An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions by Ahmad Al-Jallad

By Ahmad Al-Jallad

This quantity features a targeted grammatical description of the dialects of previous Arabic attested within the Safaitic script, an old North Arabian alphabet used generally within the deserts of southern Syria and north-eastern Jordan within the pre-Islamic interval. it's the first whole grammar of any historical North Arabian corpus, making it a big contribution to the fields of Arabic and Semitic reviews. the quantity covers subject matters in script and orthography, phonology, morphology, and syntax, and comprises an appendix of over 500 inscriptions and an annotated dictionary. The grammar is predicated on a corpus of 33,000 Safaitic inscriptions.

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These facts suggest that the inscriptions represent a phonetic transcript of the language of the compositional formulae, which, in turn, was probably rather close to the spoken language of their authors. There is no evidence that the Safaitic script was written on perishable materials or used for any practical purposes, and so the existence of a linguistic standard would be unexpected. The script and the formulae used for writing were probably transferred from person to person informally, but, as discussed earlier, the way in which this was accomplished is unclear.

Indeed, the history of the Arabian alphabets remains shrouded in mystery, and the precise relationship between the different scripts awaits study. The hypothesis that all of the non-ASA alphabets derive from a single ancestor which developed parallel to ASA gave rise to the idea that the languages which these scripts express constitute a linguistic unity, also called ANA. Thus, introduction 11 the notion of an ANA language, excluding Arabic, did not emerge from the close comparative study of the ANA epigraphy, but was motivated by assumptions about the interrelatedness of the ANA scripts.

Clark edits 1197 texts from the Jordanian panhandle, on the H5 and H4, north of al-Wisād. Three dissertations on Safaitic, written under the direc-tion of R. Voigt, have been published by the series Semitica et Semitohamitica Berolinensia (SSHB): AAEK, AbaNS, and RSIS. Each of these contains an introduction, an analytical section dealing with cultural context of the texts, and a few remarks on grammar, along with an edition of previously unpublished texts and a glossary. While two volumes—AAEK and RSIS—contain photographs, these are usually of such low quality that it is often impossible to scrutinize the reading properly.

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