Tales of Socotra: Experience and Challenge (3)

Selmon Keshen – 1979 – From my archive

The tales that my new Socotran friends who studied in Aden had told me and that we had transcribed together were the most extended and detailed. They were told by Socotrans and to Socotrans in a home evening tale party though the tape-recording of that party was made especially for me.

If not these tales and their transcriptions, another words – if not the help of of those educated Socotran young men, it would be very hard for me if even possible to break through into the hidden world of Soqotri folk tales. Really, my previous informants on Socotra helped me a lot to form a strong basis of Soqotri vocabulary, grammar issues, corpus of recorded (some of them tape-recorded) original texts and ethnological information which is necessary to understand true Socotran discourse. But I did not have one more and important quality: feeling of myself like a part of this discourse during the perception of Socotran tales, and they helped me to get it.

But I did not have one more and important quality – feeling myself like a part of this discourse during the perception of Socotran tales, and they helped me to get it.

Thus, already being in Moscow, I had returned to two excellent completed texts tape-recorded in Mauna from Fatima Salem and had find myself being able to transcribe them quite good because of her Soqotri dialect of the area was the most familiar to me.

Earlier, I had had some good storytellers in Mury area, too, one of whom – Selmon – was the best. Selmon’s tellings were always perfectly styled, expressively performed and logically constructed – within the intelligent use of the Soqotri folk tale traditional patterns and Soqotri live spoken language possibilities1, though he was only about 23-24 of age.

The tales told by Salmon became best materials for retell them in Russian and English literary. Of course, for each retelling not one but several recordings of the same tale (when there was more than one) had been taken to compile a final literary written texts not very long, being in the frames of written storytelling of folklore and – in the same time – saving as more as possible of essential features of folklore and traditions of Socotra.

However, the tales told by Fatima Salem made me look at the clear historical perspectives of Socotran tales, much deeper than one could ever expect.

1 – the use of different intonations, stress varieties, meaningful changes in root consonants of words and breaking words into parts was very popular; the most successful storytellers on Socotra practiced such techniques masterfully.

To be continued>>>
(Written especially for Black Camel online magazine on WordPress)

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