Category Archives: Socotra

AIYS at MESA in Denver


As the war rages on in Yemen and the humanitarian crisis deepens every day, the preparations for this year’s annual MESA meeting is the saddest in my memory.  Although our Sanaa office is closed during the fighting, we were able to provide fellowships for Yemeni scholars and Dr. Dammaj is still as active as the situation allows.  The safety of all in Yemen is our first and primary concern.

This year AIYS will sponsor two panels at MESA, which is being held in Denver Colorado.  The first panel, [P4124] “Turmoil and Tolerance: Unpacking the Current Crisis in Yemen,” will be held Sunday, November 22, from 4:30-6 pm.  The presenters are:

The second panel is a roundtable entitled “What’s Happening In Yemen” with a talk by H.E. Ambassador Amat al-Alim Alsoswa on the current situation in Yemen and discussion by Dan Varisco and Sheila Carapico. This will be held on Monday, November 23, from 11:00 am-12:30 pm.

Our annual AIYS board meeting will be held on Saturday, November 21, 4-6pm, in Director’s Row F, Plaza Building, Lobby Level.  The AIYS business meeting, which is open to all who are interested, will be held on Saturday, November 21 from 7:30-8:30pm, Plaza Court 6, Plaza Building, Concourse Level.

AIYS encourages anyone with an interest and concern for Yemen to attend these important panels.  Please spread the word.



On Socotri language

Russian roots and Yemen’s Socotra language

by Mansur Mirovalev, Al Jazeera, March 11, 2015

Moscow, Russia – The Semitic language spoken by more than 50,000 inhabitants of Yemen’s Socotra island is a linguistic time machine.

Socotri is the most archaic and isolated of several archaic and isolated tongues spoken in Yemen and Oman known as “modern South Arabian languages”. Its vocabulary is immensely rich – for example, there are distinct verbs for “to go” according to the time of the day, or for “to give birth” depending on the animal involved.

Socotri’s roots are close to the oldest written Semitic tongues that died out thousands of years ago – and it has grammatical features that no longer exist in Arabic, Hebrew or Aramaic. The study of Socotri helps understand the deep, prehistoric past – and the subsequent evolution – of all Semitic tongues.

“This is a very archaic linguistic and literary system that in many ways, I think, has preserved what we, the scholars, are used to perceive as the Biblical world or the ancient Arabic world,” Leonid Kogan, professor of Semitic languages at Moscow’s Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, told Al Jazeera.

Then how is it that Socotri’s first alphabet was invented five millennia after the cuneiform tablets in Akkadian – the first written Semitic tongue – and it happened some 5,000km north of Socotra, in Russia’s Moscow?

Continue reading On Socotri language

Socotra Film


One of the remaining marvels off the east coast of Africa is the island archipelago of Socotra, historically associated with Yemen, the nation which it belongs to. Socotra is a preserve of biodiversity with a local population not yet catapulted into the under-development pains of the 21st century. There is a fascinating film about the need to protect Socotra’s unique environment and its people from the devastating impact of uncontrolled “development.” Among the individuals speaking is Dutch ecologist Paul Scholte, who has extensive research experience both in Yemen and Africa. Check out both parts of the film here and here. There are a number of Youtube videos on Socotra, but most are tourist oriented and do not match the information level of this film.