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Old Arabic
Arabic
is the earliest attested stage of the Arabic
Arabic
language, beginning with the first attestation of personal names in the 9th century BC, and culminating in the codification of Classical Arabic beginning in the 7th century. Originally the primary language of the Safaitic
Safaitic
and Hismaic inscriptions, it came to be expressed primarily in a modified Nabataean script after the demise of the Nabataean Kingdom. In addition, inscriptions in Old Arabic
Arabic
are attested in the Dadanitic script and the Greek alphabet, the latter of which have proved indispensable in the reconstruction of the language's phonology.

Contents

1 Classification 2 History 3 Dialects, accents, and varieties 4 Phonology

4.1 Consonants 4.2 Vowels

5 Grammar

5.1 Proto-Arabic

5.1.1 Notes

5.2 Nabataean Arabic

5.2.1 Notes

5.3 Safaitic

5.3.1 Notes

5.4 Old Hijazi (Quranic Consonantal Text)

5.4.1 Notes

6 Writing systems

6.1 Himsaic and Safaitic 6.2 Dadanitic 6.3 Nabataean 6.4 Transitional Nabataeo-Arabic 6.5 Arabic 6.6 Greek

7 References 8 External links

Classification[edit] Old Arabic
Arabic
and its descendants are Central Semitic languages
Semitic languages
and are most closely related to the Northwest Semitic languages, the languages of the Dadanitic, Taymanitic inscriptions, the poorly understood languages labeled Thamudic, and the ancient languages of Yemen
Yemen
written in the Ancient South Arabian script. Old Arabic, is however, distinguished from all of them by the following innovations:[1]

negative particles m */mā/; lʾn */lā-ʾan/ > CAr lan mafʿūl G-passive participle prepositions and adverbs f, ʿn, ʿnd, ḥt, ʿkdy a subjunctive in -a t-demonstratives leveling of the -at allomorph of the feminine ending ʾn complementizer and subordinator the use of f- to introduce modal clauses independent object pronoun in (ʾ)y vestiges of nunation

History[edit] The earliest attestations of Arabic
Arabic
are personal names dating back to the Assyrian period. From the second century BC onwards, personal names are attested in Nabataean inscriptions and Nabataean Arabic substratal influence can be demonstrated in the Nabataean Aramaic. Dating to the 1st century BC, the Safaitic
Safaitic
and Hismaic inscriptions, concentrated in Hauran
Hauran
and Hisma, respectively, attest to the forms of Arabic
Arabic
used by the nomads of those regions.[2] The collapse of the Palmyrene Empire
Palmyrene Empire
in 273 saw the rapid rise of the Saracens in the Syrian Desert, the rapid decline of Ancient North Arabian scripts, and the proliferation of Arabic
Arabic
inscriptions composed in transitional Nabataeo- Arabic
Arabic
script referring to tribal groupings with demonstrable relation to those mentioned in later Muslim historiographical sources. Perhaps the most well-known of these inscriptions is the Namara inscription
Namara inscription
of 328. This period saw linguistic Arabization farther afield: in Yemen
Yemen
in the 6th century, especially in the language of trade and among the military, and following the influence of Kindah, in Palestine, and, one would expect, in areas where Ancient North Arabian scripts were used. The Nabataean alphabet
Nabataean alphabet
did not replace the Ancient North Arabian scripts functionally, however, and the disappearance of inscriptions in the Ancient North Arabian scripts may have had more to do with the integration of the peoples who produced them into an emerging Arab society in which the day-to-day role of these peoples had changed.[3] The 7th century saw the first revelations of the Quran
Quran
in Old Ḥigāzī and the emergence of the Arabic
Arabic
poetic tradition; the earliest concrete evidence of the latter, however, dates to the Umayyad period. Dialects, accents, and varieties[edit] The Safaitic
Safaitic
inscriptions belong to a continuum of Old Arabic
Arabic
dialects which also included the dialect spoken in parts of Nabataea and the language expressed by the Hismaic inscriptions.[1] A different continuum, Old Ḥigāzī, underlies the Quranic Consonantal Text and became the literary register and prestige spoken dialect of the Umayyad Empire. A more advanced form of it is attested 1st CC papyri and gave rise to early Arabic
Arabic
colloquials encountered in Greek transcriptions. Phonology[edit] Consonants[edit]

Consonant phonemes of Old Arabic
Arabic
(based on Safaitic
Safaitic
and Greek transcriptions)[1]

Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar Pharyngeal Glottal

plain emphatic plain emphatic plain emphatic

Nasal [m] m – م

[n] n – ن

Stop voiceless [pʰ] p – ف

[tʰ] t – ت [tʼ] ṭ – ط

[kʰ] k – ك [kʼ] q – ق

[ʔ] ʾ – ء

voiced [b] b – ب

[d] d – د

[g] g – ج

Fricative voiceless

[θ] ṯ – ث [tθʼ] ẓ1 – ظ [s] s – س [tsʼ] ṣ – ص

[x] ẖ – خ

[ħ] ḥ – ح [h] h – ه

voiced

[ð] ḏ – ذ

[z] z – ز

[ɣ] ġ – غ

[ʕ] ʿ – ع

Lateral fricative

[ɬ] s2 – ش [tɬʼ] ḍ1 – ض

Lateral

[l] l – ل

Flap

[r] r – ر

Approximant

[j] y – ي [w] w – و

^1 The emphatic interdental and lateral were voiced in Old Higazi, in contrast to Northern Old Arabic, where they remained voiceless.

Vowels[edit]

Monophthong phonemes of Nabataean Arabic

Short Long

Front Back Front Back

Close

iː uː

Mid e o

Open a aː

In contrast with Old Higazi and Classical Arabic, Nabataean Arabic
Arabic
may have undergone the shift [e] < *[i] and [o] < *[u], as evidenced by the numerous Greek transcriptions of Arabic
Arabic
from the area. This may have occurred in Safaitic
Safaitic
as well, making it a possible Northern Old Arabic
Arabic
isogloss.

Monophthong phonemes of Old Higazi

Short Long

Front Back Front Back

Close i u iː uː

Mid e

eː oː

Open a aː

In contrast to Classical Arabic, Old Higazi had the phonemes [eː] and [oː], which arose from the contraction of Old Arabic
Arabic
[aja] and [awa], respectively. It also may have had short [e] from the reduction of [eː] in closed syllables:[4]

Grammar[edit] Proto-Arabic[edit]

Nominal inflection

Triptote Diptote Dual Masculine Plural Feminine Plural

Nominative -un -u -āni -ūna -ātun

Accusative -an -a -ayni -īna -ātin

Genitive -in

Proto- Arabic
Arabic
nouns could take one of the five above declensions in their basic, unbound form. Notes[edit] The definite article spread areally among the Central Semitic languages and it would seem that Proto- Arabic
Arabic
lacked any overt marking of definiteness. Nabataean Arabic[edit]

Nominal inflection

Triptote Diptote Dual Masculine Plural Feminine Plural

Nominative (ʾal-)...-o -∅ (ʾal-)...-ān (ʾal-)...-ūn (ʾal-)...-āto?

Accusative (ʾal-)...-a (ʾal-)...-ayn (ʾal-)...-īn (ʾal-)...-āte?

Genitive (ʾal-)...-e

The ʿEn ʿAvdat inscription in the Nabataean script dating to no later than 150 shows that final [n] had been deleted in undetermined triptotes, and that the final short vowels of the determined state were intact. The reconstructed text of the inscription is as follows:[5]

pa-yapʿal lā pedā wa lā ʾaṯara pa-kon honā yabġe-nā ʾal-mawto lā ʾabġā-h pa-kon honā ʾarād gorḥo lā yorde-nā[6]

"And he acts neither for benefit nor favour and if death claims us let me not be claimed. And if an affliction occurs let it not afflict us".[7]

Notes[edit] The Old Arabic
Arabic
of the Nabataean inscriptions exhibits almost exclusively the form ʾl- of the definite article. Unlike the Classical Arabic
Arabic
article, the Old Arabic
Arabic
ʾl almost never exhibits the assimilation of the coda to the coronals. Safaitic[edit]

Nominal inflection

Triptote Diptote Dual Masculine Plural Feminine Plural

Nominative (ʾal-)...-∅ -∅ (ʾal-)...-ān (ʾal-)...-ūn (ʾal-)...-āt

Accusative (ʾal-)...-a (ʾal-)...-ayn (ʾal-)...-īn

Genitive (ʾal-)...-∅

The A1 inscription dated to the 3rd or 4th century in a Greek alphabet in a dialect showing affinities to that of the Safaitic
Safaitic
inscriptions shows that short final high vowels had been lost, obliterating the distinction between nominative and genitive case in the singular, leaving the accusative the only marked case:[8]

ʾAws (bin) ʿūḏ (?) (bin) Bannāʾ (bin) Kazim ʾal-ʾidāmiyy ʾatawa miś-śiḥāṣ; ʾatawa Bannāʾa ʾad-dawra wa yirʿaw baqla bi-kānūn "ʾAws son of ʿūḏ (?) son of Bannāʾ son of Kazim the ʾidāmite came because of scarcity; he came to Bannāʾ in this region and they pastured on fresh herbage during Kānūn".

