سدرة سهلة الخرط

This is used to describe someone who took advantage of someone else’s weakness or gullibility (al-Shahri 2000: 84,255).

The term ṣ́ɛ̄d denotes Ziziphus spina-christi (Miller & Morris 1988: 242), or Christ-thorn tree, whose fruits are edible. The feminine Š1 participial form məs͂xērṭͻ́t ’stripped of leaves’ is not recorded. However, the corresponding verbs are (jl: 305; mlz: 285–286).

(48) 5.34 -5.43

ɛḏīlín b-ɛḏīlín lhes ē-ṭof bə-ḥabbərrɛ̄́di

So-and-so and So-and-so is like ’Toph’ and ’Habaradi’

فلان وفلان كنبات الطوف ونبات الحبرّادي

The two plants mentioned in this proverb, namely ṭofAloe dhufariensis’ (Miller and Morris 1988: 182) and ḥabbərrɛ̄́diKleinia saginata’ (Ibid.: 110) are very different from each other, so this is used to describe two very different individuals (al-Shahri 2000: 84,256). The definite article preceding ṭof is realised as a long vowel (see also the following proverb). The term ḥabbərrɛ̄́di is reported by Miller & Morris with /h/, but al-Shahri pronounces and transcribes /ḥ/ in its place. Actually, they do.

(49) 5.43 - 5.50

ɛḏīlín lhes ē-ṭiḳ ɛ̄-dáʕan

He is like a fig tree in the middle of a barren plain

فلا مثل التينة الفريدة في الارض الجرداء18

This is used to describe a person who is more widely known than others, in spite of not being any better (or worse) than others (al-Shahri 2000: 84,256). Similarly to proverb 48 above, there occurs an unexpected long vowel [eː] in the place of the definite article short vowel. This might lead one to postulate a vowel after the preposition, i.e. *lhes ε, perhaps through analogical levelling after compound preposition such as ḥaṣ ɛ or ḥaḳt ɛ (Rubin 2014: 361–363, 371–372).

(50) 5.50 - 5.56

ɛḏīlín ͻl d-ḥͻb b-ͻl d-rͻ́ḳɔl

Not for milking, not for owning

فلان لا للحلب ولا للكسب

This is said, similarly to proverbs 25 and 38, of a good-for-nothing (al-Shahri 2000: 84,256).

The d- prefix in this case is allomorph of the preposition εd ’up to, till, until’ (Rubin 2014: 228–230) which lacks the initial vowel due to the phonological process described in the commentary of proverb 45 above. The term ḥͻb is a verbal noun meaning ’(one) milking’ (jl: 109). The term rͻ́ḳͻl is unrecorded in the Jibbali lexicon, whereas the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār reports the terms رُقَل ’مربض الأبقار’19 and رّقُلْ ‘سد الفجوات في الطريق الصخري الأحجار لتمهيده أو تسويته’20 under the root √rḳl (mlz: 391). The semantics of this term are therefore problematic vis á vis Al-Shahri’s translation of this term into Arabic as كسب ’gain, profit’ (2000: 256), which would invalidate his English translation of the proverb. Finally, it is worth noting that the [ɔ] vowel in the unstressed syllable of the term in question, which occurs instead of the expected [ə], may be due to the same phenomenon described above (proverbs 40 and 45).

(51) 5.56 - 6.03

ɛḏīlín ber feṣġ ɛd śͻ̄ṭ

So-and-so has spat into the fire

فلان قد بصق في النار

This is used to describe a person who talks too much and, for this, cannot be believed, on the basis of the folk belief that a person who spits into the fire becomes a liar (al-Shahri 2000: 85,256).

The use of the auxiliary verb ber conveys, in the case, the meaning of ’just’ or ’already’ (Rubin 2014: 165). The preposition ɛd ’until’ is used idiomatically here, in the place of ʕaḳ ’in’.

(52) 6.03 - 6.10

ɛḏīlín axníṭ e-līnít əl ḥaerͻ́t

He had consumed all the white and black

فلان أخرج السواد على البياض

This is an expression of reproach towards someone who has taken advantage of another person. The white and black should be regarded as metaphors of fat and meat, respectively (al-Shahri 2000: 85,257). The H-stem verb axníṭ ’to take out’ (jl: 303) appears here in the active voice with the expected short [i], in contrast with its passive counterpart in proverb 27 having a long [iː].

The term ḥaerͻ́t ’black’ contain two contiguous short vowels, rather than a single long one. This occurs also in the speech of an aged speaker of the insular dialect (Castagna 2018: 447).

(53) 6.10 - 6.18

ɛḏīlín ͻl s͂-ɛn b-ͻl s͂-okum

So-and-so is not with us and not with you

فلان لا معنا ولا معكم

This expression describes a braggart, whose actions are not useful to anybody (al-Shahri 2000: 85,257).

(54) 6.18 - 6.25

ɛḏīlín ͻl ɛgjeh b-ͻl ḳifɛ́

so-and-so has no front and no back

فلان لا وجه ولا قفا

This is a remark made about a person of loose morals who shows no regret whatsoever (al-Shahri 2000: 85,257). This is the third proverb of this collection analysed by Rubin (2014: 643).

The term ɛgjeh ’face’ (jl: 288) stems from the root √wgh from which Arabic وجه stems too, and in view of the existence of the native term kɛrféf (jl: 134), the former may be suspected to be an ancient and/or phonetically well-accommodated Arabic borrowing.

(55) 6.25 - 6.32

ɛḏīlín taʕśéśenᵊ b-eš yurs͂ͻ́b

A beast of burden can carry him

فلان تنهض به الجمال

This expression, similarly to proverbs 35 and 47, points to someone’s gullibility (al-Shahri 2000: 85,258). The H-stem verb aʕśéś ’to rouse’ (jl: 17) appears here in the third person plural feminine of the imperfect. The term yurs͂ͻ́b is a plural whose singular is εrkíb (jl: 211). The initial [ju] glide in this term is due to the conjunct effect of the /s̃/ lip-rounding and the regular retroflexion of /r/ before a coronal, so that the phonemic representation of this term should be rather /εrs͂ͻ́b/.

(56) 6.32 - 6.39

ɛḏīlín aġᵊmíd ͻ̄ʕź ͻ yəšͻ̄-š ḥaḳᵊ lͻ

So-and-so owes God nothing

لقد أمسى فلان وليس للله حق عليه

This is a comment made to praise people who work hard (al-Shahri 2000: 86,258).

The verb H-stem aġᵊmíd normally means ’to be, appear in the evening; to sheath’ (jl: 86). The term ͻ̄ʕź ’God’ (jl: 22) is one whose etymology is not immediately transparent. Its Mehreyyet21 cognate bɛ̄lī comes from the root √bʕl, and is often used is its definite form a-bɛ̄lī (Watson 2012: 259), and the processes underlying the Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t form can be summarised thus: *e-baʕli > *e-bͻʕli > *ͻ̄ʕli > *ͻ̄ʕźi > ͻ̄ʕź. The verb yəšͻ̄š < √šyb ’bring water from afar’, Ga-stem (jl: 265; mlz: 486) must be used idiomatically here, its final /b/ being elided between the preceding vowel and the vowel of the above-mentioned suffix (Rubin 2014: 28–29). The interpretation of this proverb is rather problematic: in the first place, its English translation undoubtedly makes it more difficult to interpret it. Secondly, the idiomatic use of both verbs raises doubts. al-Shahri Arabic translation might be of some guidance here, in that it literally means ”so-and-so has become thus (at night), and God does not have any right over him”, implying that God tried so much the poor fellow in question during the day, that once he made it to the sunset even God has no right to mistreat him further.

(57) 6.39 - 6.48

ɛḏīlín ͻl édaʕ ͻl inɛ́ ɛbḥér b-ͻl inɛ́ εśḥér

So-and-so doesn’t who is on the sea and who is on the land

لم يعلم فلان بمن سلك طريق البحر او طريق البر

This is the fourth proverb analysed by Rubin (2014: 643), and describes a person who does not pay attention to the surrounding events (al-Shahri 2000: 86,258). Both ɛbḥér and εśḥér are H-stem denominative verbs22 meaning ’to go by sea’ and ’to go to the mountains’ respectively. The jl does not report them, whilst they can be found in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 114,504).

(58) 6.48 - 6.56

ɛḏīlín ͻl s͂ərᵊkéb b-ͻl s͂ənʕíś

He cannot ride and cannot be carried

فلان لم يستحمل الركوب على الدابة ولا على النعش

This proverb describes someone who turns down every kind of advice and help (al-Shahri 2000: 86, 259). The two verbs in this proverb are both Š1-stem. s͂ərᵊkéb is reported to mean ’to be ridden’ (jl: 211) with a similar meaning in the mlz (mlz: 393). However, al-Shahri Arabic translation of this verb لم يستحمل الركوب على الدابة implies that the subject is unable or unwilling to ride rather than not ridden. The second verb, s͂ənʕíś, is reported by the jl as ’(patient, corpse) to be carried on a stretcher, bier’ (jl: 178), which explains the Arabic translation has ولا على النعش ’… nor on a coffin’. The literal meaning of the proverb may then by outlined as ”so-and-so is can ride neither a beast nor a coffin”. The muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār reports this proverb under the root √rkb with slightly different vowel (mlz: 393). The last vowel in s͂ənʕíś is [i], where one would expect [e]: this may be due to the nasal [n] taking its rising effect through the intervening [ʕ].

(59) 6.56 - 7.01

ɛ-ḏēlɛ́ ibrérən

The early morning makes everything clear

بعد طلوع الشمس كل شي يُبان

This is said by someone who is accused of a misdeed but is actually innocent, and is also used in case a night disturbance occurs, to suggest that it is more convenient to wait until morning to look into it (al-Shahri 2000: 86,259). The term ḏēlɛ́ meaning ’early morning’ seems to be a variant of ḏēlɛ́b (jl: 46) carrying the same meaning. That ḏēlɛ́ is a full-status lexeme, and not a pre-pausal realisation of ḏēlɛ́b, is proven by 1) the term is transcribed as ذييلاء by al-Shahri (2000: 259), 2) Johnstone lists this term in the bilingual Mehri-Jibbali wordlist at the end of the Mehri Lexicon (ml: 560). The verb ibrrən is clearly a D/L-stem, but neither the Jibbali lexicon nor the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār list it under the corresponding root √brr (jl: 27; mlz: 123–124).

(60) 7.01 - 7.08

ɛḏīlín ᵊrkͻt a-ḏanúm ē-ḳéṣ́ər

So-and-so trod on the lion’s tail

فلان دعس او داس على ذيل الاسد

This is used as a warning that one should not look for trouble by provoking the anger of someone stronger than oneself (al-Shahri 2000: 86,259).

The form ḏanúm is unexpected for ḏunúb ’tail’ (jl: 47), and might be a characteristic of the speaker’s dialect. It must be noted that this term is subject to a good deal of variation among dialects: for example, it is often, but not invariably realised as ḏunúf by insular speakers (Castagna 2018: 445), although in the case of the dialect of al-Ḥallānīyah, this may be viewed within a wider sound change /b/ > [f] in certain phonotactic environments (Ibid.: 116–118). At any rate, utters ḏanúm but transcribes ذونوب (2000: 259).

(61) 7.08 - 7.14

ɛḏīlín e-nṯ̣əfͻ́t-š ε tᵊġrér

His shins are full

فلان نخاع عظمة ملان

This is used to describe a person who is always eager to help (al-Shahri 2000: 87–260).

Rather curiously, the meaning of the verb ġér/yəġrér is ’to deceive, to cheat’, according to lexicographic sources (jl: 87; mlz: 663), as well as to native speakers (p.c.). This points to a highly idiomatic use of this verb.

(62) 7.14 - 7.24

ɛḏīlín yͻġͻtyͻ́ṯ̣ mən ĩdét

So-and-so even gets angry with the breeze

فلان يغضب حتى من النسيم

This saying describes, similarly to proverb number 26, a short-tempered person (al-Shahri 2000: 87,260).

The verb yͻġͻtyͻ́ṯ̣ ’to anger’, T1-stem < √ġyṯ̣ (jl: 91; mlz: 684). Given that Arabic has a Gt-stem إغتاظ, this could be an Arabic borrowing, and the use of the preposition mən reinforces this hypothesis (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 691).

(63) 7.24 - 7.32

ɛḏīlín yaġēr l-e-naʕrír

When he hears a cry of fear he joins it

فلان يتحرك لهتاف البقر

This is used to describe a person who is overly curious (al-Shahri 2000: 87,260).

The term naʕrír ’wailing’ is not recorded by the Jibbali lexicon. It is, however, recorded in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 923).

(64) 7.32 - 7.39

ɛḏīlín ber bēbá (ber mēmá)

So-and-so is the son of his father (or mother)

فلان ابن ابيه او ابن امه اي (الولد سر ابيه او سر امه)

This describes the commonalities between a person and his parents (al-Shahri 2000: 87,260).

The term ber ’son’ (normally bεr) is one of the terms which can head a construct (Rubin 2014: 88). The terms bēbá and mēmá, apparently diminutives formed on the CēCɛ́C pattern (Johnstone 1973), are not listed in the written sources used in this study. However, they are reminiscent of Arabic بابا and ماما, and are widely used in Soḳoṭri (Morris et al 2019: 88).

(65) 7.39 - 7.48

ɛḏīlín ʕͻd ͻ ṯ̣ē śe mən níśi iź xͻrf lͻ

So-and-so has not yet smelled the first days of the monsoon yet

فلان لم يكن قد شم شيئاً من أيام بدايات الخريف

This is said of someone who is accustomed to an easy life and does not know hardship (al-Shahri 2000: 87,261).

The use of ʕͻd instead of d-ʕͻd to convey something that has not happened yet is rather unexpected (Rubin 2014: 168–171). The term níśi is the name of a star which can be observed at the beginning of the monsoon season (mlz: 915) and is not recorded in the Jibbali lexicon. However, it is worth point out that the verbs listed by the jl under the root √nśv (jl: 195) point to the transhumance, which may be a viable semantic connection to the beginning of the monsoon. Indeed, it is in the wider sense of ’beginning’ that this term is used here, as the Arabic translation ايام بدايات الخريف23 would suggest (al-Shahri 2000: 261). The use of the plural relativiser iź is to be noted.

(66) 7.48 - 7.54

ɛḏīlín lhes śirɛ́ft

So-and-so is like a glow-worm

فلان مثل الدودة اللزجة المضيئة

This is a comment about a nosy person whom it is difficult to get rid of (al-Shahri 2000: 88,261). The semantic connection is explained by the term śirɛ́ft meaning point to a sticky substance produced by a glow-worm (mlz: 512). This term is not recorded under the root √śrf in the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 254).

