1/1/2020-31/12/2023 : ALMAS, Ancient and Modern Languages of South Arabia - A cross-disciplinary approach to a linguistic area, ANR AAPCE27
- USR 3141 CEFAS Centre Français d’Archéologie et de Sciences Sociales (porteur)
- UMR 8167 O&M Orient & Méditerranée
- UMR 5133 Archéorient
- UMR 6310 LLING Laboratoire de Linguistique de Nantes
- UMR 7018 LPP Laboratoire de Phonétique et Phonologie
ALMAS is an international and interdisciplinary consortium aiming at renewing the study of the living and extinct languages of South Arabia (Oman, southwestern Saudi Arabia, Yemen):
- A set of four Ancient South Arabian languages, now extinct : Sabaic, Qatabanic, Minaic, Hadramitic. They are mostly attested through written documentation from Yemen. Some unclassified and undeciphered languages and scripts will be studied, which have generally been studied by epigraphists.
- A group of six living Modern South Arabian languages with no written tradition, all endangered: Mehri, Harsusi, Bathari, Hobyot, Jibbali, Soqotri. They are spoken in the southern Omani province of Dhofar, the eastern Yemeni province of Mahra and the Yemeni island of Soqotra.
- A rich array of highly diversified and archaic Arabic vernaculars spoken throughout the region.
The novelty of ALMAS lies in the interdisciplinary synergy it creates:
- by cross-fertilizing synchronic and diachronic approaches to the abovementioned languages.
- by stimulating contacts between researchers from three different domains (epigraphists, general linguists and specialists of Arabic).
- by developing complementarity between linguists from different schools and approaches. This kind of collaboration proved its efficiency in the course of the ANR project OmanSaM (ANR-13-BSH2-0001) where phonologists, syntactictians, phoneticians and Semitists shared a common fieldwork with beneficial impact for each discipline.
ALMAS will set a landmark in the domain by :
- documenting the languages through fieldwork and create an open-access database, thus contributing to the protection and preservation of the world’s cultural heritage.
- analyzing the data in order to reach an adequate understanding of the languages’ structures.
- reevaluating the relationships between the languages (phylogenetic relatedness and/or language contact).