Notes[edit] Besides dialects with no definite article, the Safaitic
Safaitic
inscriptions exhibit about four different article forms, ordered by frequency: h-, ʾ-, ʾl-, and hn-. Unlike the Classical Arabic
Arabic
article, the Old Arabic
Arabic
ʾl almost never exhibits the assimilation of the coda to the coronals; the same situation is attested in the Graeco-Arabica, but in A1 the coda assimilates to the following d, αδαυρα */ʾad-dawra/ 'the region'. The Safaitic
Safaitic
and Hismaic texts attest an invariable feminine consonantal -t ending, and the same appears to be true of the earliest Nabataean Arabic. While Greek transcriptions show a mixed situation, it is clear that by the 4th c. CE, the ending had shifted to /-a(h)/ in non-construct position in the settled areas.[2] Safaitic
Safaitic
attests the following demonstratives:

Masc Fem Plural

ḏ, ḏ(y/n) t, ḏ ʾly */olay/[9]

Northern Old Arabic
Arabic
preserved the original shape of the relative pronoun ḏ-, which maybe either have continued to inflect for case or have become frozen as ḏū or ḏī. In one case, it is preceded by the article/demonstrative prefix h-, hḏ */haḏḏV/.[10] In Safaitic, the existence of mood inflection is confirmed in the spellings of verbs with y/w as the third root consonant. Verbs of this class in result clauses are spelled in such a way that they must have originally terminated in /a/: f ygzy nḏr-h */pa yagziya naḏra-hu/ 'that he may fulfill his vow'. Sometimes verbs terminate in a -n which may reflect an energic ending, thus, s2ʿ-nh 'join him' perhaps */śeʿannoh/.[2] Old Hijazi (Quranic Consonantal Text)[edit]

Nominal inflection

Triptote Diptote Dual Masculine Plural Feminine Plural

Nominative -∅ ʾal-...-∅ -∅ (ʾal-)...-ān (ʾal-)...-ūn (ʾal-)...-āt

Accusative -ā (ʾal-)...-ayn (ʾal-)...-īn

Genitive -∅

The Qur'anic Consonantal Text presents a slightly different paradigm to the Safaitic, in which there is no case distinction with determined triptotes, but the indefinite accusative is marked with a final /ʾ/. Notes[edit] In JSLih 384, an early example of Old Hijazi, the Proto-Central Semitic /-t/ allomorph survives in bnt as opposed to /-ah/ < /-at/ in s1lmh. Old Ḥiǧāzī is characterized by the innovative relative pronoun ʾallaḏī, ʾallatī, etc., which is attested once in JSLih 384 and is the common form in the QCT.[1] The infinitive verbal complement is replaced with a subordinating clause ʾan yafʿala, attested in the QCT and a fragmentary Dadanitic inscription. The QCT along with the papyri of the first century after the Islamic conquests attest a form with an l-element between the demonstrative base and the distal particle, producing from the original proximal set ḏālika and tilka. Writing systems[edit] Himsaic and Safaitic[edit] Main article: Safaitic The texts composed in both scripts are almost 50,000 specimens that provide a rather detailed view of Old Arabic. Dadanitic[edit] A single text, JSLih 384, composed in the Dadanitic script, from northwest Arabia, provides the only non-Nabataean example of Old Arabic
Arabic
from the Hijaz. Nabataean[edit] Only two texts composed fully in Arabic
Arabic
have been discovered in the Nabataean script. The En Avdat inscription contains two lines of an Arabic
Arabic
prayer or hymn embedded in an Aramaic votive inscription. The second is the Namarah inscription, 328 CE, which was erected about 60 mi southeast of Damascus. Most examples of Arabic
Arabic
come from the substratal influence the language exercised on Nabataean Aramaic. Transitional Nabataeo-Arabic[edit] A growing corpus of texts carved in a script in between Classical Nabataean Aramaic
Nabataean Aramaic
and what is now called the Arabic
Arabic
script from Northwest Arabia provides further lexical and some morphological material for the later stages of Old Arabic
Arabic
in this region. The texts provide important insights as to the development of the Arabic
Arabic
script from its Nabataean forebear and are an important glimpse of the Old Ḥigāzī dialects. Arabic[edit] Only three rather short inscriptions in the fully evolved Arabic script are known from the pre-Islamic period. They come from 6th century CE Syria, two from the southern region on the borders of Hawran, Jabal Usays (528 CE) and Harran (568 CE), and one from Zebed (512 CE), a town near Aleppo. They shed little light on the linguistic character of Arabic
Arabic
and are more interesting for the information they provide on the evolution of the Arabic
Arabic
script. Greek[edit] Fragmentary evidence in the Greek script, the "Graeco-Arabica", is equally crucial to help complete our understanding of Old Arabic. It encompasses instances of Old Arabic
Arabic
in Greek transcription from documentary sources. The advantage of the Greek script is that it gives us a clear view of the vowels of Old Arabic
Arabic
and can shed important light on the phonetic realization of the Old Arabic phonemes. Finally, a single pre-Islamic Arabic
Arabic
text composed in Greek letters is known, labelled A1. References[edit]