(67) 7.54 - 8.02

ɛḏīlín ͻl məfkēkᵊ b-eš ĩḳlɛ́tᵊ lͻ

So-and-so is not rubbed with roasted millet

فلان لم تُفرك به الذرة المقلية عند صغره

This is yet another proverb, similarly to proverbs 28, 38 and 50, which describe people who lack cleverness, on the basis of a folk belief according to which the mental faculties of an individual will be enhanced if rubbed with roasted millet as an infant (al-Shahri 2000: 88,261).

The participial form məfkēk < √fkk means ’rubbed’, cf. fekk ’to rub’ (Morris et al 2019: 79). The long vowel is unexpected. The term ĩḳlɛ́t < *e-məḳəlɛ́t is reported with the meaning of ’coffee-roaster, frying pan’ in the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 146). However, the meaning ’roast dhurah’ is found in Rubin (2014: 665).

(68) 8.02 - 8.10

ɛḏīlín míṯəl ͻ̄-gjor ɛ ṭaḥán e͂kík

So-and-so became like a slave who ground a ton of grain

فلان كالعبد الذي طحن المكيك

This saying applies to those who work properly at the beginning of a task, but become less accurate towards to end of it. It is a reference to a local legend according to which a slave started to grind grains properly, but he became so inaccurate towards the end of his task that he trapped his testicles in the roller (al-Shahri 2000: 88,262).

The Gb-stem verb míṯəl means ’to be like so. (but oftenest in curses)’ (jl: 176). The term e͂kík < *e-mekík ’measure of food’24 (jl: 170), may be interpreted as ’grain’ here.

(69) 8.10 - 8.18

ɛḏīlín ͻ yəḥi͂l ͻ śɛdə b-ͻ maʕtḗr

He cannot carry the panniers or even the smaller load in between them

فلان لا يتحمل حمولة كاملة ولا جزءاً منها

This proverb adds to the series of remarks about useless individuals, which includes proverbs 28, 38, 50 and 67 (al-Shahri 2000: 88,262).

(70) 8.18 - 8.24

ɛḏīlín ḳelʕ t-un ḥagjᵊlͻ́

so-and-so left us in the open

فلان تركنا وحدنا في العراء

This is a comment made when someone beloved and respected is temporarily or permanently absent from a community (al-Shahri 2000: 89,262).

The term ḥagjᵊlͻ́ ’in the open’ is a masculine plural nisbah adjective with adverbial force, which is not recorded. However, the corresponding root √ḥgl points to the pasturing of animals (jl: 106; mlz: 222), which is an outdoor activity par excellence. Therefore, the existence of a nisbah adjective *ḥagjᵊlí (and its plural counterpart ḥagjᵊlͻ́) related to this activity seems far from unlikely.

(71) 8.18 - 8.32

ɛḏīlín xͻlͻ́ṭ e-ṯ̣i͂t l-e-rīyét

So-and-so mixes the thirsty with those who have drunk their fill

فلان خلط بين الظمأى والشاربة

This proverb describes someone who is not able to tell good from evil (al-Shahri 2000: 89,263).

The term ṯ̣i͂t, meaning ’thirsty’ (mlz: 601)25 is not reported by the Jibbali lexicon, although it does report the root √ṯ̣my (jl: 49). Similarly, the term rīyét ’quenched’ is not listed under the root √rwy in the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 218), but appears is the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār under the root √rby (mlz: 361)26: this is etymologically controverse, as evidence from other Semitic languages suggests that the above term should be derived from √rwy. Cf. the meanings connected to ’drinking’ in Arabic روى (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 369), Gəʕəz ረወየ (Leslau 2006: 478), as well as the outcomes containing a /w/ as a second root consonant in Mehri (ml: 334).

(72) 8.32 - 8.40

ɛḏīlín ͻ nəfáʕ b-ͻ s͂faʕ

He is neither useful for work nor for playing

فلان لا نفع منه ولا شفع

This is yet another remark about useless people (al-Shahri 2000: 89,263). Cf. proverbs 28, 38, 50, 67 and 69. The terms nəfáʕ and s͂faʕ are problematic in that they could be either H-stem verbs (with initial vowel loss, as described in proverb 45 above), or nouns deriving from the roots √nfʕ (jl: 181; mlz: 929) and √s͂fʕ, an Arabic borrowing, s͂faʕ < شفع ‘to mediate, use one’s good offices, put in a good word, intercede, intervene, plead’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 478), with /s͂/ for Arabic <ش>, as it is common in Arabic loanwords. Cf. s͂ɛ́hi ’tea’ < south Arabian Arabic dialects šahi (jl: 265).

(73) 8.40 - 8.48

ɛḏīlín e-ḏͻr-š mən šᵊbͻ̄t-š

So-and-so, his blood is from his gums

فلان دمه من مثّته

This metaphor describes someone who causes trouble to relatives (al-Shahri 2000: 89, 263).

The term šbͻ̄t ’gums’ is recorded with a short vowel in the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 260). Interestingly, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār lists this term with a long vowel, as pronounced by al-Shahri, but with the totally different meaning of ’skin that surrounds fingernails’ (mlz: 469).

(74) 8.48 - 8.55

ɛ ḏīrəfͻ́t təḥkék ḥanúf-s

He who feels the itch should scratch it himself

من احست يالحكة عليها بأن تحك لنفسها

This saying underlines the importance of dealing with one’s own problems (al-Shahri 2000: 89,264).

This is one of the few items in this collection in which the subject is feminine, although al-Shahri’s English translation has the pronoun ”he” (Ibid.: 89). However, the Arabic translation uses the feminine gender.

(75) 8.55 - 9.04

e-rɛš delíl b ēṣ́ifirét

The head shows the skill of the hairdresser

الرأس يدل على شخصية ومهارة الضافرة

This means that the actions describe the personality of the person who acts (al-Shahri 2000: 89,264).

The long vowel in the segment ēṣ́ifirét is due to the coalescence of the vowel in the preceding preposition and the definite article: *bə-e-ṣ́ifirét.

(76) 9.04 - 9.11

ɛ́rxe i-nīt-k b-ͻ teṣᵊm e-dɛ́hər

Instead of fasting for your whole life, be happy

إن تكن واسع الصدر صافي النية أفضل من صيامك الدهر كل

This is an advice to a pious but unlucky person to stop fasting to please God and be happy (al-Shahri 2000: 90,264).

The term nīt ’النية’ (mlz: 945),27 is not listed in the Jibbali lexicon.

(77) 9.11 - 9.18

εrṣ́ xalɛ́ yəté kēlɛ́ ε-br-ɛ́š

The area is deserted, the wolf eats his son

الارض مهجور لا قوت بها ياكل الذئب ولده

This saying describes a place which is devoid of any form of life (al-Shahri 2000: 90,265).

The term kēlɛ́, which al-Shahri translates as ’wolf’ and ذئب (Ibid.: 90), is unattested. Interestingly, this term follows the same CēCέ pattern as ḏēlɛ́ ’early morning’,28 and shares with the latter the same apparent loss of /b/ as third root consonant, as well as matching semantics with the /b/-final root.

(78) 9.18 - 9.24

ɛzd a͂ġᵊtɛ̄́s͂ ġɛ̄s͂

Let the quick tempered person become worse

زيد ألأحمق حماقة

This saying describes someone who is always in a bad mood (al-Shahri 2000: 90,265).

The term ɛzd is an imperative of an H-stem listed in the Jibbali Lexicon as ezéd (jl: 321). Both the participial form a͂ġᵊtɛ̄́s͂ < *a-maġtέs̃ ’cross, frowning’, and ġεs̃ ’trouble; unpleasant thing, person’ < √ġys̃ (jl: 92).

(79) 9.24 - 9.30

ɛ̄ s͂-eš lob ͻ yəṭiͻḳᵊ lͻ

He who has the word no, is safe

من يمتلك كلمة لا, لا تعيه الحيلة

This stresses the importance of saying ’no’ when it is wise to do so (al-Shahri 2000: 90,265). al-Shahri’s Arabic translation of the verbal form yəṭiͻḳ ’ لا تعيه الحيلة’ is not affected by cunning’, third person masculine of a Gb-stem < √ṭwḳ, is at variance with the meanings listed by the Jibbali Lexicon for this verb, namely ’to be given a liability, be stuck with (b-) so.; to be at o’s wit’s end, unable to cope’ (jl: 281). This form is unrecorded by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār under √ṭwḳ (mlz: 595), but semantically related terms can be found under √ṭbḳ (Ibid.: 576).

(80) 9.30 - 9.39

ɛ s͂əʕíd ͻ ṯ̣ilím

He who has been promised something can expect that the promise will be kept

من وُعِد لم يُظلم

This is used as a remark on unpaid debts (al-Shahri 2000: 90,266).

al-Shahri utters s͂əʕéd in the active in the first instance, and then uses the passive s͂əʕíd in the second instance, probably due to a slip. The use of a passive Š-stem is remarkable. However, given the basically active meaning of s͂əʕéd ’to arrange a meeting, to swear, vow to do something’ (jl: 286), the use of its passive counterpart to convey the sense of ’being promised something’ has a strong semantic motivation.

(81) 9.39 - 9.45

ɛ̄ s͂-eš a-ġɛ̄g yədúrɛ̄n

He who has strong men at his back can show off in the arena

من معه قوة الرجال يصول ريجول في الميدان

According to folk history, this sentence was uttered by a tribal leader who, at a tribal gathering, was marginalised by other tribal leaders on account of the small size of his tribe. He then ordered his people to have as many children as possible, so that twenty years later he attended another such gathering backed by a sizeable strength of men. At present, it is used when a person in troubles is helped by family and friends (al-Shahri 2000: 91,266). The relativiser ε is realised as a long vowel here, as is in proverb 79 above.

(82) 9.45 - 9.53

śom l-e-ššefḳ b-ͻl (t)sērᵊ-š lͻ

Sell to the bridegroom but do not accompany him

بع على العريس ولا ترافقه

This proverb comments on the fact that given the physical and mental strain entailed by a wedding, one can profit by selling overpriced goods to a bridegroom, who is too tired to bargain. Conversely, those who chose to stand by the bridegroom as he organises his wedding, will share the strain (al-Shahri 2000: 91,267).

The term šefḳ ’bridegroom’ (mlz: 480)29 is not reported in the Jibbali lexicon, although it does report the root √šfḳ containing verbs and other terms relative to marriage and wedding (jl: 260).

The lack of a t- prefix in the subjunctive verb (t)sērᵊš ’رافق وواكب’ (mlz: 466) may only be explained if it belonged to the D/L-stem class (Rubin 2014: 146; Testen 1992).

(83) 9.53 - 10.01

iź šeḳúm b-iź gju͂ś fáxrε e-yͻ i-ṣͻ̄ḥ

Those who leave early in the morning, while it is still dark, and those who leave a little before them, will arrive together in the morning

الذين غادروا في منتصف الليل او اخره جميعهم يصلون صباحاً معاً

This means that those who start something earlier will not necessarily finish earlier (al-Shahri 2000: 91,267).

The verb gju͂ś ’to go at late night’, D/L-stem (mlz: 208),30 is not reported by the jl. Additionally, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār lists it under the root √gwś, but al-Shahri pronounces it with a clearly audible nasalised vowel, which would point to the root being actually √gmś. See also proverb 89 below.

(84) 10.01 - 10.07

ε̄ ṣͻ̄r s͂-eš ͻ̄ʕź

God is with the one who has patience

إن الله مع الصابرين

This is a remark about those who eventually get what they wanted, after a long wait (al-Shahri 2000: 91,267). The relativiser ε is realised as a long vowel here, as in proverbs 79 and 81 above. The Ga-stem verb ṣͻ̄r ’to be patient’ < √ṣbr (jl: 235).

(85) 10.07 - 10.15

e-ṭērd yͻlḥͻ́ḳ her ͻl kun ṭērdᵊ l-εš

Only the skillful pursuer can catch his quarry

البلحث عن ماله المسروق يستطيع اللحلق به بسرعة الا إذا كان كسولاً

This is used to underline the importance of catching an animal thief immediately. It is also used ironically if the animal cannot be retrieved before it is eaten by the thief (al-Shahri 2000: 92,268).

The term ṭērd ’pursuer’ (mlz: 580)31 is not reported in the Jibbali lexicon, although the terms listed under the root √ṭrd are semantically related to this term (jl: 279–280). The vowel [ε] in the suffix attached to the preposition l- is unexpected (Rubin 2014: 268).

(86) 10.15 - 10.20

a-ʕáḳar ṣerb

The youth is spring (the season)

النمو والفتوة هي الربيع

This is said of a person whose appearance and/or circumstances improved with age (al-Shahri 2000: 92,268).

The term ʕaḳar is reported to mean ’size’ (jl: 11) and, additionally, ’growth’ (mlz: 639–640),32 the latter meaning being probably to be interpreted here as ’age of growth’ and, therefore, ’youth’.

(87) 10.20 - 10.26

a-ʕaśər ɛ-raḥím əxér ar a-ġa e-défər

A good friend is better than a bad brother

الصديق الجيد خير من الشقيق السيئ

This self-explanatory proverb stems from the awareness that friends are often closer than one’s own relatives (al-Shahri 2000: 92,268).

(88) 10.26 - 10.32

áʕʕər e-défər bə-tbaʕ ser śɛf-š

Send an incapable man and follow him

أرسل الأحمق وأقتفي أثره

This is said when upon someone’s failure to carry out a task (al-Shahri 2000: 92,268). The imperative áʕʕər stems from an H-stem verb < √ʕrr meaning ’to send, send for’ (jl: 14). The etymology of the term śɛf ’trace, track’ (jl: 246), and its grammaticalisation in Mehri and Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t into a discourse particle meaning ’it turned out’ is discussed in Watson & al-Mahri (2017: 95–96).

(89) 10.32 - 10.37

o͂l ɛ̄-yͻ mugju͂ś

You can own something belonging to another for only a few hours

مال الناس يبقى معك صبحية برهة فقط

This is a comment made upon re-gaining possession of something that had been lent sooner than the borrower expected (al-Shahri 2000: 92,269).

The D/L-stem participial form mugju͂ś ’gone at late night’ is unrecorded (mlz: 208), and similarly to the form of the same verb used in proverb 83 above, it is pronounced with a nasalised consonant which would argue for a √gmś root, despite its being listed under √gwś (Ibid.).

