The Socotries

The archipelago’s inhabitants are of Arab, African, Greek, and South Asian origins. They speak Soqotri, an unwritten Semitic language related to other Modern South Arabian languages that include six different languages; Mehri, Harsusi, Bathari, Jibbali, and Hobyot, along with Soqotri. The language is believed to have its roots in Sabea, the Queen of Sheba’s ancient city-state on the southern Arabian mainland. It was part of the Old South Arabian Languages, which also included Minaean and Qatabanian among others. They were the spoken among the advanced civilizations which were established in the southeastern part of Yemen during the period between the thirteenth and tenth centuries B.C.E. Soqotri has no words for things that are not found on the island, in which case they must borrow from Arabic.

Our language

Despite historical contacts with the Arabic language, there is no mutual understanding between the native speakers of the Modern South Arabian languages and the native speaker of Arabic. Moreover, there is no mutual understanding between the speakers of the Modern South Arabian languages themselves, and the Soqotri language is only spoken on the island of Socotra.

Soqotri has several dialects, which consist of ’Abd Al-Kuri, Central Soqotri, Northern Soqotri, Southern Soqotri, and Western Soqotri. North Soqotri comprises North Central and Northwest Central (highland) Soqotri. The language is written using the Naskh variant of the Arabic script. Soqotri is also transcribed with the Latin script.