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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 =
The text then goes on to say: wa-saqoma le-ʔelāhe ṣaʕb ‘and he sinned against the god Ṣaʕb’. The phrase is enigmatic but I suggest that saqoma means ‘to sin’, a metaphor based on its original meaning ‘to be ill’. This fits with the rest of the inscription.
The author begs for forgiveness: pha taṣ́arraʕa wa-taʕānaya wa-taśaddada la-hu be-kelāle mā phaʕala ‘and he supplicated and suffered and exerted himself for his sake in all that he has done’. The šīn of this period was probably pronounced as .
And the ḍād was its emphatic equivalent. The author then goes on to make an offering: wa-naḏara ʔarbaʕata ʔasleʕat min-nīrat wa-ʕaphanat ‘and he vowed four lots of indigo and verdigris pigments (following Graf and Zwettler; see bib. below)
To complete his redemption, the author retreats into ritualistic social isolation: wa-yatḥalla be-ṣaḥrāy ‘and he encamped in the desert’. The final word is the Old Arabic equivalent of Classical Arabic ṣaḥrāʔ. Like Egyptian Arabic, the t of form VIII comes before the root.
wa-law-lā-ka taraḥamma ʕalayya ‘and who but you can show mercy upon me?’ The author then asks Allāt the goddess to be mindful of all his companions: wa-ḏakarat allāto ʔaśyāʕa-nā kelāla-hom.
And for her to curse anyone who would damage this text: wa-laʕanat allāto man yoḫarbeś waqʕa-nā ḏā. The final verb, ḫarbaśa (mod. Arabic ḫarbaš), is still common in the Levant (and elsewhere) today, meaning ‘to scratch out’.
To read the article on this inscription, see jstor.org/stable/4150069…. I differ from their interpretations in many places and I am publishing a new edition of this text soon.

For Old Arabic and its pronunciation, see this manual: academia.edu/38100372/Al-Ja…
Please forgive any inconsistencies in my pronunciation of Old Arabic. This was a quick read through and I'm not a native speaker :). Thank you for your interest in the video of a Safaitic reading, which motivated this one despite the rather less interesting setting.
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