(90) 10.37 - 10.43

a͂ʕtilím míbdi

The learner over-exaggerates

الحديث الخيرة كثيرالمبالغة

This is a comment made about someone who, in new circumstances, affirms to know how to act despite actually not knowing it (al-Shahri 2000: 93,269).

This proverb is made up of two participial forms: a͂ʕtilím < *e-maʕtilím ’educated’ from the root √ʕlm (jl: 13), which is better translated as ’learner’ in this case; míbdi seems to convey the sense of ’exaggerated’ ’ كثير المبالغة’, and is, in all likelihood, connected to √bdy ’lying’ (jl: 23; mlz: 119–120), but is hitherto unrecorded.

(91) 10.43 - 10.48

o͂l̥ yəślel āʕl-š

The property lifts its owner

المال يحمل ويرفع صاحبه

This can be used either as an encouragement to be financially independent, or as a comment about someone who, in spite of not being liked by most members of a community, is wealthy (al-Shahri 2000: 93,269). Contrary to proverb 89, the devoicing of /l/ is clearly audible here. The segment āʕl-š < *a-baʕl-š.

(92) 10.48 - 10.53

a-ġarͻ́ ə-gīd yəṯabr-i

The good speech breaks me down

الكلام الجيد يُحد ويُهدئ من غضبي

This is used when someone tries to convince other person by heated arguments at first, and then comes down and uses more relaxed and friendly manners (al-Shahri 2000: 93,270).

This saying features a mixed Mehri-Jibbali/Śḥərε̄t language, although, as al-Shahri explains in the Arabic commentary ”هذا المثل مخلوط من اللغة النهرية الشحرية إلا انه يميل الى المهرية اكثر من الشحرية مع العلم بان اللغتين متقاربتان جداً.33 The verb yəṯabr-i ’breaks me’, for example, is the normal form for ”it breaks me” in Mehri.

(93) 10.53 - 11.00

ͻ ġͻlͻ́b l-o͂l-š ͻ l-eš miṯͻrᵊ lͻ

You cannot blame a person for keeping his own property

من لم التهاون في ماله لا لوم عليه

This proverb is used when a person complains about not being able to obtain something for free (al-Shahri 2000: 93,270).

In utterance-initial position, ͻ represents the relativiser ɛ which has been influenced by the following vowel, as expected in the presence of an intervening guttural (jl: xxix-xxx). The vowel in the pronominal suffixed attached the preposition l- is [e], unlike proverb 85 above, which has [ε]. The term miṯͻr, which appears here with the meaning ’blame’ is unrecorded in the lexical sources used in this study.

(94) 11.00 - 11.07

ɛ aġád yəḳͻ́ṣ́ ḥͻgət fɛlͻ́ yəs͂eṣɔ́fɔ

He who travels about will gain wealth or knowledge

من سعى يكسب مالاً او معلومة

This is used either to encourage lazy people to seek adventure, or as a comment about those who have attained something valuable as a result of travelling (al-Shahri 2000: 94,270). The imperfect Ga-stem verb yəḳͻ́ṣ́ < √ḳṣ́y is reported in the Jibbali Lexicon as ’to pay; to pay blood-money’ (jl: 158), which, given the general meaning of the proverb would not make sense. However, if we view this verb as an Arabic loan, we can find the meaning ’to fulfill’, associated with the expression قضى الحاجة (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 212), which is consistent with both the English and the Arabic translation of this proverb. The final vowel in the verb yəs͂eṣɔ́fɔ, an imperfect Š1-stem < √ṣfv meaning ’to gather news, find out’ (jl: 237), is transcribed by al-Shahri as اء, which normally indicates a [ε]. It therefore exhibits the same phenomenon found in proverbs 40 and 45 above, where the term ṯͻ́dε ’breast’ is realised as ṯͻ́dɔ, and the term gͻ́fε ‘shadow’ is realised as gͻ́fɔ.

(95) 11.07 - 11.14

ɛ-fērdͻ́t tfͻ̄rd ɛd ɛ̄mít-ɛ̄s

When an animal is frightened it takes flight and re-joins its herd

الجافلة تهرب الى أُمهاتها

This sentence is uttered to comment on the faithfulness of certain people towards their families and tribes, so that they will always remember home regardless how far they travel, and will not let hard feelings come between them and their loved ones (al-Shahri 2000: 94,270). The segment ɛ̄mít-ɛ̄s ’her mothers’, is the result of the plural εmə́tə ’mothers’ (jl: 3) with a pre-posed definite article ε, and a post-posed third person singular feminine pronominal suffix.

(96) 11.14 - 11.21

e-ffudún ͻ ṯ-ṯͻ̄r-əs arᵊ ġit-s

A stone only break his sister

لا تكسر الحجارة إلا اختها

This means that stubborn people can only be made to see reason by someone more stubborn than them (al-Shahri 2000: 94,271).

Similarly to proverb number 40, it is possible to observe here a term whose initial sound is a voiceless non glottalic consonant exhibiting a definite marker: e-ffudún. The 3.F prefix of the imperfective in the verb ṯṯͻ̄rəs < tṯͻ̄rəs shows the effects of regressive assimilation.

(97) 11.21 - 11.29

e-ḳiśɛ́t śirík b īźirún

The wolf is the partner of the goat-herder

الدئب شريك برعاة الغنم

This is a remark about the clever taking advantage of the simple (al-Shahri 2000: 94,271).

The terms ḳiśɛ́t ’wolf’ (jl: 153; mlz: 748), and iźirún ’shepherd’ (jl: 4; mlz: 830).

(98) 11.29 - 11.37

έ ḳizáʕ! έ ḳizáʕ! ͻl ʕáśer h-es͂ b-ͻ̄l béṯ̣aḥ

You, Kieza, wake up. You have no husband and no baydhah

يا قيزاع يا قيزاع لا زوج عندك ولا بيظح

This is used to joke about daydreamers, and is based on a folk tale in which a woman, named Ḳizáʕ, had been talking in her sleep about getting married whilst she was out in the wild with other women in order to harvest the béṯ̣aḥ plant (al-Shahri 2000: 95,271). The vocative particle έ (jl: 1) receives a prominent stress within the utterance. The feminine personal name Ḳizáʕ seems not to be recorded elsewhere. However, cf. Arabic قزعة ’wind-driven, tattered clouds, scud; tuft of hair’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 761). The plant name béṯ̣aḥ corresponds to Gladiolus ukambanensis (Miller & Morris 1988: 150), a plant whose corms are traditionally eaten.

(99) 11.37 - 11.44

e-ḳiśśét ts͂śorḥ

The lone cow is always in danger

الحيوان الذي يرعى منفرجاً يتعرض للخطر

This saying is a reminder that there is no safety in loneliness (al-Shahri 2000: 95,272). The term ḳiśśét is an etymological cognate with ḳiśɛ́t ’wolf’ (see proverb 97) above, and al-Shahri’s Arabic translation as الحيوان ’the animal’, however, suggests this is the most fitting meaning in this case.

(100) 11.44 - 11.58

έ ḳéṣ́ər Ɛrgjɛ̄́f! ed tā-k tā-k l-ēnúf-k (l-ēnúf) b-ed ḳélaʕ-k ḳélaʕ-k ḥanúf

You, the lion of Arjaff, if you save something, you save it for yourself. If you eat everything, you will be the loser

يا اسد منطقة ارجاف إن أسرفت أسرفت على نفسك وإن وفرت وفرت لنفسك

This is a remark about someone who tends to be a spendthrift (al-Shahri 2000: 95,272).

According to al-Shahri (Ibid.) Ɛrgjɛ́f is a place where the Arabian leopard used to live. A place named Arjef can be found today in eastern Dhofar at 17°56’35.7”N 55°04’36.0”E.34 The use of ed in this case seems to be that of ’if’, normally əḏə (Rubin 2014: 349). Alternatively, this might be an allomorph of the preposition εd (Rubin 2014: 365–366).

(101) 11.58 - 12.04

ɛ k ē-défər i-ṣͻ̄ḥ défər

The one who accompanies the bad becomes bad

من عاشر السيئ يكون سيئاً

This proverb is used as a warning of the consequences of being with people of ill repute (al-Shahri 2000: 95,262). The H-stem verb iṣͻ̄ḥ is used here in the sense of ’becoming’ (jl: 234), in a parallel fashion to its Arabic cognate, the causative verb اصبح ‘to become’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 500), which similarly exhibits a connection to the semantic field of ’morning’. Although √ṣbḥ is not the native Modern South Arabian root for ’morning’, one should not rule out a parallel development a priori, as this verb is used here to convey ’becoming’.

(102) 12.04 - 12.15

ͻl bkē t-ͻ ar sudḳ-i b-ͻl ṣ́ḥek t-ͻ ar ḥaṣᵊm-i (xaṣᵊm-i)

He who makes me cry is a friend, and he who makes me laugh is an enemy

لم يبكني إلا من صدق معي ولم يضحكني إلا عدوي

This may be said upon making an unpleasant, but necessary, negative remark, or upon being flattered (al-Shahri 2000: 96,273).

al-Shahri utters a [ħ] instead of a [x] in the first instance. A similar, more systematic phenomenon, has been documented in the dialect of al-Ḥallānīyah (Castagna 2018: 126–127).

(103) 12.15 - 12.21

ͻl əʕtͻ́dͻ b-ͻl ṯ̣olúm

He is not aggressive nor unjust

لم يعتدي ولم يظلم

This is said when a son behaves like his father (al-Shahri 2000: 96,273).

The verb əʕtͻ́dͻ is listed as in the Jibbali Lexicon as aʿtédé ’to attack’, T2-stem < √ʕdw (jl: 7), and as أُعتُدى in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār < √ʕdy (mlz: 614).35 See proverbs 40, 45 and 94 above.

(104) 12.21 - 12.27

ͻl ɛlɛ́d b-ͻ telɛ́d

So-and-so, no sons, no daughters

لا اولاد ذكور ولا اُناث

This can be either a comment about someone who has not wanted to get married, or a sympathetic remarks about someone who, in spite of being married, does not have children (al-Shahri 2000: 96,273). The term telɛ́d, not reported by the Jibbali lexicon, is listed in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār with the meaning ’العقب / الذرية. التركة’ (mlz: 156),36 and reports this proverb within the same entry, giving a slightly different Arabic translation: فلان ليس له ولد وعقب (Ibid.), which can be translated as ”so-and-so have neither a son or a legacy”.

(105) 12.27 - 12.37

ͻl te he ε b Məṣᵊnín lͻ t-te ʕar hεt ε b e-Forús͂

I didn’t eat here in Massneen, how can you eat in Foroush?

انا الذي في مصنين لم أكل فكيف تأكل انت لاذي في فوروش؟

This saying is uttered when someone cannot have something that someone else can have easily, and stems from a folk tale of two Jinns, living in separate caves named Məṣnín and Forús͂ near Wadi Darbát. When the jinn in Forús͂ asked if there were anything to eat, the jinn in Məṣnín replied with this sentence (al-Shahri 2000: 96,274).

The use of ʕar ’only, except’ with the meaning of ’how come’ is idiomatic.

(106) 12.37 - 12.45

ͻl te dúgjur lͻ ɛštéḳə ʕar e-míh-ɛ́š

I don’t eat the beans but I drink their water

لا اكل الفاصوليا وإنما أشرب ماءها؟

This is used when someone claims not to be doing something whilst doing something very similar to what he claims not to be doing (al-Shahri 2000: 96,274). The intonation of the speaker, as well as the Arabic translation, make it clear that this is a question.

(107) 12.45 - 12.51

ͻl ṯīr-ͻ́t b-ͻ̄l ġizyũt

it has not been fractured and has not been sprained

لم تنكسر ولم تنفك

This proverb is used in two ways: either as a comment about an action which, although frowned upon, has not cause any trouble, or about a problem whose solutions are all likely to have the same outcome (al-Shahri 2000: 97,274).

The verb ġizyũt ’to get a sprained joint’, Gb-stem < √ġzm (jl: 92).37

(108) 12.51 - 12.57

ͻl gjíbər níḳi b-ͻl ḥ-mu əntwáh

The genitals were not clean and the water was not saved

لا الفرج تنظف ولا الماء توفر

This is used when a big effort is made in vain. Additionally, it may be used as a comment about unsuccessful backbiting (al-Shahri 2000: 97,275).

Like proverb 13, the language used here is strongly influenced by Mehri: gjíbər is ’vulva’ in Mehri (ml: 113). Compare Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t z͂yɛb (jl: 69). The Mehri term mu(h) ‘water’ (ml: 274) is used in conjunction with the Mehri definiteness marker - (Watson 2012: 63–64), and the verb əntwáh ‘to be plentiful’, T-stem, rendered in Arabic through وفر ‘to abound’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 1083), is unrecorded in the lexical sources used in this study. However, the presence of a [w] points to a non-native term (Rubin 2014: 33–35). Additionally, compare the Mehri verb nəwō ‘(rain-clouds) to pile up’ < √nwʔ (ml: 305).

(109) 12.57 - 13.05

ͻl ḥaré ʕar ɛ ɛgdéb b-ͻl bəké ʕar ɛ táʕab

Only those in need ask for help, and only those in pain will cry

لم يطلب إلا من أعدم ولم يبكِ إلا من تألّم

This saying is used to reproach those who declare that someone apparently in need is, in fact, lying (al-Shahri 2000: 97,275).

The verb ḥaré ‘to beg’ (jl: 115) is, according to Rubin (2012) the source of the future markers dḥa- ḥa- and a-.

(110) 13.05 - 13.10

ͻl rɛš b-ͻl gjͻd

Neither head nor the skin

لا رأس ولا جلد

This is used as a comment about an unsuccessful search (al-Shahri 2000: 97,275).

(111) 13.10 - 13.15

ͻl Saʕad b-ͻl Masʕúd əxér

Neither Sa’ad nor Masa’oud is better

لا سعد ولا مسعود افضل

This saying is used when having to choose between two things that are equally unappealing (al-Shahri 2000: 98, 276).

(112) 13.15 - 13.20

ͻl śerᵊġɛ́t b-ͻ̄l ferḥát

I’m not attracted by him (or her), and I don’t even like him (or her)

لا ميل ولا رغبة

This saying is used as a description of someone who is deemed not to be attractive in any way, neither physical nor personal (al-Shahri 2000: 98,276).

(113) 13.20 - 13.25

ͻl śənít b-ɔ̄l xͻ̄r

He has neither a good appearance nor hidden qualities

لا مظهر حسن ولا خفايا حسنة

The meaning of this proverbs is similar to that of proverb number 112 above, although no physical attraction may be implied in this case (al-Shahri 2000: 98,276).

