South Arabian alphabet: Wikis

  
  

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Epigraphic South Arabian
Type Abjad
Spoken languages Ge'ez, Old South Arabian
Time period ca. 9th c. BC to 7th c. AD
Parent systems
Proto-Sinaitic
  • Epigraphic South Arabian
Child systems Ge'ez
Sister systems Phoenician alphabet
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.

The ancient South Arabian alphabet (also known as musnad المُسند) branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in about the 9th century BC. It was used for writing the Yemeni Old South Arabic languages of the Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadrami (Ḥaḍramī), Minaean, Himyarite, and proto-Ge'ez (or proto-Ethiosemitic) in Dʿmt. The earliest inscriptions in the alphabet date to the 9th century BC in Akkele Guzay, Eritrea[1] and in the 8th century BC, found in Babylonia and in Yemen. Its mature form was reached around 500 BC, and its use continued until the 7th century AD, including Old North Arabian inscriptions in variants of the alphabet, when it was displaced by the Arabic alphabet. In Ethiopia it evolved later into the Ge'ez alphabet, which, with added symbols throughout the centuries, has been used to write Amharic, Tigrinya and Tigre, as well as other languages (including various Semitic, Cushitic, and Nilo-Saharan languages).

Contents

Zabur Script

Zabur is the name of the cursive form of the South Arabian script that was used by the ancient Yemenis (Sabaeans) in addition to their monumental script (or Musnad) (see, e.g., Ryckmans, J., Müller, W. W., and ‛Abdallah, Yu., Textes du Yémen Antique inscrits sur bois. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994 (Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 43)).

The cursive zabur script—also known as "South Arabian Minuscules"[2]—was used by the ancient Yemenis to inscribe everyday documents on wooden sticks in addition to the rock-cut monumental musnad letters displayed below.

Sign inventory

(epigraphic) Old South Arabian alphabet
Character
Transcription
IPA
Himjar ha.PNG
h
[h]
Himjar lam.PNG
l
[l]
Himjar ha2.PNG

[ħ]
Himjar mim.PNG
m
[m]
Himjar qaf.PNG
q
[q]
Himjar wa.PNG
w
[w]
Himjar shin.PNG
s2
[ɬ]
Himjar ra.PNG
r
[r]
Himjar ba.PNG
b
[b]
Himjar ta2.PNG
t
[t]
Himjar sin.PNG
s1
[s]
Himjar kaf.PNG
k
[k]
Himjar nun.PNG
n
[n]
Himjar kha.PNG

[x]
Himjar za.PNG
s3
[s̪]
Himjar fa.PNG
f
[f]
Himjar alif.PNG
ʾ
[ʔ]
Himjar ajin.PNG
ʿ
[ʕ]
Himjar za2.PNG

[ɬʼ]
Himjar djim.PNG
g
[g]
Himjar dal.PNG
d
[d]
Himjar ghajn.PNG
ġ
[ɣ]
Himjar ta1.PNG

[tʼ]
Himjar tha.PNG
z
[z]
Himjar dhal.PNG

[ð]
Himjar ja.PNG
y
[j]
Himjar th.PNG

[θ]
Himjar sad.PNG

[sʼ]
Himjar dad.PNG

[θʼ]
Other transcriptions ś š,s s,ś
By shape
Character
Transcription
IPA
Himjar ra.PNG
r
[r]
Himjar ajin.PNG
ʿ
[ʕ]
Himjar wa.PNG
w
[w]
Himjar qaf.PNG
q
[q]
Himjar ja.PNG
y
[j]
Himjar th.PNG

[θ]
Himjar sad.PNG

[tˢʼ]
Himjar dad.PNG

[θʼ]
Himjar ha.PNG
h
[h]
Himjar ha2.PNG

[ħ]
Himjar kha.PNG

[x]
Himjar alif.PNG
ʾ
[ʔ]
Himjar sin.PNG
s1
[s]
Himjar kaf.PNG
k
[k]
Himjar ghajn.PNG
ġ
[ɣ]
Himjar ba.PNG
b
[b]
Himjar nun.PNG
n
[n]
Himjar djim.PNG
g
[g]
Himjar lam.PNG
l
[l]
Himjar mim.PNG
m
[m]
Himjar shin.PNG
s2
[ɬ]
Himjar za.PNG
s3
[s̪]
Himjar ta2.PNG
t
[t]
Himjar fa.PNG
f
[f]
Himjar tha.PNG
z
[z]
Himjar dal.PNG
d
[d]
Himjar dhal.PNG

[ð]
Himjar za2.PNG

[ɬʼ]
Himjar ta1.PNG

[tʼ]
Circle Y Π Vert Diagonal Box
South Arabian inscription addressed to the Sabaean "national" god Almaqah

Properties

  • It can be written from right to left or from left to right. When writing from left to right the characters are flipped horizontally (see the photo).
  • The spacing or separation between words is done with a vertical bar mark (|).
  • Letters in words are not connected together.
  • It does not implement any diacritical marks (dots, etc.) in the modern Arabic alphabet.

Notes

  1. ^ Fattovich, Rodolfo, "Akkälä Guzay" in von Uhlig, Siegbert, ed. Encylopaedia Aethiopica: A-C. Weissbaden: Otto Harrassowitz KG, 2003, p.169.
  2. ^ Stein 2005.

References

  • Stein, Peter (2005). "The Ancient South Arabian Minuscule Inscriptions on Wood: A New Genre of Pre-Islamic Epigraphy". Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap “Ex Oriente Lux” 39: 181–199.  
  • Beeston, A.F.L. (1962). "Arabian Siblants". Journal of Semitic Studies 7: 222–233. doi:10.1093/jss/7.2.222.  

External links








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