^ a b c d Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2015-03-27). An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic
Safaitic
Inscriptions. BRILL. p. 48. ISBN 9789004289826.  ^ a b c "Al-Jallad. The earliest stages of Arabic
Arabic
and its linguistic classification (Routledge Handbook of Arabic
Arabic
Linguistics, forthcoming)". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-08.  ^ al-Azmeh, Aziz (2014). The Emergence of Islam in Late Antiquity: Allah and His People. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-72936-0.  ^ Putten, Marijn van. "The development of the triphthongs in Quranic and Classical Arabic. Arabian Epigraphic Notes 3 (2017), 47-74".  ^ "Al-Jallad. 2015. Echoes of the Baal Cycle in a Safaito-Hismaic Inscription". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-09.  ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad. "One wāw to rule them all: the origins and fate of wawation in Arabic
Arabic
and its orthography".  ^ Fisher, Greg (2015). Arabs and Empires Before Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-965452-9.  ^ "Al-Jallad. 2015. New Epigraphica from Jordan I: a pre-Islamic Arabic
Arabic
inscription in Greek letters and a Greek inscription from north-eastern Jordan, w. A. al-Manaser". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-09.  ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad. "Al-Jallad 2017: Marginal notes on and additions to An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic
Safaitic
Inscriptions (ssll 80; Leiden: Brill, 2015), with a supplement to the dictionary".  ^ "Al-Jallad. 2015. On the Voiceless Reflex of *ṣ́ and *ṯ ̣ in pre-Hilalian Maghrebian Arabic". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-26. 

External links[edit]

v t e

Arabic
Arabic
language

Overviews

Language Alphabet History Romanization Numerology Influence on other languages

Alphabet

Nabataean alphabet Perso- Arabic
Arabic
alphabet Ancient North Arabian Ancient South Arabian script

Zabūr script

Arabic
Arabic
numerals Eastern numerals Arabic
Arabic
Braille

Algerian

Diacritics

i‘jām Tashkil Harakat Tanwin Shaddah

Hamza Tāʾ marbūṭah

Letters

ʾAlif Bāʾ Tāʾ

Tāʾ marbūṭah

Ṯāʾ Ǧīm Ḥāʾ Ḫāʾ Dāl Ḏāl Rāʾ Zāy Sīn Šīn Ṣād Ḍād Ṭāʾ Ẓāʾ ʿAyn Ġayn Fāʾ Qāf Kāf Lām Mīm Nūn Hāʾ

Tāʾ marbūṭah

Wāw Yāʾ Hamza

Notable varieties

Ancient

Proto-Arabic Old Arabic Ancient North Arabian Old South Arabian

Standardized

Classical Modern Standard Maltese[a]

Regional

Nilo-Egyptian Levantine Maghrebi

Pre-Hilalian dialects Hilalian dialects Moroccan Darija Tunisian Arabic Sa'idi Arabic

Mesopotamian Peninsular

Yemeni Arabic Tihamiyya Arabic

Sudanese Chadian Modern South Arabian

Ethnic / religious

Judeo-Arabic

Pidgins/Creoles

Juba Arabic Nubi language Babalia Creole Arabic Maridi Arabic Maltese

Academic

Literature Names

Linguistics

Phonology Sun and moon letters ʾIʿrāb (inflection) Grammar Triliteral root Mater lectionis IPA Quranic Arabic
Arabic
Corpus