The term xͻ̄r ’مِخير الانسان / صفاته النبيلة (عكس المظهر)’ (mlz: 313)38 is not reported by the jl.

(114) 13.25 - 13.33

ͻl s͂ͻrͻ́k-en ṭɛ̄l ʕar her nə-nḥagj

We only made the music for dancing

لم نطبل إلا من اجل ان نرقص

This is often said when someone asks why a certain event is taking place, and the reason is rather obvious (al-Shahri 2000: 98,276).

The term ṭɛ̄l < √ṭbl ’drum’ (jl: 274) is used idiomatically here for ’music’.

(115) 13.33 -13.37

e-ls͂ín ɛ̄-ššefḳ

The tongue of a suitor

لسان الخاطب

This remark is used when someone’s actions, performance or general behaviour does not live up to one’s expectations (al-Shahri 2000: 98,277).

The term šefḳ ’العريس’ (mlz: 480)39 is used here idiomatically for ’someone whose words are persuading’, and is translated as ’suitor’ in English (al-Shahri 2000: 98), and خاطب in Arabic (Ibid.: 277).

(116) 13.37 - 13.43

ͻl mes͂ʕádəd śɛ́fɛ b-ͻ̄l teṯ śəbrͻ̄t

Don’t delay marrying a beautiful woman, and don’t delay using the freshly grown grass

لا تأجيل للأرض الخصي

This is used to convince someone to act on a matter sooner than later (al-Shahri 2000: 99,277).

The participial form mes͂ʕádəd ’late’, is linked to the a Š-stem verb s͂aʕdéd derived from the root √ʕdd, meaning ’to put something aside temporarily’ (jl: 6), and hence ’to procrastinate’. The Jibbali lexicon does not report a participial form for this verb. However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār does (mlz: 612). It is noteworthy that this participial form is used as a predicate.

The adjective śəbrͻ̄t ’perfect’ is not reported in the jl. However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār reports it with the meaning ’ الاتقان’ (mlz: 499).40

(117) 13.43 - 13.47

ͻl ʕára b-ͻ šidád

There is no guard and no door

لا حراس ولا باب موصد

This saying may be used in three different circumstances: 1) when there is nothing to be afraid of, 2) when one is not afraid of someone else’s threats, or 3) as a comment on property being left unguarded at the mercy of thieves (al-Shahri 2000: 99,277).

The term ʕára ’السهر. السهاد’ (mlz: 623)41 is not reported by the jl. The term šidád is translated as ’door’ in English (al-Shahri 2000: 99), and باب موصد in Arabic (Ibid.: 277). However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār has سد ‘obstruction (mlz: 474; Wehr & Cowan 1976: 403), to which šidád seems to be etymologically related.

(118) 13.47 - 13.53

ͻl kͻb b-ͻl ḳiṣ́əʕét

No dogs, no rats

لاذئاب ولا قوارض ولا …

This is said in response to enquiries about one’s situation, and means that everything is basically fine (al-Shahri 2000: 99,278). The term ḳiṣ́əʕét ’rats/rodents’ is not reported as such by the Jibbali Lexicon or muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār. However, both publication do list verbs and nouns within the semantic field of ’biting’ (jl: 157; mlz: 755). The final ولا ‘nor’ in the Arabic translation of this proverb implies that other items may be (optionally?) attached to this proverb.

(119) 13.53 - 13.58

ͻl múšur b-ͻl aḳʕát

No sardines food and no winter winds

لا علف للحيوان ولا رياح الشتاء

This is used when a person refuses to lend any kind of help (al-Shahri 2000: 100,278).

The term múšur, unlisted in the Jibbali lexicon, is translated as ’علف الماشية’42 by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 868). Since sardines are indeed used as animal fodder in Dhofar during the dry season, al-Shahri’s translation makes sense. The term aḳʕát < √ḳʕw ’strong, cold, rainless wind’ (jl: 140; Morris et al 2019: 76).

(120) 13.58 - 14.05

ͻl mͻlͻkᵊ l-i i-défər ar bə xͻ-š

The bad person cannot conquer me except by his mouth

لم يهزمني السيئ البذي إلا يفمه (لسانه)

This is said when giving up an argument with someone evil (al-Shahri 2000: 100,279).

(121) 14.05 - 14.10

ͻl yəṣaf e-ḏēh / ɔ léṣəf e-ḏēh

Even the very best person is not safe from misfortune

لم ولن يسلم الانسان الطيب الجميل

This is said when a person who is generally successful falls into misfortune (al-Shahri 2000: 100,279).

The interpretation of this proverb is problematic in view of some degree of ambiguity in the recording which could not be clarified through either the translations provided or the transcription given by al-Shahri. As a consequence, the utterance may be segmented in two different ways. The term ḏēh ’misfortune, distortion’ < √ḏbh is not listed in the jl. The muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār reports an H-stem verb under the above mentioned root, meaning ’شوه. سعى / حاول تشويه الشيء’ (mlz: 349),43 so this is likely to be a nominal form derived from this root.

(122) 14.10 - 14.17

ͻl édəʕ dē bə dē b-ͻl bə e-teḳ ā ḥéfəl

No one knows anything about anyone, nor about the ripe figs

لم يعلم احد بأحد ولا بالتينة ذات الثمار الناضجة

This is used to comment about one’s inability to give help, or to suggest that someone is under the wrong impression about someone (al-Shahri 2000: 100,279).

The relativiser is realised as [a], probably because of the contiguity of a pharyngeal consonant.

(123) 14.17 - 14.24

ε̄nfí ͻl ḳelaʕ her āxᵊrí śe lͻ

By saying everything our ancestors leave nothing for us to say

لم يترك السلف للخلف شيء (حكمة)

This means that the ancestors, having said a lot, haven’t left anything for their descendants to say. This is used in response to other proverbs (al-Shahri 2000: 101,280).

The term ɛnfí, listed by the Jibbali lexicon under the root √ʔnf, and under the root √nfy by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār, normally means ’first, ancient’ (jl: 4), but it can also mean ’forbear, ancestor’ (mlz: 931).44

(124) 14.24 - 14.28

in ḳͻṭṭaʕ ḳͻṭṭaʕ

What has been paid is paid

ما تم دفعه قد زال

This is said when paying off a debt (al-Shahri 2000: 101,280).

The less common relative in ‘all that’ (Rubin 2014: 72) is attested here. The verb ḳͻṭṭaʕ < ḳͻtṭaʕ < is listed as ’to get cut’ (jl: 154; mlz: 758). However, the corresponding participial form meḳͻtṭaʕ is listed by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār, and not by the jl, as ’العوض أو ما يسدد من متاع بدل الدين’45 (mlz: 758).

(125) 14.28 - 14.34

e-nḳél maġᵊréb mən ṯ̣ɛr šfrét

The good person is known even when he is in the cradle

الذكي يُعرف ختى وهو لا يزال على فراش المهد

This saying is used to comment on the talents of a child (al-Shahri 2000: 101,280).

The audio has e-nḳél, with a short vowel (presumably a definite article). However, the meaning given by the Jibbali Lexicon, ’choice (livestock)’ (jl: 190), does not fit. Conversely, what one would expect here is e͂nḳél < *e-menḳél ’active, energetic, heroic’ from the same root (jl: 190). This, however, would raise perplexities as to the missing initial nasalised vowel. The term šfrét ’cradle’ (mlz: 478) is not reported by the jl.

(126) 14.34 - 14.42

in hē mən šutum yͻ̄te b-e-gidrítᵊ

What falls from the sky will hit the ground

ما يسقط من السماء يستقر على الارض

This proverb means that actions have unavoidable consequences (al-Shahri 2000: 101,281). The verb y-ͻ̄te, Gb-stem, < √wty ’to come, come upon; to happen to be; to fall upon ’ (jl: 294).

(127) 14.42 - 14.48

ͻ̄l šĩʕ lͻ yənxɛ̄rgjͻ́l

Who doesn’t hear, falls through the gap

من لم يسمع يسقط من خلال ثقب المنزل المهترئ

This is said upon noticing that someone is not listening to what is being said (al-Shahri 2000: 101,281). The quadriliteral verb yənxɛ̄rgjͻ́l, N-stem, < √xrgl ’to decline, get into difficulties’ (jl: 304). Furthermore, the Jibbali Lexicon report this proverb in its entirety as ḏ-ͻl šĩʕ lͻʾ, yənxargͻ́l (Ibid.).

(128) 14.48 - 14.54

ɔ̄b yaʕrér ĩs͂áʕgjəl

The closed door stops those who are in a hurry

الباب يوقف المستعجل

This is said upon giving up trying to get something from someone (al-Shahri 2000: 102,281).

The participial form ĩs͂áʕgjəl < *e-mes͂áʕgjəl is not listed by the jl. However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār lists it as ’المستعجل’ (mlz: 610).46

(129) 14.48 - 15.00

ͻ yaḥtégja ʕafͻ́r ar ɛd dɛ́hə

The clouds only gather on the high mountains

لا يتجمع السحاب إلا على قمم الجبال

This is a comment about someone who turns out to be capable of sorting an issue which all the others failed to sort. Therefore, the clouds are a metaphor for normal people, whilst the summit represents the wise person to whom the others turn (al-Shahri 2000: 102,282).

(130) 15.00 - 15.10

ͻ yəsɔkf l-ͻ̄rəm ar ɛ̃ltɛ̄́s͂ fəlͻ́h e͂gᵊtɛ͂́l

No-one lives beside the road except the unkind person or the generous person

لا يجلس على قارعة الطريق إلا البخيل او الكريم

This saying is used to express appreciation towards a good person, or disapproval towards a bad person. Al-Shahri affirms that in olden days roads were very few in Dhofar, and those who lived near them were either good people who wanted to help travellers, or bad people who established their dwellings by the road for the convenience of it (2000: 102,282).

The term ɛ̃ltɛ̄́s͂ < *ε-məltε̄́s̃ is not reported by the jl. The muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār lists it as ’النظق. اللئيم’ (mlz: 824).47 The mlz reports this proverb within the above mentioned entry, and translates it into Arabic as لا يجلس / يسكن بالقرب من الطريق إلا اللئيم / الكريم (Ibid.). fəlͻ́h ’or’ has an audible final [h], which is unexpected (Rubin 2014: 317). e͂gᵊtɛ͂́l < *e-məgᵊtɛ͂́l < √gml ’generous’, is reported by the Jibbali Lexicon as məgtĩl (jl: 76).

(131) 15.10 - 15.16

ͻ yəsdíd b-ͻ yəbtidíd

They don’t agree and they don’t separate

لا يتفقون ولا يفترقون

This proverb normally refers to children who are supposed to be friends, but have frequent disagreements (al-Shahri 2000: 102,282).

The verb yəbtidíd ’to separate’ is a T1-stem derived from the root √bdd which contains terms connected to the semantic field of ’separation’ (jl: 22; mlz: 117–118).

(132) 15.16 - 15.23

ͻ yəs͂ḳͻ̄ṯͻrn a-ʕiśͻ́r

What a pity friends fall out

اللهم لا تتباغض الاصدقاء

This is used ironically when two bad individuals, who were friends, fall out with each other (al-Shahri 2000: 103,283).

(133) 15.23 - 15.30

ērͻ́t ͻ s͂ḥalͻ̄́t gjudᵊ lͻ ͻ ts͂ḥalͻ́b ṣəbᵊlͻ́l lͻ

The animal which doesn’t give milk after a birth will not give normal milk later on

التي لم تدر الولادة الدسم, فانها لن برد حليباً صافياً فيما بعد

This proverb conveys that if one does not success in easy times, then certainly one will not succeed in harder times (al-Shahri 2000: 103,283).

The term ērͻ́t < *ε berͻ́t = relativiser + the auxiliary verb ber in the third person feminine singular form (Rubin 2014: 164–168). The verbal forms s͂ḥalͻ̄́t and ts͂ḥalͻ́b are third person feminine singular, of the perfect and imperfect respectively, of a Š1-stem < √ḥlb meaning ’to be able to be milked’ (jl: 109). The term gjud stands for ’colostrum; beestings’ < √gyd (jl: 81), and the term ṣəbᵊlͻ́l is an adjective meaning ’pure’, normally used for milk (jl: 243).

(134) 15.30 - 15.38

ērᵊ ḥkum bə-gɛ̄s̃ ͻl-ʕͻd aʕáśər ε̄ dḗ

The one who becomes old, no longer has any friends

الذي قد تقدم بالسن واصابه الوهن لم يعد صديق احد

This sentence may be uttered by an elderly person to remark that with old age comes loneliness (al-Shahri 2000: 103,283). The initial segment ēr must be interpreted as < *ε-ber.48 The term gɛ̄s̃ is unrecorded by the lexical sources used in this study. However, by following al-Shahri’s Arabic translation الذي قد تقدم بالسن, one would be tempted to postulate a noun meaning ’age’ or ’weakness’. Alternatively, one might posit a G-stem verb gɛ̄s̃/yəgɔ̄́s̃/yəgɔ́s̃49 meaning ’to become weak’:50 in the latter case, the segment would stand for the coordinating conjunction.

(135) 15.38 - 15.47

ēr śíni yum ɛ ɛms͂ín yəḥi͂l gjub b-is͂s͂ͻ́

Who saw the day of yesterday, he must carry a shield and a sword

من شاهد أحداث يوم امس يحب عليه ان ياخذ ترس وسيف

This is used as a comment about one’s (or someone else’s) over-cautious behaviour (al-Shahri 2000: 103,284). The first segment is < *ε-ber (see proverb 134 above). The term is͂s͂ͻ́ ’sword’ is a feature of the eastern varieties of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t. Compare the term is͂tͻ́ used in the central and western varieties (al-Shahri 2007: 78).

(136) 15.47 - 15.51

e͂rsɛ́t ɛ̄-défər

Don’t rub up against a bad person

تتلوث من تلوث السيئ

This is said when something bad happens as a result of the action of a bad person (al-Shahri 2000: 103,284).

The term e͂rsɛ́t < *e-mursɛ́t ’التعامل مع الشخص السيئ’ (mlz: 861)51 is not listed by the Jibbali lexicon, although the verb mutrəs ’to be involved more and more in a problem thought at first to be small’, listed under the corresponding root √mrs (jl: 174), points to a semantic connection of the above noun to this root.

(137) 15.51 - 15.57

e͂ṯ̣ᵊlím yaḥṣ́iźíl

The innocent person has the clear sound of a piece of metal being struck

المظلوم يرن كصوت المعدن النقي

This is said of someone who is innocent and, hence, speaks out vehemently (al-Shahri 2000: 104,284).

