Yemeni Arabic, the primary language of Yemen, is very close to classical Arabic and is a dialect spoken in Yemen, southwestern Saudi Arabia and the northern part of Somalia. Like Arabic, the rest of Yemen’s indigenous languages are also Semitic in origin. These languages–Mehri, Soqotri and Bathari in particular–were the local languages of Yemen before Arabic swept it in the 7th century. Yemenite Hebrew, also known as Temani Hebrew, is no longer heard in Yemen because of the Yemenite Jews’ migration to Israel, though Jews of Yemenite ancestry in Israel still may speak it.

By the way, Arabic and Hebrew are both Semitic languages, meaning they are believed to share descent from Shem, one of the sons of the biblical figure Noah. The term “anti-Semite,” while today commonly understood to describe a person who is anti-Jewish, technically could also be able to refer to someone who detests Arabs. Or Mehri, Soqotri and Bathari.

In class we’re going to say hello and goodbye in Yemeni Arabic:
Hello: Marhaban/Ahlan
Goodbye: Ma’as salama

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