Razihi (Rāziḥī) is a South Semitic language spoken by at least 62,900 people in the vicinity of Mount Razih (Jabal Razih) in the far northwestern corner of Yemen. It is the only surviving descendent of the Old South Arabian languages.
Razihi is spoken on Jabal Razih, a mountain lying west of the town Sa'dah, whose highest summit, Jabal Hurum, is 2,790 m (9,150 ft) high. The population of Jabal Razih was approximately 25,000 in the 1970s and is estimated to be much more now. The number of Razihi speakers is reported by Ethnologue to have been 62,900 in 2004.
Razihi exhibits wide-scale assimilation of coronal consonants in words. That, unlike in Arabic, is not restricted to obstruents but includes sonorants, most significantly /n/, as can be seen in words such as ssān "man" and ssānah, "woman", which are cognate words of Arabic insān "person". Nasal consonant assimilation was a feature of both Ancient North Arabian and Old South Arabian but is not found in any Arabic dialect. Razihi also has a large number of non-Arabic basic vocabulary items, prepositions and other grammatical forms.
Syncope, or the removal, of the high vowels /i/ and /u/ is a common phenomenon in Razihi:
- wāḥdah – 'one f.' (/wāḥid + ah/)
- wiṣlū – 'they m. arrived' (/wiṣil + ū/)
- gibẓūhim – 'they m. seized them m.' (/gibiẓ + ū + him/)
In Classical Arabic:
- š corresponds to Razihi /ɬ/ and its emphatic correlate.
- ḍ corresponds to general Yemeni /ð/ in recent words but /tɬ/ in older words.
- Razihi at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Jabal Razih". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Watson, Glover-Stalls, Al-razihi, & Weir (2006), "The language of Jabal Rāziḥ: Arabic or something else?", Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 36:35–41
- Edzard, Lutz; Retsö, Jan (2006). Current Issues in the Analysis of Semitic Grammar and Lexicon II: Oslo-Göteborg Cooperation 4th-5th November 2005. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 40. ISBN 9783447054416.
- "Rāziḥī". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
- Edzard, Lutz; Retsö, Jan (2006). Current Issues in the Analysis of Semitic Grammar and Lexicon II: Oslo-Göteborg Cooperation 4th-5th November 2005. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 44. ISBN 9783447054416.