The term e͂ṯ̣ᵊlím < *e-meṯ̣ᵊlím ’ المظلوم’ (mlz: 601)52 is not listed by the jl, and here it means ’innocent’ by virtue of being accused of something. The basic quadriliteral verb yaḥṣ́iźíl ’هز الشيء / أسقطه لإصدار رنين’ (mlz: 244)53 < √ḥṣ́ll, with the first /l/ > [ɮ] (jl: xiv).

(138) 15.57 - 16.01

ẽlkɛ́t ɛ ɛ-défər

The power of the bad

قوة السيئ أو اللئييم

This proverb is used as a comment about bad actions (al-Shahri 2000: 104,284).

The term ẽlkɛ́t < *e-melkɛ́t ’التغلب. الغلبة. السيطرة’ (mlz: 881),54 is not reported by the jl.

(139) 16.01 - 16.08

e͂rét ɛ Ṣ́ammún

The mirror of Damoon

مراة ضمّون

This is said as a comment about someone who wrongly feels physically perfect, and is based on a folk story about a woman called Ṣ́ammún, who had a mirror which made everyone look perfect (al-Shahri 2000: 104,285).

The feminine personal name Ṣ́ammún is formally comparable with ḍmn in Safaitic (al-Manaser & MacDonald 2017 passim) where it is recorded, however, as a masculine name.

(140) 16.08 - 16.16

bə ʕaḳᵊbέt-s xɛr

I hope that the outcome will be better

اللهم اجعل عاقبتها او عاقبته خيراً

When something good occurs people say this formula to express a wish that things remain good as they are (al-Shahri 2000: 104,285).

The term ʕaḳᵊbέt seems to be an Arabic loan < عاقبة ‘end, outcome, upshot; issue, effect, result, consequence’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 627).

(141) 16.16 - 16.22

ber tē śe fəlͻ́ terͻkton

If they don’t eat it they tread on it

أكلنّ شيئاً وإلا تدسنّ

This is said when someone ruins something and is even unable to take full advantage of it (al-Shahri 2000: 104,285).

Rather unusually, this proverb uses uses the third feminine plural person, which could be due to cattle being intended. The Ga-stem verb terͻkton < √rkt ’to step, to tread upon, put a foot on the ground’ (jl: 211).

(142) 16.22 - 16.31

tɛ k-e-ṣ͂ini͂t b-ͻ tġad s͂-esᵊ lͻ

Eat with a midwife but don’t accompany her

كل مع المربية ولكن لا ترافقها

This is used when a person takes advantage of another person being busy, to enhance his share of soemthing to the detriment of the other (al-Shahri 2000: 105,286).

The term ṣ͂ini͂t < √ḳnv ’المربية’55 is reported by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 774). The verb ġad ’to go’ < √wġd, G-stem (jl: 288) followed by the preposition k- ’with’ (Rubin 2014: 247–249) has been reported to mean ’to have sexual intercourse’ (Ibid.: 386). However, in this case it is likely to mean ’to accompany’.

(143) 16.31 - 16.41

tḥi͂l e-diní in ḥo͂lͻ́t b-tͻ́ḳlaʕ in ͻl iṣiźͻt

The earth carries what she can, and leaves what she cannot

تحمل الدنيا طلقتها وتترك ما لا تطيق

This proverb is often used to teach children that they should do what they can, and leave the things they are not able to do to someone else (al-Shahri 2000: 105,286). The general sense of the proverb seems to be ’let the world carry its load and get rid of what it does’t manage to carry’.

(144) 16.41 - 16.47

təṣ́ġirér baʕlet ɛ-ḳun̥

Only the one who has horns can scream

تصرخ ذات القرن وتعلي صوتها

This is said when someone is successful in a physical or verbal confronation, to the detriment of someone else. According to al-Shahri, the semantic connection between screaming and being successful derives from the fact that a goat lets out a scream-like vocalisation before butting another goat (2000: 106,286).

(145) 16.47 - 16.52

təḳbéb fəlͻ́ təṭͻ̄x

You either get it burnt or cooked

تشوي أو تطبخ

This mean that there is a proper way to do something, and if this is not followed, the consequences can be unpleasant. This derives from the proper way to cook the béṯ̣aḥ roots, Gladiolus ukambanensis (Miller & Morris 1988: 150),56 which is wrapping them in cow dung and roasting them (al-Shahri 2000: 106,287).

The verb təṭͻ̄x < √ṭbx, Ga-stem, means ’to wrap béṯ̣aḥ in cow pats and bake’ (jl: 274), whilst təḳbíb < √ḳbb means ’to roast’ (jl: 140; mlz: 725). The difference in the meaning of these two verbs points to a difference in the right way to carry out the roasting of béṯ̣aḥ roots, and, mutatis mutandis, any other task.

(146) 16.52 - 16.58

tənʕa-š a-ʕamít ḏ ͻ kfé ɛ-nuf

A person who is not able to do something should not pretend that he can

ثطلته النخوة من عجز عن مساعدة نفسه

This is a highly idiomatic expression that, according to al-Shahri, is said when someone fails to fulfill an task which he was advised not to undertake beforehand (al-Shahri 2000: 107,287).

The verb tənʕa < √nʕw is reported to mean ’to elegize’ (jl: 179). However, al-Shahri translates this verb in Arabic as ثكل ’to be bereaved, to mourn’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 105), which seems to be the most fitting translation in this case. The term ʕamít, translated by al-Shahri into Arabic as نخوة ‘haughiness, arrogance; pride, dignity, sense of honor, self-respect; high-mindedness, generosity’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 950) is unattested.

(147) 16.58 - 17.11

ḥíki i͂rz͂ɛ́m l-e͂kḥált (l-e͂kśɛ́ft)

The lid fits tightly on the mascara

تطابق الغطاء على المكحلة او على المكشيف

This is said of people who are alike, and usually applies to unpleasant people (al-Shahri 2000: 106,287).

The term e͂kśɛ́ft < *e-mekśɛ́ft is not recorded as such. However, compare the term kśaf ’سلة صغيرة من الخوص لها غطا تضع فيها المرأة حاجياتها’ (mlz: 802),57 not recorded in the Jibbali lexicon. The term in question is translated in Arabic as مكشيف (al-Shahri 2000: 287), a term which, despite being undoubted connected to the root √kšf, conveying ’discovery’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 828–830), is not reported.

(148) 17.11 - 17.17

ḥa-l-eṣᵊm h-eš a-ʕiz͂i͂t

I would make a continuous fast for him

سأصوم له صوم الخرساء

This is used sarcastically, with the opposite meaning. Therefore, the person in question is deemed not to be worth of any consideration (al-Shahri 2000: 106,288).

The adjective ʕiz͂i͂t seems to be the feminine counterpart of ʕigέm ’dumb’, recorded in the Jibbali Lexicon as ʿigέm (jl: 9).

(149) 17.17 - 17.24

xͻb-s əlláh xalḳɛ́t ḏə a͂ḥzígj-hum ṭad

People of evil appearance are tied with the same hobble

بئس او خابت من خلقة ذوي الرباط الواحد

This is said when giving up an argument with a group of related people who stand together (al-Shahri 2000: 106,288).

The language of this proverb exhibits a strong influence from Arabic: The term əlláh ’God’, used in conjunction with the unrecorded interjection xɔb, which is rendered in Arabic (ibid.: 288) with بئس ’how evil!’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 39). Similarly, the term xalḳɛ́t ’nature, creatures’ (Ibid.: 259) is best viewed as part of a mixed formulaic language (Johnstone 1972). It must be pointed out that the participial form a͂ḥzígj < *a-məḥzígj is recorded in the Jibbali Lexicon as maḥzég ’hobble’ (jl: 122), with a [i] instead of the expected [e] as a stressed vowel.

(150) 17.24 - 17.30

xͻb-š əlláh ɛgjeh ḏ ͻ yəṣtedͻ́f

The face which is never ashamed is a bad face

بئس وجه ذلك الذي ال ينثني من الخجل

This is a comment that people make either when a person is convinced by others to act wisely, or when a person refuses to act wisely (al-Shahri 2000: 107,288).

The verb yəṣtedͻ́f < √ṣdf, T1-stem, not listed by the mlz, means ’to dent, buckle’ (jl: 235). However, al-Shahri Arabic translation ينثني من الخجل ‘to give up out of shame’ suggests that this is the appropriate meaning in this case.

(151) 17.30 - 17.36

xīlṭét tenúfaʕ

The strange animal is useful

الخلطاء تفيد او مفيدة

This is used when an animal which is not part of one’s herd suffers an accident, dies, or is stolen (al-Shahri 2000: 107,289).

The term xilṭét, feminine of xalíṭ ’الشخص الغريب الذي يسكن / يحل بقوم بقومه’ (mlz: 305),58 is not listed in the Jibbali lexicon.

(152) 17.36 - 17.45

ḏ ͻl ḥez k-e-gĩ́ʕa͂tᵊ lͻ yənufś

If you haven’t slaughtered the stolen animal with the thief, you won’t stay the night with them

من لم يشارك الصوص في ذبح المسروقة يعود إلى منزله في المساء

This is said about someone who is accused of wrongdoing, and eventually turns out to be innocent (al-Shahri 2000: 107,289). The term gĩ́ʕa͂t < √gmʕ is reported in the Jibbali Lexicon as gĩʿat ’company, band of robbers’ (jl: 76).

(153) 17.45 - 17.51

s͂áxbɛr ɛ bidir-ék bi yum̥

Ask the one who is one day older

أسأل من سبقك سيوم اي من هو اكبر منك بيوم

This proverb is quoted when a younger person, after pondering about a matter of concern, seeks the advice of an older person who, by virtue of experience, is able to sort out the problem (al-Shahri 2000: 107,289).

(154) 17.51 - 17.56

s͂əʕī́r ɛ̄ṣᵊbͻ́r

The sides of the wadi are far apart

تباعدت اطراف الوادي

This is a comment about two things or individuals that have nothing in common (al-Shahri 2000: 108,290). The verb s͂əʕī́r seems to be a Š2-stem listed by the Jibbali Lexicon as s͂ʿēr ’(gp.) to think so far away from you in position or opinion’ (jl: 6). However, the vocalism of this verbal form differs from the norm. It would be tempting to posit a Š2-stem passive here.

The term εṣbͻ́r,59 likely to be the plural form of ṣábər, reported by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār as ’حد المكان / طرفه. شِق الوادي’ (mlz: 535),60 is not reported by the Jibbali lexicon.

(155) 17.56 - 18.03

ṣ́ᵊbͻṭ-s kin ḥēl fəlɔ́ kin mis͂ērᵊd

Take wisdom from a lunatic or a senile old person

حذها من مسن حائل او من مجنون (الحكمة)

This can be used as a remark when a person who is old, or not of sound mind, speaks out. It can be used both straightly or ironically, depending on the nature of what this person says (al-Shahri 2000: 108,290).

The term mis͂ērd ’mad, evil’ is listed under the root √kwrd by the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 138), and √kbrd by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 784).

(156) 18.03 - 18.11

ʕagəz l-ε̄s͂i͂n fɛ́ḳar ḏa ʕunút

A little lazy, a year’s poverty

عجز قليل فقر سنة

This is used as a warning not to procrastinate on a given matter (al-Shahri 2000: 108,290). The term s͂i͂n < √s͂yn means ’for a time/while’ (jl: 268), but the adverbial phrase l-ε̄s͂i͂n is hard to explain on account of the long vowel between the preposition l- and the term. According to the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār, the temporal meaning of this word is widespread in the Jabal Qamar (Western dialects), whereas it means ’صدق الكلام’61 elsewhere (mlz: 497).

(157) 18.11 - 18.20

ʕͻk ͻ śink mən e-ḳeráḥ ʕar īḏúnt-ɛ̄š

So far, all you have seen of the donkey is his ears

لم تر من الحمار إلا اذنيه

This is said upon an unexpected event by a person who knows the likely reason of that event, to another person who does not know it and is, therefore, suprised (al-Shahri 2000: 108,290).

It is noteworthy that the particle ʕͻd, which in this case conveys doubt, seems here to behave like the etymologically related auxiliary verb d-ʕͻd, although Rubin states that ʕͻd ”has just a single frozen form” (2014: 186).

(158) 18.20 - 18.27

ʕͻ͂rͻ́t a-ʕɛ̄bdͻ́t ͻ̄ṭaḥ b xͻh-i

The little sprat says, ”the sand in my mouth”

قالت العومة (السمكة) الرمل في فمي

This proverb is used as a comment about a person who does not want to take a side in an argument (al-Shahri 2000: 109,291).

The term ʕɛbdͻ́t, translated by al-Shahri as ’little sprat’ and ’العومة’, seems to be a diminutive form related to ʕidét ’sardine’ (jl: 20).

(159) 18.27 - 18.35

ʕͻ͂rͻ́t e-ziginút əxér nur ʕar ʕͻr

The butterfly says that light is better than disgrace

قالت الفراشة النور افضل من العار

This is said as a warning not to disclose something that might spoil someone’s reputation. The meaning of this proverb is rooted into a folk tale according to which a butterfly was asked by God whether it would rather throw itself into the fire or do something dishonourable. The butterfly chose the former option (al-Shahri 2000: 109,291).

The terms nur ’light’, and ʕͻr ’disgrace’ are Arabic loanwords. The latter is related to the root √ʕwr, which conveys defectiveness and deficiency (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 656).

(160) 18.35 - 18.42

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí ɛ s͂ʕagél yəté nu

An impatient person eats uncooked food

من استعجل يأكل نيئاً

This proverb is mentioned upon a manifestation of inaccuracy due to being in haste (al-Shahri 2000: 109,291).

(161) 18.42 - 18.52

ʕͻ͂rͻ́t ḥͻ̄t yͻtᵊġ tͻ enḳél b-yͻ́ḳbər tͻ ͻ-défər

The snake said, ”I hope that the good person will kill me and the bad person will bury me”

قالت الثعيان يقتلني الشارط ويقبرني الذليل

This is said when someone turns out not to be able to carry out a task properly due to lack of accuracy. The reference to the burial of a snake stems from a folk belief according to which the bones of a snake are as venomous as its bite, and an evil person will purposedly bury a snake improperly, so that its bones will sooner or later cause harm to a passer-by (al-Shahri 2000: 109,292).

The two verbs in the subjunctive form in this proverbs are used independently, expressing an optative sense (Rubin 2014: 147). The term ḥͻ̄t ’snake’ is recorded in the lexical sources with an initial /h/ instead of /ḥ/ (jl: 100; mlz: 966). However, before postulating a variant of this term, one should the into account the following: 1) al-Shahri transcribes <ه>, not <ح> 2) the presence of a definite article could be at play here, causing [h] to geminate, and 3) Initial /h/ may sound slightly more on the pharyngeal side than in other positions.