Calligraphy Script

Diwani Jawi script Kufic Rasm Mashq Hijazi script Muhaqqaq Thuluth Naskh (script) Ruqʿah script Taʿlīq script Nastaʿlīq script Shahmukhī script Sini (script)

Technical

Arabic
Arabic
keyboard Arabic
Arabic
script in Unicode ISO/IEC 8859-6 Windows-1256 MS-DOS codepages

708 709 710 711 720 864

Mac Arabic
Arabic
encoding

aSociolinguistically not Arabic

v t e

Varieties of Arabic

Pre-Islamic

Old Arabic

Modern literary

Classical Modern Standard

Nilo-Egyptian

Egyptian Chadian Sa'idi Sudanese

Peninsular

Northeastern

Gulf

Omani Shihhi Dhofari Kuwaiti

Najdi

Western

Bareqi Hejazi

Sedentary Bedouin

Southern

Baharna Yemeni

Hadhrami San'ani Ta'izzi-Adeni Tihami Judeo-Yemeni

Northwestern

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Mesopotamian

North Mesopotamian

Cypriot Anatolian Judeo-Iraqi

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Baghdad Koiné Khuzestani

Central Asian

Afghani Khorasani Central Asian Arabic

Levantine

North Levantine

North Syrian Central Levantine

Central Syrian Lebanese

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Jordanian Palestinian

Urban Central village

Outer southern

Western

Iberian

Andalusian

Maghrebi

Pre-Hilalian

Urban

North-Eastern Tunisian

Eastern Village

Sahel Sfaxian Lesser Kabylia

Western Village

Traras-Msirda Mountain

Judeo-Maghrebi Arabic

Judeo-Moroccan Judeo-Tripolitanian Judeo-Tunisian

Hilalian

Sulaym

Libyan koiné

Eastern Hilal

Tunisian koiné

Central Hilal

Algerian koiné Algerian Saharan Eastern Algerian Western Algerian

Maqil

Western Moroccan Eastern Moroccan Moroccan koiné Hassānīya

Siculo-Arabic

Sicilian Arabic
Arabic
(extinct ancestor of Maltese which is not part of the Arabic
Arabic
macrolanguage[1])

Undescribed

Shirvani

Judeo-Arabic

Judeo-Iraqi

Judeo-Baghdadi

Judeo-Moroccan Judeo-Tripolitanian Judeo-Tunisian Judeo-Yemeni

Creoles and pidgins

Babalia Bimbashi Juba Nubi Maridi Turku

Italics indicate extinct languages.

v t e

Semitic languages

East Semitic languages

Akkadian Eblaite

West Semitic and Central Semitic languages

Northwest

Canaanite

Hebrew

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Others

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Others

Amorite Eteocypriot Ugaritic

Arabic

Literary

Classical Modern Standard

Dialects

Mashriqi (Eastern)

Arabian Peninsular

Dhofari Gulf

Bahrani Shihhi

Hejazi Najdi Omani Yemeni

Judeo-Yemeni

Bedouin

Eastern Egyptian and Peninsular Bedawi

Others

Egyptian

Sa'idi Arabic

Levantine

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Mesopotamian

North Mesopotamian Judeo-Iraqi

Sudanese Central Asian

Tajiki Uzbeki

Shirvani

Maghrebi (Western)

Algerian Saharan Shuwa Hassānīya Andalusian Libyan Arabic

Judeo-Tripolitanian

Sicilian

Maltese

Moroccan Arabic

Judeo-Moroccan

Tunisian Arabic

Judeo-Tunisian

Others

Old Arabic Nabataean Arabic

South Semitic languages

Western South

Old South

Sabaean Minaean Qatabanian Hadramautic Awsānian

Ethiopian

North

Ge'ez Tigrinya Tigre Dahalik

South

Amharic

Argobba

Harari

Silt'e (Wolane, Ulbareg, Inneqor) Zay

Outer

n-group

Gafat Soddo

tt-group

Mesmes Muher West Gurage

Mesqan Ezha Chaha Gura Gumer Gyeto Ennemor Endegen

Modern South Arabian

Bathari Harsusi Hobyot Mehri Shehri Soqotri

^ "Documentation for ISO 639 ident

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