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What did the #OldArabic of the #Levant sound like? Here is a reading of an inscription in the Hismaic script from the region of #Madaba, #Jordan. It dates to the Nabataean period, ~ 2000 years ago. The commentary is in the following tweet but can you understand it without help?
The pronunciation is triangulated with Arabic data from Nabataean, Hismaic, and Greek inscriptions. Greek is especially important because it gives us the values of the vowels and some of the consonants.
The text begins with the man’s name: le-phalhān ben ḥonayne ben ʔatme ḏī ʔāl natag ‘By Phalhān son of Ḥonayn son of ʔatm of the lineage of Natag’. Notice that the Arabic fāʾ in this period and region was likely still pronounced as an aspirated p =
Read 11 tweets
If the earliest Arabic isn't from central Arabia, then what do we find there? Well, check out this inscription from south of Tayma (north-central Arabia). It is in a script called #Thamudic D and it reads: wznzʾgwzfrywẖmyztmlḥḫm. The language is undeciphered.
Here is an example of #Thamudic C, published by Eskoubi (1999). The reading is clear but the language is undeciphered. It says: wdd f sw | tʾlʿsswʾ | wdd and in the Ar. script: ودد ساو| تالعسسوا| ودد. Wdd is common word for 'love' but that's as far as we understand. | = divider
Now compare this to a #Hismaic inscription from #Mabada, Jordan (Graf and Zwettler 2004). I will write it in Arabic script to illustrate how easy it is to understand: سقم لاله صعب فتضرع وتعنى وتشدد له بكلل م فعل ونذر اربع اسلعت من نرت وعفنت ويتحل بصحرى ولولك ترحم علي!؟
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