As is the case with proverb 125 above, we encounter the term enḳél ’choice (livestock)’ (presumably e-nḳél) in the place of e͂nḳél < *e-menḳél ’active, energetic, heroic’, both < √nḳl (jl: 190).

(162) 18.52 - 19.00

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí ə-kkaʕéb yəltím

The crockery can touch

العفش يتلامس

This saying is quoted when dealing with a minor issue to emphasise that some small problems in life are to be expected (al-Shahri 2000: 110,292). The sense of this saying may be conveyed as follows: ”pieces of houseware are bound to knock each other”, i.e. people living in the same house are bound to experience conflict.

(163) 19.00 - 19.09

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí e-ʕin̥ ts͂ērḥͻ́ḳ b-faʕm tēlḥͻ́ḳ

Our ancestors say that the eye can see things far away and the leg can make things close

قال السلف: العين ترى البعيد والرجل تقرب البعد

This is used as an encouragement not to give up a difficult endeavour (al-Shahri 2000: 110,292).

(164) 19.09 - 19.18

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí mən gjadəb t-tēn ḥilɛ́t

In absence of anything else they can eat the dry leaves

من العدم تأكلن القديم من أوراق الشجر

This is used as a comment about a change which will likely not result in any worsening of the current circumstances (al-Shahri 2000: 110,293).

The term ḥilɛ́t (jl: 109) refers to the dry leaves of the Anogeissus dhofarica (Miller & Morris 1988: 102), called sͻ́ġͻt in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t (mlz: 444), a term unlisted in the Jibbali lexicon. See also proverb number 198 below.

(165) 19.18 - 19.26

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí skͻf e-kḥͻ her āʕl-š

The breast bone meat is waiting for its owner

قال السلف: انتظر مقدمة الصدر صاحبه

This is said when someone turns down something of good quality and accepts something else of lower quality. This is based on the fact that the flesh around the breast bone of cattle is held to be a delicacy in Dhofar (al-Shahri 2000: 110,293).

(166) 19.30 - 19.41

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí ͻ yəṣer e-rumᵊḥ ar l-a-ʕəkkͻz

The spearhead is useless without the shaft

قال السلف: لا تقف الرمح الا على سنها

This is a comment about a person who is not backed by a tribe or family, in spite of being good and/or strong (al-Shahri 2000: 110,293).

The term ʕəkkͻz ’سن الرمح’ (mlz: 642)62 is not listed by the jl.

(167) 19.41 - 19.49

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí ͻ təʕin ḏ ͻl ʕiní-k

Don’t interfere in something which doesn’t concern you

قال السلف: لا تعنِ من لم يُعنِكَ

This is an encouragement to mind one’s own business (al-Shahri 2000: 111,294).

(168) 19.49 - 19.56

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí ͻ téṣər ʕarᵊ bə-ṯékəlk

Don’t stop unless you are afraid of the consequences

قال السلف: لا تتوقف الا إذا خفت العواقب

This is said to someone who hesitates in an argument or in an action (al-Shahri 2000: 111,294). For the verbal subjunctive form téṣər < G-stem √ṣwr ’to stand up’ (al-Kathiri & Dufour 2020: 212; jl: 243): al-Shahri’s translation of this verb with the Arabic verbal form تزقف ’to stop’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 1092) suggests that the latter sense is meant here.

The verbal form ṯékəlk is a second singular masculine perfect of a Gb-stem meaning ’to be suspicious, worried’ (jl: 284).

(169) 19.56 - 20.02

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí bet təbáʕ

They are only imitators

قال السلف: قوم المقلّدين

This is a comment about a group of people who show no initiative (al-Shahri 2000: 111,294).

The term təbáʕ ’followers’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 90) is likely to be a relatively recent Arabic loanword: the non-occurrence of the intervocalic deletion of /b/ (Rubin 2014: 28–30) would point to a non-native origin. However, it is also possible that the first vowel [ə] in this term is an anaptyctic vowel not triggering the intervocalic deletion of /b/, in which case one could not be certain as regards the etymological status of this term.

(170) 20.02 - 20.09

ʕͻ͂r ɛ̄nfí helk ͻl tbe

You missed the good grazing

قال السلف ويله من لم يأكل حيوانه

This is said by someone who has known a very good person in the past, and implies that someone else has not known the person in question (al-Shahri 2000: 111,294).

The verb hélk is listed in the Jibbali Lexicon with two diverging meanings: ’to miss (l-) someone great who has died; to be very tired and thirsty’ (jl: 97). The verbal form tbe must be an H-stem < √twy ’to cause to eat, feed, allow to pasture’ (jl: 273).

(171) 20.09 - 20.16

ʕͻ͂r hun īḏέn-k ʕͻ͂r bͻh

They asked, ”where is your ear?”. ”Here” he said, reaching round his head to point to the ear on the other side

قال اين اذنك ؟ قال: هنا

This is used when someone tries to complicate things, and is accompanied by the gesture of pointing to one ear using the opposite hand (al-Shahri 2000: 111,295).

(172) 20.16 - 20.23

ʕͻ͂r ɛḏīlín i-gjiblɛ́l ɛ̄ṣᵊfͻ́r

So-and-so brings down the birds

فلان يسقط الطيور

This is a comment which can be made either about a good poet or a skilled liar (al-Shahri 2000: 112,295). The transitive quadriliteral verb igjiblɛ́l ’أسقط الواحدة تلو الأخرى’ < √gbl (mlz: 175),63 exhibits the reduplication of the last root consonant. The term ɛ̄ṣᵊfͻ́r = ɛ-ɛṣᵊfͻ́r is attested without the etymological initial /ʕ/, as in proverb 26 above.

(173) 20.23 -20.31

ʕͻ͂r ɛḏīlín bek ə-šu͂ʕ wɛ̄h

I have heard ’Boo’ before

قال فلان: سيق وسمعت كلمة واة

This is used to show courage in the face of a threat (al-Shahri 2000: 112,295).

The use of the auxiliary verb ber followed by an imperfective indicative to convey a frequent action/event is described by Rubin (2014: 167). The interjection wɛh is translated by al-Shahri as ’boo!’ in English (2000: 112) and واة in Arabic (Ibid.: 295).

(174) 20.31 - 20.38

ġaśé kɛ̄dr ĩti l-e-nṣēníti

The big termite mound swallowed up the small one

علت بيوت النمل الكبيرة على بيوت النمل الصغيرة

This is said of lowly people who improve their condition and start to despise those who are as lowly as they once were (al-Shahri 2000: 112,295).

kɛ̄dr, a masculine plural corresponding to a singular form s͂udar ’بيت النمل المخروطي’ (mlz: 489)64 is not reported by the jl.

(175) 20.38 - 20.45

ʕͻ͂r ɛḏīlín ġumd ḏə s͂i͂t

So-and-so is a Seeat set

فلان مثل أُفول أي مغيب نجوم الشييت

This is said of someone who is very lazy and not useful to anyone. The metaphor stems from a constellation named s͂i͂t in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t, whose presence in the skies for about 40 days is traditionally believed to mark a period of laziness and illness. Moreover, this constellation is not very bright, so that its only use for the traditional lifestyle of Dhofar is indicating the passing of time (al-Shahri 2000: 112,296). It is to be noticed that name of this constellation is identical to the term s͂i͂n ’for a time/while’ (jl: 268; mlz: 497).

(176) 20.45 - 20.50

farḥát tkin ʕaṣ́éṣ́

Desire becomes fat

الرغبة تكون سمنة

This proverb serves as a reminder that people tend to see only the positive sides of something they want, and ignore the bad sides. It stems from a folk tale according to which a man who agreed to give his daughter in marriage to a suitor, on the condition that he brought a cow as dowry, later changed his mind when another suitor turned up, who was wealthier and more handsome. The father then rejected the cow of the first suitor, by affirming that it was too thin and weak. The man then made his way back to his community, and as he was on the road, the wealthier suitor bought his cow to comply with the girl’s father request, whereupon the cow was accepted. The first suitor then attended the wedding of the wealthy man with the girl, and upon being asked why the that cow was turned down when offered by him, and it was accepted when offered by the other man, he replied farḥát tkin ʕaṣ́ɛ́ṣ́ (al-Shahri 2000: 113,296).

The term farḥát is assigned the meaning of ’happiness’ by the Jibbali lexicon (jl: 60). However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār has ’رغبة’ (mlz: 695), in agreement with al-Shahri’s translation (al-Shahri 2000: 113,296).

(177) 20.50 - 20.56

farḳɛ́t tenúkaʕ bə ššaʕ

Panic brings flight

الخوف ياتي بالسرعة

This is said when someone accepts advices out of fear (al-Shahri 2000: 113,297).

The term šaʕ ’flight, race’ (mlz: 478) is not recorded by the jl.

(178) 20.56 - 21.04

fəlͻ́ məsɛ́ du͂t fəlͻ ḏəhéb sáḥaḳ

Either light rain or a torrential downpour

يا مطر خفيف يا سيل جارف؟

This metaphor describes two extreme responses to an event, neither of which is satisfactory (al-Shahri 2000: 113,297).

In this case, the term məsɛ́65 ’rain’ (Morris et al 2019: 75) is feminine, as shown by its agreement with the verbal form du͂t, which is likely a third person singular feminine perfect of dɛ̄́m ’to have lasted for a long time; (rain) to come everywhere’ (jl: 42). However, Johnstone texts provide contrasting evidence with regards to the grammatical gender of this term: it is treated both as feminine (Rubin 2014: 442), and masculine (Ibid.: 446).

(179) 21.04 - 21.09

kͻl śaʕb tegᵊrér b ē-ḏəhī́-s

A flood of water stays in its own wadi

كل وادي يجري من خلاله سيله

This is said when a person behaves as expected, or when priority in given to tribal ties over friendship (al-Shahri 2000: 114,297).

The term śaʕb ’watercourse (jl: 244)66 appears to be grammatically feminine, as shown by the agreeing verb.

(180) 21.09 - 21.15

lə-kͻl erᵊkíb lētͻ́t-s

Every beast of burden can only carry what he is able

لا تحمل الدابة الا قدرتها

This is said about a person who never tries to better him/herself, or as a criticism of something s/he has done (al-Shahri 2000: 114,297).

The segment lētͻ́t-s is difficult to account for, as a definite article would be expected to appear to the left of it, because of the presence of a suffixed possessive pronoun. Alternatively, the segment could be analysed as l-ētͻ́t-s < l + definite article + ētͻ́t + third person singular suffixed possessive pronoun, but this would hardly shed any light on its meaning, and would make it even more diffucult to justify it from a syntactic viewpoint. To complicate the matter further, the native speakers who could be contacted at the time of writing, and at a later time, during the revision process, could not clarify its meaning. However, its translation in Arabic (al-Shahri 2000: 114) is قدرة ‘ability’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 746).

(181) 21.15 - 21.20

kͻl ḳəṣerɛ́r b-ē-ṭaʕm-š

Every piece of grass has its own taste

لكل نياتة او عشية طعم خاص يها

This comment is normally used to counter a nasty remark about a person who has good but hidden qualities coupled with less-than-appealing looks (al-Shahri 2000: 114,298).

The term ḳəṣərɛ́r ’plant’ is recorded neither in the jl nor in the mlz, although both report the root √ḳṣr (jl: 152; mlz: 750–751). This term is translated in Arabic as نباتة (al-Shahri 2000: 298).

(182) 21.20 - 21.27

kͻl məṭᵊbaʕír yəs͂ūnɛ l-e͂ṭbaʕír-š

Every mud can be built from the same mud

كل طينة تُينى من طينتها اي من فصيلتها

This is said of those who do not like to associate with people who are sharply different from them (al-Shahri 2000: 114,298).

The participial form məṭbaʕír ’mud’, is not recorded. However, it is connected to ṭʕor ’earth, clay’ (Morris et al 2019: 75), and the root √ṭʕr ~ √ṭwʕr, under which both the jl and the mlz list several terms connected with ’clay’ and ’earth’ (jl: 273,281; mlz: 584).

(183) 21.27 - 21.33

kͻl nīṭáf yənúṭuf d-i͂nzíl-š

Every drop drops on its place

كل قطرة تقطر في مكانها أي أسفلها تماماً

This is said when a person behaves as expected (al-Shahri 2000: 115,298).

The term nīṭáf is a diminutive of nuṭaf ’قطرة’ (mlz: 921),67 which is not listed in the jl, although it does report the root √nṭf and the term ənṭəfͻ́t (plural nṭͻf) ’drop’ (jl: 197). The preposition d- is an allomorph of ɛd ’to, until’ (Rubin 2014: 228–230).

(184) 21.33 - 21.38

kͻl yum̥ b ɛ̄kíl-s

Each day has its own angel

كل يوم بوكيلها

This comment is made when talking about the events of a specific day, on the basis of the folk belief whereby each day has a specific angel, and angels can be good as well as bad (al-Shahri 2000: 115,299).

The term ɛ̄kíl < *ɛ-ɛkíl, derived from the root √wkl is listed in the Jibbali lexicon as ’agent’ (jl: 291), and as ’helper’ in the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār (mlz: 980), and it is translated as ’angel’ in English (al-Shahri 2000: 115), and وكيل in Arabic (Ibid.: 299).

(185) 21.38 - 21.45

k-ͻ̄ź ənḥán̥ əb-bʕel u͂kún

We are with God and the owners of the place

نحن مع الله ومع اصحاب الملك

This is said by goat herders when they decide to move away from a place, and subsequently change their minds. According to al-Shahri (2000: 115,299) the owner of a land has the power to protect those who are on it.

The term ͻ̄ź ’God’ appears here in its variant lacking a /ʕ/ < √bʕl (jl: 22). See also proverb number 56 above.

(186) 21.45 - 21.51

kun śe ḏ ͻ yənúgjəh

Is it as though dawn never comes

كالشيء او الليل الذي لا ينجلي

This is asked to a person who asks the same thing all the time (al-Shahri 2000: 115,299). The intonation of the speaker as well as the written version make it clear this is a question.

(187) 21.51 - 21.57

kͻ he her śēʕk aʕͻ͂r śe

When I’ve eaten my fill I don’t say anything

هل انا اذا شبعت اقول شيئاً

A person can use this expression after succeeding in convicing someone to do something in a certain way (al-Shahri 2000: 115,300).

