This talk will survey the different orthographic traditions used to render the Arabic language before the emergence of a single written standard in early Islamic times. By combining evidence from these sources, we can form a detailed, evidence-based picture of Arabic's phonology, morphology, and dialect geography in pre-Islamic times. Following this, we will attempt to understand the relationship, both diachronically and geographically, of the dialect represented in Qur'anic orthography with these sources.
Ahmad Al-Jallad specializes in the early history of Arabic and North Arabian. He has done research on Arabic from the pre-Islamic period based on documentary sources, the Graeco-Arabica (Arabic in Greek transcription from the pre-Islamic period), language classification, North Arabian and Arabic epigraphy, and historical Semitic linguistics. His notable decipherments include a zodiac star calendar used in the Safaitic inscriptions (Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 2014), the oldest Arabic poem yet discovered (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religion, 2015), and the decipherment of the oldest, fully vocalized Arabic text, written in Greek letters (Arabian Epigraphic Notes, 2015). He is the founding director of the Leiden Center for the Study of Ancient Arabia, and has led or been a member of several epigraphic and archaeological projects.
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Tonio Sebastian Richter
The Ohio State University