(188) 21.57 - 22.04

lhes ɛ d-yəṯ̣ḥͻ́l ʕaḳ ͻ̄ṭəḥ

Like the one who urinates in the sand

كمن يتبوّل في الرمل

This is said when someone’s good actions go unnoticed (al-Shahri 2000: 116,300).

The verb yəṯ̣ḥͻ́l < √ṯ̣ḥl ’to urinate’ (jl: 48)68 is preceded by the circumstantial prefix (v)d-, which marks a circumstantial clause or indicates a progressive action (Rubin 2014: 158–161). See also proverb number 23 above.

(189) 22.04 - 22.10

lhes bͻḏͻrͻ́t təgᵊzéz

She reaps like she sowed

كما زرعت تحصد

This means that people have to live with the consequences of their action, whether good or bad (al-Shahri 2000: 116,300).

Rather peculiarly, this proverb is expressed using the third feminine singular person.

(190) 22.10 - 22.14

məḥeréf kͻb l-āʕl-š

I respect the dog for the sake of the owner

يُحترم الكلب لأجل صاحبه

This saying is used when those guilty of a crime are pardoned on account of the social standing of their tribe or family (al-Shahri 2000: 116,300).

The participial form məḥerɛ́f is listed by the Jibbali lexicon as ’shy, reserved’, albeit as moḥóruf (jl: 114). The fact that it is used here to signify ’respected’ offers a glimpse of the tribal culture of Jibbali/Šḥərɛ́t speakers, where seclusion and privacy may be viewed as unusual and, hence, a privilege for those who are respected by the community.

(191) 22.14 - 22.19

mergjé ɛ̄rġít yunfəʕ

It is always expected that the nephew will be useful

من المُفترض من ابن الاخت ان يفيد خاله

This saying emphasises the importance of the relationship between a nephew and a (maternal) uncle, and can be used sarcastically if the former fails to fulfil his obligations towards the latter (al-Shahri 2000: 116,301).

The participial form mergj ’expected’ is not listed in the lexical sources. However, one might advance that it can be linked to the root √rgw, from which a number of verb in the semantic field of waiting, delaying and postponing are derived. The term ɛ̄rġít ’nephew’ (i.e. sister’s son), is attested here without a possessive pronominal suffix (Rubin 2014: 87). The subjunctive Ga-stem verbal form yunfəʕ < √nfʕ (jl: 181) is used here independently to convey deontic modality69 (Rubin 2014: 147)

(192) 22.19 - 22.24

malḥít ṯ̣er ʕakəru͂t

The jawbone is on the coccyx

فك على عصعص

This expression is used to describe an overcrowded place (al-Shahri 2000: 116,301).

The term məlḥét ’عطمة الفك’ (mlz: 829),70 is reported by the Jibbali lexicon as məźḥét (jl: 163), which could point to dialectal variation. The term ʕakəru͂t ’pelvis’ < √ʕkrm (jl: 10).

(193) 22.24 - 22.30

moġorͻ̄t a-ʕín ā-ʕosər

The eye of the lover is known

تُعرف العين المحبة

This is said to describe someone who is in love and tries to deny it (al-Shahri 2000: 117,301).

The participial form moġorͻ̄t ’known’ < √ġrb must be the feminine counterpart of masculine məġréb (jl: 88). The long vowel stands for the genitive exponent + a definite article.

(194) 22.30 - 22.37

mən ʕo͂-k bɛss dəḥͻ́r a-aʕi͂t-ək

Either your grandfather or your grandmother

من جدك لاقى جدتك؟

This is a remark on a solution which is actually worse than the problem (al-Shahri 2000: 117,302).

The use of the preposition mən to mean ’instead of’ is undoubtedly related to its disjunctive function (Rubin 2014: 303–304). This proverb is uttered as a question, as is evident by both the speaker’s intonation and its Arabic translation.

(195) 22.37 - 22.44

mən bṓbɛ́h bɛss dəḥͻ́r ʕazəlɛ́t

Either leprosy or the plague?

من برص إلى جذام؟

Similarly to proverb number 194 above, this is used as a warning not to opt for a solution that is worse or as bad as the problem (al-Shahri 2000: 117,302).

The terms bṓbɛ́h < √bwb (mlz: 145), not listed in the jl, and ʕazəlɛ́t (jl: 21) are the names of two similar skin conditions related to leprosy. The former term, bṓbɛ́h, attests the uncommon phoneme /ō/.

(196) 22.44 - 22.51

mən ṯəḳəlun-k ġəfέr ʕan-ən ͻ-ġͻ̄-k

Instead of looking for the thaghloon, look after yourself

من بحثك لنا عن نبات الثقلون, اكفي عننا غيطك

This is said to people who volunteer for tasks clearly beyond their abilities, and stems from a folk tale according to which a group of people were gathered to discuss who should go to look for the ṯəḳəlun plant, but could not find an agreement. Whereupon, a sick man, who was barely able to stand, and was not able to use the privy by himself, declared he would go. The others then replied using this sentence (al-Shahri 2000: 117,302).

The term ṯəḳəlun indicates Glossonema varians (Miller & Morris 1988: 44). According to Miller and Morris, there exist three variants of this plant name, namely ṯəḳəlum, ṯəḳəlób and feḳeláw (Ibid.). However, their distribution is presently unknown. The imperative ġəfέr, Ga-stem means ’to hide, to pardon’ (jl: 84). The segment ͻ-ġͻ̄-k must be analysed as *ɛ-ġɔ́b-ək. The use of the term ġɔ́b ’excreta’ < √ġbb here makes it rather clear that the English translation of this proverb uses an euphemism, and a more faithful, albeit rude, translation would sound like ”Instead of looking for the ṯəḳəlun spare us your shit!”.

(197) 22.51 - 22.57

mən ḥaggj loḳᵊbͻ́r tel s͂eríf

Instead of Haj I want to be buried close to the saint

بدلاً من الحج أُقبر عند السيد

This is used when accepting a small gift or a small part of what one really needs (al-Shahri 2000: 117,303).

The Sharíf are held to be saints, according to certain currents of Islam, so that when one cannot perform the Hajj within one’s lifetime, one can be contented of being buried in the proximity of a Sharíf. Similarly to proverb 161 above, the use of the subjunctive loḳᵊbͻ́r here expresses an optative function.

(198) 22.57 - 23.04

mən xalsɛ́t t-tēn sͻ́ġͻt

If there is no other food they can eat the leaves of sughut

من العدم تأكلن شجرة السوغوت

This is said to those who resolve to do the opposite of what they have been advised to do (al-Shahri 2000: 118,303).

For the meaning of the plant name sͻ́ġͻt see proverb number 164 above.

(199) 23.04 - 23.10

mən maʕgín-s lέṣᵊnax

Instead of fat meat we need acceptable meat

بدلاً من سمنتها المفرطة نريد سمنة صالحة للاكل

The proverb refers to a cow, and implies that instead of hoping for a very filling meal, and being disappointed for the lack thereof, the person who utters this sentence declares that recovering a little fat from the animal is acceptable, and it is a feasible endeavour. Similarly to proverb number 196 above, this is said to people who brag about being able to do something that is clearly beyond their abilities (al-Shahri 2000:118,303). The term maʕgín < √ʕgn is listed in the Jibbali Lexicon as ’stew of fat and meat’ (jl: 10). The subjunctive verbal form lέṣᵊnax < H-stem √ṣnx means ’to find fat in a thin animal after slaughtering’ (jl: 240), and is used here to convey optativity. See also proverbs 161 and 197.

(200) 23.10 - 23.17

her ɛ̄-rít ṣifͻ̄t sɛ́həl kͻbkͻ́b

If the moon is clear the stars are unimportant

اذا صفت القمر فلا تهم الكواكب

This is said when misfortune strikes a group of people, but one of them manages to emerge unscathed (al-Shahri 2000: 118,304). The adjective sɛ́həl means ’easy’ (jl: 225),71 and seems to be intended as ‘never mind’ here: i.e. If the moon is bright, never mind the stars.

(201) 23.17 - 23.25

hiɛ yəṭͻ̄rd āġəṣ́á

Love drives away hatred

الحب يطرد الكراهية

This is said of circumstances in which enmity between two groups is mitigated or overcome by the love or friendship between two individuals (al-Shahri 2000: 118,304).

The term hiɛ̄ means ’love’, as its Arabic translation حب proves (Ibid.: 304). However, it is recorded neither in the jl not in the mlz. The term āġəṣ́á < *e-baġəṣ́á ’hatred’ (mlz: 136), is not reported by the jl.

(202) 23.25 - 23.31

her bek ḥalͻ̄́t ḏ fͻ́ṭͻx əlͻtͻ́ġ

Instead of wounding a person I will kill him

بدلاً من أضرب الشخص لأجرحه افضل ان أقتله

This is said when someone is making things more complicated than they actually are (al-Shahri 2000: 118,304).

(203) 23.31 - 23.38

her s͂kṯͻ́rək t-ͻš effɔ́rḳ-əš

If it looks to be too much, divide it up

اذا رأبته كثبراً فرّقه

This is said when people brag about their possessions, when they are poor in fact (al-Shahri 2000: 119,304). The verbal form s͂kṯͻ́rək, a second person masculine singular perfect of a Š1-stem < √kṯr, means ’to think st. Is a lot’ (jl: 137), whilst the segment effɔ́rḳ-əš contains the D/L-stem masculine singular imperative effɔ́rḳ ’share!’, listed on the Jibbali lexicon as efurḳ ’to frighten; to make a parting’ (jl: 61).

(204) 23.38 - 23.46

her s͂-ek a-ġāgj e-difͻ́r yəlḥͻ́ḳ-k a-ʕazᵊm

Who has weak men, loses the bet

من مع القوم الضعفاء تُثبت عليه التهمة

This is used when someone is unsuccessful in an endeavour, despite having done everything to succeed. The specific example comes from a folk tale according to which a woman who was accused of being a witch, and who was actually innocent, could not prove her innocence because her accusers were powerful in the community, whilst she had no one by her side. This sentence is said to be what she uttered upon being condemned (al-Shahri 2000: 119,305).

The term ʕazᵊm, besides other meanings such as ’intention, aim’ (jl: 21), ’ordeal by fire’, a meaning unreported by both the Jibbali Lexicon and the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār, as explained by al-Shahri: ويسمى بلاشحرية (إغعزم) حيث إنه ياخذ حديدة ملتهبة بالنار ويحرق بها لسان المرأة (al-Shahri 2000: 305).72

(205) 23.46 - 23.53

her ʕar kun xer̥ yəšͻṣ́ər

If there is rain the green will show

اذا كان هناك فعلاً غيث ستخضر الارض

This is said to those who promise to do something, but are strongly suspected to be either incapable of doing what they promise to do, or lying altogether (al-Shahri 2000: 119,305). The term xer̥ means ’الغيث’ (mlz: 315),73 which is not reported by the jl.

(206) 23.53 - 24.01

her ġī kkelṯ ͻl ġī ĩs͂ékəlṯ

Even if the speaker forgets, the listener doesn’t

اذا نسي المتحدث لم ينس المتحدث إليه

This means that one should always remember who one is lying to, in order not to contradict oneself (al-Shahri 2000: 119,305).

The participial form ĩs͂ékəlṯ < *e-mes͂əkélṯ ’listener’ is connected to the Š1-stem verb s͂kəleṯ ’to listen to a tale’ (jl: 130). The G-stem verb ġī ’to be wrong; to forget, loose, leave’ < √ġwy is recorded by the Jibbali Lexicon as ġē (jl: 91). The unexpected /ī/ in the place of /ē/ might be due to these doubly-weak verbs often hesitating between the two forms C1ī and C1ē (al-Kathiri & Dufour 2020: 216).

(207) 24.01 -24.10

her hͻ̄t ʕͻzu͂t tͻks͂ɛ́f yəhɛ̄ b-əs ͻʕź rɛ́mᵊnɛm

When the snake wanted to behave badly, God threw it in the sea

اذا نوى الثعبان على الكفر المنكر يرميه الله بحراً

This is said upon learning that a crime might have taken place, had the criminal not be hindered by the circumstances (al-Shahri 2000: 120,306). The verbal form ʕͻzu͂t third person singular feminine perfect Ga-stem < √ʕzm ’to decide; to invite’ (jl: 21). The Ga-stem subjunctive form tͻks͂ɛ́f < √ks̃f ’to do st. very cruel; to uncover, examine; to be embarassed (at st. odd) (jl: 137).

(208) 24.10 - 24.20

yəṣ́əḥͻ́k ḏ śíbir xͻh b-yəntəġͻ́ś ḏ śinifét

Only the one with the nice teeth can smile and the one with the long hair can show it off

يضحك ذو الفم الجميل وينفش الشعر ذو الشعر الكثيف

This is used either about someone who is very beautiful and loved by everyone, or someone who is not, but is unconcerned about the judgement of the community (al-Shahri 2000: 120,306). The term śíbir seems to be connected to the term śəbrͻ̄t meaning ’الإتقان’ (mlz: 499),74 but used in proverb 116 above as an adjective meaning ‘beautiful’. However, the lack of intervocalic deletion of /b/ might point to a non-native origin. The term śinifét seems to be related to a root √śnf yielding a Ga-stem verb which may be transcribed as śɔnɔ́f, meaning ‘وقف في مكانه عابسا مكفهر الوجه’ (mlz: 527).75 The verbal form yəntəġͻ́ś, third person masculine singular imperfect of a T1-stem < √nġś, means ’(water, food) to be thrown away because it is dirty’ (jl: 185). The abundancy of doubtful forms raises the question as to whether we might be dealing with a formulaic, and hence mehrizing and/or arabizing, language (Johnstone 1972).

(209) 24.20 -24.29

yέbrəf ḏ ͻl bəʕéṣ́

He who worries should support

من لم يطمئن الى قدرة صاحبة عليه مساندته

This is an encouragement to act on something instead of simply worrying about it (al-Shahri 2000: 120,306).

The verb yέbrəf, third person masculine singular of an H-stem meaning ’سند شيئاً حتى لا يسقط’ (mlz: 125),76 is not listed in the jl. The verbal form bəʕéṣ́ seems to be a third person masculine perfect of an H-stem < √bʕṣ́, meaning ’ اطمئن على الشيء من بعده’ (mlz: 135). The initial vowel of the verbal form is lost due to the adjacency of a sonorant.

(210) 24.29 - 24.34

yͻ̄ʕͻ́ṯ ʕar ɛ ḳeré

Only the person who has hidden something can find it

ينبش من اخفى

This is said when someone suddenly solves a vexing issue, which can either be the search of something physical, or the search for an explanation to something (al-Shahri 2000: 120,307).

The verb yͻ̄ʕͻ́ṯ is a third person singular masculine imperfect of a G-stem < √bʕṯ meaning ’نبش’ (mlz: 134).77

4 Conclusions

The aim of this paper is to present and analyse a collection of proverbs proceeding from al-Shahri’s publication The Language of Aad/لغة عاد (2000).

Whilst it is not possible to trace the origin of each proverb, the different language registers found throughout the collection speaks to different origins in terms of time and dialect. Overall, the analysis of the above proverbs yields some results upon which it is worth reflecting.

4.1 Allophones of /g/ in an Eastern Dialect

ʕAli al-Shahri is the author of the publication on which this study is based, as well as being the speaker who recorded the proverbs. He is a speaker of an eastern dialect of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t, having been born and raised in the village of Ṭawi Aʕtír which, according to Sālim al-Shahri (2007: 76), is located within the eastern Jibbali-speaking area. With regards to the realisation of /g/, Rubin affirms that “W[estern] J[ibbali] speakers pronounce this as j (that is, [dʒ]), while C[entral] J[ibbali] and E[astern] J[ibbali] speakers pronounce this as g or gy” (2014: 11). However, he does not provide further details of the distribution of the two allophones of /g/ in the Central and Eastern dialects. The observation of the above proverbs allows us to draw the following picture:

  1. /g/ is realised as [g] six times before fronted vowels (proverbs 1, 11, 13, 93, 152, 199), and twice before an ultra-short non-phonological vowel (proverbs 179 and 189).
  2. /g/ is realised as [gj] six times before fronted vowels (proverbs 54, 100, 108, 134, 150 and 172), thirteen times before non-fronted vowels (proverbs 17, 45, 68, 83, 89, 106, 110, 127, 128, 129, 135, 164 and 186), three times before an ultra-short non-phonological vowel (proverbs 11, 70 and 179), once in pre-consonantic position (proverb 149), and five times in final position (proverbs 1, 16, 114, 197 and 204).

In light of the above, one would be tempted to posit that /g/ is realised as [gj] throughout the corpus, and the yod-coloured off-glide is perceptually more prominent before non-fronted vowels.

4.2 /l/ > [ɾ̥] in Final Position

The recording in examination shows a tendency on the part of the speaker to realise /l/ as a devoiced alveolar tap [ɾ̥] in final position (proverbs 27, 122, 125 and 155). Whilst the devoicing is likely a part of the pre-pausal phenomenon (Watson & Bellem 2014), the shift from an alveolar lateral approximant to a homorganic tap is unexpected. This feature could be widespread, and not restricted to al-Shahri’s dialect: compare bīdól ~ bīdór ’Sarcostemma Viminale’ (Miller & Morris 1988: 50), and the name of Dhofar ṣ́ͻfͻ́l ~ ṣ́ͻfͻ́r.

4.3 /ε/ > [ɔ]

The terms ṯͻ́dεʾ ‘bosom, breast; nipple and breast’ (jl: 283), gɔ́fεʾ ’shadow’ (jl: 72), and the verbal forms yəs͂eṣɔ́fε (an imperfect Š1-stem < √ṣfv) ’to gather news, find out’ (jl: 237), and aʕtédé (T2-stem < √ʕdw) ’to attack’ (jl: 7), appear with a final vowel [ɔ] in proverbs 40, 45, 94, and 103 respectively. It must be noted that al-Shahri transcribes a ى in all four occurrences, but clearly pronounces [ɔ]. This could point to a characteristic of his dialect.

4.4 The Term šͻ́fͻl ’Stomach/Belly’

This term, realised by ʕAli al-Shahri in proverbs 15 and 37 as [ˈʃɔfɔl], is attested as šͻfəl in the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 260), as well as is the dialect of the Kuriya Muria islands78 (Castagna 2018: 445), and in the speech of ʕAli Musallam al-Mehri (Rubin 2014: 402,492,566) who spoke an eastern dialect of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t.79 It well worth pointing out this phenomenon despite its being a phonetic one, and hence not having a bearing on the phonology of the variety in examination, as not all varieties of this language exhibit vowel harmony affecting the quality of post-tonic /ə/ on the basis of tonic vowels.

4.5 The Plural Relativiser iź as a Genitive Exponent

The non-obligatory plural relativiser iź (Rubin 2014: 68) is used in proverb 21 as a genitive exponent. This use has not been described.

4.6 /ī/ in Passive Verbal Forms

The verbal forms ṭḳīʕ80 (H-stem) ’to look’ (jl: 276), eʕilíḳ (D/L-stem) ’to hang (transitive)’ (jl: 12), and axnīṭ (H-stem) ‘to take out’ (jl: 303), appearing in proverbs 27, 28 and 45 respectively, exhibit an unexpected long vowel /ī/. This could be a feature of the speaker’s dialect. However, it must be pointed out that one of the above-mentioned verbal forms, namely axnīṭ, appears with the expected short vowel in proverb 52.

4.7 Negation

In Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t, the unmarked negation for both verbal and non-verbal phrases is the circumfix ɔ(l)… (Rubin 2014: 330). In the present corpus, however, the element ɔ(l) appears without the element , in several circumstances, many of differ from the attested uses of the stand-alone morpheme ɔ(l) (Ibid.: 332–334). Remarkably, ɔ(l) is found as a negator of simple verbal phrases.

4.8 ”Mehrizing” Language

It is possible to find occurrences of Mehri terms throughout this collection, like the term gēd ’good’ (proverbs 13 and 92). However, four items (proverbs 13, 92, 108 and perhaps 208) exhibit a strong admixture of Mehri and Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t, which is typical of the poetic register of the latter language (Johnstone 1972).

4.9 Newly Attested Terms

Proverb (21): the plural form e͂z͂éd < *e-mez͂éd ’labour pains’ must correspond to a singular *megdét < √gdy on the basis of similar CvCv́C forms. For example, mɛrṯ̣ét/mirɛ́ṯ̣ ’instruction, message, parcel’ (jl: 173).

Proverb (27): the term s͂əʕil ‘strength’ < √kʕl.

Proverb (59): ḏēlɛ́ ’early morning’ < √ḏly, a variant of ḏēlɛ́b (jl: 46) carrying the same meaning.

Proverb (70): ḥagjᵊlͻ́ ’in the open’, a masculine plural nisbah adjective with adverbial force, corresponded to an unattested singular *ḥagjᵊlí.

Proverb (77): kēlɛ́ ’wolf’. This term follows the same CēCέ pattern as ḏēlɛ́ ’early morning’ (Proverb 59), and shares with the latter the same apparent loss of /b/ as third root consonant, as well as matching semantics with the /b/-final root.

Proverb (90): míbdi ’exaggerated’ ’ كثير المبالغة’ < √bdy.

Proverb (121): ḏēh ’misfortune, distortion’ < √ḏbh.

Proverb (134): G-stem verb gɛ̄s̃/yəgɔ̄́s̃/yəgɔ́s̃81 meaning واصابه الوهن ’to become weak, be debilitated’.

Proverb (146): ʕamít ’نخوة’, ‘haughiness, arrogance; pride, dignity, sense of honor, self-respect; high-mindedness, generosity’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 950). < √ʕmy

Proverb (180): The dubious term lētͻ́t ’load’. < √ltt ~ √lty ~ √ltw

Proverb (181): ḳəṣərɛ́r ’plant’. < √ḳṣr

Proverb (182): məṭbaʕír ’mud’. < √ṭʕr

Proverb (191): mergj ’expected’. < √rgw

Proverb (204): ʕazᵊm ’ordeal by fire’. < √ʕzm

4.10 Newly Attested Variants of Previously Attested Terms

Proverb (17): the diminutive form ʕālᵊgján ‘2–4 year old camel’ < √ʕlg, recorded as ʿálgέn ‘2–4 year old camel’ in the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: 12), is attested here with a /ā/ instead of /a/.

Proverb (20): the term mɛ̄l ’fullness’ (jl: 171) is used here as the first term of a construct state.

Proverb (26) and (172): ɛṣfͻ́r ’birds’ without an initial /ʕ/.

Proverb (36): ḥum̥ ‘charcoal’ (jl: 111), means here ‘splinter of wood’.

Proverb (48): ḥabbərrɛ̄́diKleinia saginata’ (Miller and Morris 1988: 110) appears here with geminated /b/ and /r/.

Proverb (48) and (49): the preposition lhes ‘like’ causes a following vowel to become lengthened, which leads to speculate whether the underlying form could be *lhes ε, perhaps on the basis of analogical levelling after compound preposition such as ḥaṣ ɛ or ḥaḳt ɛ (Rubin 2014: 361–363, 371–372).

Proverb (83) and (89): The verb gju͂ś ’to go at late night’ and the corresponding participial form mugju͂ś are listed by the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār under the root √gwś. However, al-Shahri pronounces it with a clearly audible nasalised vowel, which would point to the root being actually √gmś.

Proverb (99): The term ḳiśɛ́t ’wolf’ (jl: 153) is given here the meaning ’animal’ ’حيوان’.

Proverb (116) and (208): The adjective śəbrͻ̄t ’perfect’ is not reported in the jl. However, the muʕǧam lisān ḏ̣ufār reports it with the meaning ’ الاتقان’ ’perfection’ (mlz: 499). The term śíbir seems to be a cognate of the above term. < √śbr ~ √śwr.

Proverb (146): The verbal form tənʕa < √nʕw is reported to mean ’to elegize’ (jl: 179). However, al-Shahri translates this verb in Arabic as ثكل ’to be bereaved, to mourn’ (Wehr & Cowan 1976: 105).

Proverb (147): the term e͂kśɛ́ft < *e-mekśɛ́ft is likely a variant of the term kśaf ’سلة صغيرة من الخوص لها غطا تضع فيها المرأة حاجياتها’ ’A small wicker vessel with a lid in which a woman puts her belongings’ (mlz: 802).

Proverb (148): the adjective ʕiz͂i͂t seems to be the feminine counterpart of ʕigέm ’dumb’ < √ʕgm (jl: 9).

Proverb (149): the participial form a͂ḥzígj < *a-məḥzígj, recorded in the Jibbali Lexicon as maḥzég ’hobble’ (jl: 122), has a [i] instead of the expected [e] as a stressed vowel.

Proverb (156): the adverbial phrase l-ε̄s͂i͂n ’for a while’.

Proverb (157): the particle ʕͻd seems here to behave like the etymologically related auxiliary verb d-ʕͻd, although Rubin states that ʕͻd ”has just a single frozen form” (2014: 186).

Proverb (192): the term məlḥét ’عطمة الفك’ ’jawbone’(mlz: 829) is reported by the Jibbali lexicon as məźḥét (jl: 163), which could point to dialectal variation.

4.11 Future Research

The analysis of the above proverbs shed limited light on a few hitherto disregarded features of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t. However, much is still to be done in several ways: firstly, more proverbs should be recorded and analysed, so that more data could be gathered regarding the use of poetic language vs. every-day language in this genre of “oral literature”. Secondly, the poetic register of Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t has not been extensively analysed yet, except in a few rather short papers (Johnstone 1972; Morris 2017; Morris & al-Shahri 2017). Thirdly, Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t dialectology is still a virtually unexplored field: whilst a few examples of dialectal traits have been recorded (Rubin 2014: 11–13; mlz passim; al-Shahri 2007 passim), a specific and extensive work on this theme is still a desideratum. Lastly, personal names of native origin occurring in proverbs are no longer in common use in Dhofar, having been largely replaced by Islamic personal names. These names should be taken into account when attempting to decipher the Dhofar inscriptions (see introduction), as personal names are likely to be a strong component in those informal epigraphs.

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My gratitude goes to the anonymous reviewer, whose careful perusal of this paper resulted in a number of useful remarks, which enhanced greatly the value and scope of this work. All the remaining flaws and shortcomings are solely my responsibility.


However, note the large number of inscriptions discovered by ʕAli al-Shahri and Geraldine King in the early 1990s (al-Shahri & King 1993). These epigraphs, most of which are found is shallow caves in the Qamar, Qara and Samḥan mountain ranges, employ two previously unrecorded varieties of the south Semitic script, and are currently undeciphered.


Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t was first known to western scholarship as Əḥkli, thanks to the glossonym used by a speaker who became acquainted with Fulgence Fresnel, a 19th century French diplomat in Jeddah, who wrote the first account of the language (Fresnel 1838).


This is an allophone of /l/ (Rubin 2014: 26).


Therefore, a word of caution should be spent with regards to the English translations of these proverbs, which are reported in the present study for comparative purposes only. The Arabic translations are, on the other hand, more reliable than the English ones.


[a] in this case, due to the adjacency of a voiced pharyngeal fricative [ʕ].


The root consonant v represents an unspecified vowel in the Jibbali Lexicon (jl: xxxvi).


Cf. bírͻ́t in the jl (Ibid.).


For intervocalic labial deletion in Jibbali/Śḥərɛ̄́t see Rubin (2014: 28–32).


This term is often used by Jibbali/Śḥərɛ́t speakers to refer to the Mahrah, and is perceived as a derogatory term by the latter (Watson p.c.).


al-Shahri writes ‘mah’sar’ for ‘cloth belt’ in the English rendition of this proverb.


However, note the long vowel in this term which may point to a transfer of vowel length from the initial to the medial position due to the presence of the definite article.


al-Shahri writes hefulness (al-Shahri 2000: 78).


al-Shahri seems to utters b-ͻ, but transcribes بول (al-Shahri 2000: 251).


See the Arabic translation and the commentary of this proverb.


For eṭḳīʕ, with vowel loss due to the phonological process described by al-Kathiri & dufour (2020: 183).


al-Shahri omits the final ن of فلان, probably due to mistyping.


Cattle illness.


To fill the gaps in the rocky road with stones to pave it or level it out.


This roughly (but not exactly) corresponds to Omani Mehri.


Cf. Arabic verbs of the iv measure أفْعَلَ with the same denominative function, I.e. أبْحَرَ ‘to go to/by the sea’.


First days of the monsoon.


Precisely, a mass measure (Watson p.c.).


عطشى (البقرة مثلاً) ولا تستخدم مع الانسان (Ibid.). This adjective can only be used for livestock.


Feminine of ريّ. This form is reported as رِيُتْ which would suggest rather riyɔ́t.




See proverb 59 above.




‘سار / ذهب / غادر في اخر الليل / الصياح الباكر’. The initial vowel is lost because of the preceding sonorant (al-Kathiri & Dufour 2020: 183).


‘الذي يلاحق لصوص الماشية’. The one who tracks down cattle thieves.


الكبر. الطول. النمو.


“This proverb is a mixture of the Mehri and Shehri languages, but it tends to Mehri more than